Next Play


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by americanistadechiapas

George was right. He told me I was crazy to think that I could write a blog post for everyday I taught. I should just know that he will be right when it comes to anything related to social media/twitter/technology. Last night was an especially busy night for me with my coaching commitments having me at the University from 5:30pm-11:15pm and teaching from 8:30am – 3:30pm. When I got home I was exhausted, and just couldn’t bring myself to sit down and reflect. The tank was empty, and I surrendered to the comfort of my bed.

Now this isn’t the end of the world, and I know that, but it did bother me. It was a lofty goal and I wasn’t able to achieve it, so part of me was upset. After 10 years in the classroom, the other part of me knew this was ok. Setting lofty goals and striving to achieve them is a great practice that benefits us even when we are unsuccessful. This is an important lesson for our students, and our newer teachers too.

Things are not always going to go well for us in what we do, but that doesn’t mean we should simply stop trying to achieve anything. As a new teacher, it is great to try new things, put together exciting and interesting lessons and to strive to be an amazing educator. In your first few years, in the midst of all that energy, enthusiasm and excitement, there will be lessons, projects or even entire days that don’t go as planned. So what do you do? Go to the safe and easy lesson, and give your students the same vanilla education that has been delivered for years? No, of course not, because you know what is right and you need to do what ever you can to provide your students with the best learning experiences you can create for them.

On our basketball team, we have a new motto for this season. “Next Play” is something we stole from a successful NCAA coach and its about what you do when you experience difficulty, or even failure. He preaches that his team’s focus must always be on the next play, and not whatever has just occurred. Because of this motto that his teams live every practice and game, you rarely see one of his players argue a call with a referee, or hang their head when they miss a shot. They know that the right thing to do for them and their teammates is to worry about the next play, and whatever they can do to help the team be successful in that next play.

So new teacher, or experienced teacher, we should always be focused on the “Next Lesson” when our plans end up falling flat. We should focus on the “Next Project” when the one we thought would inspire, bored our students into a near catatonic state. We should focus on the “Next Day” when we have rough day with our students, and need to come back strong for them and us. For me, I was focused on the “Next Blog Post”…and there it is.

4 thoughts on “Next Play

  1. Boy did I need this post this week!! Thank you. Although in many ways the school year has gotten off to a very positive start for me (great students, I’m pleased with some of the pedagogical changes I am making) I am being professionally frustrated in other ways (cell phones really are learning tools….Twitter can really be used safely with students). I have also so far been “cursed” to the point of comedy with tech failure in my second building (I get the need for a plan B, but when I’m on plan D or E and the tech support person is trying to hold on to the data projector that has just fallen from the ceiling…). So I’ve been taking the good with the bad…in stride….but reading this post really made a difference. Thank you for the reminder to me to practice what I keep trying to get across to my students.

  2. If you look at your posts since you started your “project” with blogging this school year, your writing is stronger than it has been before. You are writing about what you are doing in the classroom and you are reflecting as opposed to simply writing for the “audience”. The audience will still enjoy it because you are just being open as a teacher. The reflection is powerful and genuine. So although you may not have really met your goal, the consistent and continuous writing has proven that you can become a better writer. Seems like there is sometimes success in failure :)

    The other thing is that I am glad you are not blogging everyday. I love blogging, but it is essential that we do other things that give us balance. One of the things that I admire most about you as a teacher is that you are doing something else this year. A teacher that follows their dreams is the role model I want my students to see. To coach, teach, and blog everyday is asking too much and may stretch your skills thin.

    Keep living your dreams and share when you can; we appreciate every story :)

  3. I’ve always been a fan of the L.M Montgomery quote, “Tomorrow is always another day fresh with no mistakes.” It’s an almost necessary ethos for teaching and blogging. Both are precarious practices that involve a great deal of risk taking and a high likelihood of face-planting. The belief that there is a “next” or better is what makes these pursuits exhilarating and worthwhile.

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