OKTOY Blog: Letting Go

Injuries are not fun. We all can agree on that. As an avid runner, however, dealing with injuries has given me an opportunity to see things from a different perspective.

Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Jason Proctor poses with members of his student track team.

As a coach of high school athletes I have always participated alongside them in their practice. Sharing in their “pain” and struggles has strengthened my ability to relate to my athletes. It also puts me in a better position to make decisions about how to guide the next steps in their training. Over the past year I have struggled with numerous injuries — one following another — to where I had to learn a “new” way to coach.

Without the ability to be alongside my athletes during every moment of training I have grown in two areas of my coaching. The first is my ability to communicate with them. I ask just as many questions, but my questions are more specific. In turn my athletes have responded by being more reflective about how their bodies are or are not responding to the training.

Second, I have learned to relinquish control. I still lead my team during practice, but I no longer feel like I have to control every aspect of the time I have with them. It used to be that they would take every cue from me out on the run. I can see now how they have, in my absence, taken the challenge as an opportunity to take ownership of their training to a new level.

I am healing from my latest round of injuries and hope to be lacing up my shoes in the coming weeks. Does that mean I will avoid running with my team again? No. I eagerly look forward to the day that I join them, and they are eager for my return, though I will have a different outlook. I will no longer feel like I have to be “right there” to coach them effectively, and at times I will allow them to go it alone.

I believe a big part of our job as educators is helping our students become independent. In order to teach independence we have to let go of the reins. I am not excited about my injuries, but I am grateful for the lesson that I can look for even more ways to push my athletes to be better.

By: Jason Proctor
2015 Oklahoma State Teacher of the Year




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Last updated on January 21, 2015