Lonely Line

Being a literacy coach has allowed me to pursue a passion I consider to be THE most important in education. That is, providing students with the experiences and opportunities necessary to become competent, confident, and established readers across many different texts, both simple and complex.
Twenty years of my career as a professional educator was spent in a high school English-Language Arts classroom. I have been in my current position as literacy coach for 592 days. Through triumph and failure, new learning has occurred. In the spirit of vulnerability and collaboration, I will share my learning here.

Lonely Line

the bibleThere are two sources I turn to when I am searching for something deeper, looking for a way to clarify my purpose: the Bible and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.

Today my thoughts turn to The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.

The ominous warning penned by William Shakespeare, Beware the ides of March, certainly fits my current state of mind.

the complete works of shakespeareIt is in Act I, scene ii where my heart and mind are gravitating today. A soothsayer warns Caesar to beware the ides of March. Consequently, Caesar blows off the warning as nonsense, and, as he temporarily exits the scene, Cassius stirs Brutus’s jealous heart with rhetoric that challenges Brutus to examine his purpose.

It is within this dialogue I find I am not alone in my emptiness, unworthiness, and fear.

The irony of being a change agent in a school surrounded by people who have the best intentions to advance student learning is that it can be extremely lonely. Lurking in the shadows of my role as literacy coach are those uncomfortable moments where I must lead teachers — and even administrators — to thoughtfully consider their practice and how it directly affects students.

The struggle I have this week is discovering my “hidden worthiness”. See, as Cassius eloquently urges Brutus to truly see his own worthiness, so must I confront my own effectiveness, or lack thereof, to inspire others in becoming the best version of themselves.

Brutus humbly admits, “…the eye sees not itself, but by reflection, by some other things” (Act I, scene ii, l140-141.). Cassius is attempting to be that reflection for Brutus byreflection showering with compliments meant to arouse Brutus’s confidence and worthiness. But unlike Caesar who, revealing his arrogance, smugly brushes off the soothsayer’s warning, Brutus meekly averts Cassius’s praise and affirmation.

As literacy coach, I must see myself through others. This is a frightening proposition. Most of us have spent time attempting to determine what others are thinking about us, how they truly feel about us. My mind must move beyond this selfishness. It is imperative as a change agent and literacy coach that I unlock my mind from the destructive, lonely narrative I choose to tell myself, and thoughtfully consider what I am seeing in myself through the reflection of others.

See, Cassius has a point. Sure, we all know how the play ends and the weighty role Cassius plays in the tragedy, but, in this definitive moment, he assures Brutus, “I, your glass, will modestly discover to yourself that of yourself which you yet know not of” (Act 1, scene ii, l156-158.).

It can be lonely as a literacy coach, walking that fine line — as a colleague playfully reminded me today — between administrator and teacher. By all accounts, namely lonely linecontractually, I am a teacher. However, there are responsibilities as literacy coach where I take on a perceived function of administrator. That’s a lonely line.

Cassius provides yet another scrap of advice when he points out, “…men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves…” (Act I, scene ii, l230-233).

Maybe it’s the ides of March, or maybe the sun hath not shown its face upon us enough,ides of march or maybe I have allowed self-doubt to merge from perception to disillusioned reality. While I have felt lonely, empty, afraid, and unworthy, I know that I can change my fate if, indeed men are masters of their fate at times, by looking in the mirror. It’s important to honestly assess what comes back to me. Whatever the case, I must see my worthiness through the reflection of the colleagues I work alongside and the students I connect with every day.

Post Script:

Unknowingly, two colleagues took time out of their busy days as professional educators and lead learners TODAY to provide me with some positive vibes. They don’t know this, but my heart was warmed and my soul was fed just enough for me to be reminded that who I am as a professional is important and effective. I’ll take that win today. It provides fuel for the challenges that lie ahead tomorrow.

