A Healthier Active Classroom

Category: 2013
Published: Tuesday, 31 December 2013
A Healthier Active Classroom


Last spring I was asked to do a long term substitution for a very good friend of mine. She was going into the hospital for surgery. I went in early to meet her class. They were all the 7th graders in an all boy’s school. She was a Science teacher and I would be there for six weeks. What an outstanding teacher she is. She had laid out the chapters, assignments, and tests for me on the side counter. Any time I had a question I could call her.


The academic part went really well. I even had the chance to bring in my daughter, who was a senior in high school, a straight a student, and a science whiz, to teach a couple of classes. She was brilliant! Way better than me. She has the touch teaching kids. She was so professional. I was beaming with pride.


Ironically, some of the parents called and complained, and the head of the science department came down to my class to talk about what I had done. He was very good about it though. But geez, Molly knew more little details than I did about what we are studying. The kids loved her and they learned a lot. (And so did I) I used what she taught these two classes with the other three.


What an opportunity to be with an age group that was right at the cusp of puberty or just getting to it. There were plenty of athletes in the five classes I taught and there were about 100 children total. At least half of the total played sports, and they played many different sports. What a laboratory for me!


First things first though. I had to gain their trust. I started out by having them print their names with their opposite normal writing hand on their first “packet.”


I wanted them to understand balance, and teach them a little humility while having fun. I then explained to them life was about the journey and that they would become better at writing with the opposite hand the more they practiced using it. Continuing to do the same thing the same way over and over would lead to the law of diminishing retunes.


As the time passed I started to notice a disturbing trend. Kids were missing classes on Friday and some were coming in Monday obviously tired. The teacher had given me the grading book to record grades. It became quite obvious that most if not all of the children who missed class on Fridays were athletes. The children coming in tired on Mondays were part of that same group. I then started to chart their homework assignments, reading comprehension form the assigned readings, and their test scores.


 The data gained was very revealing. The more absences, the more tired they were. The more tired they were the poorer there work was, and ultimately, their test grades suffered.


This did not apply to all, but I have done enough research on this topic that the data was compelling, and I was able to predict, before a test was taken, for the most part on how the tired students would fair.


Here was my solution. Since this school had incorporated the block scheduling into their curriculum, where the children have an hour and fifteen minute classes two days a week, I decided to try an experiment.  I could not match this teacher’s knowledge of science. (I have degrees in history, psychology, and philosophy, with a Masters in education) I had to come up with a different approach to help these children feel better and fresher, so they could do better I theorized.


“Simon Sez.” Yep. It just hit me one night when I couldn’t sleep. I was worried about the job I was doing. It seemed to be going well and the feedback was good, but I thought I could do better for these kids. They needed to be more active. I called my friend and she agreed that I could try it. What a hit it was. I started it. Then I let the kids lead. Some were good, some weren’t. We encouraged the kids to be positive and everyone got a chance. The enthusiasm was infectious. They began to ask when we were going to play “Simon Sez.”


I would tell them if we got this amount of work done and everyone participated, and helped each other we would play. The results were outstanding.


When the teacher called me after she had recorded the final grades form the last test an amazing fact emerged. The children’s grades, for the most part went up! She even told me she was considering adding it to her curriculum.

I love kids.

Stop Telling Us What We Want: We Can Speak for Ourselves Part 3

Category: 2013
Published: Monday, 23 December 2013
Having coaches scream at your kids to make them better is simply giving you a reason to say you are not a hover parent. Another news flash for you: a coach that screams at their players so they won’t be mediocre or suck is a type of hover parent, one who is trying to avoid bad things happening to the kids by playing the role of the bad guy and toughening them up so the real world won’t hurt them. Old-school coaches are hover parents trying to achieve the same goal by using opposite to the traditional means so they can tell themselves they aren’t hover parents.
Making me do punishment laps will not make me feel “pardoned” nor will I finish those laps smiling. It will not toughen me up, teach me to shut up and take it, or teach me to stop “embarrassing” myself through my poor play. I will eventually resent you, be angry at my parents for making me go through it, and start taking that anger out on others.
 I’ve met those kids, the people they are outside of their house, away from the yelling and negativity in youth sports and some parenting are not happy people. These are my friends you are talking about. Many are angry, they are withdrawn, they are depressed, they are bullies, and they are hurting, looking for ways to take from other people the love and joy they never had because that’s the only way to make themselves feel better.
I learned how to sacrifice myself for the good of my teammates, not the idea of my ‘team,’ without anyone yelling at me because I knew I could trust them and because they would do the same for me. In the environment my team created, I wanted to sacrifice myself to show my teammates they were so important to me and deserving of that sacrifice, a high complement if ever there was one.
Ask any kid, they will tell you they want a coach to encourage them, but also give them fair guidelines and just discipline. Those are the coaches your kids will enjoy playing for, their lessons are the ones they will remember because they used them, and those coaches will be the ones to find the “it” inside of your kids that makes them perform at the top of their game. They will help mold my child into a happy, upstanding, confident individual. “I am inclined to stand back and let them.”


