Recently, I had the chance to play a round of golf with my dad when he came to visit our family. Being that my parents live in New Hampshire, I don't often get the chance to play golf with him so I was excited for us to hit the links together. As I reflect back on our time together on the course, three lessons came to mind.
1. Enjoy the good shots
Unlike one of my brothers who is a very good golfer, almost a scratch golfer, I do not possess the same golf skills. I am not a terrible golfer nor am I a really good golfer. I often hit more bad shots than I do good shots. But why do I like golf so much? It is because of the good shots. The good shots are what I remember and are what keep me coming back for my next round of golf. So how does this look in our schools? What good shots (feedback, learning opportunities and experiences...) do we give our students that make them wanting to return the next day?
2. Celebrate the successes
At one point, I had 2 chances for birdies and just lipped out the putt. On one of the par three holes, my drive was about 8 yards from the hole. I had a great drive on one of the par fives which led to a great approach shot and getting on the green in three shots. After each one, my dad would say, "Wow! Great shot!" and give me a high-five. All of these great shots made me feel good and boosted my confidence for the next shot. We didn't wait until the end of the round to talk about the good shots we had. We celebrated these shots as they occurred. So how does this look in schools? Do we provide opportunities for our learners to celebrate along the journey or do we wait until the end of the unit, quarter, semester or year?
3. Find your strength
I do not hit the longest drives. My iron play is average. I know my strengths and my limitations. I cannot expect to clear the water hazard when it is 275+ yards away. My game is not suited for that (perhaps that is why I like to play scrambles with other golfers). However, I do know what I am good at and what I can accomplish. My strength lies in my ability to hit somewhat accurate pitch shots as I approach the green. I need to work within my limitations and continue to push myself to drive the ball a bit longer and hit the ball a bit straighter until I get close enough to the green. So how does this look in our schools? It all starts with the relationships we have with our learners. What are they passionate about? What are their strengths and limitations so we can nudge them forward? Without strong relationships, this gentle nudge does not occur so easily. I have never regretted getting to know someone on a personal level.
Being this was the first time out and only the second time playing golf in the last two years, I was quite pleased with my score of 43. More importantly, I will cherish the time spent with my dad playing golf, laughing and enjoying one another's company.