The New World of Teaching!

Imagine yourself as the head coach of a high school football team.

For months, you work with your young athletes to develop their individual skills and teamwork. You believe in your players and spend considerable time getting to know and understand each child on your team. You constantly look for ways to help your players by identifying training needs and other areas in which you can help them improve.

As the coach, you are committed to your team. You set high expectations both on and off the field and work with your unit to meet your team’s goals and expectations.

You provide daily inspiration and motivation to your players through your positive attitude and enthusiasm for your sport. You maintain a high level of team morale by helping your players see the positives and stay focused on solutions rather than problems.

You understand that not every player is the same. Some are better on offense and others on defense; some in skill positions and others on the line of scrimmage. You have a defined vision for your team yet hope that each player is successful in reaching his or her unique potential.

At your school, every child is required to play football, so you coach them all—the athletic and talented ones, as well as the small, awkward, uncoordinated ones. The ones who thrive on competition and the ones who would rather find a corner of the library and read a good book.

As a leader and role model, you are always prepared. You study your craft constantly and develop detailed plans to help your players grow and improve. At the same time, you are open to change, will listen to your players’ ideas, and are always willing to make changes to see your team succeed.

Ultimately, it is about the players, not you.

You are both demanding and loving; a drill sergeant and a counselor; respected and admired . . . and sometimes feared. You believe in your players and will accept nothing less than their best at all times.

You are not a coach for personal glory or accolades. You actually prefer to stay out of the limelight. When your team does well, you credit your players. When they do poorly, you take accountability.

You do what you do because your love kids and are intrinsically motivated by purpose to help children experience success and enjoy this journey called life.

You are a coach. You can’t think of anything else you would rather do.

Now imagine that your team is scheduled for only one game this year.

While you have numerous team practices and scrimmages, the success of your entire season will rest on how your athletes perform in only ONE game.

A game in which you, the coach, will not be allowed to watch or participate. In fact, you are not allowed to call any of the plays or provide any guidance to players during the contest. The players are completely on their own.

After the game, you ask each of your players, How did it go?”  While they are allowed to share how they think they might have done, they are not permitted to discuss any of the specific plays that transpired during the game.

I hope I didn’t let you down, Coach,” says one player.

You are not even allowed to ask about the specifics of the game. Neither are you allowed to view any portion of the game that someone may have accidentally recorded. Violation of this rule will result in the immediate removal of your coaching credentials.

Four months after the game, and before the start of the next season, you are called to your Athletic Director’s office to review the scoring report on each of your players from that one game, which he has finally received from the out-of-state football appraisers, via the State Department of Athletics.

First, comes the good news.  The report shows that some of your players did an outstanding job in all aspects of the game. A larger group performed satisfactorily.

However, the AD then points out that several of your players were given ratings of “limited achievement” or “unsatisfactory.” Three players did poorly on the standard of “tackling.” Others received low marks in the categories of “blocking,” “catching,” “running,” and “understanding the playbook.”

You ask your athletic director for more detailed reports so you can have a better idea of why your players were given lower scores in these areas. You explain that it difficult to evaluate why a player was marked down in “tackling” without seeing the actual play. Did the player miss the tackle because of poor technique, the wrong defensive scheme, or for being out of position?

You will never know. Because the athletic director tells you that he also does not have access to that information as he was not allowed to view the game either.

He compliments you on the quality of the many practices he has observed and on the positive effect you have had on your players as a role model. He knows you are a good coach because he has seen you in action with your players on numerous occasions.

Despite this, the AD proceeds to counsel you on the weaknesses of your team. He says that the fact that thirty percent of your players received overall scores below satisfactory reflects poorly on your coaching ability. You respond by reminding him that most of your players did very well; in fact, several earned perfect scores on the evaluation.

He tells you that several players showed “insufficient growth.” You point out that this player growth cannot be accurately determined from only one game because the players were on a different team with a different coach last year. Moreover, some players missed a lot of practice and never fully participated in the scrimmages. They just didn’t seem to care.

The AD says, “Live with it. It is what the legislature says we have to do. If we don’t, we’ll lose our waiver to play football.”

The AD then reminds you that your job is to ensure that all of your players earn satisfactory scores in the game and to reduce the athletic achievement gap between your players. Failure to do this will leave some of your players behind. Therefore, they will not be college- and NFL-ready.

You argue that your players are vastly different. Some of your players have played football for years; for others it was their first year. Some are smaller and faster; others are bigger and stronger. Some play offense, some play defense, others play special teams, and some play on all three units. You contend that to evaluate all of these different players using the exact same football assessment is not accurate or meaningful.

Fed up with your complaining, the AD yells at you, “Stop making excuses!” He says, “Individual differences between players are irrelevant. Your job is to get all of them to perform equally.”

By now the AD is angry and you are confused and frustrated. He reminds you that, by law, half of your evaluation will now be based on these scores of these players. Players, incidentally, whom you will never have a chance to coach again.

More importantly, the AD is upset because “your scores affect HIS scores,” and that mediocrity will not be tolerated. “I need that bonus pay,” he yells!

He hands you the ream of scores from your previous players and instructs you to use it, “to become a better coach this year.”

You reply, “You know what I was working with. I gave my heart and soul to these kids. Plus, all of these players are now gone. They’ve moved on to the next coach. I will have a completely different group of players this year.”

Now totally frustrated, you add: “How does ‘tackling’ and ‘blocking’  data from this unique group of players from only one game that I didn’t see last year help me become a better coach for a completely different group of players this year?”

That doesn’t matter, figure it out,” barks the AD! “Next year’s group must do better than this year’s team. Another year like this one and you might be out of a job.”

You leave the AD’s office angry and disillusioned. Maybe your dad was right–maybe coaching was not the best career choice for you.

Then you think to yourself: “I wonder if that job down at the car dealership is still available. I don’t get paid nearly enough for this crap.”

Welcome to the world of a public school teacher in the year 2015.

Unfortunately, you don’t have to imagine that.

A Center for Ants?Let’s Stop Pretending . . .
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