            I am a former club swimmer, as well as a youth hockey and little league baseball player, and the product of six years of travel soccer. I never played for my high school team, preferring my travel soccer team, and I do not play for my college. I would like to thank VJ for allowing me to guest blog these past few weeks.

Stop Telling Us What We Want, We Can Speak for Ourselves Part 2

Category: 2013
Published: Monday, 16 December 2013
You really want to get a point across to your players? Get really quiet. They have to lean in if they want to hear you, and if you are the type of person that is always loud enough to be heard over the roar of a playing arena, show them that this point is important enough to warrant a drastic, yet logical and calm, change in your behavior. You want to let them know you are upset? Show them you are disappointed. It is one of the worst feelings ever to know that someone you trust and that trusts you is disappointed in you. The guilt alone should do your work for you, without needing to lose your voice at the end of a practice or game.
I wanted to go to soccer practice, which was only two or three times a week, because I was surrounded by people who praised me when I did something right, helped me correct what was wrong, made me laugh, and made me feel like I was an integral part of a team. I didn’t want to play for my high school team because the coach believed in little more than winning, and building a team community was NOT on her priority list. I didn’t want to play for a coach who wouldn’t play her players based on performance, but rather the place she believed they deserved based on their talent. This is a type of entitlement, one that “old-school” coaches believe in so they can stop the ridiculous “embarrassment” they think follows poor playing or lack of talent.
Most kids join a team at a young age because they want to have a good time with their friends and because they want to feel like they belong somewhere. An “old-school” coach takes both of those things away from the child, and so they quit, rightly so, to find other avenues that will give them those feelings.
Another argument she makes is that people in the real world will not boost her kids’ egos, so if they get used to it early, they will know how to deal with it. Another load of crap. Yes, my parents and my coaches told me when I wasn’t doing my best, and yes, not everyone in the real world has the opinion of me that my parents do. But by not yelling at me and being derogative, they taught me how to examine their point of view, find the truth in it, and apply it to my life. If I had an “old-school” coach, I would be filled with anger and resentment, and every time someone tried to tell me what I did wrong, that anger would be brought back, blinding me to the truth in their words.
Being scared of parents who pamper their kids instead of subjecting them to these awful coaches and allows them to get fat off that pampering is a bit extreme, but understandable. However, I would argue that, because you are against one extreme, the other is better? Not wanting to be a hover craft and a military tank type of parent, destroying all opposition and negativity that could touch their child before it happens, is also understandable. My parents didn’t want to let anything bad happen to me, but they let me fall when I was a child and make mistakes because they knew they could fix it if I couldn’t figure out how. But they had the patience, trust, and belief in me to let me try.


I am a former club swimmer, as well as a youth hockey and little league baseball player, and the product of six years of travel soccer. I never played for my high school team, preferring my travel soccer team, and I do not play for my college.

Stop Telling Us What We Want, We Can Speak for Ourselves Part 1

Category: 2013
Published: Tuesday, 10 December 2013
My name is Molly, I am 18 years old, and I am a freshman in college. I recently read an article in Esquire in defense of coaches who yell. It was written by a woman who states that she is a mom, a careful parent, and a feminist. She outlines how she has taken the best care of her kids from conception onward, including enrolling them in a school that, to quote an online dictionary, is based on a system of education through free and guided play. She then spends parts of  the rest of the article arguing in favor of coaches who yell, coaches she calls “old-school style.” She states that it is ok for a coach to yell negative things at her kids and others because they do it for the benefit of the team. They are striving to bring out the very best in every kid so the team can be as great as possible. What a load of crap!


 I do not for one second believe that every “old-school” coach yells for purely extrinsic reasons, especially these days when everyone seems to be a lot more angry than they used to be, for the time, money, and pressure encompassing the world we live in.. They don’t want to be embarrassed in front of others because of a poor score, or because people see their kids as “soft.”


