Well yesterday got off to a good start. Threw down yard lines, gaks, and what I thought was a clever drill exercise. DM girl came to the field early to see if she could help. I really appreciated that. Oh, yeah, I got there a little after 8AM and there were already quite a few kids there. That was nice to see. Since I was only going to see the horns in the morning I didn’t need as much field and I was done rather quickly. DM girl helped me get the field stuff back to my car, which was by the equipment truck. Stuff was in full boh-see-phous mode by this point and I was actually getting pretty excited.
Something that I really didn’t take into account until a little after starting my block is that many of these kids are slightly overwhelmed with the gig. They show up, there’s an enormous truck, a bunch of people walking around doing stuff they have never seen before like its normal. Then there is me, Is this guy for real, attitude-personality telling them to do stuff, and telling them I expect them to do it with absolute perfection. I think I will talk to them a little more about the process we are beginning next time I see them. And give them a little more section hang time.
So they get to the field and I tell horn captain dude to stretch and warm their bodies. Afterward I send them to their sections and want to see what they do. As hoped, the vets take charge introduce who they are and start having the rookies and newbies talk a little bit about themselves. I watch this for a little while and notice the tubas have run out of chat rather quickly so I start into plan A. I call them over and start setting them on dots I threw down earlier. Next baritones, mellies, and sops. After everyone is set I have DM girl pass out the dot sheets I had so meticulously worked on earlier in the week.
I was soon to find out not only did I way over prepare, but I had visually overwhelmed them with all the dot painting I had done. Except for the vets which was 9 out of 40, I don’t think they had ever seen a field with so many blue (dots) and green (gaks) markings. Ha! Oh well, I am learning all the time. That is in their brain now so next time it won’t be such a mind blowing experience.
After giving them directions and ask them to follow the counts on their sheets it becomes clear that I did not give them enough clarification and their understanding of what I thought was basic terminology was not so basic. Wanting them to feel somewhat successful I give them more explanation and clarification and we have a go at it one more time. They labor through the exercise, and most achieve a degree of success. I have them run across the field, grab water and move to plan B.
As I begin plan B I can clearly see now I was way too ambitious about what I thought I would be able to accomplish in the time that I had. I quickly start getting to the fundamental concepts and Ideas I want them to understand and have them set back on the field to move again.
I like to throw random “figure it out” moments at them because that’s what life is, figure it out. Life does not come with instructions. Ideally, I would construct a lesson that covered all corners and spoon feed every detail. Those kinds of lessons, while valuable in their own way, do not build critical thinking. Their simple task of dividing themselves evenly into two lines proved to be a challenge they were not prepared to meet. I partially blame myself because before we began the next exercise I could visually see one line looked long than the other (by 2 it turned out). When that fact became apparent I told the last two when they reached the end of the field to correct the error. Thankfully the vet that was one of the two did, this is when it became painfully apparent the rookies were overwhelmed. New guy went back to the line he came from.
I asked him who was next to him when he went down the field. He pointed to vet guy standing across from him in the other line. At this point I don’t remember if I asked new guy why vet guy was standing in the other line, or if I told him to go stand next to him or what, but he moved, and I took that moment to emphasize when I give them directions it is their responsibility to either follow through or ask clarification. I try to speak as plainly as possible, and I know kids are more often than not going to question adults, but I really don’t mind. That is something I need to emphasize also next time we see each other.
Things start running relatively smoothly now as we move through a few different basic visual exercises. When I change tempo I give them the tempo first and then talk about the concept of subdivision and accuracy with foot timing at a quicker tempo. We go back to the exercise we were doing at a slower tempo and explain I want to see the same level of achievement at a quicker tempo. Fail. I have them coming across the field in ranks of five. After the first five step-off the next 5 have 16 counts to get into position. The second five moved into position as if the tempo had not changed therefore they were not prepared to step-off at the proper time. Another teachable moment. Sigh.
They quickly adjust and things start going smoothly again. I am feeling comfortable and a degree of satisfaction with their achievement that after another run and water break I go back and cover a few more concepts and ideas they need to eternalize into order to grow and raise their performance and achievement levels.
We move a little more, they run, have water, and then I have a final chat with the whole group. I dismiss the new people and chat briefly with vets. All in all I think it was a quite successful morning for them 😀