One of my favorite past times right now is watching my kids play soccer. I think there are several reasons for this. For one, the fall and spring soccer seasons are played outdoors and being outside enhances the senses of sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste. Regardless of whether there sunny skies or drizzling grey clouds, the matches are full of positive energy and soaring skills.
The soccer season came to close this past weekend. I’m fortunate enough to be the coach of my son’s second-grade team. While they are still little, I have watched them grow from their kindergarten selves taking several swings at kicking a round object toward any location on the field to embracing the second-grade force dribbling around their opponents, passing the ball up and down, and striking from all distances. What I am most proud of is the increase in confidence, sportsmanship, and teamwork of each player. I often ask myself the following two questions:
- How did we get to the point of being able to move the ball forward?
- How do we continue to do so as the challenges increase and overall goals change?
As I reflect on the season, I also reflect as a educational leader. I approach coaching my son’s team in the same way that I approach any type of teaching experience. There are four components that I work through in any situation:
- Plan with a vision of learning in mind
- What are my beliefs?
- Where do I want to be?
- How do I grow/help others grow?
- Consider the learning of each member
- What are the strengths?
- What are the needs?
- What are the areas of growth?
- Where does the boundary of potential lie and how do we push beyond it?
- Provide feedback
- What are successes?
- What are areas to work on?
- What is the plan for the future?
- Process and reflect
- How do I build in time for members and myself to process and reflect on learning?
These four components are repeated and integrated with one another and other aspects of coaching, leading, and teachings. The end of the soccer seasons and/or the end of the school year is a perfect opportunity to process and reflect. It is during these moments that I seek out my own professional learning opportunities or reflect on the vision of learning that I hold so dear. It is during this time that I truly consider how we move the ball forward next season and next year feeling empowered to do so.