It’s the end of the school day and I’m getting ready to head to my son’s baseball game. And it got me thinking (in a sarcastic voice – not surprising for those who know me well), “Who doesn’t love a good sports analogy?” And, just like a great sermon idea, there was the topic for today’s post.
- The Coaches/Managers: There are leaders in both baseball and education. The best leaders are those who encourage their players to continuously work to improve their game. They get to know their players’ strengths and weaknesses, and help them hone their skills while eliminating the weaknesses. Good leaders establish trusting relationships with each team member.
- Different players for different positions: I was talking with a friend who teaches college who said he’d be terrified in an elementary classroom. I, on the other hand, don’t know how to relate to college students. And then, there are the “special” teachers who actually enjoy teaching middle schoolers (glad there are some!). I love working in administration, when there are teachers who can’t imagine ever leaving the classroom. The front-desk receptionist at our school is phenomenal at her job being a welcoming smile, a firm hand, or an organizational whiz. Just like there are players who excel in center field, while others are best playing short, we all have a role to play that matches our passions and skills.
- The fans: One of the reasons I love teaching elementary students is because they love me. Who doesn’t love to see faces light up when you walk into the classroom? I understand that this fandom takes on a different look as kids get older and it’s no longer “cool” to love their teachers, but we should teach/lead/coach/manage all students in a way that makes them our fans (whether they admit it, or not). Most baseball fans like the players who are charismatic, take time to talk to “the little people”, give back to their communities, and who make the game fun to watch. Likewise, students are going to like teachers who are enthusiastic, who get to know them as people, give them their time and attention, and who make learning fun.
- Off-season, or lack thereof: My nephew is twenty-one and is a college pitcher. He has played baseball since he could walk. The kid loves it. Still. He was so excited to play college ball at a Division 1 school because he thought he’d finally be surrounded with other players who took the game as seriously as he did. He was disappointed to learn that wasn’t the case. He transferred to a smaller school that had a better baseball program. What makes him fun to watch is that you can tell that he loves the game. He spends his “off-season” preparing for the next season. Coaches and managers spend their off-season recruiting and planning. This is what good educators do, too. Teachers attend workshops, take classes, read professional literature, work on instructional units, all to be better in the classroom when school starts back up in the fall. Administrators are busy screening, interviewing, and hiring new teachers and staff to create a stronger team. There isn’t much down time. Yes, there is more time in the summer for educators to relax, enjoy their family and the weather, but that personal renewal is just as important to their game as the professional development is.
There are actually more correlations I could make between education and America’s favorite past time, but I wanted to stick with 4, the number of bases (or as my daughter called them tonight, “mats” – yeah, I know we have some educating to do about the game). This summer, I will be watching some baseball. But I will also be attending conferences, reading professional literature, connecting with my PLN, and spending some time at the lake.