Typically when I write, it’s because, for a moment at least, I’ve got it all figured out. An epiphany that would make Sean Hennessy impressed – a light bulb moment – whatever has been rolling around in my mind has worked itself out – I’ve got it.
That’s not the case today. Instead, today I’m full of questions.
To sort it all out, I thought I’d seek out some help. Let’s start with an anecdote about my own kids…
Anna is an over achiever. She has a ton of natural ability, and is super coachable. You can show her something one time and that’s it – she’s got it or she is going to figure it out. I don’t want to say things come easy for her because that would deny the hours of hard work and practice she puts into all the things she does – violin, sports, school. She really does work at it with discipline and focus. A good friend of ours love to say she sure has the, “can do attitude.” I’ve also been told she is “super coachable.”
The boys, on the other hand struggle. All the same things are not super easy for them. They work… they work harder than Anna actually. However, “a natural” is not a word I’d use to describe either of them. They can frustrate the heck out of coaches and teachers who inevitably compare them to their sister.
As a teacher, I know this situation is not unique. Within families and classrooms there are kids who are easy to teach or coach and then there are the ones that, despite a positive-growth mind don’t “get it” right away.
The danger I see, is that it’s easy to give up on these kids. It’s easy to see their efforts as mediocrity and stop working with them. They are not failing – a B or C is acceptable – they kind-of get it, the slow and steady progress is good enough. Eventually, however, because they are not easy to teach or coach the message comes that they should think about quitting – soccer, piano lessons, school. Maybe not altogether quite, but certainly a request from the instructor for permission to officially lower the expectation.
I had a tennis coach speak with me just yesterday. “I’d like to set up a private lesson with you daughter.”
“Okay, that would be great. I’d love to set one up for my son as well.”
“We could do that, but I really think your daughter is the one with the natural talent.”
What I wanted to say was, “Well then, she does not really need the private lesson does she? She’s easy to teach. She’s coachable. She gets it. I know – I’ve heard. How about taking a chance? How about growing as a coach and figuring it out with someone who takes a bit more effort?”
I didn’t say that. Instead I smiled.
I’ve been reading a lot about re-framing and looking at problems from different angles in order to uncover solutions that may not have been apparent upon first analysis. I’ve been reading about passion and teaching and how important it is to get kids jazzed up about what they are learning. I’ve also been letting this all roll around in my brain and I am left with questions…
Can I teach “drive?”
Can I teach kids how to be more teachable? More coachable?
Can I challenge coaches to take what looks like an average kid and help him becomes an extraordinary kid?
Can the “B” kids become “A” kids? What would it take? Could those same strategies help the “D” kids become “A” kids?
Where do I start? Who has an idea? I’m ready to figure it out…