If at First You Don’t Succeed Who do You Blame?

It’s a typical setting, two guys sitting around talking about basketball.  Both officials, professionals, sharing war stories from about their current season.  On this night, one official was at the game to work, the other was there as a parent, his son’s team poised for a play-off spot.   Thirty-two game minutes later, a last second shot is launched from half court and falls one foot short as the home team wins the game by one point.  The parent comes charging across the floor screaming “you did this, you wanted them to lose,” to the official. As I am watching this situation unfold, I can only think “Wow, is this guy serious?”  It didn’t end there, as I walked to my car with my father I heard the same parent continue, “That official is a parent of a student here, he never should have accepted this game.” To which another parent replied, “Really? That’s why we lost! ” This only reinforces one idea to me, in this instance, it’s not about the shots missed, the turnovers, or how well one team played versus another.  It’s about the call the official didn’t make, the perceived bias the parents were placing on the game.  This concerns me for our students as they are learning, it is not their fault, it’s not their choices, effort in practice or anything else, it’s the missed calls by the officials that determine a game.

An idea that struck me in my credential school was to focus on what I had control over in my class room.  For example, I have control over how I teach my curriculum or the resources I use to support my teaching strategies.  I can control how I treat my students, speak to them, assign homework, or which standards I will focus on that day.  Alternately, I cannot control the mood my student will be in when he or she walks in the door.  I cannot control the parents of my students who call, email, or ask for extra credit because their child is failing – and even though I have already said no twice – the parent would really like a chance for their child to make up a semester’s worth of work in one weekend.  Now, it’s easy to complain about students or parents as a teacher, but it never solves anything.  Just like parents and students complain about teachers, it’s a cycle where everyone is at fault and nothing really gets resolved.

As teachers, we want kids to take control of their lives, to take responsibility and make great choices.  However, if we continue to make excuses for our students, or even ourselves, we will never be able to honestly evaluate our situation and make the choices needed to improve our environment.

Teachers are like officials to adegree–they make choices on what’s available and laid on their table–without the other elements in place–positive attitudes and contributions by parents, students and community, the educational process will not happen.  Positive attitudes of parents and students can overcome negatives in the system.  In sports, there is a difference between losing and being beaten.  In losing, the athletes or coaches did not give it everything; in being beaten, the athletes and coaches encounter superior play and ability.  The official only levels the playing field by ensuring the rules are followed.  A bad official is like a bad teacher; however, both are negated by positive attitudes and application of skills and abilities by either the athlete and his coach or by the student and his parents.  Parents need to remember that they are the coaches in the game of life.

~ by cadaleaders on March 18, 2010.

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