I thought of this on Friday, but didn’t get a chance to write anything about it until last night, so forgive me if it seems more disjointed than it should.
When Terry Francona essentially fell on his sword for the Boston Red Sox after The Collapse, there was a lot of discussion about whether or not he should have done that and what exactly was his fault and what wasn’t. For whatever reason, this made me (semi-selfishly) think of myself and my profession of teaching. I’m not a classroom teacher yet, but I’ve done an internship and my student teaching and I currently do SAT tutoring. When I spent a few seconds on it, I came up with some similarities shared by teachers and managers.
The strongest connection is that both a teacher and a manager have the daunting task of balancing the egos, wants, needs, strengths, and weaknesses of 25-30 different individuals who are all moving towards the same goal, whether it’s winning a baseball game or successfully analyzing Kurt Vonnegut’s use of a disjointed time structure in Slaughterhouse Five.
Managers, coaches, and teachers obviously aren’t the ones doing the performance–be it an at bat or a test–but they are the ones doing the preparation. This raises two important similarities: 1. The teacher and manager can only do so much (though that can be a lot) before the student and player have to take over. 2. It’s up to the teacher and the manager to set up their students and players for success rather than failure. While it’s up for my students to actually take the SAT (many of them did on Saturday), it’s up to me to get them in the best possible position to take the test. I give them all the strategies and advice I can, but I can’t take the test for them. Likewise, a manager cannot be the one to throw the big pitch or take the important swing, but he can make sure that the right player is up in that spot.
While it does fall on the student or player to perform, if the teacher or manager doesn’t put his “pupil” in the right spot, only so much blame can be levied onto the student/player. It may suck when Octavio Dotel gives up a hit to a left handed hitter, but should he really be pitching to left handed hitters? Likewise, would it be fair for me to give a student with a learning disability and unmodified test?
There are nuances to both jobs that many may never fully understand. We get so caught up with the results that we often don’t look to the process. Granted, with managing a baseball team, we could argue that the results do matter more than the process does. When we look back at a baseball manager (unfair as this may be), we’re going to remember whether the team won or lost a lot of games under his command. But with a teacher, are you going to look back and say “Man, Mr. Jones was awesome ’cause he got my CMT scores to go up!”? No. You’re going to remember the little nuanced things that don’t show up on the report card or in the standardized test scores.
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