Softball is many things. Today, softball is deconstructing standards.

Have you ever been so frustrated that you can actually feel it? You know, where it builds from your toes, climbing its way slowly up your body to the nerves in your brain? Where frustration is millions of small captives trapped beneath the surface of your skin, trying so hard to escape that they press their millions of little hands against your flesh, leaving you feeling uncomfortable with pressure and tension? Where tiny piercing lights blind your brain from the inside out, making it impossible to focus? Where little failures and constant overthinking mock you, leaving you paralyzed? Where your heart ticks at a marathon pace, causing your body to shake and pulse, like the wings of a hummingbird?

If not, I highly recommend NOT attempting to deconstruct standards.

It’s a painstaking process, and it’s one that leaves you mentally drained afterwards. In order to do this, you’re forced to break apart every piece of the standard, every word, every verb, so that you can extract the knowledge and skills necessary for your students to become proficient. Each skill builds upon the next, following a pattern of progression until the standard can be mastered. It’s incredibly tedious.

See, a standard is not unlike a softball swing.

In order to master the fundamentals of a swing, much like the standard, first you need to deconstruct it into parts. My hitting coach, Steven Ball, was a master at this.

He would do a drill with me where I would be forced to stand in front of a tee, and, slowly, oh so slowly, break my swing into parts, bit by bit, piece by piece. During each step I was forced to focus on that particular skill, to perfect it, so that I could build towards mastery.

However, this drill was tedious, and much like deconstructing standards, it was a painstaking process. Often times it left me frustrated.

I remember, so vividly, standing in front of the tee doing this drill one particular day. I remember lifting my bat off my shoulder, feeling confident in that step, that skill. I remember transferring my weight to my back leg, and raising my front heel off the ground. Again, this skill I knew. Then came the weight transfer and opening up my front hip slightly. This was the point in my learning progression that always tripped me up. I couldn’t feel that I was doing it right the same way I could feel everything else. I was unsure of this step, and unsure of myself. This is where my frustration built. It paralyzed me, left me feeling uncomfortable and unfocused. I was mentally drained by it. I felt it build. I felt the clawing hands of the small captives, the blinding light in my brain, the mockery of failure, and the pulsing heart.

Deconstructing the standards today left me feeling similar. Often times, when we were developing the learning progressions with success criteria, I couldn’t feel that it was always right. I second guessed everything. I felt unsure of myself. I was mentally drained by it. I felt my frustration physically.

However, I attribute my frustration to my inability to do things without careful thought, precision, and accuracy. I want to do things well. I want to master them. It’s the athlete in me. Unfortunately, the result is that often times I feel the frustration of failure whenever there’s a bump in the road. Fortunately, I always ride it out till the end. It’s the athlete in me. After all, anything worth doing is worth doing right. Right?

Softball is many things. Today, softball is deconstructing standards.









5 thoughts on “Softball is Deconstructing Standards

  1. Oof- unpacking standards is not one of my favorite things. You broke down your softball swing well- I never thought about all the components (which I guess is your point)! To think that you did that day after day. The description at the beginning made me feel your pain!


  2. I agree with Erika’s comment above that I never thought about all the components of a softball swing.

    I was as frustrated as you during this exercise. Although I never could have expressed it so eloquently.


  3. Wow, you continue to amaze me with the way you communicate what you are thinking and feeling thru your writing. The repetition is beautiful and I FEEL your pain! I love that you end on a positive note of how you get thru it!


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