Sunday, December 03, 2006

Balancing Teaching and Coaching

To all of you first years who are coaching, let me just say that you're doing a great job if you have managed to balance both teaching and coaching. I began coaching Cross Country as a second year because I realized that coaching was a demanding job especially if I wanted to have a decent team who cared about showing up day after day to run several miles. Honestly, I don't know how I would have balanced coaching and teaching last year. It seemed as though I was in over my head as it was without coaching in my schedule.

Nevertheless, here are my tips for balancing coaching and teaching:
1.) When you're teaching, put teaching first. When you're coaching, put coaching first. It is very easy to plan a practice or a workout when you really should be walking around and helping students. Similarly, it's also very easy to lesson plan for the next day while your runners are out running or in the weight room. Avoid these temptations. Your students deserve to have your full attention during school hours and your runners/athletes deserve to have your full attention during practice.

2.) Practice with your team whether it is doing the conditioning exercises in football or baseball or whether it is running with your team during cross country or track practice. Not only will your athletes will appreciate it but it will also allow you to burn some stress from the day’s classes. One of the things I loved most about coaching cross country was that I could always run my stress away after school. Trust me, exercise melts the stress away.

3.) Get used to working overtime (as if you're not already!) When I was coaching I devoted at least (no joke) 12-14 hours per day to teaching responsibilities such as lesson planning, coming up with new and creative classroom management techniques, grading, etc, and coaching. Not all of those hours have to be spent at school; however if you want to go home, come to terms with bringing some work with you. On weekends you may have games or meets, especially on Friday nights or Saturdays. It's all part of the gig.

4.) Don't do it for the money. Some coaching jobs may give you a little extra income but, for the amount of work you put into it, it's not worth the money you get out of it. You have to truly love the sport you’re coaching and genuinely want to devote your time to the sport and your athletes.

Coaching can be very rewarding. I wouldn't trade my coaching experiences for anything. In fact, sometimes I think I had more fun coaching than I do teaching. There is no better way to get to know a handful of students on more familiar terms. Your athletes will see you as more than just a teacher. Some may go so far as to view you as a mentor. I still have a few athletes who, a month after our season has ended, come and ask me for advice with a struggle they are going through. Granted it's usually about a boy or a class, but sometimes it's more serious than that and I really have the opportunity to guide a student in the right direction.

Despite the hard work involved, coaching is without a doubt one of the perks of being a teacher. Because you are all ambitious, hard-working, caring individuals, I would go so far as to say if you can get involved with coaching or leading some other extracurricular activity, do it. You really can't go wrong.


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