As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, this article is admittedly written tongue fully in cheek. The very utterance of the name “Tom Brady” in my hometown is blasphemous when not quickly followed with the word “sucks”. Nonetheless, I’d be a lying fool to say that his reign of greatness in the NFL isn’t impressive (even if it is due, in part, to Bill Bellacheat’s tactics).
So what is a young man with a proven track record of winning to do in his time off? Given the 3 following quotes, I think it’s abundantly clear. Beyond quarterback, beyond ball-deflating-evil-mastermind, Tom Brady was born to be a TEACHER:
1) “Every quarterback can throw a ball; every running back can run; every receiver is fast; but that mental toughness that you talk about translates into competitiveness.”
At first glance, the aforementioned quote has little to do with teaching. However, when given reflection, the half-wit from New England may be onto something. Millions of teachers across this nation and beyond understand the principles of solid pedagogy. Lesson planning, behavioral management, and best practices are not lost on these teachers; and yet, very few teachers rise above mediocrity and become great. So what’s missing? What separates the proverbial “men” from the “boys”? According to Brady, mental toughness, perseverance, and grit are key. To possess the skills to be a great teacher and to actually put those skills into passionate and deliberate practice are two vastly different approaches to our craft—a difference that will ultimately separate the good from the great.
2) “My job is to play quarterback, and I’m going to do that the best way I know how, because I owe that to my teammates regardless of who is out there on the field with me.”
Once again, the leader of the most dsigraceful team in the National Football League has some surprising pearls of wisdom. Like Tommy Boy, we are called to serve a purpose; namely, to work alongside young people to prepare them for their tomorrows. To do so, we have to avoid the pitfalls of finger pointing and gripe sessions. George Couros (@gcouros) understands this. In his Innovator’s Mindset, Couros describes the necessity of a teacher being able to innovate within the box. Ultimately, budgetary restraints, curriculum standards, and personnel issues are ever-present barriers to student learning. However, as their teacher, we are called to serve our students despite our circumstance. To focus our time and energy on that which we can’t control is not only a waste of time but a failure to serve those we’ve been entrusted to teach.
Unfortunately for Tom, when your actions are deflating footballs, this quote doesn’t work in your favor. However, if you find yourself in a position where certain forces are seemingly against you; whether in your building, district, or state; don’t sweat it. By letting your successes speak for themselves, you eliminate the standard exchange of oneupmanship that typically controls teachers discussing best practices. The product of a genuine love of learning in the hearts and minds of students is nearly impossible to argue with. Let your students and their outcomes do the talking for you by publicizing their journey via Twitter, monthly class emails, and local media (newspaper, nightly news, etc.). Eventually, even your sworn enemies will have to take notice.
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