The Teacher-Coach

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Education is Motivation

Don’t believe the hype

An assistant coach, who I believe is somewhere in his late 40′s (or maybe even 50′s, I’m bad at estimating ages) relayed that the 8th grade boys had asked him if they could play a song out loud on the bus ride to the game.  It apparently had one bad word in it but was used only once.  He told them yes, he said, but added with a grin, “I didn’t tell them that I was listening to Public Enemy on my ipod at the time.”

Don’t you think that navigating this balance between the personal and the professional is one of the most difficult challenges we face?  Our charges don’t respond to us if we don’t open ourselves up to them at all – it’s the person inside that they respond to.  The more “experienced” I become, the more I recognize the value of the well-placed personal anecdote in my work. Yet kids will also push the boundaries as far as they think they can can just to see what they can get away with, like calling you by your first name or discussing your love life.  I think it’s especially difficult for younger teachers, whose very youth is an asset to trade on but whose limits are often tested more aggressively, and I’m certain that every one of us can think of a colleague who undermined their effectiveness by trying too hard to be their students’ friend, rather than their teacher.

Filed under: Pedagogy & Philosophy, Professionalism

Ski School

I got a new perspective on teaching and coaching last weekend.

I took my 7yo son up to Okemo with me on the annual student ski trip, which I was helping to chaperone.  He had never been skiing before, but had been asking me for the last year or so to get him up on the mountain so he could learn.  Decided he wanted to snowboard, thus be as “cool” as his (much) bigger brother.

Imagine being the 15-24 year old who was assigned the lucky task of teaching my son to snowboard.  Having to calm his nerves, ease his fears, make sure he had fun, keep him from getting hurt, coax additional trudges up the hill and attempts to rise from his knees or his rear end as he gets more and more exhausted with each passing effort…

…in temperatures, by the way, that started at zero and only worked their way down…

…and deal with sometimes anxious, sometimes demanding parents who want to know that their children are safe, have fun, and oh-by-the-way learn enough to make the money they spent worthwhile!

An advisee of mine in the high school has been acting as an instructor at Okemo for a number of years now.  First thing I did when I got back was tell him how much I respect what he and his buddies do each day on that mountain.

Filed under: Pedagogy & Philosophy

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