Thursday, March 10, 2016

Teacher of the Game #MarchMadness

“Young men (and women) need more models, not critics” 

– John Wooden

Buzzer Beaters

I'm a huge fan of basketball - from the high school to college to  the pro level.  I've never played it, but when I was dating the woman I would eventually marry she was a member of a very good Division III team that competed in the Division III National Championship as a freshman. I have many fond memories of watching her play and compete throughout the majority of her college career  - and she even had her picture in Sports Illustrated as she so often points out. Sitting with her grandmother and parents watching her compete is where I began to truly appreciate the game of basketball and what it can offer to people outside of the sport.

My love for the sport continues to grow - watching all three of my kids play and compete I am always learning something new. I couldn't be more proud of what they accomplish on the courts and believe it helps shape how they are off the court. I'm honored to say my oldest son will be playing on an AAU team with ties to Detroit Piston Darrun Hilliard this summer as my daughter begins her AAU season and my youngest son picks up his bat.

My daughter's team (at the time of this post) has a 70-2 record over the last 4 years

My 8th grade son starting on the Freshman team this year.

My 10th grade son's last Varsity game of  the season...gearing up for a grueling AAU season.


I truly believe sports is a microcosm of the world in which we live in. My students know I love sports and it's not because of the valuable lessons learned- of the competitiveness, the teamwork, not quitting...yes, those are important, but what I love the most are the stories. I love sharing stories about athletes with my students and using them as jumping off points for lessons. This works even for the kids who don't like sports. They realize that these athletes are people just like them.

One of the first stories I shared with my classes was the story of Austin Hatch. We were setting goals and the idea of perseverance and achieving your goals was discussed. There weren't many dry eyes in my classroom after this one and I believe it set the tone for the high goals I want my student to achieve with a "no excuses" approach.  I believe this video may have also helped inspire a few kids to root for the Wolverines this season.

We can't control our circumstances, but we can control our reaction and responses to situations. Austin's story demonstrates this and a whole lot more...


One of the latest videos I've shared with my students is the incredible story of two young boys. I will not spoil the story for you, but I will tell you this. If you don't think a video can keep a 7th graders attention for 15 minutes, you need to try this. It's the story of a dedication.

 My classes discussed what this meant and we read several from the beginnings of books trying to make sense of them and look for the deeper meanings. I then showed them the above video and we talked more about dedication. We then talked about what was important to them and they wanted to achieve those dreams. 

The "lesson" culminated with the kids writing a "dedication" letter. The parameters were a little vague (on purpose). They were to compose a letter, to be mailed, to someone special in their life and had to dedicate something special to them. They have the option of sharing with me or not. The letters are due tomorrow. I've seen a few already and I felt I couldn't wait to share this with others. 

My students are amazing. I'm touched by what they are writing and what they are willing to dedicate to others. When we're finished I will post updates about what they've written (with their permission as these are very personal letters). 

I am also going to be creating a dedication tile. I will be adding the names of students to a tile in the ceiling. Underneath their name will be the name of the person they are dedicating something to. This will serve as a reminder to me about my dedication to them and to my future students in helping their dreams come true.

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