I Don't Care Anymore

On twitter and elsewhere, there has been much talk about we need to do to fix our situation in the world of education.  Everyone seems to have the silver bullet to save our children.  I agree that we cannot keep losing children, but I almost wonder if we are mentally defeating ourselves by constantly focusing on outcomes.  They almost are never what we were hoping they would be.  In fact, for all we know they may be unrealistic.  I think overall I don’t care what the scores are anymore.  

 When I coach soccer I don’t care about wins or loses any more.  I used to care about my record more than what skills were being taught.  When I switched my mentality to caring about giving the athletes skills and reminding myself that the players results were a result of the training I provided them.  This past year I focused on training, reminding them that winning is a choice, talking about mindset, how to make themselves feel better about being men in our current world, and the power of body language.   In the most intense games the ones who choose to be successful are and the ones who are hoping to win never do.  This year we choose to put in the work and it really showed. 

We did not have the best record around, but every game we played we lost was decided by 1 goal.  We went head to head with ranked programs, fought our way through the season, until we finally took a team that was 4-2 and had been bullying other teams in the county and soundly defeated them 2-0.  We made a choice and succeeded together.  This past year I received letters in my email thanking me for the job I did from my players.  Someone else brought me a bottle of HP sauce referring to a pep talk I made when talking about high pressure play.  To me this was what success looked like and all it really took was changing MY attitude.

I didn’t change anything else.  I chose to look for ways to help the boys improve.  I provided the games, the environment, and the leadership.  I looked at myself as an ambassador for the game.  I was not going to be the coach the sucked the fun out of it all.  I wanted to share with them a little piece of what manhood could look like.  I wanted to show them that being a man is ok.  I wanted to show them that success is something that has to be cultivated.  I wanted to help capture the feeling I had being on the soccer field when I was 8 years old.  When it was about the joy of being a part of the game and not looking for certain results.  The final team dinner where everyone was talking so loudly in the pizza shop we were put in our own section showed me that I had achieved all of my goals and I smiled.    

This year, I have begun to try to put this mindset to work in my classroom.  I care about the growth of my students.  I used to worry about my job.  In one school in the past, I rightfully needed to and was formed within the crucible of that classroom.  But this year I had a sort of calm descend over me.  There is nothing I can do to stop the politicians from playing games with my life.  There is nothing I can do about the newest trend except give it a try and if it fails try something else.   I realize grades are a part of schooling, but I don’t fret about them as much as a used to.  If you do your job well the students will do well.  No test can show you how the relationships you have forged with the students you teach will impact them down the road.  I still think about some of my teachers and I know some of my students will always think of me.  

 I suppose I am not the best at everything in teaching, but I try every day.  I often have to remind myself to find the joy.  I can be a negative or realistic person, which I guess comes from my upbringing.  Lately I have begun recording my victories and accomplishments from the day so I could find the joy.  Over the last few days I have had like fifteen accomplishments or joyful moments each day.  My life isn’t horrible.  Even if the current state of affairs in my profession feels like it is tearing itself apart.  

I am really lucky to be in the classroom and on the soccer field.  Both have taught me much about life and how to deal with people.  So many people I went to school with did not end up in the classroom and are now doing something else.  I made it.  

I am here teaching the youth of America.  I made kids smile all day.  I helped them grow even when they didn’t want to or though they could. I gave them hope in a world that is obsessed with hopelessness.  I told them that success is a choice they have to make for themselves even when everyone else told them to give up and accept their lot in life.  I was given a chance to change their lives and develop them into functional human beings.  That is why I became a teacher.  To help people push past boundaries and help them succeed.  

I suppose this post is littered with too many clichés, but they have helped me frame my own world.  Life is so much more than getting a college degree.  We have to be constantly growing or we will be dissatisfied.  I have put in the effort to understand myself lately and I think it is helping me in the classroom and on the soccer field.  I hope that I can be the example for these kids.  

I am sure everyone was thinking this was going to be pretty negative post, but I think it is a rather positive one.  But in reality, I don’t care anymore.  Or do I just care about something else more?  I think I just decided to care about my students as people.  And, once again, I am smiling. 

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