Youth Basketball, Educators, and Mindset!

I get to do the most amazing thing ever – coach my daughter’s youth basketball team!! I LOVE basketball!  I played basketball, coached grades 5/6 girls, and was a youth referee during my college years for some extra fun money…none of which prepared me for what I experienced this past Saturday.

In a nutshell, we are a new team made up half of girls who have never seen a game and half of girls who have played a few times.  We played a team who has been playing together for quite some time, and even had special jerseys made. Let me just say when we walked in the gym to warm up, they were warming up with fancy plays.  AND they were awesome!

Ummm….we are still learning how to dribble down and pass, which is completely fine, but I was a little nervous on how the girls would be when they saw this team.
Would they be intimidated? 
Would they give up mentally before they even started? 
Would they want to sit out and not play? 

I looked at my daughter, the littlest one out there and one who has never played before. She asked, “Mom, what are they doing?” Yeah…this was going to be a learning experience.
(Backtrack a few days prior.  Let me add, our team was only allowed a 50 minute practice and then we had our first game!)

A learning experience it was. For the girls AND for me!  What’s even better, is I saw many connections between these girls and all the awesome educators out there.

1. These girls gave 110% from the minute they walked out there until the buzzer went off to end the game. (Just like teachers.)

2. They never gave up! Even though they did not score a point the first 58 minutes, they never stopped trying.  (Just like teachers. There’s a lot of not-so-fun things we have to take care of that can prevent us from just doing what we want to do sometimes, IF we let it! Most of us choose not to let it!)

3. They walked away knowing more about the game than when they walked on the court because of the experience of playing and having an experienced team model the way to play.  (Isn’t this just like teachers, too?!)  I will admit, I am glad we played this team first. I am glad these kids had a great team to show them what a game is like. It was great modeling for them. Honestly. Imagine if they had played a team like them, just starting out. It would have been hard to explain how a game flows.  (This could be like teachers, but I think of early readers.  If two readers who struggle only hear each other, it is very hard to make progress as quickly as if they were paired with non-struggling readers sometimes.)

4. They continued to ask questions, even after the game.  They WANTED to learn.  They WANTED to play.  THEY wanted to try different positions when an injury left our point guard out for a bit. (Just like teachers!)

5. They noticed some of the good things the other team was doing to be successful, and tried one of them! (Just like teachers!)

6. They walked away laughing and smiling!  When I asked my daughter and her friend if they liked it, they said, “That was fun! I didn’t want to stop.” and ” I want to practice and get better so I can score next time.” This was after being beat by a lot of points the entire game. Did that matter to them? Not at all.
(Is this just like teachers? I would say mostly yes, but I also know it takes having the mindset. We can’t just give up when nothing is going our way on our court in the classroom.)

What if we thought about our classrooms and our teaching like this quote? We never lose (when a student doesn’t show us what we think they are capable of doing, we have too many meetings to attend and emails to answer, or a student refuses to work for us).  We either win (work extra hard and succeed in finding what empowers our students and provide these resources) or learn (realize what doesn’t work, and work hard to change and find things that do inspire and empower our students).

It’s all connected!  Going back to my earlier concerns as we walked into the gym before the game started: The only person who felt nervous before the game was me.  My personal experiences came back and I wanted to protect my daughter from these defeated feelings, but as it turned out…she has a growth mindset.  ðŸ™‚ She saw the opportunity to grow and learn in this situation, and I am so proud of her for this!

Every chance I had, I reminded the girls that this was a learning opportunity. I let them know it is okay to ‘mess up’ out there.  Just try doing something different.  It’s okay. We are all learning together.  They made me so proud because they looked at this as a chance to learn, ask questions, and try new things all while not winning the game.

If you know me, you know how competitive I am!  I am even shocked that I was able to completely throw that out the window because THIS is what matters most to me. The girls learning and growing from the first minute they walked out there up until they walked off 60 minutes later.

I guess I learned a little bit about myself Saturday.  This mindset stuff is sinking in deeper and effecting more areas in my life than I thought, and I kinda like what it is doing. 🙂

Author: Bridget Visser

I am a passionate educator advocating for ALL Children! Love all things around Student Voice, Literacy, Technology, Innovation, Student Design, and Empowering Others in positive ways! I am a learner, energized by connecting with other educators sharing their learning!