Why points don’t matter…

On Saturday I had the privilege of taking 7 kids to the FLL robotics competition.  This is my first year coaching, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  As we approached the building the other coaches and I sent the kids on their first of many missions throughout the day: greet three people and tell them good morning.  They heard the instructions and ran off to complete the task.
Overall, the kids had three goals that day, complete five missions with the robot, present their amazing projects they had worked tirelessly on, and show every person in that building that Santa Fe Trail knows how to have fun.
I was nervous.  The kids had exhibited professionalism in our practices.  They had done well in their practice presentations and had managed to work together without killing each other, but what would happen when they were taken to the big stage.  They’re still kids.  

I have never been more impressed and proud of a group of students than I was that day.  I watched a group of 7 kids shake hands with every adult they came into contact.  I watched them describe their project to passers by with enthusiasm and pride.  I watched a group of kids choose to play cards and color in coloring books together instead of playing with electronics. And most importantly I saw kids beam with pride and joy.  Every accomplishment was met with high fives.  The kids were hoarse by the end of the day from all of their cheers and applause for other teams.  

The kids ended up winning the champions award (the big award at the end of the competition), which was an amazing accomplishment. But that’s not what I’m going to remember.  I’m going to remember the coaches who came up and asked how we get the kids to work together so cohesively. I’m going to going to remember the looks on the kids faces when one difficult mission succeeded for the first time.  I’m going to remember the poise the kids showed when things didn’t go as planned.

This competition is a great reminder of why I got into education.  When I work with kids I want them to walk away from the experience better people.  I want to be able to say I’ve done my small part to make a brighter more loving future for everyone.  If these kids are an indication of what the future holds, I can’t wait.

In return I get to walk away a changed person as well.  I learned to practice what I preach and spread a little light throughout my day, to smile at those who pass by, to stand in power pose (hands on hips, no arms crossed), to greet each challenge with tenacity.  

Thanks for everyone who strives each day to provide our kids opportunities like these.

Teaching Boot Camp

I love HBO’s show Hard Knocks.  If you’re not familiar with it, each season a film crew follows an NFL team in training camp.  It follows the blood, sweat and tears of pros and rookies fighting to be the best at their craft. Their goal is to be both the greatest on the field and the greatest teammate that makes everyone around them better.  The show is complete with training montages with bass thumping music in the background.  It makes you want to jump up and hit somebody or run through walls.

Teaching is my craft.  I take it just as seriously as any pro athlete. I train and toil.  I spend hours reading books, studying my “opponents”, and prepping for the big game.  I strive every day to be the best teacher to ever play the game.  Sometimes we view teaching as just a job, but it’s more than that.  If you are meant to be in the classroom, then it isn’t just job, it’s a calling.  In order to be the best it takes sacrifice.  It takes staying up way too late and getting up way too early to prep for your students.  It takes humbling yourself every day and realizing you are never fully in control.  It takes a mentality that no matter what happens you will give everything you can give for the profession. That’s what it takes to be the master of this field.

When I walk into school tomorrow I want bass thumping music playing in the background as I walk the halls, because I’m going to go beastmode on this teaching. JJ Watt, better watch out, I’ve got the teaching game down.