Coaching: It’s More Than Sports

By Griffin Monahan, SED 2016

What does an effective coach offer to his or her students and athletes? You might first reply with, “well the skills of the sport!” This is both obvious and true, but coaches can have an even greater impact. Coaches can provide positivity, confidence, and relaxation to students. The list of life skills that can be conveyed from coach to student is surprisingly rather long.

Who can benefit from the benefits of an effective coach? Everyone can! There are groups of students who can benefit the most from a purposeful coach. Students who have the greatest difficulty in school, academically, socially, whatever the issue may be, these students have much to gain. If traditional education is not meeting the needs of a student a caring coach might be able to rise to the occasion. Lou Bergholz of Edgework Consulting writes on the benefits that an encouraging coach or mentor can provide to a student, youth, or mentee. Stating, “play can serve as a natural and powerful promoter of learning and growth that provide manipulation and facilitates mastery, self worth, and the development of basic competencies – including social competencies.[1]” Well directed play and activities can provide students what traditional education may fail to provide.

Albert Petitpas, a professor of psychology at Springfield College, reiterates this point by covering the many opportunities provided by sports participation. He states, “It would be naıve to suggest that by simply participating in sports, young people will acquire the skills necessary to succeed in life. Sport participation does provide, however, numerous opportunities for youth to learn about themselves, to form important relationships with peers and adult mentors, and to experience the benefits of setting goals and working hard to achieve them.[2]” An effective coach and active participation in sports can positively shape a youth in distress.

What’s the point? We as educators and future educators need to provide greater consideration into truly fulfilling the role of a coach. We need to seize any opportunity to mentor after school or coach a sports team when provided. Making a difference in students’ lives can often occur in the regular classroom but let us not forget of the many chances we have after school on the hardwood, at the track, or by the pool.

Griffin Monahan is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in History Education

[1] Bergholz, Lou “Playing to Heal: Designing a Trauma‐Sensitive Sport Program.” Edgework Consulting: 9
[2] Petitpas, Albert J., Judy L. Van Raalte, Allen E. Cornelius, and Jim Presbrey. “A Life Skills Development Program For High School Student-Athletes.” The Journal of Primary Prevention: 333.

A New Conversation

By Navraj Narula, SED 2016

Here at the School of Education (SED), we focus the majority of our conversations on teachers: how they should explain concepts to a diverse group of learners, how their passion for a subject should be coupled with their purpose for a lesson, and even how they should seek to present themselves in the way they act, speak, and dress.

I have been a committed student in SED for quite some time now. Of course, I believe that excellent teachers should be well-trained to know what it is that could make one outstanding; however, is this the only topic we should be talking about in our college?

You might expect me to say something like, “Let’s shift the focus on to our future students instead!” Not exactly, though. In my courses, I do find students to usually be the main star in lectures. This is absolutely a good thing.

However, I think we can still do better. My method for improvement is to start talking about the administration. You may ask — why? My answer is: the administration is powerful in a way that both teachers and students simply are not.

The administration makes the decision about what classes a student must take in order to graduate, what to discuss with its faculty during staff meetings, and any general business possibly involving funding, budget, and pay.

During my time here in college, I used to find it ever so difficult to approach the administration staff sometimes. I did not know why, but there just seemed to be some sort of irrational fear associated with speaking to someone in a higher position of authority than myself. By now, I have obviously gotten used to speaking with any staff within my school as well as other adults in general. However, I do think that it is still important to for both students—and especially future teachers like ourselves—to speak to administrators. Simply speak to them. That is all.

There is so much more that an educator can do if they are able to cooperate with the administration. I believe that teachers who bring up issues about how they are struggling in the classroom to a principal, inform the entire faculty of their plans to create a new class, or even work to have lunch with the people in the school environment they do not conventionally talk to will create a better learning experience for their students, but more importantly, for themselves.

Let’s start talking about something we haven’t.

Navraj Narula is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in English Education

Alternative Spring Breaks and Alternative Education

By Claire Buesser, SED 2016

Me digging irrigation canals in Phoenix

This March, I led a service trip to Phoenix, Arizona. The Alternative Service Breaks (ASB) program with the Community Service Center at BU sends students on similar trips throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico – students who would rather spend their break on a farm or in a soup kitchen than sit on their couches. Being the pre-service teacher that I am, I reflected on our week and related it to my discipline, and I made an important discovery: sometimes, dirt trumps books.

