Sports are hard on the heart. And I mean that in both the literal and figurative sense. Hands clenched and teeth gritted. Blood pressure definitely up. But also that dull ache in your heart itself when you watch a game start to slip away. Emotions running high. Penalties. Bad passes. Goals. But not ours.
Last week I wrote about being on a bus trip for game one of the Provincial Northern Final in hockey. Our boys had a 5-0 lead that disappeared in the final handful of minutes in the third period. They still came away with a two goal advantage in a two-game, total-point series. But it weighed on our minds that it could have been an almost insurmountable five.
The return series was last night in our home rink. I texted my daughter and some friends the play by play. Here’s my half of the convos:
Omg I shouldn’t feel so nervous!!
Dewey already in box. Like a minute in…
And now they have a 5 on 3.
Whew killed them off.
2 more penalties. Frick.
1-0 for them
2-2 back to square one lol
3-2 us. Finally.
4-2. Feels like we are rolling.
4-4 uh oh. That one was on the D.
Starting the 3rd w a penalty.
Wait they just called that back.
Momentum is not on our side rn.
5-4 for them.
5 mins left.
Gram is so nervous. Me too.
Going to provincials!!!
But just as interesting were the supportive texts I got back as the game went back and forth:
Hang in there!!!
Just remember u have no control mom.
The boys will find a way.
Nail biter time. Keep it simple boys, keep it simple.
Nothing gets behind the D!!
Step it up boys
Oh my stressful! It must be a full barn!
Fantastic! Tell the boys congrats.
What a roller coaster. In the end, we won the series 9 goals to 8, and so our kids are headed to the provincial final! These next two weeks are not going to get any easier lol.
I read something on twitter this week along the same lines. I couldn’t find it again, but here’s the gist:
Working with student behavior and emotion is like a roller coaster. As teachers, it’s our job to stay on the platform, not get in the car with them.
Well, that’s easier said than done.
When we are watching our kids play sports, it’s hard not to be personally invested even if I’m not out there on the ice. With our students, it’s the same. To see them hurting. Struggling. So much of that I can’t control, anymore than I can control what’s happening out on the ice. But I feel it just the same.
Teacher and staff wellness has become a more prominent issue on social media recently. As it should be. As educator Kelly Gallagher wrote, “Today I feel more like a social worker than a teacher. Of course, we are social workers every day, but I have these moments where I feel a bit overwhelmed by the trauma my students are experiencing. Today is one of those days.” So true.
One tweet by a Saskatchewan educator/writer got a lot of traction this week. She was tweeting a thought from a keynote speaker at a conference she was at, and it read, “Administrators: Your number one job is to be in a great mood. Your staff takes on your mood.” Well, there was definitely some pushback on that, and I think she spent a lot of time clarifying that it was just one quote without its larger context.
I understand the sentiment. It’s similar to one I heard this summer from Davin Hildebrand and Cory Rideout: the school looks like the principal. Administrators help to shape the culture, model language and behaviors, and generally set the expectations of the school. In a similar way, teachers do the same thing in our classrooms. Do we start with a good morning and sharing or just start the lesson? Do we talk to kids in those in-between spaces and places in your day? Do the words we choose show that we value and care about them?
But here’s the rub. Teachers and administrators…we are all human too. There is no way that we can come to work every single day in a great mood.
We ride our own roller coasters too.
So I like the response by a Regina educator, Kelly Christopherson. “But I’ll push back – this evokes the superhero image of being beyond human, able to bury all life’s happenings to be in a good mood. Maybe, let’s share leadership, humanize the position, so that when the principal isn’t in a good mood, others can empathize and step in…As I look at the retweets and likes of this one tweet, I wonder about the message that is being emphasized and the effect it has on people especially those in admin positions. If things don’t work out, and everyone isn’t happy, it’s a burden one carries for a long time…It’s a good conversation. The complexities of teaching are increasing in ways no one imagined. This exponential change requires different approaches to teaching and leading that embrace the complexity while celebrating the very human side of what teachers do.”
We don’t need to jump into the roller coaster car with kids. We can’t ride that ride for them. But we need to recognize that being on the platform isn’t easy either. We need to take care of ourselves and be aware of the emotional toil that watching them on their journey has on us too.
Because what we do is hard on the heart. And I mean that in both the literal and figurative sense too. Just like the friends who were talking me down through their texts, we need to support each other in the difficult work we do. To help us remember that for all the times the dull ache of disappointment is there, that there is also the heart-pumping joy of small successes and victories. That no matter what happens, no matter the result, we are all in this together.
And.........GO DELISLE BRUINS!!
As we head into this week, everyone is welcome…cheer loud! Tervetuloa! Tawâw!
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