Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Be Your Best!

Earlier this week, my wife and I had both of our children undergo a fairly routine medical procedure, but one that required our children being put under general anaesthetic.  The anticipation of it, and the subsequent surgery and recovery has been an ordeal for the entire family. 

Being at BC Children's Hospital most of the day yesterday was an interesting experience that made me think about my family as well as the work we educators are involved in.  I saw my children, my wife and myself wrought with worry, concerned with how the procedure would go, and how we could best help alleviate the stress and discomfort.  I saw the very same look of concern on every parent and child in the waiting room, post-operative room and recovery room.  All were understandably worried and relying on the staff at the hospital to treat their child as the most important thing in the world.  The staff at BC Children's Hospital were truly amazing.  They handled our entire family with tremendous care.  Despite our children's procedure being quite routine, we were greeted by friendly and calming nurses, anaesthetists and doctors, and they truly made us feel like the procedure our boys were about to undergo was the most important thing the staff was going to do that day.

We need to remember that as teachers, we are entrusted with the most important things in people's lives...their children.  They trust us to do the best job possible, just as we had to trust our nurses and surgeons.  Students often come to school with all kinds of preconceived notions and dispositions, just as they come to the hospital full of dread and worry.  We need to be able to see that discomfort, address it, and make students feel safe, important and well cared-for, just as the staff at BC Children's Hospital did for our family and all the others I observed yesterday. 

While the consequences for a mistake may seem more immediate and severe for medical practitioners, educators are charged with no less-critical a task.  We can take a chance and try something new if we feel it might lead to a better result, while surgeons usually do not have that luxury.  We have the opportunity to re-teach or try it again if students didn't understand what was being taught.  But how we go about our work requires that we remember how important the job is, and what the students and their parents are hoping to get.  We need to be our best!  Parents and their children are trusting us to make the experience of school a positive one, just as they do when going to the hospital.  My children, wife and I owe a huge debt of thanks to the staff at Children's Hospital for doing that for our family. 

Thank you.


  1. Love this, Jason. Something to remember on the days it feels like "triage." I've adopted the perspective that "we make the weather in our classrooms." You illustrate this well through the description of your family's experience at BC Children's. Hope everyone is fine :)

    Here's the full quote from Dr. Haim Ginott:
    "I've come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It's my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous.
    I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.

  2. Thanks for comment, Terry. The boys are doing well (at least, as well as can be expected!).

    The quote from Dr. Ginott is a perfect reminder of the role we play in ensuring students enjoy their time at school. Thanks for sharing.