Monday, December 5, 2011


As coaches, parents and teachers it’s our hope and desire to be a positive influence on the children on our teams and in our classrooms and families. Typically, the rewards we receive for our efforts are consistent and evident. The children in our lives are happy and appreciative. But, how should we feel when these things aren’t so evident? What does it mean when our kids don’t seem to be appreciative or they become critical of us? Have we become bad parents or coaches? NO! Have we lost the ability to influence our athletes and children? NO! Although their appreciation may not always be overtly displayed, the children in our lives are learning from us. They look up to us as role models and they appreciate the things we are teaching them.

Many, many years ago, when I was fresh out of college, I spent a few years teaching physical education before opening my gym. At one of my schools, I had a little girl who loved the activities I planned for the kids, but struggled with her behavior. There was no problem motivating her to participate, but motivating her to follow instructions and treat people right was a challenge. Consequently, she spent a lot of time sitting out of the activities that she loved so much. Her disapproval of this was very evident. As hard as I tried, I just couldn’t find a way to get this seven year old to behave. I thought she must hate my class.

My other school was a magnet school where the students applied to attend and were accepted from all over town. I taught this little girls brother at the magnet school. As open house (meet your teacher night) was winding down at the magnet school, this little girl came bursting through the door of my room (yes, she was running in the hall). Her mother came through the door shortly after her with an apologetic look on her face. “She just wouldn’t leave without coming down here to see you” the Mom said. “She loves your classes and talks about them all the time.”

Prior to this conversation, I didn’t believe I was contributing anything positive in this girl’s life. Apparently, I was wrong. I improved as a teacher and coach that day, because I came to understand that although my effect on the children I teach wasn’t always evident, it did exist. I didn’t need to have positive feedback or reinforcement from my students to know that I was having an effect on them. Sure, it’s nice to hear good comments from our students, their parents and other teachers and coaches, but we must continue the journey whether those are present or not. We must understand that our effect, good or bad, on the children we coach is present whether it is made evident to us or not. So, coaches, parents and teachers, don’t stop believin’ that you make a difference and dedicate every minute of your effort to the goal of making that difference a positive one.


ARC said...

Thank you Mark. I have been going through this in my coaching recently and really needed to read and re-read this today.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Thank you for the reminder, Mark.

You may not think that anyone is reading and being influenced by your blogposts. Even 6 years after you originally posted.

But you'd be wrong in not believin'...