Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What's Important

During the past few days I've been doing what teachers do at the end of the school year.  I've been cleaning out my classroom and analyzing standardized test data for the year.  It's been depressing.  I'm always at conflict when looking at the data because I know that doing poorly is bad for our school, and that putting a great deal of emphasis on the tests is bad for our students.  I want to see good scores, but I also want to not care about the scores. 

I was feeling this stress and conflict his morning when I started going through my e-mail account to see what could be deleted.  I came across the letter below that was sent to me from a former soccer player just before her graduation a few years ago.  I'm sharing it (without correcting mistakes) because it shows exactly what is important.  It's not test preparation.  It's not the ability to fill in the correct bubble on an answer sheet.  It's the skills that are needed in life. 

Thank you to all of the teachers, coaches, and administrators who are remembering what's important.
Dear Coach,
I wanted to tell you that because of you I am going to be just fine next year when I step out into the real world. Its going to be very hard for me, but I truly believe that because of what you taught me, how to be mentally strong, how to try to stay positive when there’s really nothing to look forward to but uncertainty, and to have the drive and passion to do what you enjoy, even if its not the ideal situation, and even to overcome obstacles beyond my control, that I am going to get where I want to go. I think that I more than any other person on that team know what "mental toughness" is. Everyone may have their own definition, but to me I don't think I could have learned a better lesson. I still think sometimes that it wasn't worth it, but then I realize that it was probably one of the only lessons I can apply to anything. Even though I wanted to quit, I didn't. Even though I felt that I was working towards nothing, I did it.  I want you to know, that you really are a good coach, and its not just because you can teach soccer to your players, but you can tech them lessons they can't learn in a classroom, or at least at the level they can on YOUR field. Thanks coach, for making me the dedicated, driven, and most hard working individual I can be, and for making me "mentally tough". Now I know what you meant... I know I have what it takes to make it in anything I do.
I'm forever grateful for everything you've taught me,