Saturday, October 29, 2011

Writing Redux: Update

Not sure if this can be called a redux yet, if it is only one post without any likely to follow anytime soon... but ho hum.

Life is good. Really good. Girlfriend is down in Oregon, which isn't great, but the positive is that it gives me all of the time I need to focus on being the great teacher I intend to become. People keep praising me for doing such a great job teaching, but I feel very underwhelmed about my performance these first few years. I've tried my best, and I'm not sure what else I could be doing better, but there is just so much more to do.

I talked to a friend earlier this week about just being amazed at how some of my students can succeed with the hand they've been dealt. Parents who are so busy their children are neglected, or more commonly with my students--parents are involved with drugs and neglect their children. This seems to be a big factor in students that do poorly in school, and understandably so--but then there are these diamonds in the rough that are at or near the top of my classes and they get very little support at home. I'm not sure how they do it. Maybe they want to be the opposite of their parents, so they try that much harder? I don't know, but it continues to amaze me and excites me to keep their dreams going.

I'm coaching ultimate frisbee again this year at my middle school, and boy what a difference a year makes. Last year we were defeated... don't think we won a single game all year during the regular season, and I think we won one playoff game (every team got a playoff game), oh, and we also won a game by forfeit. This year, we just finished the regular season undefeated, with playoffs coming next week. The only thing I've done differently this year is institute a spirit award.

My league frisbee team won the spirit award this summer, and received new discs as a reward. Everyone on my team donated their disc to my middle school team, and instead of using them (we have about 10 discs that are already cut up from our concrete playground area next to the tiny grass field) I decided to reward them as a spirit of the game award. I decided that my team captains each game would be responsible for picking a player on the other team who we would give one disc to (and I never interfered on this decision), and then I had the ridiculously tough decision to pick a player on our team to give a new disc to. Every week this was my most difficult decision, as almost every player deserved one. We were cheering for good plays from either team, we were letting contested calls go the other way, we were helping players up no matter which jersey they wore.

The game I coached today was the last game of the regular season, and we entered 5-0, playing the second-best team in the league at 4-1. We got out to a quick start going up two points, but then as the substitutions began we lost the next three points. We traded points to 5-5, and then the opponents took half 5-6. We had a great talk at halftime about playing hesitantly because we didn't want to lose, instead of that, we needed to open up and get back to our ways of having fun. We took the next two points to get up 7-6. This lit a fire in our opponents, who won the next three points to go up 7-9. We were down two points and only had five minutes left before the horn would blow. The lineup I had out on the field wasn't our greatest by far, and they had just been quickly scored on. Some of the better players on our team were pleading with me to let them play, but I didn't think it fair to take the group on the field out after such a short point. I hadn't done so all season, and I wasn't about to now.

The kids stayed on the field and eventually won a very hard-fought point, and the seven kids I had spoken to about playing the next point RAN onto the field, because they knew we only had one minute to score the next point to tie the game. If the horn blows when the game is tied, you play a winner-take-all sudden-death point, which is just what happened.

We had to throw the disc off, which is usually seen as a disadvantage because the opponents get to be on offense first. After a few turnovers and jitters from both teams, one of our new girls got a great "D" and we worked the disc down and scored the final point to finish the regular season undefeated. For the third time this season, a player was carried off the field on the shoulders of other teammates. The season has been storybook thusfar, and I can't wait to see what next week and the playoffs bring.

From a coaching standpoint, I have no doubt that we can beat any team in the league if I play my best players. I won't just play those players though, and I need to make sure all of the players know that we will win and lose the championship as a team, not by just a few of our players.

Other than coaching, I've been playing a little Everquest on the Fippy Darkpaw progression server, and I've had my first real brush with being interested in learning guitar. GF brought her old guitar up to Seattle for me to practice on, and I really like messing around on it. I don't so much like learning the chords and the way my fingers ache.

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