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"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.
Maya Angelou
The 3-5-7 Model
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June 10, 2013

Have you ever sat on the sideline of a t-ball game where the coaches are..., well, really coaching?  Even though it is rehearsed before hand, the in-the-moment action can be overwhelming and the littlest and newest on the team need to know not only in which direction to run but to which base to run!  I assure you, it makes for some entertaining games!  Read on for some more thoughts on baseball and it's relation to our work. 

Lessons from America's Favorite Pastime

In the game of baseball coaches have an important role.  Coaches teach their players the fundamentals of game, position them in the field based on their skills and abilities, and provide encouragement to each team member so that they can execute the plays necessary to win the game.


In a game situation, when there is a runner on third base, both the coach and the player have a part in scoring the winning run.  The coach's role is to give reminders and prompts to the runner about what to consider.  If the batter hits a fly ball, the runner should wait to see if the fielder will catch the ball before sprinting toward home.  But if there are two outs, the coach will remind the runner not to wait for a catch.  If the batter bunts, the runner will wait for the pitcher to field the ball towards first base before attempting to score.  If there is a passed ball, the runner on third will be coached to steal home.  Even though the coach provides information to the runner about all the possible decisions that could be made, when the ball is put into play, only the runner can make the judgment about what to do and execute the play. 


There are many coaching opportunities available to team players.  In preparation for games, practices are held to review possible game day situations, learn and practice skills, and help players feel more confident.  During the game, the coach gives guidance and reminders to players as they navigate each play.  Following every game, the coach gathers the team in reflection to review performance during the game; validating solid execution of plays and identifying areas to work on moving forward.

We can apply the lessons about the importance of coaching in baseball to our work in child welfare.  As "players" we can be open to the experience of learning.  As "coaches" we can acknowledge the difficult decisions that players have to make in the moments of the action.  


In the game of baseball we play with a coach.  So why go at it alone when we take care of children, youth and families?  Thankfully, as you apply the 3-5-7 Model, you don't have to!

Taking Advantage of Coaching Opportunities

Participating in coaching sessions can feel somewhat risky and unsafe.  The best recipients of coaching are those who are:

  • open to change
  • open-minded
  • value new experiences
  • willing to take risks
  • seeking professional growth
  • enjoy being challenged in their work
  • see the value in feedback

Good coaches are those who:

  • see themselves as partners in the process
  • create conditions for continuous development
  • communicate regularly
  • remain objective
  • recognize the expertise of the worker
  • promote self-coaching behaviors
Remember to fully embrace the process of coaching.  Coaching can help not only when you are doing the work, but also in preparation for beginning a new practice application.  The continuity of the relationship with a coach can promote safety and allow the worker to feel confident in seeking and make use of feedback, ultimately preventing practice drift.  

Featured 3-5-7 Model Activity 

Key Concept: Working with Life Events


Primary Questions:   Who Am I?   What Happened to Me?

Purpose:  To open a dialogue regarding child/youth's past experiences. Also initiates questions related to separation and loss which can facilitate discussion about adoption, birth family members and life experiences. 

Materials Needed: Jenga game, questions written on index cards

1. Name someone in your family and talk about something you like about them.

2. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

3. What do you like about yourself?

4. What are you afraid of?

5. What is your favorite color?

6. What is your best quality?

7. What is one thing you do when you are angry?

8. What is one thing you do when you are sad?

9. Tell about a happy memory you have.

10. Tell something that you like about your family.

11. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

12. Name someone you admire and explain why.

13. What is your favorite food?

14. Tell about a time you felt excited.

15. Tell about a time you felt angry.

16. What is one thing you do not like?

17. Name three nice things that you can do for someone.

18. Where do you see yourself in one year?

19. Where do you see yourself in ten years?

20. If you had three wishes, what would they be?

21. What is one thing you like about your body?

22. What are three things you like about yourself (inside)?

23. What is one thing to say when you meet a new person?

24. What are two things not to do in school?

25. What is one positive thing about school?

26. Name two good things to eat for breakfast.

27. What are two activities to do after school (other than homework and chores)?

28. What is a chore that you don't mind doing?

29. Name one teacher you liked and explain why.

30. Demonstrate a positive facial expression for meeting someone.

31. Demonstrate how to greet someone you haven't seen in a few months.

32. Describe what you expect this school year to be like.

33. What is your favorite subject?

34. Name one good thing that happened last week.

35. What is one hope that you have for your future?


Getting Started: Set up the Jenga game as normal.  When each player chooses a tile from the tower, he/she selects a card and reads the question on the card.  Question should be answered prior to placing the tile on the top of the tower. A player can pass a question if he/she chooses.  If a player continues to pass on questions, at the end of the session, discuss with him/her the reasons why they chose not to answer the question(s).


Tips and techniques to making the activity meaningful:  A variation of this activity is to explain to the child/youth that each of you will take a turn removing a block from the tower.  Before removing a block, the player must name something that a family does for each other. Take turns naming family responsibilities and removing blocks from the tower until the tower falls. When the tower falls, ask the child/youth to imagine that each block that was removed from the tower was something that a family does for each other.  Then ask the child/youth what happens when family members stop doing these things for each other. If the child/youth is hesitant or not sure, prompt them by asking them what happened to the tower when the blocks were taken out. This is helpful in starting a dialog about reasons that children come into foster care.  Once you've started a discussion about reasons children come into foster care, give the child/youth a piece of paper or cardstock and ask them to think of some reasons they are in foster care. Because many children/youth are hesitant when it comes to this subject, it helps to let them know that you already know the reasons that they came into care and that it is your job to help make sure that they know information related to their removal. You can also assure them that you will not make them talk about things they do not want to talk about.

about siblings?
  • What is a favorite family tradition?        
  • Who do you talk to when you are upset or mad?

Getting Started:  Stand across from the child/youth (if worker and child/youth are playing alone) or stand in a circle if there are multiple players (siblings or same aged peers).  Explain that the ball will be tossed or passed back and forth.  Ask that the child/youth answer the question that her right thumb lands on. A variation for multiple participants could be that the person to their right or left must answer the question. 

Except from The 3-5-7 Model© Workbook, page 21.


Are you feeling a need for a coach on your sideline to point out your options or which direction to move or to simply cheer you on and let you know you are going in the right direction?   Send your comments, questions or suggestions to me at the email address below or via Facebook. We are looking forward to hearing from you!







Darla L. Henry
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