Facing your fears

FDMS students learn how to adopt 'Mamba Mentality'

-Submitted photo
Lane Hanson, a sixth-grader at Fort Dodge Middle School in Connor McLeod’s ELA class, shoots his fear away and yells “Kobe” as he walks out of class on the third-year anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s death.

Connor McLeod grew up as a fan in the Kobe Bryant era.

Bryant’s untimely passing three years ago shook the sports world and changed the perspective of many people. His message also resonated with millions.

“One of the things that I loved about Kobe was how skilled and talented he was,” said McLeod, a middle school teacher and coach in the Fort Dodge Community School District. “His approach stuck with me, and I loved the way he went about his business and what he does under pressure.

“Being a coach, I can relate to this and pick pieces of his ‘Mamba Mentality’ to use with my kids and athletes.”

“Mamba Mentality” was named after Bryant’s approach to competing and his nickname, the Mamba. Last Thursday, on the three-year anniversary of Bryant’s death, McLeod decided to use Bryant as a teaching tool for his sixth-grade ELA (English and Language Arts) class at Fort Dodge Middle School.

-AP photo
A fan pays his respects to Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural in Los Angeles on Jan. 26, 2021. Kobe and Gianna Bryant were killed in a helicopter crash in 2020.

“His general work ethic — always wanting to get better and facing your fears — was something I wanted to share with my class,” McLeod said. “I did a slide show and we talked about Kobe’s approach.

“I just wanted to dive deeper into it.”

As he was sharing the lesson, McLeod noticed how engaged his students were.

“The kids were great,” McLeod said. “I taught it three times that day and I thought they did an outstanding job.

“They were engaged in the lesson and me explaining what it was … they were locked in.”

The students were understanding the bigger picture of Bryant’s approach and message.

“They were asking questions and they were curious,” McLeod said. “We did two activities, including one on how to handle pressure.

“They were focused. You can tell as a teacher they were working and had a lot of fun.”

McLeod then had students write their fears on a piece of paper and throw it in the trash can as they walked out the door, yelling “Kobe!”

“I can’t take full credit for that (activity),” McLeod said. “I saw Michael Bonner, a world famous teacher, do it as part of the ‘Mamba Mentality’ series on being fearless. If you have fear, it teaches you how to approach things head-on.

“You may be afraid of it at first, but you have no excuses when it comes to working hard to persevere. They attacked their fear, while writing it down on a piece of paper, crumpling it up and yelling, ‘Kobe!’ on their way out.”

Sixth-grader Lane Hanson enjoyed the activity.

“It was fun and inspiring,” Hanson said. “It was teaching us how to be a good person and go outside of your comfort zone.

“It taught us how to be successful.”


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