We had a great chat on Twitter last night about the importance of coaches in the lives of high school athletes. It was a little bit of an echo chamber, as we all were very passionate about athletics and the importance of coaches. My background is in athletics and coaching, and many of the lessons I learned have helped me in my professional and personal life.
One habit/lesson/quality that I learned was persistence. When I didn't think I was hitting well in softball, I was taught to stay after practice. When I wanted to make all my free throws in basketball, I learned to do more. When there was a goal that needed to be met, I was pushed, motivated, demanded, and encouraged to never give up. To keep working. To keep trying. To persist.
As an educator, that philosophy is one that I carry with me every day as I work with students. To never give up on kids. To keep working with them. To keep trying new things. To persist in making a difference.
We have been focusing on building positive relationships at our school, so the week that the teachers returned I hung posters in one of our conference rooms that had all the 10th - 12th grade students' names and pictures on them.
I asked the teachers to go by the conference room and highlight the name of every student with whom they had a positive relationship. How did I define the positive relationship? If the student would say that they had a positive relationship!
At the end of the week, I collected the posters and created a spreadsheet with all the names of the students whose names were not highlighted. When I emailed it to the faculty, I asked them to review the lists and put their name in the "Mentor" column beside a student's name if a) they had a positive relationship with the student already but missed the student's name the first time around, or b) they have the student in their class this year and were committing to intentionally building a positive connection with that student.
I will "check in" with the mentors throughout the year to find out how the student is progressing and how their relationship is going. Every time I talk with the teachers, I'm sure I'll say, "Never give up!"