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The Budget, TWaLC March 8, 2018

This Week as Literacy Coach (TWaLC) March 8, 2018

Being a literacy coach has allowed me to pursue a passion I consider to be THE most important in education. That is, providing students with the experiences and opportunities necessary to become competent, confident, and established readers across many different texts, both simple and complex.
Twenty years of my career as a professional educator was spent in a high school English-Language Arts classroom. I have been in my current position as literacy coach for 585 days. Through triumph and failure, new learning has occurred. In the spirit of vulnerability and collaboration, I will share my learning here.

The Budget

dollar-currency-money-us-dollar-47344.jpegThe Budget. Although a responsibility, a reality, and a necessity, who really likes to think about the budget intentionally? It’s a funny sounding word, isn’t it? According to pexels-photo-371929.pngDictionary.com, the phonetic spelling looks like this: [buhj-it]. Correspondingly, Cambridge Dictionary (dictionary.Cambridge.org) has provided these lovely voices for all to hear the proper pronunciations (both US and UK) : budget.

Say it out loud to yourself three times. Budget. bUDGet. BUdGEt! Inevitably, someone nearby will hear you and might consider you funny…like, not normal, perhaps, like you might just be losing your grip on reality. Of course you are. It’s friggen tax season. However ridiculous this practice in phonetics has been, you’re convinced it’s a funny sounding word, aren’t you?

If you’re sensing I am a bit fixated on this topic, you’re right. You always knew you had it, that sixth sense. So go ahead, you have permission to pursue that side-hustle sixth sense gig you’ve always wanted..

I am obsessed over The Budget. In recent days, I have been immersed with the budget…family, personal, and LITERACY.

I have received two gentle reminders in the last two weeks regarding the looming budget time clocks. Tic-tic-tic….

The first, written on a copy of the budget I submitted March 2017:

John~ you haven’t spent any money and time is running out.

The second, the next week, written on a copy of the budget I submitted March 2017, circled with a neon pink highlighter, with an address label attached:

John~you have not spent any money in the literacy budget. do you plan on spending any of it?

Address label reads:



Yes, I consider these gentle and kind reminders. No, I didn’t misprint what the label reads – MAY 18 –  but I think we all know exactly what it’s supposed to read.

gentle reminder

Please, let there be no misunderstanding, this is all on me and any other teacher who may have received a gentle reminder or two – no one has offered a similar anecdote, so I very well could be the only one.

I also want to be clear that without custodial staff, building office staff, food service staff, and district office staff schools would listlessly operate, adrift in chaos.

For those who aren’t familiar, let me explain as clearly as I can without getting too deep into the details. In schools, if you don’t spend the money you have requested in your budget, it’s gone. Even more, if you don’t spend it, it’s possible you might not be able to count on the same during the next budget cycle.

In my 22 years as a professional educator I have always worked under the belief that theJohn Feb 2018 greatest resources in the classroom are time, students, parents, and teachers. Beyond any district’s largest budget line, that is, teacher salaries, all of these resources require minimal financial backing.

Sure, teachers need ‘stuff’ – books, technology, folders, three hole punch, and the like. But it’s not the ‘stuff’ that ignites the flames of inquiry and learning. Inspiration happens between people, not ‘stuff’.

What if all schools invested more resources in social capital. Believe in people. Bet on the teachers, custodial staff, office staff, and administrators.

Mrs Brelenthen and Mrs Ball

Mrs. Brellenthin, Hope’s fabulous first grade teacher and Mrs. Ball, Faith’s super second grade teacher.

Empower students by surrounding them with dynamic people, people who care, people who love learning, and people who inspire.

How does this happen? We must value every educator in the building, from the head custodian to the lead administrative assistant to the food service supervisor to the teachers and students in the classrooms. We value those people by supporting them, encouraging them, and pushing them to be the best version of themselves.

