Inside my sports analogy-prone mind I was thinking recently about how our profession is like a sports season. The thing about school is that every school day is game day, we come to play five days a week all ‘season’ long. But what is our role in this ‘game’? As I’ve suggested in the past I see us as the coaches, managers, and motivational speakers. We’re the ones that help determine the outcome of the game through our planning, leadership, and support of our ‘players’, the students. Former commissioner of the NFL, Bert Bell, once said that “On any given Sunday, and team in the NFL can beat any other team.” The phrase “any given Sunday” has come to be a rallying call for coaches in all sports – essentially saying, we can do this if we put our minds to it. I’ve been thinking about “any given Sunday” and what implications this has for education if we consider it as “any given school day” instead.
Any Given School Day
Working with people of any age is sure to lead to the unexpected and often times the unusual. Working with kids leads to even more unplanned events, emotions, and behaviors. Those things all come into play each and every day. Very often it is how we (as the adults) respond that dictates the success (or not) of the learning opportunity presented. This is how we have to look at the unexpected, as learning opportunities (or teaching opportunities).
Any given school day a student may arrive tired, sad, giddy, angry, excited, hungry, nervous, or any of a very wide range of mindsets. Now, multiply that times as many students as you encounter on a daily basis and you’re facing a daunting task indeed! However, we manage it, don’t we? Our students feel comfortable and safe when they are here at school. Our teachers, counselors, staff, and admin do an awesome job of welcoming students to share and seek guidance when needed. The environment at school is safe and welcoming, our students want to be here and enjoy coming to school. The smiles, laughter, and overall positive behaviors of our students prove that fact. Any given school day our students know they can count on the positivity and support that comes with a great school environment, a definite win for them!
Pay it On
Our students face so many variables in their life that they don’t even realize how much they are up against. As adults we face just as much, if not more than our students. However, as adults we’ve learned mechanisms to cope with all of these different things that impact our life. These are skills we’ve learned over the years and serve us well as we negotiate all of the potential land mines that life has to offer. Our students on the other hand, well they just haven’t had the experiences needed to develop all of these tools. Surely many of the lessons we’ve learned came from the important adults in our life…it’s been paid forward, now it’s our time to pay it on for our students.
Understanding the challenges our students face as they grow and journey through life is as important a skill as any. There will certainly be times when a situation arises that we aren’t prepared to deal with – that is when we have to remember that this is a team game. As responsible adults we know that we can’t do everything alone, after all it takes a village to raise a child. We have tremendous resources here at school and even outside of our walls. If you encounter a difficult situation, you can be sure that there is a strong team available to support in any way necessary. Just as our students come to school every day knowing that they have a safe and caring team ready to support them, we should all know that the same it true for us.
It’s Game Day
As I mentioned at the beginning, every day is game day at school. We come prepared to meet our students wherever they may be. Sometimes that means we differentiate academically but many times it means that we are experiencing a different version of the same student we saw yesterday. It can be a frustrating process to deal with all the different ups and downs that our students go through. It is most certainly exhausting riding the tidal waves of emotions that can be experienced by teenagers. And it most certainly takes patience and skill to navigate the turbulent waters of middle and high school. Thankfully, for our students’ sake, we have expert educators with vast amounts of experience and skill to help them confront life’s challenges as they work to become the successful students we all believe they can be.
Any given school day, any student can overcome any challenge they face!