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November 29, 2011

Fun fact:  I like sports.  Like a lot.  

Tonight my Vanderbilt Commodores lost a real heartbreaker of a game in which many, many things could have gone better.  Sitting in the grocery store parking lot (waiting to purchase some conciliatory ice cream), I listened to the coach’s post-game radio interview.  He said that things really didn’t go the way he planned.  He drew up plays that “the guys didn’t execute.”  He explained they practiced these things dozens of times in practice, but “the guys couldn’t perform when it counted.”  Coach also took the time to elaborate that his mid-game substitutions didn’t go well because the guys “didn’t play well when it mattered.”  Never once did he take responsibility.

He may be older, wiser, richer, and more famous than me, but I know one thing:  if our kids don’t do what we ask them to, it’s on us, not them.  In our classrooms each day, we’re forced to take responsibility for setting our students up for success.  If they don’t evaluate an algebraic expression using the order of operations, it’s because we haven’t taught them well enough.  If the students get a little out of control in the hallway, we can recognize that we should set more clear expectations for hallway behavior.

The coach’s post-game interview could be likened to a teacher who explains that he did everything he needed to do for his students to succeed on that test…but they failed when it counted.

Sometimes students (or players) don’t listen to what you tell them, but I know, as the leader of that group, that it’s ultimately my job to make them listen.  And when they don’t, it’s my responsibility to teach it again, this time making them want to listen.  It’s our job as teachers and role models to exhibit this kind of personal responsibility.  We can’t spend time laying the blame on students for not upholding their “end of the bargain.” In the end, nobody grows when blame is placed upon others.  Let’s figure out why things aren’t working, admit wrongdoing, and move on to something better.

I’m using this as a method of operation in my classroom.  I’m suggesting it would also be wise for a well-known basketball coach to do the same in his practices.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 29, 2011 5:13 pm

    Well said.

  2. Rachel permalink
    December 1, 2011 5:34 pm

    Agreed. I think many people could learn from this little blog post.

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