For sure, budgets are necessary, and I will certainly exercise my due diligence in completing mine before the alarms go off. Tic-tic-tic-BOOM!  But if the people in the building are empty of support, encouragement, and belief, the ‘stuff’ we pay for will make little difference in educating children.

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I’ll Be There For You, TWaLC March 1, 2018

In the mid-70’s there was a radical shift emerging within the family structure. Mothers, who were reared in a generation where their mothers were home cooking, cleaning, ironing, washing, dressing to the nines, and waiting hopelessly for their man to come home (cue Barbara Billingsley as June Cleaver in the 1960’s sitcom Leave it toJune Cleaver Beaver…where I regrettably reach for foundational knowledge on this matter which, I recognize, is an altogether delusional perspective), were beginning to get out of the house, clearing a path to independence and empowerment.

The days were coming to an end when women were passively responding to the demand to get ‘out of that bed, wash your face and hands…get in that

Big Joe Turner

Big Joe Turner – Shake, Rattle, and Roll

kitchen make some noise with the pots and pans’. No longer were they merely frying the bacon, they were makin’ bacon. Women were no longer seen as the “Devil in nylon hose” doing ‘nothin’ to save’ their ‘doggone soul’. Women were shaking the stereotypes advanced by the men of their father’s generation, rattling the cage that narrowly secured the status quo, and rolling into a revolution like none other.


My mother was one of those trailblazers. She wanted more for herself. She wanted to be a strong, confident woman, especially in the eyes of her three daughters.

I began my time as a full-time student in first grade (1977); being her baby of five, my

Baby John in a Basket

My mother toting baby John around in a bicycle basket (1971)

mother was ready for a full-time job outside of the home. This was the moment in time when she began her long lasting work as a receptionist at a doctor’s clinic. It was a radical shift in our family structure. I’m certain it challenged my parents, but it brought about a remarkable learning opportunity for a young boy growing up in a quaint fishing village on the western shore of Lake Michigan.  It was during this time when I learned two of the most valuable lessons that guide me today as a professional educator, husband, and father. There are people there for me. Even more, there are people who care about me.


The list is long, but the people who stand out the most include: Mom; Dad; Grandpa Birr; my siblings, Julie, Ellen, David, and Barb; Grandma Steltz, my dad’s best friend Joe Menchal, my 6th grade teacher Mrs. Casey; my high school athletic coaches, Coach Ron, Coach Jahnke, and Coach Kersten.

coach Kersten

Coach Kersten and John (2016)


As literacy coach, I want teachers to know I’m there for them. As a long time classroom teacher, I know how it feels when someone has your back…or doesn’t for that matter. I recognize how important it is to be validated with unwavering belief. I will support and advocate for teachers to best serve students with my heart and soul.

My heart leads me to let teachers know that I care about them too. Sure, my head is driven by data leading to improved instruction and shifts in best practice, but it is my heart that honors the struggles teachers face each day. Some struggles reside within the walls of our schools, but, as human beings we face challenges, physically, spiritually, emotionally, in our world beyond those halls and walls of our schools.

I care about those stories; I want to honor those stories. As teachers, we know students rarely care until they know we care, I find the same to be true in the relationship between literacy coach and teacher. Ultimately, I hope that my love for children and my deep trust and belief in the talents of all teachers will lead to deeper, more meaningful relationships. ‘

In the mid-70s my mother took an unprecedented risk. While that single choice assuredly changed her life, the impact it had on mine has shaped who I am as a literacy coach in 2017; I am there for you, and I care about you. 

Friends, one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1990s gave us this great theme song from The Rembrandt’s, I’ll Be There for You. Take a listen and watch this great video friendsfeaturing Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer.

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TWaLC February 22, 2018: The Stones….

Being a literacy coach has allowed me to pursue a passion I consider to be THE most important in education. That is, providing students with the experiences and opportunities necessary to become competent, confident, and established readers across many different texts, both simple and complex.

