New Teacher Advocate — KDP New Teacher Advocate Spring 2015
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The Student Athlete's Guide To Student Teaching
Sean P. Duckworth

Baseball was and always will be my first love. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, baseball was an obsession, a passion, and an escape from reality. Something happened between those white lines that allowed me to leave this world and become part of a dream. Time became meaningless, and the most important thing in the world was right there in front of me. This passion led me to a small college, where I began to fall in love with a different kind of passion: a passion for teaching and education.

Like baseball, teaching takes a lot of time and practice. As a beginning teacher, you may fail before you can succeed. As a student athlete, my college career had many more failures than successes; however, those experiences prepared me for my teaching career. My sports background, along with help from my professors and co-teachers, helped me succeed as a student teacher.

Much that I learned as a student athlete applied to my student teaching. These six tips will help you transition into student teaching.

1. Never forget one passion because you are moving on to another. If you show a passion for your sport, students will become very inquisitive and ask questions. This allows you to make great connections with your students. If they see and hear you sharing your passion, they will begin to share their passions. This facilitates a very open environment in your classroom, and students will be more likely to come to you if they are having trouble.

2. Do not hide your competitive urges. Not every student you have will be a sports lover, but everyone becomes involved when there is a little competition. Engaging games, races, and timed activities will get students more excited to come to class and participate.

3. Know your role. This one is especially important for all my fellow male teachers, even though it works the same for women. Many male students are looking for a male role model, often because they either do not have one, or they have a poor one at home. We all know that sports figures are not necessarily the best role models. Who better to be a role model than someone the student will see every day and be able to connect with on both an educational and athletic level? You can be that role model.

4. Show your teamwork. Every athlete has always had a teammate or two that they did not connect with in the locker room, but the two of you still worked together and showed compatibility on the field. Your other teachers are your best resources. Even if your personalities are not compatible, you must still learn to work together for the common good of not only yourself but the students.

5. Keep your composure. Every athlete has been put in a big-time pressure situation during his or her career. Teaching is no different. Your buttons will be pushed at some point, or you will have a thousand things to do and a family situation, but you must persevere and continue on through your lessons and be careful not to react out of stress.

6. “You are only as good as your last game.” This is a very common adage in sports. It means that no matter how good you are, you can have a bad game. The same may happen in your classroom. Lessons do not always work out as planned. Things change, technology malfunctions, or an experiment may fizzle. You just have to move on from your “bad game” and try to be better next time. You should always try to make your next lesson your best lesson.

I have traded in the white lines of the baseball field for the white walls, albeit covered with posters, of the classroom. It is a decision that I will never regret. It may get hard at times, but I know that it is rewarding. It is your responsibility to use your background to connect with your students, just as I do as a former athlete turned student teacher. Share in their passions and they will share in yours. Most importantly, remember that you play a big part in your students’ lives. They may share the same passion you had as a child, or they may have different passions, but you can be the motivator they need to get to the next level.

Mr. Duckworth played baseball at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina. He is currently working as an Educational Assistant at Elizabeth Haddon Elementary School in Haddonfield, New Jersey. He wants a full-time teaching position and will return to school soon to advance his education.