Sunday, December 12, 2010

PC From A Youth Perspective

This past Monday evening, Project Coach leaders invited all high school coaches to talk about the program. The evening began with a focus group during which coaches discussed ways of improving the program, and the ways in which it has already begun to transform them.

Coach Tyesha shared that she feels her connection to Project Coach motivates her to do well in school, most recently in terms of raising her English grades. She noted that just as the Smith students motivate the high school coaches, the coaches in turn motivate the elementary-aged participants.

After the focus group, coaches began writing about their experiences in the program, following a list of prompts provided by program leaders. They built a narrative that they will use over video clips and images from Project Coach. It was obvious throughout the evening how much it meant to all coaches to be asked for their opinions. Not only did they share their ideas about the program's future, but they were asked to reflect upon what the program has done so far, both for them and the kids they coach. Most importantly, they had to think more about why they joined the program, and what it means to them.

As I went around from table to table, I heard coaches sharing memories of the past season's work with the elementary kids. Coach Zach shared that "his" 3rd graders liked football. Antonio laughed and said the kids call each other "Pokemons." Their thoughts were both warm and critical, noticing how much they care for the kids with whom they work, and what they can do to make the next season even more meaningful. At the last meeting of the season, coaches discussed the same question for a short time, and many noted that they wanted more time with the kids, even time talking or tutoring. It is hard to overstate the strength of the words of the high school coaches in these last conversations. Now we look ahead to what these statements will yield in the spring term.

Below is a brief "photo essay" of the evening:

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