Monday, July 13, 2015

Did I Do Enough?

My son's baseball season is finally over. Yes, the season that started in chilly late March finally ended this weekend with a lost in the sectional final for all-stars. As usual, my son had a very good season, helping gel together a team most people did not predict to finish second in the league. He batted fourth and had to pitch a lot, neither of which he has had to do before this year in his young baseball career.

Then, he was fortunate to be picked for All-Stars. This was about another three week journey of games and practices. His team played very well, just fell one game short. Losing is hard. Losing is not fun, but it builds character. He rolls his eyes when I tell him that, like any 10 year old would do.

What I realized while watching him play was I may never get to coach him again. See, he is joining an elite soccer team in the fall with established coaches. They play both fall and spring, and he was asked to join the team after a tryout earlier this spring. I will need to learn to walk to other side of the field when games start!

I do not think I am handling this realization well that I may have coached him for the last time.

I have been his coach since he started soccer, basketball and baseball. I have been there to teach him the little "game within the game" scenarios for several years and will miss that.

Then, it also struck me: What if I did not prepare him enough? What if I could have done more? I know there is still a lot about being an athlete he needs to learn, but I am hopeful I have given him enough of a foundation:

1. It is always about the team. Always. No one is more important than the team.
2. We win together. We lose together. No one person is blamed when things do not go our way. That includes umpires/referees/officials.
3. You play the game the right way. Always being fair. If you were out, tell the umpire. If you dribbled out of bounds, tell the referee.
4. Always give your best effort. Sometimes that will be enough to win, sometimes it won't, but don't ever sell yourself short.
5. Never publicly criticize, or "show-up", a teammate. If they made a mistake, follow it up with encouragement. Never criticism. He knows he made a mistake, he does not need you to point it out.
6. Have fun. Playing sports is fun. Playing them at the level my 10 year old can play them makes them even "funner". That's right, I just said that.

I do not know if there is an educational thread in this post, but it was something I needed to get off my chest for a couple of days now. I am glad I get to watch him play still, but I will miss the time we got to spend together being at practices and games. It will be tough to walk to the spectators' side of the field in a couple of weeks, but I think I am ready to pass the torch to his next set of coaches. They are getting one special kid and a heck of a player. Thank goodness he is like his mother.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

All Apologies....

Sometimes things hit us like a bolt of lightening. Things we should have figured out right away is apparent seconds after we need the answer. We get a very quick "Ah-ha" moment.

For me, there was no quick "Ah-ha" moment. No, I would be talking with my daughter who would mention how she was struggling with her fitness, so I would chime in: "Solving that would require practicing the skill."

My son would mention how he could not bunt the ball exactly how he like. My response, you guessed it, would be: "Have you practiced it?"

So, I was running the other day after reading several blog posts from my favorite writers. I had an internal dialogue going about how I wish I could write like these other bloggers. Yes, I was talking to myself. Those of you that run consistently know exactly what I am talking about. That is when the lightening bolt hit me. No, not literally, since it was a clear day. But, figuratively speaking of course...

I need to practice to get better. I need to practice the very message I keep sending to my kids. So, after delaying all day, I have run out of excuses, so I sit and write....

I am excited about the opportunity this up-coming school year to teach Algebra again. See, about four years ago we stopped offering the course to our advanced math students. I confess that I was probably the main reason for it. As I am the only 7th and 8th grade math teacher in our small public school, I did not want the "bad test scores" making me look bad. I am very embarrassed to admit this. Yes, fours years ago, I believe I was the reason we stopped offering this challenging curriculum to our students.

Now, I still provided some advanced work to the 8th graders who could work at that level. I supplemented the current curriculum when I could, but I knew it was not enough.

Needless to say, I am happy that we are bringing this course back. In addition, we will be offering an accelerated course for our 7th graders as well. This time, I am not so concerned about how they do on the dumb state tests they will have to take. Maybe that is a sign that I have "grown-up" in the last four years. I think it is because I am so over the whole test craze disease has swept education the last several years.

My kids might do well on those tests; then again, they may not. I do not care. I will be continuing a course that never should have been interrupted. To my students who missed out on taking Algebra, I apologize. Who says adults can't "grow-up" even when they are old.

What have you regretted as an educator? Please share....