9 Things Teachers Can Learn from the Great Sport of Basketball

It’s time to bring your A game!

Tips for Teachers From the Great Sport of Basketball

I grew up watching and playing sports. On my 17th birthday I woke up and, to my dismay, I was still not 6’ 4’’ like I had been hoping and wishing to be. As my hopes of playing in the NBA faded I began to set my sights on coaching. As soon as I became a teacher I looked for the first opportunity I could to coach basketball. Any good coach will have seen all the good sports movies. From Hoosiers to Remember the Titans to Major League I have actually learned some secrets which helped me become a better teacher.

Here are my 7 teaching secrets found in sports movies:


#1- Communicate Effectively

Teaching is the art of professional communication. Every good sports movie has that one epic speech given by the coach. Most great coaches are extremely effective communicators. Early in my teaching career I learned that, the better I communicated, the more my students learned and the higher they achieved. Bad communication? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

#2- Teach Teamwork

I am competitive and hate to lose at anything. ANYTHING. It’s kind of a problem. One of the greatest ways to get students to learn is for them to feel comfortable in their learning environment. If I can convince my students to see themselves as a team as opposed to a class, I can push them to learn through competition. Good coaches teach teamwork and so should good


#3- Make Work Meaningful

You have the future of the world sitting in your classroom every day! That means that you have a great influence on what the world will look like in the future! Your job as a teacher is as important as any other! As you plan, meet or stay up late, know that your work is meaningful and valuable!

#4- Build a winning tradition

I’ve learned that students, over the course of a school year go through winning and losing streaks. Winning streaks for students can look like A’s on tests, getting a new girlfriend/boyfriend that you actually acknowledge in public or even just making it through the day without being embarrassed. Losing streaks can look like detention, failing grades, defiance etc. If we set our students up to win with a winning tradition, the better off they will be.

#5- Teach life lessons

A sports movie would not be a good one without cheesy, over the top yet poignant life lessons. Your content is important. It is valuable. But you are a teacher of so much more than math, science or reading. School aged kids spend more time with us than they do with their parents. Most of the important life lessons I remember can from teachers. Teach life lessons in your classroom.


#6- Seek continuous improvement

“If you aren’t growing, you are dying.” Ok you may not actually be dying but if you are not becoming a better teacher every year you come back, you are not helping your students. Sports movies remind us to never stop learning, growing and overcoming!


#7- Let students change you

Just like Michael Oher changed Sandra Bullock’s life in the blind side, you’ve got to let your students change your life! The feeling you get when you realize your life has been changed is truly priceless.