I interpreted a good portion of yesterday’s class as a discussion about control, and how to teach in a completely different environment than what we consider normal or perhaps traditional is a better word. I thought about this and remembered an experience that I had coaching little league one summer.
One summer my buddy asked me to help him coach a little league team in Burlington’s North End. I figured coaching’s coaching and I’ve coached swimming since I got out of college. What’s the difference? Have them run some drills, play some games, should be fun.
It was a nightmare.
Coaching swimming is a piece of cake compared to little league. In swimming, the kids are separated in lanes in groups of 6 or so and they swim back and forth. Occasionally you get the kid who keeps diving under the water, but you know he’s going to have to come up for air sometime. With little league, it’s like the field is infinite and there are no barriers. Just kids everywhere – running around, throwing the ball at each other, hitting each other with bats (yeah, there aren’t a lot of hard objects to throw at each other in swimming). It was complete chaos because the kids where running around everywhere and it’s difficult to keep them focused and on task.
Add to that my inexperience in coaching little league. I was an awful athlete as a kid and never made it past farm league. I love baseball and play softball now, but I never learned any drills or exercises. I had no idea what a little league practice looked like. These 5th graders had more experience playing on an organized baseball team that I did.
I think of new media and the new classroom as that little league practice. Students now have a huge little league field (www) and they know more about the game (technology) than the coach. It’s way easier for me to do what I know -coach swimming. It’s organized the kids are limited to what they can do (in a lane, back and forth) and I know it. What about those kids in the North End, many are poor and need that positive role model and positive experience? Am I, by not stepping out of my comfort zone, doing them a disservice?
That’s clearly big picture thinking and I know there’s a lot more to it when it comes to dealing with No Child, the administration and parents. You just can’t teach little leaguers how to play baseball in a pool.
Oh, and I learned that Jackie Robinson was once a VP for Chock Full o’ Nuts.