A debut book exhorts teachers to be better coaches—and vice versa.
Retired high school English instructor/basketball coach Anstett intentionally blurs the line between teaching and coaching in an inspirational, instructional manual that takes a holistic view of secondary education. Sections of the unusual, engaging guide alternate between addressing the specific concerns of each group as the author offers plenty of advice to both teachers and coaches. But he reinforces the basic concept of the book repeatedly: “One should teach more on the court and coach more in the classroom.” Early on, Anstett provides a spirited discussion that contrasts “whining” with “winning,” using examples of both students and teachers/coaches to demonstrate the difference. For example, when a student whines about deserving an A, the author notes: “High expectations are fine, as long as the work ethic supports those goals….Deserving can become a toxic mental detour.” He follows this observation with a few key winning strategies for teachers to deal with the notion of “deserving” good grades. This is the kind of no-nonsense, straightforward advice doled out by Anstett throughout the volume. Parents and the role they play in their child’s development do not go unnoticed either. In a “Letter to Parents,” the author presents several ideas, among them: “Discuss your child’s goals—a great conversation for a Sunday evening each week” and “Stay positive about your child’s teachers. Your kids will lean a great deal on your attitude.” There is a fair amount of autobiographical meandering, but it is not without purpose; for the most part, Anstett’s own story is woven in to make salient points about teaching or coaching. Interestingly, the author is always coaching as he writes, whether it’s “eleven ways teachers can instill and excite dedication” or his bulleted list of “Growing ‘Vitamins’ ” that includes such aphorisms as “Never cheat,” “Measure people by the size of their heart,” and “Don’t major in minor things.” At various points in the text, a blank page titled “Your Turn” is inserted to encourage readers to share their own thoughts.
Heartfelt, powerful, and sincere; should prompt serious reflection by teachers and coaches alike.