Our continuing series focuses on the social and emotional learning presented by extracurricular activities, and how these lessons reverberate through classrooms, schools and the lives of young people. The inspiration for this exploration came from this basketball video:
Just to emphasize the empathetic awesome:
“I think, in a way, this is how sports should be…it’s just kind of showing the impact that encouragement and support for anybody can make.” –one of the Waco student basketball players, to the bemused reporter
Clearly, playing on a basketball team can create an organic space to grow and practice perspective-taking and empathy. What other SEL skills can develop on a school basketball team, under the wing of a talented, nurturing coach? Check out this letter from a parent to the principal of Lamar Middle School:
To Whom It May Concern:
Perhaps you are already aware of this great Coach, Teacher, Facilitator, Mentor of middle school students.
Either way, I feel compelled to share our perspective and what we learned from Coach Derek Wright.
This year our 7th grade son made the brave choice to try out for basketball at Lamar Middle School. He had never played before and had a lot to learn! He was nervous, but determined.
Coach Derek Wright was charged with developing a team ready to win on the court in just a few short weeks. Never an easy feat and one that takes a great deal of commitment, patience and knowledge of the game. Of course Coach Wright has all these qualities, as he’s been at it awhile. However, it’s his keen awareness of player’s strengths and needs that is truly inspiring.
We hoped our son’s basketball skills would improve and they did, but what we weren’t prepared for was the incredible change in his self-confidence, resilience and positive attitude.
Coach Wright deserves most of the credit for this positive growth in our son and many others. I watched in amazement many times as Coach Wright guided his players with a sense of calm, clear, specific goals. He seemed to know exactly what each player needed to hear in order to dig deep and find the strength to ‘win’ the game. He shared his love of the game in a way that made the experience fun, yet focused.
The Lamar Scotties 7th grade basketball team played their final game of the season on Thursday.
I would say it was a good season looking at the stats. Winning games is always a good feeling. Winning at life and learning skills that will stay with you forever…priceless!
Thanks for believing in your team Coach Wright!
A coach that recognizes the social and emotional learning opportunities inherent in athletic activities has the power to positively impact young people in ways that will stick with them their whole lives. We saw teacher-coaches like this in last week’s post about Consuelo Mendez Middle School, and the first post in the series featuring conversations with former football coaches. Compassionate educators who bring their SEL-infused coaching strategies from the gyms into their classrooms, schools, and leadership roles are truly educating the whole child. And that’s the name of the SEL game!