Q: I’m in my second year of teaching middle school. The first year was rough, but I feel that I’m finally getting a handle on classroom management and the curriculum.
My principal just told me he wants me to coach soccer next fall since I played it in college. I know we talked about my coaching when I was hired, and I actually would like to coach at some point in the future when I feel more confident of my classroom skills. Right now I feel as if I’m barely keeping my head above water, and I just don’t know how I can prepare for every day of class and coach, especially when school starts up in the fall. Any ideas?
A: May principals try to avoid giving new teachers coaching assignments for exactly the reasons you stated: You’re just getting a handle on what you were actually hired to do, which is teaching. Sometimes, however, the principal just doesn’t have any better options.
If you haven’t already done so, you should talk to your principal about your concerns. If he is insistent, nonetheless, that you coach, you have time to prepare for the fall.
One of the great things about teaching is that you only have to do the first year once. You will be surprised at how different the second year will be in terms of class control and lesson planning. Through trial and error last year, you learned something about what works and what doesn’t.
Having played soccer in college, you know the game and how to modify the drills. In addition, working with kids on the playing field can actually improve your classroom management skills and enhance your reputation among the students.
Middle school seasons are usually short. You have time over the summer not only to plan your fall curriculum, but also your practice sessions. You may wish you didn’t have to think about all of this over the summer, but you will be glad next fall you did.
Oh, yeah, one more thing: Coaching middle school soccer is a lot of fun (and I speak from experience). Make sure everyone gets to play.