I am a bookish person. I love books, I love reading, and I have difficulty walking past used book stores without buying something. I enjoy creating the perfect worksheet, I love grading papers, and I can’t read a good children’s book without wanting to buy it for my future students. When I envision “school” and “education,” I craft images of happy students at desks with books. When I picture my own schooling experiences, I blissfully recall holding dog-eared books in my bright classrooms. But if you asked me what skills I have that I am most proud of, or if you asked me to list the best weeks of my life thus far, paper and books somehow don’t enter into the conversation. Where did I learn the most? In dirt. In the sun. Where did I feel the most proud of myself? In rural Kentucky when I installed a roof. How did I learn about culture? By encountering different ones in West Virginia. When do I persevere? When I know that farmers will really be using the shade structure I helped to build in Phoenix. Simply put, service makes me come alive. On ASB I realized that getting my hands dirty really impacts how much I learn. When I am engaged in meaningful service, involved in tasks that are right in my ZPD, I absorb much more than I do when sitting in class. If that is true for me, it must be true in some way for my students, too.

Translating my love for service to the classroom has always been a passion of mine. But I am now considering the value of alternative learning environments. Why not allow students to learn on a farm for part of the day? Why not allow students to complete math assignments while measuring and cutting real wood? Engaging children in real-life experiences that matter to them and to others is the best “hook” for a lesson that I can think of. Children deserve to be challenged, to find their passions, to work collaboratively, and to discover new skills, and I believe that these criteria can be met through alternative service education. Not only does this facilitate community partnerships and community development, but it allows students to grow in unique ways. Learn by doing, not by being told. When I was 15, I was introduced to construction through service, and now I have real, transferrable skills. I know how to empower teammates, I know when I need to take breaks, and I know how to measure twice and cut once. These skills I did not learn in the classroom – I learned them in the dirt.

As a teacher, I do not just want to plant seeds of knowledge…I want to plant seeds of passion while my students plant real seeds in real gardens that will benefit real people. Sometimes, dirt trumps books. After all, we would have no paper if it weren’t for the dirt.

Claire Buesser is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in Elementary Education

Out of the Comfort Zone

By Meghan Williamson, SED 2015

Last semester I studied abroad in Quito, Ecuador to complete my student teaching practicum. The experience was life changing, as many people who study abroad can attest to. However, it was not just studying abroad in a different country that made this experience affect my way of living. It was the opportunity I took to push myself farther out of my comfort zone than I have ever been before that allowed me to have a new perspective in regards to my future actions. As I am about to step out of the classroom as a student and step in as the teacher I will continue to urge myself to not be afraid of the unknown.

As I landed in Quito and walked off the plane, I entered a country where I was not fluent in the language, I was not familiar with any of the people, and I was in culture shock. This is when I started doubting my decision. I questioned myself, “Was I really ready to be pushed out of my comfort zone?” However, there was no turning back. From there on out, I had to do the best with the skills that I did have and move forward.

When I think about my future career in a new school, with new staff, and new kids, I need to once again push myself out of my comfort zone. As a first-year teacher, it would be easy for me to focus on just surviving. I know the first year teaching is no easy task, but I am responsible to teach these students, to make a difference in their lives, to be the best teacher I can possibly be. In many ways teaching is my comfort zone. But, it is when we get comfortable in our teaching that we stop becoming great teachers; we stop modeling for our students how to grow, how to engage in active learning. So, it is my initiative to shed my familiarity, step out of what is comfortable, and push myself to new heights and I encourage you all to do the same.

Meghan Williamson is a senior in the School of Education, majoring in Elementary and Special Education. 

Life in Ed House

By Katarina Kretchman, SED 2016

SED House EnteranceIt’s around that time again when returning students make decisions regarding next year’s housing. This is always a stressful process because there are so many options and factors to consider. I often think back to three years ago when I was facing this decision for the first time. I had never visited the Boston University campus before, so I was choosing my fate rather blindly. Warren Towers or West? I figured that getting a room in South Campus or Bay State wasn’t even possible being that I was an underclassman. And to be honest, I didn’t even know about Myles Standish, 550 Commonwealth, or Danielson. Since I figured there was no wrong way to go, I chose randomly.

