Lance Scranton: Sharing some good advice
I’ve learned to grow into my older years by maintaining an attitude of thankfulness and listening to just about anyone who is willing to give advice. The great thing about listening, as I often tell my students, is that it doesn’t mean you agree — it just means you’re polite and realize you can still learn a few things about life.
One of the things I’m often asked about is how I put up with today’s teenagers. There seem to be so many fractures in our culture today, and many people say they admire what I do for a living, but the compliment is usually followed by some comment about how, “they could never put up with kids.” So, what they are really mean is, “Better you than me!”
But seriously, a long time ago, I made a decision to make certain that integrity was my guide as a coach and an educator. Integrity hasn’t always guaranteed protection from the slings and arrows of a politically-charged community, but I’ve always been able to sleep at night and look at myself in the mirror each day and know that I’m standing for what is good and right — especially with respect to kids.
I’m asked numerous times every year about how I treat kids now that I am an “older” teacher. I respond that I follow six simple rules and seldom deviate. I am absolutely convinced that integrity in coaching and teaching is so important, because children’s self-esteem develops through relationships with people they can trust. The rules are as follows.
• I do everything I can to be entirely present when a child is talking to me.
• I take them seriously.
• I listen attentively.
• I ask serious questions.
• I consider carefully how I praise, because “awesomeness” is rarely on display.
• My comments are of specific and genuine regard for the child.
I’ve learned some of my best lessons watching people who have a tireless and genuine dedication to making sure that, as much as is possible, they bring their very best every day for children. It’s advice that was passed onto me, and now, I’m sharing it with you, because the greatest gift is usually just showing people you are genuinely interested in what they have to say.
With all the yelling and screaming in our culture right now, all of us could stand to listen a little bit more.
Lance Scranton is a teacher and coach at Moffat County High School.
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