Bird Droppings April 5, 2020
Green Bay Wisconsin is cold. Did Lombardi ever wear gloves?
“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up.” Vince Lombardi
It has been a few days since I used a Lombardi quote. Years back I can recall my father borrowing verbiage from the great coach of the Green bay Packers and Washington Red Skins. My father was a big fan of Lombardi back in the day. My father often used a line or two as he lectured from Lombardi’s game talks or his rallying speeches to his teams. A Lombardi team never ever was out of the picture in a game even when losing badly. I remember hearing about his death in 1970 I was in school at the time at Eastern College in St. David’s Pa. and volunteering with a program teaching in Paoli Pa. with disabled children, which became my first official teaching position.
“Individual commitment to a group effort-that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Vince Lombardi
“People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.” Vince Lombardi
In professional football Lombardi never had a losing season, he finished his career at 105-35-6. Often considered to be the greatest football coach of all time, Vince Lombardi had simple convictions and ideas about life and football. He believed in team effort. It was the team that won not an individual and not a coach. For us as teachers it should be about the team, teacher and students working together.
“The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.” Vince Lombardi
When new teachers arrive at we should remind them get to know the janitors, lunch ladies, media center folks everyone because one day you will need them and that day you really do want them to be your friend. Teachers too often forget in their classrooms dealing with their children that they are not alone. Administrators are there to help, guidance counselors, and even at the “Board office”. You are not alone. In my current situation I feel bad as I do not know two thirds of the teachers. Our building is vast and I am very localized in one wing. Planning periods if and when there is one are to sit and calm down before heading back into the storm. But I do miss knowing folks and being in the mix of things beyond a few class rooms. Living outside the community is another issue. A forty-five-minute drive makes being involved after school harder.
“Some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will be judged by only one thing-the result.” Vince Lombardi
When I first went into teaching I felt there should be a way to measure the effectiveness of teachers. Today teachers are being measured and schools are being measured through standardized test scores of students. For the first time since I have been back to teaching 2001, test scores won’t matter. Teachers are being looked at for results with their students. Granted one could argue the actual validity of a standardize test scores after the fact as a measure of a teacher’s effectiveness but today in our world that is what is being used.
“Winning is not a sometime thing: it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do the right thing once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” Vince Lombardi
“Winning isn’t everything–but wanting to win is.” Vince Lombardi
“It’s easy to have faith in yourself and have discipline when you’re a winner, when your number one. What you’ve got to have is faith and discipline when you’re not yet a winner.” Vince Lombardi
“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle-victorious.” Vince Lombardi
As I am sitting here I wonder how many teachers go out each day planning on losing, planning on not succeeding with a student, not trying to do their best. It us not a once in a while effort, it is all the time. To borrow from author Robert Fried, it’s about passion. Vince Lombardi epitomized passion and he imbued it in others around him.
“There’s only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give it everything. I do, and I demand that my players do.” Vince Lombardi
As a parent, a teacher, or as a coach we have to give it our all every day every moment every second, if we do we can help but succeed. I remember an ad with a little girl saying “daddy look at me” over and over at different stages in her life till as a teenager she is using drugs and the idea is knowing where your kids are, paying attention to your kids. The other side of the ad is how often do we not pay attention when asked to, how often we turn away and miss a crucial moment, or a turning moment in a child’s life. I think to my own kids’ lives and often wonder was I there when I should have been.
“If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you’ll be fired with enthusiasm.” Vince Lombardi
Sitting here on a bright Sunday morning I thought when I copied and pasted, I made a mistake with this quote. I had to read this line more than once and it finally sunk in. A few years ago, our school hired a new head football coach and he was enthusiastic as was our new cheerleader coach hired the same year. The difference is watching students get excited about their school at pep rallies and games. But in a class room if you are not excited about what you do, the kids sure won’t be either I can guarantee that, to borrow from the Cajun chef “I’ll guarantee”. So funny the Cajun Chef popped up on a friends Instagram post this morning.
“Success is like anything worthwhile. It has a price. You have to pay the price to win and you have to pay the price to get to the point where success is possible. Most important, you must pay the price to stay there.” Vince Lombardi
It is not a magic potion or rabbit out of a hat it is through sweat and blood that we succeed and it requires continued effort to maintain that level.
“Unless a man believes in himself and makes a total commitment to his career and puts everything he has into it-his mind, his body and his heart-what is life worth to him? If I were a salesman, I would make this commitment to my company, to the product and most of all, to myself.” Vince Lombardi
Imagine what the world would be like if every teacher and every parent took that advice, put it all into it action daily, imagine. Over and over again I see a lack of this in students and in teachers who day after day simply show up. Self-esteem is lacking and that spark of truly believing in yourself lacking in many people. If only we could vaccinate against this.
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.” Vince Lombardi
In life it is a lack of will that defeats us far more quickly than a lack of skill. Daily I hear I don’t care, students who quit before they open a book or even a door to a room. In another moment a student who seeks to know I was reading about Henry David Thoreau and his relationship to education. At one point he stopped teaching at one point in his life and decided it is not about teaching but about learning and decided that in order to truly teach we had to truly learn and he proceeded to become a learner living off the land.
How do we instill that desire to learn? The key to success in teaching is in Thoreau’s thoughts. Stop teaching and begin learning when we instill that desire to learn, there literally is no teaching, and all becomes learning. Learning becomes a constant interaction of ideas and thoughts. Only when “a lack of will” is the big difference does learning falter. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts, and thank you Vince, namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)