Posted tagged ‘influencing kids’

The Perseverance of Integrity

April 24, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        April 24, 2018

                           

“…because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:3-4)

Yesterday I was talking to a man who I’ve known for a number of years, coached with, and felt honored that he refers to me as his friend. He recently had resigned his head coaching position, and it is still a painful time for him. His wins-losses record had not been stellar, and the decision to resign came after his administration had voiced their disgruntlement.

After we had talked for some time I looked at him and I said, “Coach, I have the greatest respect for you, always have! In the midst of adversity your integrity has persevered. You could have done things outside of the rules and perhaps, because of that, won a few more games, but you chose the way of integrity.”

He thanked me. My heart went out to him, because the coaching ranks has lost one of the people you want your kids to be influenced by. Sometimes, however, integrity must persevere through rough waters. It’s in the midst of the rolling waves that many people lose their way and become uprooted from the positive values and morals that get preached, but then forgotten.

We all make judgment errors and fall short. The difference is that many people choose the way that is suspect as their main life route instead of a momentary mistaken by-pass.

Its interesting that I have even more respect now for my hurting friend. He took the hits but stayed the course. He is one of the good guys in the sports world that we know is heavily populated with people who sacrifice integrity in order to worship the god of winning.

Would Jesus Be On The Teachers’ Side?

April 17, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         April 17, 2018

                          

Since West Virginia public school teachers rallied at their state capital and exited their classrooms for almost two weeks, there has been a stream of teachers in other states that have followed West Virginia’s lead.

Having served on the school board and as the president of that school board, plus having a sister, brother-in-law, niece, and daughter who are either retired teachers or currently teaching, plus married to a lady who got her degree in deaf education and still works with special needs students, plus being a coach and a substitute teacher myself (Did you follow all of those plusses?), I’ve had to look at public education from different perspectives.

Being a pastor I also have a habit of contemplating how Jesus might view an issue or converse with a certain individual? Would he care? Would he offer wisdom? Would be simply be present to listen? Would he be swayed by the majority opinion?

Scripture gives us stories of Jesus interacting with children. Matthew 19:13-15 tells the story of children being brought to him “…to place his hands on them and to pray for them.” The disciples had their priorities messed up and started rebuking those who were bringing the kids to Jesus. Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)

That brief story communicates a few things about Jesus and those who impact and instruct our kids. Like foundational arithmetic the rest of the problems rely on the beginning beliefs.

Start with those of the present who would play the roles of the disciples! Jesus’ discomfort- perhaps too nice a term!- with the disciples was their interference in allowing the connection between the children and the Teacher. They minimized the importance of the little folk, taking on the attitude that Jesus’ time was better spent with the older generation.

Drawing the story into the present, it seems that those who make decisions about education that involve everything but the face-to-face contact between teacher and his/her students have a responsibility to not place obstacles in the way.

If you’re wondering who that might be the answer is ALL OF US! Government that sees the challenges of our schools but treats the situation as if you can treat a broken arm with a butterfly bandaid…state boards of education that are more enamored with state testing scores than classroom educational discoveries…school boards that have to make tough decisions…parents who send their kids to school each morning after a donut breakfast and a packed lunch of Cheeto’s and Oreo Cookies, and then blame their child’s poor performance on incompetent teachers…teachers who have lost the passion for leading young minds in the discovery of new learnings…and the communities that continually vote down school bond issues because they have bought into the myth that teachers are overpaid and the schools have all the funds they need.

In regards to the disciples, all of us have the DNA within us to be educational rebukers!

Would Jesus be on the teachers’ side? He would be on the side of those who are committed to their purpose, impassioned with the importance of their calling. Like the children who were brought to him he values those who “place their hands of influence on them”. He values the opportunities that are weaved into the relationships between the teacher and her students. When Jesus placed his hands on the children it was the indication of his blessing of them. He values teachers who are blessings on the lives of their students. Most of us can recall who some of those “blessings” were when we were in our school years. (We can also probably remember a few teachers whose classes we “persevered” through!

