Friday, October 14, 2011

And a chapter ends

The Middle School cross country season is finished. Our rainy meet this morning at Tama Hills marked the end of the season--unfortunately, the rain was hardest during their races and so most of the team had a somewhat slower day (though they placed reasonably well). Though nobody on the team met their ice cream time (and only one got a PR), I still plan on taking the team out to celebrate at Baskin Robbins sometime next week. I'm proud of these kids, proud of their hard work and dedication throughout the course of the entire season, and it has been my privilege to coach them.

This is a very different attitude than the one that I had going into cross country--when the season started, I was busy with prep related to school (as I am every year), and viewed my work with the middle schoolers as being a much lower priority than my work with the high schoolers. It's interesting--I am a high school teacher, and in my opinion this is a fairly major part of my identity. It's what I trained for in college, even though my certification is technically grades 5-12 and given my teaching style and philosophy, it's certainly what I'm most comfortable with. Yet, I've wound up spending a lot of time working with middle schoolers through two and a half years of JAM and today, wrapping up my 3rd season of coaching middle school cross country.

From these experiences, I know full well the challenges that can arise in working with middle schoolers. Perhaps that's why I am so grateful for the team I had this year--they demonstrated a level of seriousness and maturity that I hadn't seen in past seasons. No games during practice; no stubbornness or refusing to run when I told them to. These kids rose to the occasion, worked hard and improved tremendously from week to week. Once they recognized this pattern, everything fell into place: they kept working hard so that they could continue to see improvement. I'd been thinking of stepping down from coaching cross country after this season, but I feel like I have a rapport with this group... they like me, look up to me and respect me. What's more, I genuinely like and respect them, and feel comfortable working with them (my first season was so awkward--I would avoid talking to the middle schoolers more than I had to because I had no idea how to communicate with them or what to say to them and truth be told, I wasn't much better with my own students that year). Again, this brings up a question of longevity on my part--do I want to stick around at CAJ to work with these kids through their hopefully long cross country careers? Yeah, kind of.

Anyway. It was a wonderful season, and though I know that the kids are partially relieved to have their afternoons free once again, I hope that they valued the experiences of the last month and a half as much as I did. I am looking forward to working with them (and hopefully some new recruits) next year!


No comments:

Post a Comment