At my parent’s urging I selected the Education House brownstone as my first choice, just for kicks. Warren Towers was my second choice, followed by various places in West campus. Three months later, I logged onto the StudentLink to find that I was living in a Brownstone my freshman year. To say I was surprised is an understatement, and I think I was more relieved than anything. I was so thankful that I wouldn’t have to share a bathroom with 20 girls, or use an elevator every day. I did not exactly know what to expect, but after living in Ed House for a few weeks, I knew that I had made the right choice.

I could easily list all the great things about Ed House, not only because so many people were asking me what it was like to live in a brownstone freshman year. The Education House was a 2 1/2 minute walk to SED, a 4 ½ minute walk to Marciano Commons and about the same to Warren Towers. It was close to printing stations at Pickering Library and Towers Mailroom, we had our own washer and dryer in the basement, and we were right across from the Esplanade, the park adjacent to the Charles River. But the most memorable things about living in Ed House were the other people who lived there too.

We’d have house dinners, gather in the common room to watch the newest episodes of “How I Met Your Mother,” order unhealthy amounts of Dominos together, and we even have a special Thanksgiving meal in the common room. We could always find something to bond over, but our strongest bond was our shared passion for education.

Living in Ed House also provided us underclassmen with the opportunity to live with upperclassmen and absorb their years of wisdom (Here’s looking at you, Sarkis). Anyone will tell you that having a mentor is being important, but I think that being a mentor is just as rewarding. I elected to live in Ed House again during my sophomore year, and I quickly connected with the three freshmen living in the 405. Helping an underclassman decide which classes to take, how to register for classes, where to buy books, or which Chinese take out place is best is rewarding for everyone involved. Now, I live next door to Ed House, and but I am still just as close to everyone who lived there when I did as well. Ed House is such a unique community, and I will always look back on my two first years of college and have fond memories of 179 Bay State Road and the people who made Ed House special.

Katarina Kretchman is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in Early Childhood Education

Late Night College Conversations

By Debra Regensberger, SED 2017

RegensbergerWhen I began looking at colleges I was apprehensive about a lot of things: classes, my major, and most of all, having friends. BU is a large place and it can be scary thinking about all of the people who go here, and how to meet people. I was lucky enough to meet so many people within SED. Many of us have the same classes and therefore end up working on group projects, sharing ideas for classrooms and spending a majority of our time together.

While it was convenient that I shared a major with these people, it certainly was not the only reason I became friends with them. A few weeks ago late at night, some of us were procrastinating on our work, as so many of us college students do, and convened in one room. Someone brought up how they had been recently contacted for jury duty and the conversation began to flow about our opinions on jury duty and the court system in general. Relevant cases came up like the Boston Marathon trial and the Aaron Hernandez trial which led to conversations about jail reform and the law. Slowly the conversation turned to discussion on topics such as abortion, God and education, things that can sometimes feel like taboo subjects.

By no means did we agree on every topic. We all come from different places, with different pasts, and therefore have formed different opinions on these intense subjects. However the fact that we could openly express our opinions and respect others’ opinions was more than I could ask for. Instead of attacking one another, we asked others to explain more so we could try to understand where they came from.

Boston University has a wide array of students who come from all over the world, are pursuing different majors and have diverse interests. Yet we all come to this university ready to better ourselves and keep an open mind. There is a letter in the Mugar Memorial Library addressed to Martin Luther King Jr. from a BU faculty member. In the letter, MLK Jr. was encouraged to send students to BU if they had been kicked out of their own universities for participating in civil disobedience. They were asked to join our campus where we are free to share our opinions and have a voice. I am proud and grateful that I go to a university that supports this quality in students.

Before I came to Boston University I didn’t know who I would meet, be friends with or talk to. Now I am thankful every day that I have friends who respect me as a person, and want to listen to what I have to say. Two years ago I would have been incredibly surprised about the conversation I had with my friends. Now I think to myself, as Dean Elmore likes to say, that’s just so BU!

Debra Regensberger is a sophomore in the School of Education, majoring in Elementary and Special Education