How to Handle a Teacher or Coach with a Fixed Mindset
When I was a junior in high school, someone asked me what I thought was quite a condescending question. She said to me, “What is more important to you, getting the grade or learning the material?” And I hesitated. Because we all know the correct answer! But she misunderstood my hesitation and gave me a smug look. I knew what was coming, she already had her lecture starting in her head.
To me, getting the grade means you’ve earned the grade. You’ve earned the good grade once you’ve mastered the material. I know that’s not what she meant. I know that’s not what that phrase means. But that’s what it meant to me.
As a junior in high school, your thoughts are on college and your future plans. Some of those plans may not come to be, if you don’t get the grade. I wanted to point out that, the grade is also important. What is the point of understanding the material, but failing to pass the class? Leading to not receiving your scholarship that allows you access to higher education. Wouldn’t that be worse?
Instead of giving me the chance to explain my hesitation or my point of view, she hit me with the full force of her lecture. I honestly thought hours had passed before she took a breath. Then the bell rang and I realized I had missed a big chunk of my class. My guidance counselor looked at me as if she’d done me a great service and wrote me a note, excusing me from missing my class.
Throughout my life, I've experienced many similar situations. And if I could give my younger self some advice, I’d tell myself not to take everything so seriously. Yes education is important, but if that’s the only focus, you lose out on many other life lessons. And that can actually put you at a disadvantage when school is finished. One of the most important life lessons I learned from college is managing myself, handling my emotions and acting responsibly.
This came from learning how to handle certain situations that arose with a specific type of teacher or coach. Because as unfortunate as it is, we do not always get the opportunity to learn from the most encouraging and responsible of mentors. I’m not blaming teachers or coaches, I have had my fair share of great teachers who inspired me to love the subject they taught. And I understand there are many difficulties that come with following their teaching passions. I am eternally grateful to have been able to take classes from such amazing people.
The situation I’m talking about is when the teacher has no interest in teaching you the material. They seem to enjoy taking class time berating the students for their failures instead of finding ways to help them understand. I’m talking about the type of coach who puts more pressure on you during a high stakes game. And when you fail to perform to your coach’s standard, he throws his clipboard down and kicks his chair. The type of coach who points out who specifically in the team made that loss happen.
How to deal with the Fixed Mindset in Teachers and Coaches
The best way to grow during situations where you are stuck with a mentor with a fixed mindset is to sort through the information. While these teachers and coaches may justify their behavior as, telling it as it is or toughening you up, know that it is just a justification for losing control. Sift through the information they throw at you and file it under two categories – To Ignore and Useful Applicable Information.
Choose to ignore any demeaning comments. Holding onto it is poisonous. Easier said than done, I know. This person is trying to make you feel bad for some reason, for some personal problem they do not know how to handle. And you are in a situation where you will be spending an entire semester or season with this person. You can either quit and fail or choose to grow.
Just because a person is unpleasant does not mean they have no value. They will eventually drop some knowledge worth understanding. Listen and learn from what valuable piece they can offer, and ignore the rest. Do your best with the material and take the time to learn it on your own if necessary. This is a valuable learning opportunity, practice it throughout your educational career.
Self-education is a habit that all successful people possess. They are constantly trying to grow and learn. Take this time to grow, you have an opportunity disguised as a problem. As you get better at it, this lesson will give you a huge advantage. You will understand how to deal with people.