Would Jesus be on the teacher’s side? He would be on the side of those who understand that “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” I might interpret that in two ways: That messing with the raising up of our kids is upsetting to Jesus, the Teacher; and secondly, that the education of our children needs to have a long-term view. Teachers are shaping, not enabling, the minds of our future leaders and influencers.

There is a saying that we’re all familiar with…”you get what you pay for!” Perhaps there should be another saying that rises above that: You reap the blessings of what you’re willing to sow!”

The Diary of a Middle School PE Teacher

December 3, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           December 3, 2016

                                

MONDAY

Dear Diary,

This is archery week for the physical education classes! It is one of the weeks during the year when I have a “safe word” that I share with the other teachers. That is, I fear the temptation to take one of the bows and arrows and use it in a way that would cause me to end up on the nightly news…nation-wide!…might overtake my common sense. So I have a safe word to say to the other teachers around me that will keep me out of jail, and a future career as an incarcerated librarian!

My lunch today was a PB and honey sandwich on multi-grain bread, complimented with a side of carrot sticks.

My second period class of 8th Graders arrived already overdosed on “annoying.” Thank God they are not in one of the archery classes! The assignment for their class was to run/walk for 30 minutes around the track. It’s amazing how students who have taken “annoying steroids” slow down when they are asked to run/walk for 30 minutes. Some of them made 4 laps! That’s a mile in a half-hour! That’s like a slow record!

I shot free throws with a sixth grader before one of our classes began. I made 23 in a row. He looked at me like I was a much older version of Steph Curry. How long would his amazement last?

TUESDAY

My first two classes of 8th graders were retesting a few strengthening exercises, like pull-ups, doing a plank, and something called a “wall sit” where they sit against a wall as if there is a chair underneath them. Some of them were done doing all three exercises in ten minutes. Did I say that the longer it takes someone the better? On the other hand, one young lady did a wall sit for a solid hour. I had to go and inform her math teacher that she would be late because she was still sitting. It’s amazing how some students will push themselves, while others are much more proficient at pushing the patience of the teacher!

Archery safe word: Big Bro!

No one died in archery today. The only wounds were to the pride of a number of students who couldn’t shoot it into the ocean!

My lunch today was a PB and honey sandwich on multi-grain bread, complimented with a side of carrot sticks.

My sixth grade buddy told a few others about my free throw shooting, so I had a little flock of his classmates watching me shoot free throws before class. I only made 16 in a row today, but they were still amazed. It is much easier to amaze sixth graders than it is eighth graders!

A seventh grade girl came to me before class wearing cowboy boots. “Do you think I can run in these today?” I gave her the “Are you serious?” look.

WEDNESDAY

Hump Day in a week where the temperature has continued to dip. My first two 8th grade classes were scheduled to go outside for some “jump rope conditioning”. I was all set, but then they started whining about the fact that with the wind chill the temperature was six degrees. I reminded them of all the games that had been played over the years at “The Frozen Tundra” in Green Bay. When a few of the students asked me where in Colorado Green Bay is located I knew it was a lost cause.

Brain Light Bulb On! Single digit wind chill days are a good threat in the curing of annoying students. Think of it as being like weather-related Castor Oil!

My lunch today was a PB and honey sandwich on multi-grain bread, complimented with a side of carrot sticks.

The boy’s locker room smells like a Port-a-Potty! I walk through it several times a day to wake myself up! It is a multi-sensory experience!

THURSDAY

Two new sixth grade students came into my classes today. They looked like they were being led to their execution. I calmed them down and had everyone say hi to them. Being a new student in school on December 1 is a hard road to walk. They stick out like a sore thumb, because everyone else has their official P.E. shirt and shorts on…and they don’t. We hooked each one of them up with a couple of students who have the gift of acceptance and hospitality. These are students who did not heap “annoying” on to their plates when they went through the character traits buffet line.

