Hail Mary!: What the NFL can teach us about the NEPF


It’s fourth and goal on the opponent’s goal line.  Only three seconds remain on the clock. This will be the last play of the biggest game of your life. Your fans are raucus.  They scream and yell with anticipation that in seconds they will be champions. Tensions run high amongst your players as they are six points down and need this score to be victorious.  You, as coach, contemplate your course of action.  Pensively, you remember similiar situations in the past.  What was successful?  What didn’t work? You speak briefly with your offensive coordinator and consider his input.  You have a decision.  It is radioed into the helmet of your quarterback.

You’re going with your bread and butter. Your quarterback will hand the ball off to your All-Pro running back and he’ll break the plane of the end zone and bring you the adoration of your fans.

Time moves slowly as your team advances to the line of scrimmage.  The quarterback moves under center, checks to make sure everyone is set, and begins barking out his cadence. You wipe your brow, but not nervously, rather with an air of confidence and assurance. The ball is snapped and the pigskin smacks the hand of the second year pro.  He pivots, extending the ball so that the future hall of fame running can grasp it and score.  The ball hits his abdomen and he secures it.  He eyes shift, looking for a proper crease that will result in six points for the team.  His peripheral vision grants his wish for between the left guard and left tackle is a path to victory. He cuts back, propelling himself toward his desired route.  He wells with excitement at this prospect, but is unceremoniously flattened by the Pro Bowl middle linebacker who had diagnosed the play from its inception.  The running back is stopped for no gain. You lose.

The Nevada Educator Performance Framework (NEPF) is the new evaluation tool for teachers. I support the concept of the tool because it should force teachers to be more reflective on practice, but instead it has become something of a quagmire.  Many are including the NEPF standards and indicators in their lesson plans which could potentially be problematic. By making the process analogous to football, maybe we can make the workflow a bit more simplisitic.


Game Plan before…NEPF after


Coaching is like teaching.  Coaches create a gameplan with the aim of insuring that every player is placed in a position to be successful and the team wins as a result.  Teachers craft lesson plans with the aim of positioning every pupil to be successful. In both classes, a thorough understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the players/pupils is necessary to tailor a plan that has the highest odds of success.

Plans are absolutely essential to structuring success on both the football field or in the classroom. However, one can’t evaluate a plan until after it is executed.  A coach can no more tell you how many yards a particular play will garner in an upcoming game than a teacher can tell the effectiveness of a particular lesson until after it is delivered. This is the chief issue with placing NEPF standards and indicators into one’s lesson plans.

Take a gander at Instructional Standard 1, Indicator 1 which states:

Teacher activates all students’ initial understandings of new concepts and skills. 

One could plan to activate all students’ initial understanding, but how would you know if you actually did until after the lesson had concluded?  Your assessment of your plan would happen at the conclusion of a lesson or series of lessons.  While it’s great to be mindful of the NEPF while planning, if one does not incorporate a strategy for using the framework reflectively, placing a myriad of standards and indicators that were planned would be rather pointless. Plans are great, but plans fail all the time.

Possible Solution: 

Have separate layers for lesson plans and your reflective consideration of the NEPF.  There is a potential tool for your use already created.  Simply go to “Add a layer” and search “NEPF” in the subscribe search box in the middle.

After you have finished a lesson, return to your lesson plans or the NEPF layer and reflect.

They record the games for a reason


Coaches love data.  Coaches love pictures.  Coaches love video.  Each allows a coach to assess how plans progressed, how players have reacted in specific situations, and informs them of their successes and shortcomings.  They are able to use each as an instructional device for their players as well, concretely lauding their achievements and pointing out opportunities for growth.

The same is true for our classroom environments.  Without data, images, and video of and from instruction, it is rather difficult to make tangible any portion of the new evaluation framework. Without evidence of this type, one is left with a guesstimate of one’s effectiveness and a rather tenuous position when one meets with administration.  Without using your smart phone, tablet, or digital camera, the words in the framework are just those and while one can claim that one has accomplished something, with no evidence, nothing really can be proven.

Football games are not just filmed for entertainment.  They are filmed to prove they actually occurred.  They are filmed so that results and plays can be discussed, analyzed, and argued about.  Lessons should be the same.  The NEPF are the catalyst for this type of deep analysis.

Possible Solutions: 

Integrate the use of filming into your lessons, not necessarily to show to students, but to inform your practice.  Integrate cloud storage (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc) so that your artifacts can be stored.

Use polls and surveys with your students to ascertain their perspectives.  In addition, use of responders and digital assessment tools will allow you to quickly do analysis for trends in your classroom.




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