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Ross Hartley On Teaching A Growth Mindset


What is the difference between a coach and teacher? This is a question that I wrestle with on a daily basis.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Teacher: one that teaches; especially: one whose occupation is to instruct
Coach: one who instructs or trains
The word instruct, being shared in both definitions, meaning: to give knowledge to; teach, train.
Simply, I believe that a coach is a teacher in a non-traditional classroom setting.

I have been fortunate to wear several different hats thus far in my life: athlete, middle school teacher, youth coach, high school coach, triathlon coach, and now USA Triathlon Ambassador.
As an introductory Robotics teacher, I view my role as a little bit different than a traditional classroom teacher. With this position comes a lot of responsibility. As the first step in a long line of steps for future engineers, my job is to provide an environment and instruction so that my students will want to continue on with this possible career path into the future.

I focus on creating a fun, growth mindset environment where the students want to be there and participate.


Part of this involves breaking down the myths and preconceptions of Engineering and showing students that this is a possible career path. Success is students learning the basics and signing up to take the next step of the Engineering pathway in high school.

I also created a youth triathlon program, Future Stars Youth Triathlon, with a similar focus. The ultimate goal for Future Stars is to provide an environment and instruction so that the kids want to participate in triathlon again the next year and into the future. Success is participants having so much fun learning the basics in a safe environment that they cannot wait to do it again next year. Skill development and love of the sport are the primary objectives. With continued support, this initial love of the sport will continue to grow into a healthy lifelong passion and lifestyle. I believe that the team motto best describes my goal for this program: Be Safe-Have Fun-Be Awesome! 


Modeling after my own experiences as an athlete, the key to my long-term development, love of the sport, and ultimate success was great role models. The key to me getting to do my first triathlon was people breaking down barriers and misconceptions that I had about the sport. I was scared about swimming in open water. I was afraid of not having a fancy enough bike. I was anxious about the training required to complete my first triathlon. From watching my dad train and compete in endurance events, to my cross country coach lending me his bike for my first race, to my Health teacher helping me prepare for the swim, my role models helped me get over these anxieties, go outside my comfort zone, and accomplish a dream. As a USA Triathlon Ambassador, I am humbled and excited to have the opportunity to help plant the multisport seed in others and cultivate their love and growth with the sport- to be both a teacher and coach.

In my opinion, Coaching is Teaching.

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