Greetings Playworks friends!
My name is Coach Stella and this year I held the position of Flex Coach with Playworks Illinois. As Flex Coach, I travel to various partner schools in the Chicagoland area to support fellow coaches’ programming. During my time at each school, I get a feel for their community and culture. I talk with the coach about what is going well and what they would like to do differently, and then we team up to put those ideas into action throughout the week!
An average week for me looks something like this:
Upon arrival at a new school, most of the first day is spent listening and observing. At recess, I look at what games are being offered and played, how students are interacting with one another, and how everyone transitions to and from recess.
During the first few class game times of the week, I like to take note of the coach’s facilitation style and any tips or tricks we might be able to learn from each other. I also observe most of the first Junior Coach meetings of the week in order to get to know the students better and see what their needs might be. Finally, when it comes to our non-competitive leagues, I like to jump right in and lead a game or section of the practice!
After the first day, it’s game on! Diving into recess, I tend to help lead a new game or station that the coach is trying to establish. This allows me to get to know the students as well as get them excited about trying on something new and different! I help with transitions as needed, or float around the recess space in order to support the coach and their goals.
The coach at the school selects a class game time that I will lead for them and then offers me supportive feedback as well. Beyond this, the coach and I will usually split up the games we lead for class game times that week so we are working collaboratively!
Getting to see the Junior Coaches at their recess shifts and then later in the week again for their second Junior Coach meeting allows me to build rapport with them and gain insight as to how their squad might like to move forward. I like to play a more active role during their second weekly meeting once I know the group and they know me.
One of my favorite things about being a coach is building relationships with the students. So, by the end of the week, it can be sad to leave! It is so exciting to see students get inspired and grow as individuals after working with them. Although I am at a school for what feels like a short period of time, I am always energized by what my co-coach and I are able to accomplish during that time! What’s even more exciting? I get to return to all of the schools again throughout the year to continue this process and help make things more exciting, inclusive, and fun!