The last day of archery and no one died! Safe word once again is “Big Bro!”

My lunch today was a PB and honey sandwich on multi-grain bread, complimented with a side of carrot sticks.

The sixth grade boy, who was amazed on Monday by my free throw shooting, came up to me and said, “Coach, I wore this for you!” He had a “Steph Curry” jersey on underneath his official P.E. shirt. I was flattered and then made 30 in a row before class started.

In my role as P.E. teacher I look to bring in other academic disciplines…such as geography! Today I had the sixth grade classes line up in order of where they were born…close to Colorado Springs at one end of the line and extending out from there according to distance away. When I got to the end of the line and two students born in North Dakota were on the other side of the student who was born in Hawaii we had a little geography lesson. “I know that North Dakota seems like it’s a world away, but Hawaii is about half an ocean further!”

At the end of the day we took down the archery range and breathed a sigh of relief!

FRIDAY

Last day of the week! Six classes of endurance to reach the finish line! A day of dodgeball and keeping control of the chaos. There is something about sixth graders on Fridays! They start popping like popcorn, energy and excitement springing to the surface. They are prone to lose all perspective, like inmates in the prison yard who might start rioting at any moment. One boy throws a volleyball at another student’s head, another student kicks a soccer ball into an a group of classmates that are just standing there. Ice packs are ready for distribution. Fridays are the best reason for there to be a 4-day school week!

My lunch today was a PB and honey sandwich on multi-grain bread, complimented with a side of carrot sticks!

The afternoon’s highlight was a young lady in one the seventh grade classes who nailed a few of the boys in dodgeball with pinpoint accuracy. By the end of the class period boys were running from her as she approached the line with one of the dodgeballs. Awesome!

At 3:00 I checked out! It was a good week, and I was looking forward to a Saturday lunch that did not include peanut butter, honey, and carrot sticks!

Memo to Coaches…Especially Coaches of Young People

November 6, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             November 6, 2016

               

Dear Coaches,

Thank you for giving of your time, energies, and experience in the coaching of young athletes. I appreciate that! You are an invaluable resource for the teaching of the skills of each sport, the fundamentals, and the understanding of how a team functions.

Now I’ve got to say something on the other side of matters.

Quit it! Stop being jerks on the sidelines! Stop blaming the officials for the fact that some of your players can’t properly execute a pivot yet! Quit it! Knock it off!

As a basketball official for fifteen years now, blowing the whistle for everything from clueless kindergarteners all the way up to college basketball, I’ve seen my share of great coaches and coaches that take on other personalities when the game starts. It’s taught me a few things that I’d like to pass on to you.

Players follow the lead of their coach! If the coach questions every referee decision that goes against him his players follow suit. I recently had a middle school game where one coach was calm and controlled. His players, although not very skilled, were just as controlled as their coach. On the other bench was a man who was combative, yelled constantly, and demeaning. Some of his players followed the lead of their coach. They were out of control, overly aggressive, debated each call against them, and even less skilled than their opponents. The example of the coach got channeled through his players and through some of his parents. Two of his players fouled out, and I think a third player had four fouls. Meanwhile, the calmness of the first coach got transmitted through everyone connected to his team. The first coach questioned one of my whistles late in the game. He was calm and I walked over to him. “I thought he traveled before he got fouled.” I responded with a smile on my face. “Coach, you’re probably right.” He smiled at me. Meanwhile the other coach…”the boy who cried “Wolf!”…used up all of our hearing and we became deaf to his constant complaints.

Coaches, think about how you are acting!

Coaches, who have the opportunity to teach your players about more than a game. You have the incredible privilege of being able to teach them about life! If your view of life gets communicated through a sour disposition, your players, who look up to you, will begin to look at life through that kind of lens. Some of the best coaches are tough on players in preparing them for games, and also educators of the important lessons of life. The greatest coaches understand that the game revolves around life, not life around the game. Some of the worst coaches- that is, coaches who have screwed up priorities- think the game is everything!

