4th Quarter – Finishing Strong

We’re two weeks in to the last quarter of school – the home stretch, the final lap, the last mile – and the kids are exhausted.  I am, too. This has been a really rough year, and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, or at least summer at the beginning of June. 

The wear and tear is really beginning to show on all of us.  So I had to do something to motivate them, and quite frankly, myself.  Finish strong just did not seem to cover it, because there is no “how” involved in that.  So I had to work on the how. 

Here is what I told them:

We’re in the fourth quarter; the last part of the year.  And you are tired.  I get that.  I have been where you are not, maybe not in that exact geographical location, but I was in school too, back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth.  And the last part of the year was the hardest.  Teachers would pile things up on us like crazy to try to get all of this stuff done.  I get that, so let’s all please note that I am not plowing you under with projects. 

But I get it to in that this is how I train.  Rounds.  I am working on getting my mile time down to single digits, and my cousin and coach will tell me to do four sets of whatever distance I have for the day.  The first round is a little challenging, but not too bad, just like the first quarter of school.  The second one is a little better, and you are very comfortable.  By the third one, you have to work a little harder because you are starting to get tired.  And by the fourth one (dramatic flop to the floor), you are crawling toward the finish line because you are just done.  I get that. 

But here is the thing – we are not done yet.  We have to finish this race.  So I am going to tell you like I have been told:

  1.  Get your stuff together and be prepared – You know what will be going on in my classroom every day because it is written on the board, just as I walk in to my box and know what the WOD is and what I need to start gathering.  Your coming in to class and then asking five minutes later if you can go to your locker to get the book you need for class is just as terminally goofy as my realizing in the middle of a WOD that my magic jump rope is still in my car.  Being prepared makes things go so much more smoothly, and keeps you from looking silly. 
  2. Be coachable – Take instruction.  Take constructive criticism.  And sometimes, just get it that you will be wrong.  I am on the business end of the purple grading pen, and arguing with me that you are right when I am telling you to fix something is a waste of energy.  There are some things that seem logical and right, but in the end will do nothing but end up hurting you.  Ask questions if you don’t understand, but arguing is not being coachable. 
  3. Keep your form – When you are tired from lifting, it gets harder to concentrate and keep your form. I have had several big purple bruises on my chin to prove that.  But you have to really work on concentrating and keep your form.  When you are tired, it becomes easy for you as students to let your mental backpacks become unzipped.  You only work halfway on something and call it good.  You get disorganized.  You procrastinate.  No good can come from this.  You will only hurt yourself academically, just as a lifter can hurt themselves physically. 
  4. Keep moving – No matter what – do not stop.  You have to keep moving even when you don’t want to.  It may be slow; it may not be pretty; but you have to keep forward momentum going.  You found that out last year when you ran the mile for the Presidential fitness thing.  If you stopped, what happened?  Same thing for me.  We have a cow pasture next to part of our run track at CrossFit.  When we make the error and stop, we call that talking to the cows. (I demonstrate that one, hunched over and hands on knees breathing heavily and pretending to have cow conversation) Let’s not stop and talk to the cows.  Let’s not stop and talk to the cows, but wave as we move slowly on by. 

So that was the speech.  Has it helped?

Actually, yes.  I’ve been able to stop arguing with, “Are you being coachable?”  I’m going with that.  And the students are reminding each other to not stop and talk to the cows.  Humorous, but it gets the point across.  I’ve also had some additional talks with specific kids about leaving their mental backpacks unzipped. 

I am hoping this will help us all keep moving until the end, which we can almost see from here…

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1)

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