I’ve learned the best coaches, teachers, and parents all share a common modus operandi–clear and consistent communication and consequences of their expectations.
I realized the importance of these two traits especially in my years as a teacher/coach observing others in my profession.
There were times when I, as an adult, was confused by another teacher’s directions so I can empathize with the students not being sure what was expected of them. Because the teacher wasn’t clear, the students, understandably, did not abide by what the teacher expected to happen…but didn’t communicate well. Teachers and coaches, being human, would grow frustrated by the students’ non-compliance and then grow frustrated and sometimes angry at the kids. You never want to be that teacher (or parent or coach) who is constantly chasing after and hollering at out-of-control students.
Whenever I had non-compliance from multiple students, I learned to ask myself before I scolded, “Was I clear in my instructions?” Or ask the students, “Do you understand what I asked you to do?”
Sometimes I hadn’t communicated what I intended. Other times, students understood but wanted to test me and my guidelines. At those times, it was important to follow through with the consequences I’d laid out-usually time out of the activity.
Years ago, I coached a group of Kindergartners and on our way to the field, we had to cross a small stretch of parking lot. There was a distinct line by the crosswalk where the kids could wait. On the first day of class, kids would always try to bolt across the lot ahead of me. (Oh, to have the energy of a 6 year old!) I loved the eagerness at participating and didn’t want to squash that by screaming at them to wait, to get back every day we had class. I learned the best tactic was to gather them all by the line that first day and explain that the parking lot could be dangerous because of moving cars and that the only way they were to cross, was at my direction. Failure to comply would result in a substantial “timeout” from class participation.
This was a valuable consequence because at that age, they all want to participate. I clearly pointed out the line where they had to wait. I even had them do a few practice runs by leaving the room and stopping at the line. If any kid took a step or even half a foot over the line, I would walk over and point to their foot. For the most part, that was all I needed to do to set the tone for the rest of the school year. I didn’t have to chase them down every day and they enjoyed having boundaries clearly laid out. It freed me up to be friendly and open rather than uptight and preoccupied with repeating myself over and over throughout the year.
It has to start with the coach, the teacher, the parent being clear on what you want and then communicating that clearly and following through on any discipline when necessary. The more clear I was with myself, the more clearly I could communicate it to them.
Meghan is very good about pulling me aside and ensuring we’re on the same page in what in our expectations and communication with Cash.
So when Cash tests us, we pass the parent test. Clearly. Consistently.