NFL analogies get tossed around all the time in the education world. And they get fumbled too. The most recent example: In December Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, was talking about giving teachers feedback about their performance when she said, “Football teams do this all the time. They look at the tape after every game. Sometimes they do it during the game.” Not exactly. It’s against NFL rules to use video during a game. But Weingarten was onto something important: “They’re constantly deconstructing what is working and what isn’t working,” she said of pro teams. The heavy use of data and performance evaluations is indeed key to success in the NFL. But unfortunately, very few schools are good at this kind of thing
For a deeper look at what educators might be able to learn from pro football, I talked with Tim Daly, a leading education reformer and president of the New Teacher Project, which trains teachers and conducts research and policy analysis, and his brother Brendan Daly, a former teacher who coaches the defensive line for the St. Louis Rams.