My youngest daughter plays futsal. Never heard of it? That’s alright, neither had I until she started playing. Essentially, it’s indoor soccer – picture soccer (or football for the rest of the world) with a smaller ball, on a basketball court, where the ball is rarely out of play for more than 4 seconds. It’s a fast-paced flurry of excitement and adrenaline. The team (the X-Girls) are a motley crew of 9, 10, and 11– year old girls that have all the tenacity and scrappiness of the famed Bad News Bears. This season has been a bit rough on the X-Girls. Four games into the season they 0-4, and to make matters worse, the point differential was in the range of 40-2.

Ouch.

I’ll admit, there was even some discussion about whether it was worth going to the game at all.

It’s Not Whether You Win or Lose…

I explained that she needed to go, to be there with her teammates. If only a couple of girls decided not to go, they wouldn’t have enough players to make the team. So, my daughter agreed wholeheartedly that win or lose, the right thing to do is to show up. The X-Girls would support one another, play hard, learn, and have fun.

There is a lifelong lesson we all learn at some point. As educators, sometimes we get so focused on teaching a skill or a concept that we see it as our only path to victory.

  • Johnny learned to use context clues – WIN!
  • Sarah correctly applied the Pythagorean Theorem – WIN!
  • Dennis successfully delivered his big speech – WIN!

But the truth is, sometimes the victory you hope for is not within reach. Maybe the entire class lacks the background knowledge to successfully master the lesson? Perhaps it’s an individual student that needs differentiated instruction and remediation?

Sometimes, you just lose.

…It’s How You Play the Game

When the task-level win is out of reach, does that mean you shouldn’t show up? Of course not. You always show up. You teach, and students learn. Maybe in that moment they don’t master the intended lesson, but they do lean that you won’t give up on them. What’s more, they’ll realize you believe they are worth showing up for. That’s a win.

(P.S. The girls lost Game 5 to the tune of 7-0. But the next week, after a little more practice and a couple of additional player, they won two games in a row! The final game of the season is coming up, and win, lose, or draw, I know one this for sure – we’re showing up.)

What about you? What can you teach your students about perseverance?

*Today’s blog image comes from Soccer Star by Mina Javaherbin and Renato Alarcao. Get your copy today!