Twenty years of my career as a professional educator was spent in a high school English-Language Arts classroom. I have been in my current position as literacy coach for 571 days. New learning has occurred for this old dawg through many triumphs and many failures. In the spirit of vulnerability and collaboration, I will share my learning here.

Coach Ron, my high school football coach reminded us to surround ourselves with positive people. I get it. When we surround ourselves with positive people, we are held accountable, we have role models showing the way, and our chances of reaching our goals and maximizing our potential increase exponentially.be the energy

I see myself as someone who empowers others. As professional educators, we want all people to succeed right? The real question for educators is, do we want others to succeed before we do? Are we willing to sacrifice our own goals to assist others in achieving theirs?

As literacy coach, as leader of adults, I am constantly receiving feedback in many different forms from my clients. Reflecting through this feedback, I sort through the good, bad, and the ugly, trying to get a sense of how effective I am at empowering others.

Some days are diamonds. Some days are stones.

neil diamondMy mother played vinyl Neil Diamond LPs from sun up to sun down on her days off. Diamonds are not only a girl’s best friend, Diamond holds a special place in my evolution of love for all music. I wasn’t introduced to The Rolling Stones until middle school (1982…yes I was late to Angie, Satisfaction, Honky Tonk Women, and You Can’t Always Get What You Want). Start Me Up was the song that really got me (or was that The Kinks?). I digress.

The stones….stones

This week I did not empower a group of teachers as best as I could have. When others struggle, I have an instinctual desire to take on the discomfort. Remember, I want people to succeed. So, instead I might take on more responsibility to advance the mission, to relieve stress, or to simply be liked. But in the end, this isn’t effective as a coach, teacher, or teacher leader. In fact, I become an enabler. So, rather than fully handing over the reins to a small group of teachers I was working with in providing reading support for a small, focused group of students using the literacy strategies of Forecasting, Questioning the Author, and Most Valuable Point (MVP), I thoughtfully taught and modeled the strategies solo.

I need to be better. I mean, what did these teachers learn? Maybe they followed alongbe better with what I was doing with the students. Maybe not. I robbed them of the opportunity.

This chaps my ass. I want people to succeed. At least that is what I tell myself. What am I doing robbing them of an opportunity to learn and practice important literacy strategies for all students? Sure, it’s easier to just do it myself. No complaining, no eye-rolls, no deep sighs, no resistance. What’s worse and, perhaps inconceivable? No learning!

See, the thing that gets me excited to do my job every day is the belief that I can make a difference, the hope I might empower a teacher or, even better, empower a student. This week I needed to do a better job of putting action to my words.

I hope Coach Ron would have chosen me as one of those positive people he surrounded himself with. When people choose to be surrounded by positive people, I want to be one of those people. I will be better tomorrow for what I have learned this week. I will be sure to hold others accountable, I will take responsibility for my actions speaking louder than my words. I will support, advocate, and toil alongside each and every educator empowering them to be the best possible version of themselves.

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TWaLC Debut: Trust and Confidentiality

I am starting a weekly post to appear on Thursdays with the not-so-creative title This Week as Literacy Coach (TWaLC). Here is the debut of TWaLC.

February 15, 2018: This Week as Literacy Coach John Badger Hat

Being a literacy coach has allowed me to pursue a passion I consider to be THE most important in education. That is, providing students with the experiences and opportunities necessary to become competent, confident, and established readers across many different texts, both simple and complex.

Twenty years of my career as a professional educator was spent in a high school E

old dog

nglish-Language Arts classroom. I have been in my current position as literacy coach for 564 days. New learning has occurred for this old dawg through many triumphs and many failures. In the spirit of vulnerability and collaboration, I will share my learning here.

Trust and Confidentiality

The greatest lesson I have learned as literacy coach is to build trust and maintain confidentiality. See, most literacy coaches and instructional coaches lie in an ambiguous state of being; neither are we administrators, nor are we classroom teachers.

