I have a summer tradition that has been going on for the past 3 or 4 years. Each summer, during July, I rewatch the Friday Night Lights TV series from beginning to end. That’s right, all 5 seasons of it. If you’re not familiar with this series, it chronicles the lives of Coach Eric Taylor, his wife Tammy, their daughters and others from Dillon, Texas. Coach Taylor is a high school football coach, while his wife is an educator.
Sure the show is about a high school football coach, his players and their lives as a part of the Dillon Panthers and the East Dillon Lions, but it’s really about so much more. I have to admit, that I’ve actually watched the series 7 times through, and each time I still get teary eyed at virtually each episode. Not only does this show speak to me on a human level, it touches my educator’s heart as I watch these adults teach, inspire, nurture, care for, love and empower the young people they come into contact with.
So here’s what Coach Taylor has taught me about being an educator.
We Are Part of a Team
Sometimes it feels like it’s easier to close the classroom door and do our own thing, but most people thrive when they’re a part of a team. A team comes together for a common goal or purpose, ours being to help and care for children. We need our team to help us when we fall or fail. Our team can be there to lend a hand or an ear, to listen when we feel alone or talk when we need advice. The team we belong to is also there to help us reach our full potential and encourage us to keep pushing. Sometimes we will shine and be the star of our team, but there will be other times when we will have to sit the bench or stand on the sidelines and cheer for our teammates. This can be hard, but we must remember that being a part of our team is an infinitely powerful thing and all of our effort is for the greater good – a higher purpose of educating, nurturing and caring for our students.
A few will never give up on you. When you go back on the field, those are the people I want in your minds. Those are the people I want in your hearts. – Coach Taylor
Character Is To Be Discovered and Developed
We are in the inspiration and empowerment business. Each day we help students discover their own character and we strive continuously to help nurture and develop that character. Character is developed in practice. We use lessons, real life stories, content, books, films and numerous other tools to teach students valuable lessons about what character is and why it’s important. But we must remember, character is also developed and learned on the field. We have to use practice to teach our students the plays, but we must let go – we have to allow them to go out on the field and make their own decisions to execute the plays we’ve given them.
Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose
Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. – Not only is this the show’s catchphrase, it is also the most important lesson that Coach Taylor has to offer. As educators we are constantly reminded that our profession is unimportant and less valued than many others. But despite this, we have to give everyday our all. Our students deserve this much. Even if the game isn’t going our way, if the scoreboard doesn’t reflect how hard we’re trying, we must press forward. If we can look at our effort with clear eyes, knowing we played with integrity and gave 100% with a full heart, we can’t lose and our fight is not in vain. In the end, we all want to win, but we have to redefine how we measure a victory.
Every man. At some point in his life, is going to lose a battle. He is going to fight and he is going to lose. But what makes him a man is that in the midst of that battle, he does not lose himself.