Monday, January 28, 2013

Exeter-Milligan Update:View From the Front Office by Paul Sheffield

Smart choices – a small phrase that we, as a school, have stressed to our students.  This concept has been reinforced from each guest speaker we have hosted, whether it be Aaron Davis or Mike Smith, they have stressed the importance of smart choices.  Smart choices – a little phrase that takes so little time to say, but packs a big punch.
During the Christmas break, we all traveled to Phoenix to visit Karla’s family – her sister and brother have lived there for years, but her mom and dad recently retired there from Minnesota. We stayed with her sister’s family, which gave us some quality, family bonding time. Since they are NOT morning people, I had some time to take Libby (our dog) out for a walk and shower before anyone else was thinking of getting up.  One morning as I was enjoying a cup of coffee and the sunrise, it reminded me of an article I read on one of our previous trips to AZ.  In this article, the author, Tom Kuyper, wrote a letter to his coach, but from a kindergartner’s perspective. The letter was a New Year’s list of things for the coach to understand.  In it, he tried to impress that as kids, they just want to play.  Winning and losing didn’t matter as long as they got to play and be with their friends.  Please don’t bench “us” when we make mistakes or when we missed practice – they wanted to make it but mom and dad made them go to the class play instead.  This article made me think and wonder if we are sending the right message to our kids?  Are we stressing the importance of winning instead of teamwork and improvement?  Are we making the smart choices as coaches, sponsors, and parents?  Are we providing a positive example for others to follow?
Kids are not always going to make the smartest choices.  But as adults, we need to guide them along the way and help provide them the opportunities to learn and make informed choices.  In a recent leadership workshop, the idea of developing a purposeful community was discussed.  To develop this purposeful community, everyone must work together and make informed choices.  But not all choices should be made for the children (students).  If this is done, it leads to “learned helplessness.” If a student does not experience success or failure, they learn to be helpless and then nothing they do matters anyway.  We, as a community, need to provide opportunities for our students to make these smart choices and also to provide positive examples for them to emulate. 
Everyone makes mistakes – but if we learn from our mistakes, then we become winners in the end.  As a purposeful community, we need to provide opportunities for our students and show them the right thing to do.  Some of the smartest people can make the stupidest mistakes – but we must learn from them and move on.  Are we making smart choices?  Are we providing an opportunity for someone to learn?  Are we providing a positive example for others to emulate?  Think about how the choices we all make affect those around us. Mike Smith summed it up in his presentation to the students earlier this year by asking the question, “What will your legacy be when you leave? The choices you make know build this legacy.”
Thought for the month:
As simple as it sounds, we all must try to be the best person we can: by making the best choices, by making the most of the talents we've been given. - Mary Lou Retton

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