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The Literacy of Basketball

Lesson 1

I am not a basketball coach and yet I am learning how to be one. This year I offered to help with basketball fully acknowledging that I know nothing about it but I had coached football for years and have a rather successful record and they needed some help so help was offered. The first few practices I really questioned if this was a mistake. I did not understand the plays, the symbols are all different, the movements are quicker and less procedural than I ever felt football was. I brought no knowledge of basketball to the equation and thus am very little help to my players. Luckily I have great coworkers that are trying to teach me. I am learning a little as we go, I can identify a play here or there, especially if they are going a bit slower. I can see issues where the players understanding is breaking down a bit more as we continue to work through things. In short, I am learning to understand basketball. Just like Math, Science, Social Studies and other subjects basketball has its own unique literacy. That system that helps us to understand it.

When I think about this I can't help but think of the classroom, students learning at different rates, increased frustration as things just don't seem to make sense, and that need for specific feedback to help bring about those needed understandings. 

This is why I think it is so important for teachers to keep learning. For us to read and research and build our playbook. When our students come to use for help we need to be prepared to help them, this might mean looking for research or asking a colleague but something must be done. Watching my frustrated players, not knowing how to help them was a tough experience. You try to be positive just like in a reading conference supporting the strengths but once that frustration hits an unmanageable level the kids don't see their own strengths, they don't see the good moments because their vision has been clouded by failure.

If it is on a Basketball court or in a classroom when things are going wrong we need to have the tools and skills to help make them right. As teachers or coaches, we need to work to be as prepared as we can be to serve those in our care. I am enjoying the learning process and the reminders hidden in the experience of what I need to continue to do in my classroom. 

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