Taking Notes

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 20 2011

On The Things I Learned From Sports, Vol. 1

“Hope is not a strategy.”

This was one of my Coach’s favorite things to say.  To preface- my Coach probably has a very high-functioning form of OCD.  Her attention to detail and her perfectionism are both scary and impressive.

She did more thorough scouting reports (I kid you not, our average scouting report was 4 pages, had full season stats, recent results, and diagrams of all of the other team’s plays.  I thought this was normal until a friend at another school told me her coach gives them a half sheet of paper with bullet points), watched more video, and dedicated more practice time to scouting/game prep than any other coach in our league, and probably all of Division III for that matter.  Although we all appreciated her hard work, by the 5th time we were watching the same game clip of our next opponent, Coach usually found herself met with a room-full of glazed eyes and nodding heads.

At this point, she would usually get up on her soapbox and preach to us the importance of preparation.  Along with the usual cliches like “failing to prepare is preparing to fail,” she always always always reiterated “hope is not a strategy”  somewhere in her sermon.  In fact, she said it enough that even though I only paid attention 75 (okay… 50) percent of the time, I still got the message.

I was sitting in a CS session the other day (Note: for the non-TFA people reading this- and by that I mean you mom and dad- CS sessions are essentially professional development mini-lessons) discussing the importance of practice (Practice? Y’all talkin’ about practice?) when it hit me that annoying little phrase was super applicable to teaching.

So, apologies to President Obama, but I gotta agree with Coach on this one: hope is not a strategy.

It is not enough to hope the achievement gap will close.  We as a nation have to take action, in the classroom and in the legislatures.

It is not enough to hope my kids will understand my instructions.  I have to be mind-numbingly explicit.

It is not enough to hope my kids will improve.  I have to push them.

It is not enough to hope I will improve as a teacher.  In kool-aid speak, I have to continually increase effectiveness.

And, last but not least, it is not enough to hope people will read this post.  I have to post it to twitter.

3 Responses

  1. thelearningcurve

    This is an awesome post.

  2. Hannah

    I’ve been looking into TFA so I came across your blog, and as a fellow DIII basketball player (and a fellow recipient of lengthy scouting reports :)) just wanted to say that I’ve really appreciated your insights so far, and good luck on your journey this year!

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Metro Atlanta
Elementary Education

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