Thanks for the Lesson, Coach: Part II

Missed last week's blog post? Be sure to read it to catch up with the story!

The next hurdle was the stuff of legends. Teammates told me I looked like Charlie Brown when a baseball is hit back at him. Uniform, shoes, a hurdle, and me were all somersaulting through the air in a full out yard sale. I was a bit battered upon landing, but everything was still attached. I picked up the offending hurdle and tossed it off the track. The action was symbolic. The hurdle was gone, and the rest of the season was incredible.

We come from a culture that preaches we are entitled to success when we work hard and maintain a strong network of connections. We model for our children what it means to suck the marrow out of every opportunity that presents itself through work, church, sports, family, and friends as we race toward success. At the same time, our race seems encumbered by the weight of stress, anxiety, and guilt. Our kids are learning from us. They are involved in every activity, they are compelled to maintain their network of friendships via social media, and failure is not an option. While they are learning about math, science, and literature at an incredible rate, they are also showing signs that this race is beginning to take their toll on them. We need to get back to the idea that their well-being is a foundation to coping with the stressors that will shape their future.

Stress and weariness will always be a part of our lives, so the key becomes how we cope with the things that slow us down. Coach could have easily added more drills, refined my technique, and left me to figure it out, but he chose to help me cope with my stressors first. For our school, I think it means that we continue to build the relationships between teachers, parents, and students. We need to intentionally carve out more time during our school year to talk together about how we can help each other do school better. I especially think this is becoming more important as the students enter junior high and high school. The adolescent child strives for independence yet needs to feel valued by adults in authority. It is amazing what a child can do when those around him or her believe in them, even after they fall.

Coach Honderd taught me something that shaped the way I teach and coach. His lesson is becoming increasing important as I look at what we want to do with our school as we get bombarded with talk of benchmarks and more high-stakes testing. A student’s learning needs to remain our focus. It is about both what they learn AND how they learn it. I think the on-going discussion about a child’s well-being as a foundation for success is one of the important elements that separates our school from those who value the child for their test scores or athletic prowess. Each child is unique and created in the image of God. They deserve to be valued accordingly.

Thanks for the lesson, Coach.