I sense that teachers perceive my role as administrative, possibly evaluative. Whereas administrators seek characteristics of a teacher: utilizing best practice, advancing and sharing cutting-edge strategies, administer formative assessment to guide further leadership and differentiation of adult learners.  In addition to these traits, the requirement for coaches to demonstrate strong leadership of professional educators as adult learners, is paramount to connect the pedagogy visions of the administrators and the teaching staff.

God Given TalentsOne of the most basic principles I have followed for the majority of my adult life is that I am here to help people succeed. I believe God has called me to serve others through the strengths and talents he has bestowed (I didn’t say burdened) upon me. Each and every day I show up to help others succeed. I want administrators to succeed. I want teachers to succeed. Most importantly, I want all students to succeed.


Build trust. In order for teachers to believe in me, to welcome me into their trustconversations they need to trust me. Teachers need to know that I will not judge them, that I don’t have all the answers, that I am learning alongside them, that I will support their willingness to try new things. Trust cannot be understated.

Build confidential relationships. Allow vulnerability to happen in a safe space where confidentialwhat happens, even the good, is not shared outside of that space until the classroom teacher is ready. There have been times when I have been really excited to share what I have observed or the awesomeness of co-teaching with a colleague only to learn that my colleague didn’t feel the same way and wanted to protect that vulnerability.

I want students to do more than survive high school. I want students to thrive.

I want teachers to do more than just survive the day, or survive 4th hour English class with ‘that group’ of students. I want teachers to feel supported and honored for who they are, what they do, and why they show up each and every day for school.

This week with high school students and teachers…

Frayer Model for Word Identification:

Use this tool to develop deeper meaning and understanding around complex texts.

Here is a great tutorial provided by The Teacher Toolkit


A simple three column chart students can create in their notebook to monitor their own comprehension and understanding of complex texts. The first column (What I Know) draws on specific background knowledge of a topic or text. In the second column (What I Want to Know), students record questions they have about the topic or text, both before they read and as they read. Finally, the third column (What I Learned), encourages students to record the answers to their questions or any newly gained knowledge. To take it all one step further, any questions students don’t get answered can be prompts for further inquiry.

Kate and Maggie Roberts:

DIY Literacy…check out their website kateandmaggie.com for video tutorials on how to develop Demonstration Notebooks. GREAT STUFF!!!


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Teach Until Students Learn

Teach until students learn.

Sounds simple, right? Duh. But, in fact, this mission can present many challenges. Maybe those challenges are systemic. Maybe those challenges are in practice. Or, maybe those challenges are personal.

Allow me to process this simple goal.

Teach. This is what we do as professional educators every school day. Whether we aremodern classroom working with students or staff, we are teaching. The sun rises and so do we, to take on the challenges of the most important profession in the world. Continue to build your capacity to teach with urgency every day.

Students. The essence of our passion, the focus of our mission, the crux of our matter, the love of our professional lives. Our students are putting the puzzles of their lives together as they learn how new concepts fit into existing knowledge. With each passingstudents learning day, their purpose becomes clearer than the day before. Solutions lead to new questions, fresh tangents of inquiry, enthusiastic discovery.Teachers help to shape those puzzle pieces and guide students to fill in the vacant spots, whether they are foundation pieces or the ambiguous, puzzling center pieces. The center of our universe.

Learn. Students win because of what teachers do. One result of learning is growth: in mind, body, and spirit. Growth results in progress. See, there is this theory around us that goes something like this: We never stay the same, we are either moving forward or falling behind. If, once we have achieved our goals and are content, and we allow ourselves to stay in that moment as time marches on, we slowly fall behind. It is imperative that we continue to show students how to build their capacity to be learners. learn2Yes, teachers help students learn. But let’s not miss the abundant opportunities where students help teachers learn. We want our students to love learning as the form into life-long learners. Let’s show them what that looks like through our action, our passion, and our vulnerability

Teach every day with a passion that ignites student inquiry and discovery. Put students at the center of your mission from the minute you walk through the doors of your school until you fasten your seat-belt for your commute home at the end of the day. Guide students to see the value in learning through engaging, purposeful lessons that add immediate value to their lives. Learn for them, learn about them, learn with them, and teach until students learn.

