Time Out with Coach Little: Discipline

Feb. 10, 2018 — The first adults responsible for discipline of their children are parents. The discipline given in childhood can often influence the manner in which their children, as adults, administer discipline in the future.  Teachers and coaches also correct misbehavior in their students and athletes.

Each adult, whether it is a parent, a teacher or a coach, they need to set guidelines of appropriate behavior.

What is seen as misconduct at home, school, or in athletics may vary from home to home, class to class, and from team to team.

As a coach, determining what your standards of behavior and your discipline may be drawn from your own life experiences. However, as Adrian Peterson and many other adults have learned the hard way, past practices are not always acceptable today. 

In 1963, my brother and I moved to Warrenton, Ore. I was in Mrs. Leding’s sixth-grade class. One day, she stepped out of the class and erasers started flying.  One hit me and I picked it up and chucked it back.

When Mrs. Leding returned she asked those students who threw erasers to raise their hands.

I raised my hand along with only six others. As punishment we were told to write “I will not throw erasers in the classroom” 1,000 times before Monday.

When I told my dad what happened, he told me to “Get to it”.”

By Sunday night, I developed quite a groove on my finger.  The sentences filled 15 pages front and back (8,000 words.)

On Monday, Mrs. Leding asked for our sentences. Only one other student wrote more than 25 sentences and he only wrote 50.

“Now students,” Mrs. Leding announced to the class, “Let this be a lesson for your actions.”

She then threw the papers into the trash. The others did not have to finish.

When I got home, I informed my dad of the teacher’s decision. He called her and talked to her. The next, day Mrs. Leding had a meeting with all seven of us. She said it was “unfair for Lloyd to complete his sentences when none of you did.”  Then she turned to me and said, “Lloyd, do you think these others should finish their sentences?”

What? I thought.

I have been in Warrenton two weeks.  If I say yes, there are six students mad at me.  If I say no, I have six students grateful to me. I said “no” but the lesson learned was to not give the decision back to your students about the discipline; the teacher should be in charge.

In 1968, our varsity basketball coach caught two starters smoking. The school’s athletic handbook required dismissal. He called a team meeting without the two athletes present. 

When he asked what their punishment should be, three of us stood and reminded him of our athletic handbook policy and we walked out.

We were certainly surprised when the two players showed for the next practice and ran 100 laps to be back on the team.  Needless to say, our season was lost in more ways than the scores.

As a teacher and coach at Siuslaw, whatever my class or team rules were, I was the only one to enforce these rules.  I did not call for students or athletes to make decisions on their peers.

That kind of discipline should come from adults.

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