Dropping the Ball: When Leaders Cause Fumbles

Football season has officially started. I actually know quite a bit about the sport. One thing I know is that when a fumble occurs, everyone tries to jump on it.  A lot of fumbles happen because the person carrying the ball, usually gets grabbed and it falls loose.  However, there are some occasions when the quarterback, the leader of the team, is the one who drops the ball; he’s the one who is guilty of the fumble.

A couple weeks ago in class I “dropped the ball”. I fumbled.  I was teaching my students, I had my lesson all planned out, but going into it, something wasn’t right that morning.  Something about my mindset and attitude.  I knew I wasn’t as prepared as I could’ve been.  And unfortunately, it showed.  I was not on top of my game that class.  I was out of sorts and just “not having a good game”.

As the quarterback of my class, I can’t afford to drop the ball. My students depend on me to make the right calls at the right time.  They look to me to guide them and execute properly.  It all comes down to the little things.  If a quarterback throws the perfect pass to a wide receiver, who is completely open with no coverage, the QB expects him to catch it.  He has a job.  If he isn’t doing the little things right in preparing for the game, chances are a fumble is going to occur.  Me dropping the ball in class that day came down to exactly that…ME.  It wasn’t their fault.  It came back to me.  It was my most well-behaved class, too (go figure, right?!).  I didn’t bring my A-game that day, so neither did they.  There was honestly no one else to blame for them being a little more ornery that day.  They jumped right on my fumble!  The only reason they weren’t as good as they usually are behavior-wise, is because I wasn’t as good as I could’ve been, teacher-wise.

I hate when people make excuses. For anything.  Missing homework.  Tardy to class.  Late to practice.  Anything.  I try my best to not make excuses because I want to model self-discipline to them.  I’ll be the first person to admit my mistakes.  At the end of class we had a little heart-to-heart and I said to them, “Okay, today was probably the worst day we’ve had together as a group.”  And there was a girl, at a back table, and I saw her nod her head in agreement.  Even she knew it!  She knew what her and her classmates were capable of.  And I knew what I was capable of.  I told them, it was me.  It was because I dropped the ball.  I wasn’t as prepared as I could’ve been.  I was doing the little things wrong.  I didn’t perform as best as I could’ve.

I’ll quote my Facebook status from that day: “One thing I’ve learned as a teacher and a coach is that usually when my class or team is having a rough time, and they’re just not “with it”, I can trace it back to me, as their leader also not being “with it” at the moment. Good thing I still have 5 more hours to get “with it”!” (September 3rd)

I truly believe that people will rise to the expectations set by the leader. But the leader has to have high expectations for themselves, too.  One of the best things about being a professional educator, is that even though I get paid for teaching, I’m learning, too.  About myself.  Daily.

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