Sunday, August 9, 2015

"I'm going to coach whoever shows up"

I recently completed Roland Lazenby's Michael Jordan: The Life. As I anticipated, I've come away from the experience with more than a few thoughts and ideas that translate pretty well to the classroom.

I spent my high school and college years completely fascinated (translation = obsessed) with Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls. Only later in life, once I became a teacher and a coach, did I realize that one of the fundamental factors in the success of both Jordan and the Bulls was a gentleman and master teacher named Tex Winter. Winter, a veteran coach and the godfather of the Triple-Post (Triangle) Offense perfected under Coach Phil Jackson's Bulls, epitomizes "teacher" better than most any coach around, save perhaps John Wooden. Phil Jackson once tweeted me that Tex Winter was the greatest teaching coach he'd ever worked with.

One of my favorite passages from Lazenby's book gives us a great insight into Tex Winter's #coachteach approach: "Winter believed that he had been hired to teach, so he taught whenever possible, with the sort of frank, direct feedback that most players hadn't heard since middle school. 'When we step out on that floor at a practice session, I'm going to coach whoever shows up,' Winter once said of his approach." Furthermore, Assistant Coach Johnny Bach said of Winter in the book, "He brought an enthusiasm that went beyond the normal."

As the new school year is upon us, Tex Winter's example serves as a great model for teachers. Winter declared he would teach "whoever showed up." In other words, he didn't care if he was coaching the greatest basketball player of all time or the practice squad's reserves. Winter was going to teach, and he was going to do so with "enthusiasm that beyond the normal."

Imagine the impact teachers can have with Winter's attitude - teach whoever shows up. We all know that we're going to get all kinds of kids in classrooms this year: super smart, academically average, academically behind the curve, distracted, hungry, hurting, perfectionist, defeated, highly motivated, hardly motivated, likable, hard to love, rich, poor, and more. The challenge is this: teach whoever shows up and do so with enthusiasm beyond the normal. Admittedly this is a ridiculous challenge. Thank God we have teachers in classrooms and not anyone else.

Interested in more parallels between coaching and teaching? Check out the #coachteach hashtag on Twitter, or check out What Teachers Can Learn from Sports Coaches.

1 comment:

Family Man said...

Wow, that was profound. I will defiantly use this... Going to share this with the staff when we return. Pray for opportunity to share this.