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The Light

As I sat in church with my family this weekend, I was reminded to reflect on The Light.  John’s gospel elicits the important role of John the Baptist who was to ‘bear witness to the light.’

In a tremendous show of humility, John the Baptist declares he ‘is not fit to undo the strap’ of the sandals of he who was to come after him. Essentially, John the Baptist admitted he was inadequate to even carry the shoes of Jesus.

It was John’s calling to prepare the way for Jesus, the Nazarene.  He prepared the way for the Light; he illuminated the truth through his humility and service to others.

The challenge presented in this weekend’s mass was twofold. First, accept the responsibility of bringing light to others. In a time where are culture seems to be more divided than it is united, it is incumbent upon us to bring light into the lives of those we touch every day. How? Maybe a smile, listening with compassion, generosity in our thoughts and in our actions. We can accomplish this through humility and service to others.

Second, reflect on those who have brought light to our lives. As I look at the holiday lights sparkling throughout our home, I am reminded of all those unique people who have crossed my path at one time or another, at a time when I needed it most, who brought light to my life. As I approach 2018, I reflect on those special people who brought me into the light amid those murky moments when I couldn’t find my way through the dark.

Like the lights on the Christmas tree, those people are numerous, sparkling, and peaceful. Like John the Baptist who bore witness to the light, I will continue to be aware of how my thoughts, words, and actions are light for others.

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We have all met people who personify grace: kind, empathetic, forgiving. Sometimes grace is recognized through a gentle touch, an encouraging word, or just a simple smile.

When I need kindness, forgiveness, or empathy God has a knack of sending something or someone into my path. Because of this, I am mindful of showing grace to others.

I sing and play my guitar at mass once a month. My most recent experience bothered me. First, as I was singing and playing I am the Bread of Life I got lost in the lyrics. There are times when I have to glance at my guitar for chord changes, taking my eyes off the hymnal. I use the hymnal that all parishioners use; the print is small and I got lost. So be it. Embarrassing? Yes. Disappointed? Yes. Need Grace? Yes.

Desiree and I have four children, ranging in ages from 15 – 8. Because Desiree occasionally has on-call responsibilities on weekends, the children and I attend mass on our own.

This particular week our eight-year-old twins were with me. For most of the mass they had to sit on their own. They sat off to my side while I led song for the congregation.

As mass ended, I just needed to put this performance behind me. I was feeling quite vulnerable and a bit anxious because of getting lost in the communion song.

As I was packing up my guitar, an adult woman who I know approached me and said, "Next time you better keep your girls in front of you not behind you, that's all I'm going to say."

She walked away. I stood in disbelief. The implication of course was that the two eight-year-olds had been misbehaving.

I took the opportunity to have a conversation with my daughters and give them grace. While they are expected to be mindful in church and conduct themselves with appropriate behavior, it was not entirely their fault.

As I walked out of church with my daughters, the voice in my head was telling me to quit, never come back to this church where I willingly give my time on many different fronts and share my talents. I was disappointed and frustrated.

One of the hardest things for me to do is give myself grace. It wasn't going to come from anyone else this time…it had to come from inside of me.

Thank you God for this lesson in humility and grace. I pray that, if you call me to share my talents again with this parish, that those who attend mass might have grace for a "single dad" on the weekends, always trying to do Your will.

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Exceed Expectations through Valuing Others

As a professional educator for 21 years, I have developed thousands of relationships. Some were short, some long. Some have been shallow, some deep.IMG_3413

IMG_4421                       I have collaborated with professional educators. I have shared a classroom with an abundant number of students. I have networked with countless professional educators nationally and internationally.

