Sitting here this evening, I am one proud coach. I now need to come up with a new goal for my team. They have met and surpassed my goal for the season...and we still have 5 weeks to go. Totally a #firstworldproblem right? I wasn't sure how this season would go, but I am so blown away by their determination, struggle and positivity in the face of adversity. I gave a small analogy to my girls today: I am the den mother and you girls are my cubs. Wolves always seems to be good for team building metaphors for some reason (pack mentality I think). Anyways, I told them that I can't do the work for them. But I am here to guide and mentor each one of them as they become strong as powerful. As a coach, I find this to be the hardest aspect of my coaching duties. I can not make the decisions for them, but can only guide them. On a side note, I think that I could put on a jersey and still look like a player if need be. Only when times get really desperate. Just kidding. But in all seriousness, I couldn't be more proud. Not only are they making the right decisions, but they are executing those decisions as a TEAM. Today, I saw a group of girls become a competitive volleyball team. I was more nervous today for our games than I ever have been. That's because the emotion and the competitiveness was palpable. I WANTED them to control the game and to go for it. I was more invested today than I ever have been as a coach.
Now the problem still remains of finding a new goal. What are the bounds of this team? What are we truly capable of? What is within our reach this season? I am reeling with the possibilities that I wouldn't even allow myself to consider two months ago. This is something that I will need to consider throughout the next week. For now, I want to thank some very important people:
- My assistant coaches
- The dedicated parents who drove players and provided us with food and sugary beverages between games
Back to the drawing board I go. But this time, I get to set my sights a little higher
So, it's been a while since my last post. Today I am pondering (no pun intended in reference to title) the toxicity of learning environments. Schools are interesting microcosms of our larger society. It is both fascinating and disturbing to me the issues that pop up in school throughout the year. How and when does a school environment go from safe and comforting to toxic? Who is responsible? Is it one persons' fault or the collective? Attempting to get to the bottom of these questions will be the focus of this post.
Growing up, I often was embroiled in some jr. high girl plot to take down my fellow female counterparts in the social arena. I am not proud of this fact, but I truly believe it has made me who I am today. I made a wonderful friend in grade six that changed my thought process about how I treated others. I owe her a lot for snapping me out of it. Now, looking back I feel that my actions were directly connected with the toxic environment that was my jr. high school. But what it just me? After I started removing myself from that environment, the toxic pit still existed. Why? The ideals of the collective perpetuated it. That "mob" mentality is what creates that environment. More accurately, what RUINS and environment.
Unfortunately, gossip is not only confined to jr. high or high school. It perpetuates the adult workplace all too frequently. Whether you are the person spreading the gossip or the person of interest in staff room conversations, it needs to stop immediately. I am ashamed to say that some people I have worked with in the many jobs I have had throughout my youth and now adult life participate in this activity.
So how does a toxic environment get healed? Well....it needs to start with the people in that environment. If only ONE person changes, it will start, but it won't be enough. It needs to be a shift in perspective. What type of environment do you want to work/live in? Personally, I'd like to come to a place where comfort and emotional/physical/psychological safety are of the highest importance. As Jack Layton so aptly stated..."Let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic and we will change the world."
Today, 9 St. Mary's players felt what it meant to truly be a team. Working through successes and failures they learned the most important team lesson: No matter what, we do it together. As a coach, I couldn't be happier. I feel nostalgic recalling my own volleyball days and feel a bit sad because most of the time I did not feel supported by my team mates. Sad, but true. I was blown away with the spirit of my players. This week at school, I've seen that it's not just my players, but my students and the teachers at St. Mary's that have this positive fever. It's a beautiful thing. I feel lucky to coach such a young and vibrant team and as a coach, I will make it part of the cul
Mrs. Katherine (Kate) Weber