As an official, who has also coached basketball for over twenty years, I see this “win at all costs mindset” being displayed in players to the point that they are not above injuring a player on the other team if it improves their chances of winning. The question is where did they learn that from? Who has the responsibility, and opportunity, to teach them sportsmanship and fair play? Who has the privilege of shaping their understanding of how the game is played?

The coach!

So, coaches, ask yourself a few questions. What are you going to teach your players about the game? What fundamental skills are you going to emphasize to them over and over again through different drills? What are you going to teach them about teamwork and team roles? What are you going to teach them about sportsmanship and having a good attitude? And, most importantly, what are you going to teach them about life?

Coaching Twelve Year Old Football Rookies

August 31, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             August 31, 2016

                          

Yesterday was the first game for the Timberview Middle School Timberwolves 7th Grade football team. Thirty-one excited twelve year olds boarded the yellow school bus for the slow forty minute ride to one of the southern schools in our league. Most of them even had their uniforms on correctly!

With their blue game pants and blue jerseys on this is still the greenest group of kids I’ve ever coached! Most of them are more familiar with Madden 2016 than what a Spread Formation looks like. There are some powerful thumbs in this group, but have them drop and do push-ups and you quickly realize that the power begins and ends in the big digits.

This “green” blue team is a great group of kids, and I love coaching with Coach Steve Achor, but we knew we weren’t ready for our first game. Lightning had forced us inside so much in our first week that we had only been able to have three days of player to player contact. Understand that those three days included the coaching discoveries of who even wanted to tackle and who wanted to just hang out by the water cooler as we were tackling. Middle school football always has kids who just aren’t totally convinced they want to be there. It sounded good to them upfront, with the uniforms being sharp and all, but once the contact started and a few of those hot August afternoons in full football pads arrive, the scent of uncertainty becomes as profound as the odor in the boy’s locker room.

A few years ago I had a player who was in his first year of playing football. He was never entirely convinced that it was a good thing to do. One day in practice he was playing cornerback and was so close to the sideline he looked like a pony trying to make a break for the open range. I said to him, “Teddy (Not his real name)! Come on in some closer to the play! There’s no one over there!” He looked at me, and with his high-pitched voice said, “No! I’m okay out here!”

And so we traveled with excitement and uncertainty. More than half of our squad had never played football before. Several of them are not tall enough to ride roller coasters at the amusement parks yet. Several others would be too timid to ride a roller coaster yet. Last Friday we had a controlled intra-squad scrimmage…after the lightning storm had passed and we were allowed to go outside! It gave some of our players a warped idea of how good they were, as the first-team running backs kept running for touchdowns against the second unit defense. Could it be this easy? Players answer: Yes! Coaches’ answer: No! No! No!

The plan was to keep the play calling simple. Amazingly no turnovers happened the whole game. On the other hand, every play had something that needed correcting. The good thing about first games is they show you so many things that need to be worked on in practice.

The final score was 28-8, and the home team’s last TD came in the last minute of the game. My back-up quarterback had to play the last quarter. Let me emphasize…my back-up quarterback who I had just discovered in an informal conversation the day before to have played some quarterback and had not practiced that position yet…yes, that back-up quarterback…had to play the last quarter. We scored our touchdown at the beginning of that quarter on a seventy yard sweep run. I sent the play in for the two-point conversion, and quickly noticed everyone standing around in confusion. I yelled “Let’s go! Let’s go!”, and I heard one player say “Coach, we’re missing Brandon!” Brandon is the back-up quarterback. He had been watching Peyton Manning too much, and Peyton Manning was never in for the PAT. Welcome to middle school football!

But you know something! I love coaching these kids! Coach Achor and I have the unique privilege and opportunity to teach them about the game and life, to help them experience what it means to be a team with ups and downs, trials and successes. Bottom line: I am truly blessed!