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Left Foot, Right Foot…Breathe:The Dance of a New Teacher and a Mentor

Photo via Jessica Smith @NCAAJessic

Last week, I was deeply touched by the news that Pat Summit, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history, is stepping down as the head coach of the  Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team.

The reason that was shared for this difficult decision is that Summitt announced last year that she had early-onset dementia and that now the pace of head coaching is taking a toll on her work and that she has to look to her health as a primary focus. Fortunately, she will remain on board as “head coach emeritus,” a role that will have her continuing to serve the team, reporting to the university’s athletic director, remaining “involved in on-campus recruiting” and acting as a “personal mentor to players, including life skills coaching,”according to a press release.

Pat Summit has been an amazing coach and mentor! Building relationships with her players to guide them, and staying in touch with many of these young women long after they’ve graduated. What a gift she must be to her players.

Photo via Rho @Judy_Winslow_

(Here are a few tweets caught by Storify on this announcement: Pat Summit)

Last week, during this announcement there was a great interview done by CBS News of her son, Tyler. Take a minute to watch his interview…here is the link to the video(Photo of video, below.)

One of the great comments in the interview that Tyler shares is a quote from his Mom. He tells the CBS interviewer who asks how they are going to move forward that his Mom has always said, “Left Foot, Right Foot…Breathe.”

I was really caught in that moment, with emotion, as he shared that phrase. My first thought was that it was a great analogy for the dance of a new teacher and a mentor. The second was that it had to be shared!

As a new or pre-service teacher, in or preparing to enter the classroom, you are going to have some great potential opportunities to be guided and supported by a mentor. If you’re fortunate you will have a good mentor partner who will do a great job of “dancing” with you. I want to remind you today, on this Mentoring Monday to step boldly into this partnership and be sure to “Left Foot, Right Foot…Breathe.” I also want to encourage you to immerse yourself in the dance with your mentor, as often as you can.

Every good player needs or has a coach! So to must a good teacher have a trusted mentor to guide them through the dance of educational instruction, curriculum and pedagogy.

As I write this post today, I hope that you have a great mentor that you rely on for support. If not, I have a great resource for you here that you need to take advantage of.

So…are you open to doing the “dance”? What are you doing to keep the “dance” vibrant and supportive? How will you pay it forward as you work with your students?

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Comment by Jennifer Berryhill Carroll on May 21, 2012 at 10:01am

I love Pat Summitt! What a great post. Thanks!


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