Finally, of course, I have deep, lasting relationships with Desiree, our four children, and my closest, most reliable friends.NRIX7447



In all instances where the relationship was reciprocally valued, the deeper, lasting and more meaningful the alliance developed.

Teachers might observe one or two students not engaged in classroom activities and be critical of that student’s work ethic. A coach may point out that some of his high school athletes have not been showing up to voluntary swimming workouts and find fault in their character.

School administrators may wonder why the biology teacher never comes out of her classroom to share what she is doing and assume she is hiding her insecurities and forgottenfaults.

My question is: Do these students, athletes, and teachers feel valued? Do they feel like the teacher, coach, or school leader knows their name much less their strengths or weaknesses?

Once, many years ago, someone who I respected at the time, criticized me for speaking truth to power and demanded, “What do you know about leadership? Who do you think you are?”

I do know one thing for sure about leadership: When people feel valued, they will exceed expectations every time.value people success

Let’s learn to value people for being human, not for what we might gain by leveraging or manipulating others.

Teachers, value your students. Build relationships by listening with an open heart and engaging in the conversation.

Coaches, value your athletes. Those high school kids are showing up to participate becausethey love the sport and you are the resident expert. Value them for who they are not for what they may or may not bring you.

School leaders, value every person in your building: students, teachers, all staff. Believe in the power of social capital.

When people feel valued, they will exceed expectations every time.


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Empowering Youth Athletes

As many of you know I am an advocate for youth sports. The benefits of participating in team sports throughout our younger and more vulnerable years can be life-changing. Learning to compete is a valuable skill to acquire and apply to the many circumstances encountered through a lifetime.

In recent years, social media has been used as a platform for venting about youth sports and high school sports by athletes, coaches, and, mostly, parents. 

Parents, STOP venting on social media. I know we need to vent and we want validation, but using the social media platform does more harm than good. It can tear a community apart and bring shame and embarrassment to children.

Coaches, we need to LISTEN to parents: being present with them, validating their concerns, and communicating, genuinely and honestly, with athletes and their parents. All of us do have the best interest of the child in our hearts, right?

Coaches, don’t admonish parents; they are doing the best they can. Many of us carry the emotions of our children in our hearts…when they hurt we hurt, when they’re frustrated we’re frustrated, when they’re happy we’re happy. At times we let those emotions get the best of us and become critical of the one person who we think has control over this, the coach.

Most recently I noticed a high school coach using social media as a platform to admonish parents. The post explicitly pointed out that parents must tell their children to listen to the coach, be a help rather than a nuisance, and lower expectations as to how being a part of the team would benefit the child.

The post subtly implied that athletes who complain about their role tend to quit which in turn leads to a lifetime of quitting and failure. 

Not true! I hope we can all agree that there is no direct correlation between athletes who complain about their role, eventually quitting, to living an adult life of quitting and failure. Broad strokes like these aren’t effective at getting down to the issue at play.

What’s really at stake here? I argue it is the development of the child.

It’s fair for the child to question her role. All of us are wondering where we fit and how we impact the world around us, right? Be honest with each player. Help her see how her role directly impacts the success of the team. Praise her when she successfully fulfills her role, demand more of her when she doesn’t.BSoccer17

Coaches must be sure to show athletes respect; the sport is about the children, NOT the COACHES and NOT PARENTS. Celebrate hard work when athletes directly impact the success of the team. Demand more of our children when it’s appropriate. Given respect and appropriate expectations, athletes might be more inclined to listen with an open mind; in fact, they may develop the capacity to help their parents gain clarity in what is happening on the field.

The fact is, the one person who needs to be empowered is the child at the center of all the discontent between parents and coaches. 

Everyone will be a lot happier and healthier if we can focus on the children; empower them to self-advocate and believe that who they are and what they do, no matter what the circumstance, matters in the world we live. DTrack17

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