TU Speaks to Character
Showing high regard for the worth of someone or something; treating others as you would like to be treated
Historically, “respect” has often been thought of in terms of respecting your elders or respecting authority. However, there are many different types of respect – and the opportunities to show respect in the world of twirling seem endless. “Treating others as you would like to be treated” is an oft-repeated maxim that carries a significant amount of weight.
Competition by its nature means that sometimes we win and sometimes we don’t. While human ego would like to always be in the “win” column (and parents, by nature, want to shield their children from disappointment), it is the bitterness of the “not winning” moments that makes the moments of success so sweet. No matter what the outcome, twirlers should be encouraged to do their best – and to recognize that others are also striving to do their best. Whatever the results – being on both sides of the coin helps us to empathize with our competitors. Respect for our fellow competitors should come from having walked a mile their shoes!
Like many other youth activities, in twirling, adults are the driving influence, and are ultimately the determining factor in the effectiveness of the activity. In order for twirlers to learn to respect adults, other adults must respect adults! Competition can bring out the best in people – but, unfortunately, it sometimes brings out the worst. Because of the nature of competition, there will always be “winners” and “losers” in terms of awards. At times, this puts the ultimate strain on one’s ability to show respect. However, it is at these times that adults have the best opportunity to model the desired behavior. An adult’s reaction to a win, a loss, an opposing competitor and the judging official, all influence the way a twirler will react. At a recent national competition, it was a sad thing to witness the parent of a well-known competitor berating the young judge (and even the tabulator!) to the point of tears. In competition, disappointment is inevitable; disrespect is not.
We don’t often think of respect in terms of “things”, but it’s a point that shouldn’t be missed. Respect for the grounds and buildings in use for performances and competitions sends a huge message to twirlers about respect in general. Littering a parade lineup area, scratching a gym floor, damaging a school display, or venturing into an unauthorized area of a building are all forms of disrespect that can be avoided with the proper attention.
Self-respect is one of the huge benefits of participation in baton twirling. Pride in accomplishment from learning a new trick, pride in achievement for entering a first solo competition, pride in participation for performing with a group – each of these is a milestone building self-respect. Recognition of these accomplishments (rather than focusing on awards won) helps contribute to a legitimate boost in self-esteem.
Action Plans for Teachers and Parents By Karen Moretti
1. Be sure that your students get to know one another in your classes.
Ex: In beginning classes—especially with younger students- play “Pass the teacher’s baton.” As you pass the baton to each student, the twirler says something about him or herself. Start with just names, then progress to a favorite trick or fill in the blanks such as “My favorite thing about twirling is …..”. This helps students get to know one another and helps you get to know your students better, in addition to building public speaking skills.
2. Overtly teach respect for parents/guardians.
Ex: Dedicate a performance to the parents/guardians to allow twirlers to show their appreciation for the opportunity to twirl. Curtail any back-talk to parents that you hear.
3. Teach twirlers how to communicate with one another during lessons. Model the tone and the words to respectfully communicate with one another.
Ex: “Reverse model” an exaggeration of negative communication (Screaming ”You threw the baton too far!” usually gets a chuckle). Then “replay” with a positive example: “I had a hard time catching that toss—could you throw it a little shorter, please?” “Catch” them talking to one another in respectful ways and recognize it in front of the class.
4. At the end of each lesson, announce “good news.” Acknowledge good character in action by calling attention to it when you see it.
Ex: “I really liked the way this group was so respectful to each other when working on our partner tricks.”
5. Recognize twirlers in lessons and practice sessions for their efforts.
Ex: Celebrate perfect attendance, first contests, catching a new trick, and/or advancing from one division to the next.
6. Teach twirlers to be respectful of all competitors before, during, and after competitions. Practice these actions yourself!
Ex: Discuss proper behavior at contests… like not walking through lanes. Teach students to wish all contestants good luck and offer words like “Congratulations!” and “Nice job!”
7. Set goals to gain self-respect! Discuss one step the twirler can take to improve and then help students create their own self-monitoring tools to check their progress toward the goals.
Ex: Create goal sheets/practice sheets during class for your students so they can keep track of progress (drops, routine time, time per section, etc.)
8. Before each contest, discuss respect for contest facilities. Remind twirlers to pick up after themselves and follow requests of the director.
Ex: Make it a practice to pick up any litter found in the locker room as you pack suitcases to leave.
9. Remind twirlers that the judge’s decision is final. Like it or not, they must learn to respect that rule and carry themselves with grace and poise regardless of the outcome.
Ex: Especially after a disappointing placement, remind them that the judges decision is final—and it works both ways—sometimes they think they blew it and they wind up placing and are shocked. Then focus on the personal best of each twirler. Discuss ““What did you do well?” “How can you improve?”
10. Encourage appreciation for twirling opportunities. Twirling is a great opportunity, and one that should never be taken for granted.
Ex: At the end of the year, have twirlers write thank-you notes to those who have supported them in their twirling experiences.