Friday, March 31, 2006

A lesson for a coach

Track Season has begun and I've found myself thrust into a head coaching position three days before the first track meet. The girls were out of shape, no one knew what a baton exchange was, and frankly they were lazy. I fought for two days to get them to work hard while they played. I yelled about how this was serious and they said yeah right. Finally, I gave up. On Thursday, at the starting line for the 100 meter dash, one girl cried. Another could clear the high jump pole to save her life. The long jumper got scratched for jumping past the board twice. The relay teams came in 5th. I felt like a total failure. Walking over to talk to a veteran coach, I wondered how we would make it through the season. I mean this was ridiculous. When I reached him, I dropped my head and shook it in shame. He gently turned me around and pointed toward the infield where they were sitting. They were all in tears. He said quietly, "Some lessons a coach cannot teach. You had to let them fall in order to be able to pick them up. Now go pick them up." I walked over to the group and went into my post meet talk. When finished, I saw dried eyes and renewed spirits. They were begging to practice, promising to get better and asking what they needed to do. No one complained when they had to run around the neighborhood at 8:00 in a Saturday morning or stay til 6:00 on a Friday afternoon. No one has had a pain or a cramp since that day and everyone has been to every single practice. Not one has gotten into trouble in school. They are peer managing everything from their eating habits to their personal conditioning. They've all learned what it feels like to be last and no one wants to be there again.
The veteran coach called me up this morning after seeing us on the track. "Never give up on your team. Just be ready to coach them when they are ready to be coached. You cannot coach them if they are not ready to be coached."
Not only is this a great lesson to learn as a coach, it is the life story of a teacher. There is very little you can do when the students don't want any help. Just hang in there and be ready when they are ready.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

False Pretenses

When I decided to enter this program, I was so excited by the difference that I felt it would make in my state. This was a place where I had a vested interest in the future of the program. I mean my own child is going to school in this place. During the first summer, I learned so much valuable information that was useful to me in the classroom and I really thank Ms. Monroe and Ms. Barnes for that. I looked at the schedule of classes that were upcoming and prepared myself for what I knew was coming. Apparently, I was wrong. Suddenly, this class has been thrust into change that is unfamiliar and unfair. We have waited patiently to be the second years and enjoy the perks associated with such. We've looked forward to the summer for a break from the monotony of teaching and a return to something that is closer to normalcy-classwork. But we find ourselves already burnt out, tired and overworked now looking toward an extended school year. Mississippi Teacher Corps has presented us with false pretense. No matter how hard I try, I cannot find one good solid reason as to how this can be any better than the process we went through last year. There is still no guarantee that the first years will be put with a good veteran teacher because who is to say that we are all that good and even if I was good in March, I won't be that good in June because I won't want to be there. Simply put, this will be a disaster.
I must say that I am becoming more and more disappointed with this program. Through everything we've been through nothing has been quite the way we expected and most often not what they expected either. With this program, so very little can be believed that you go in every semester wondering what will happen next. I have learned one very valuable lesson from this experience. With Teacher Corps, don't believe anything.