Carolism #2: Great coaches know why their players joined the team
“Coaches who can outline plays on a blackboard are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their players and motivate them.” – Vince Lombardi
Twenty different students will have 20 different reasons why they decided to go to school, but you’ll discover a bond. Maybe it’s that they want a better life, more money, stability or flexibility. When a student enrolls in higher education, especially in a school to acquire a specific trade, they have to go through leaps and bounds to enroll. No one just walks through the door, hands over $15,000 cash and says, “Can I start tomorrow?” There is a process, and at most schools, the admissions office is working closely with each prospective student and finding out their personal “why.”
When you know why each of your players joined the team, you can better lead that team. You’ll be able to know where to spend your time, where you’ll be wasting it and how you can better help each player achieve their goal. If you are being challenged with a difficult student—find out their “why.” In my experience, when a student has that dream in front of them, their attitude and discipline are better. When their motivation drops, you’ll know how to pick them back up.
I like to find out the “why” on the first day of class. At this point, they have no low test scores discouraging them, no horrible attendance record hanging over their head—they are ready to jump in and achieve their dreams. I like doing a snowball fight. Have them each write down: their name, why they enrolled and what they want to do one day. Have them crumble it up and throw it around the room. Have each person pick up a “snowball” and introduce someone else in the class.
Why you need to know the “why”
■ You’ll avoid snide remarks. Maybe you don’t think a certain career is attainable, realistic or even a good idea. If you know a student in your class wants to do that one day, you’ll know not to make insensitive, snide remarks about that specifically that might hurt their chances of succeeding. You need to believe in your team!
■ You can teach to that. Once you know exactly why everyone is there, you can better tailor your lesson plans. If you’re a baseball coach, you bring bats and baseballs to practice—not a football. If you’re teaching Journalism and you know seven of your students want to be a network news anchor, bring one in as a guest speaker or talk about networks who have hired graduates from your school.
■ Body language will mean something. Educators need to closely watch for any signals that might lead you to think a student is struggling. Once you detect it, you’ll be able to pick them back up by referencing their “why.” Here’s an example:
I noticed you’ve been late three times in the past two weeks. I know things happen, but you need to realize that others don’t take so kindly to this. I know you want to be a cosmetologist because of the flexibility, but if you’re late for your appointments, you will lose clients. I know several people who lost their booth space and clients because they took their time getting to work. Flexible doesn’t mean time revolves around you. You have to do better.
Some students won’t open up or let you in, but as an educator it’s imperative that you at least know why they came to school. Get to know your players if you want to lead your team to a win! Never underestimate the power of an educator!