Wow. News flash, a youth sports game has nothing to do with the coach or the parents. Hence the youth part of youth sports. You don’t play in the game, and you do little more than act as a guide and allow your players to create an environment full of positivity. Maybe you teach us a drill or two, but what you really (should) do is teach us how to act as a team.


She often refers to the fact that she suffered the same abuse (which is what it is, because if a parent did that to their own child in public, there is a chance CPS would be called) as a child in sports, and it made her tougher, taught her to “take an unfair ass-kicking and shut up about it.”


She goes on to say that she believes in coaches who don’t care if a child is scared in the deep end or four years old, they will scream regardless. I would argue, first, that this unfair treatment and borderline abuse.


 Second, her coach, and/or maybe her parents, made her an angry human being who feels that, since it happened to her, everyone else should know the pain she suffered. If you let your kids suffer the consequences of your childhood problems, you need to calm down and reevaluate your role as a parent. Third, as a child who played travel soccer for a coach who never yelled, surrounded by parents who yelled nothing but encouragement (if anything at all), I can guarantee that we the players hear NOTHING anyone yells at us from the sidelines.


If you do yell at us, we are smart enough to recognize it as unnecessary, and we tune you out. When you yell things at us that are not true or just plain derogatory, we lose respect for you and we grow to resent you and you lose our trust, the most important part of any relationship between adult and child. Then you wonder why you have trouble disciplining us, why we don’t want to hang around you anymore, and why we strive to be as different from you as possible when we are parents.


You loathe yelling teachers? What is a coach if not a teacher in sports? If someone is in my face, screaming at me to do better, yes I will initially try to do better. But after a while, I will do so poorly so consistently that the coach will have no choice but to bench me. He no longer has a way of criticizing me for my playing if I’m not playing. Didn’t think about that, did you, old-school coach?



I am a former club swimmer, as well as a youth hockey and little league baseball player, and the product of six years of travel soccer. I never played for my high school team, preferring my travel soccer team, and I do not play for my college.

Scholarships to "Babes"

Category: 2013
Published: Monday, 02 December 2013
Scholarships to “Babes”


I keep reading about Colleges, specifically Division I colleges through their coaching staff, “offering” scholarships to children as young as 13 years old, and probably younger.


I have so many problems with this train of thought and action that I decided to write about it.


First. Let me state categorically that NO ONE is qualified to say whether a child, and let’s be clear, these are children we are talking about, is going to be developing now and in the future to be able to play at the D1 level at the age of 12. Puberty changes everything. Only about 10% of all the children who are the “best” at the age of 12 or 13 are still the best at ages 18-20. You May be able to make an educated guess, but that guess has so many peripheral consequences  to the children and families receiving this attention, that it should not be practiced.


Why would anyone want to be that kind of pressure on a child? It should be common sense logic that the more comfortable a child is, the more relaxed they will be, and then, we HOPE, will be able to continue to develop.


I cannot imagine what it would be like to be that child. I have read numerous articles on this topic and am trying to find more. I have been told by two different people that they “know” a child who received this scholarship offer at a very young age and are playing in college right now.


What they don’t say, and I certainly know why, is that out of the 7 MILLION children playing high school sports presently, only 1% will play at the D! Level, and even microscopically fewer will be found at this young  age to be worthy of such attention.


But it seems more and more people want to be attached to this “money and fame wagon” so it is extremely doubtful this ridiculous behavior will desist. Heck, it probably is going to get worse as more and more people fantasize about it.  Younger and younger kids are being drawn into this with their families. But the publicity it generates will not represent what the majority, the vast majority, are incurring while playing youth sports.


 And say what you want about the NCAA, or have heard, they do have rules, and they do enforce them. A child must graduate from their junior year in high school with the appropriate courses taken and passed that leads to a preparedness to attend college. The athlete must get a number from the NCAA Clearing House to be able to accept that scholarship. Actually there are two documents you must sign: the first is your letter of intent, and the second one is the accepting of the financial aid. The college coach and the family agree on the financial part. But as you have seen from watching my videos, that amount and even if the scholarship stays intact, can and do change from year to year. That’s right, every year the coach decides if the grant will be renewed and to what $ amount it will be renewed at.

A lot of fuss over a miniscule amount of children don’t you think? But, the profit, from chasing these kids and their dreams, and the status people believe they get, belies the fact that we are talking about children here and I can’t find one school teacher or Sports Psychologist who thinks this is a good idea for children. (And I believe adults)