Misdiagnosed

When I walked off the mound after the final out, I knew something was wrong. Stifling my grunts and trying to walk with a normal gait, I made it to my car and just sat there, mind spinning. 

What if it’s my ACL?

Was that the final game of my career?

What if I never walk the same again?

Later, when a doctor floated the possibility of a meniscus tear, I really didn’t hear much after that. I knew it sounded bad, would involve surgery or months of physical therapy or both, and would almost certainly end my Weekend Warrior baseball career. Immediately, the physical diagnosis had affected my mental health, so from top to bottom and inside and out, I was broken. 

No more baseball.  Now what?

A month and a new doctor later, I was able to listen and comprehend throughout the conversation: 

Doc: You want the good news or the bad news?

Me: I mean that’s not my favorite bedside manner game, but gimme the bad. 

Doc: You’re getting old, Bri. It’s arthritis. 

Me (already starting to calculate when I can start to throw and swing again): And what’s the good news, then?

Doc: I’ll shoot you up with gel and you’ll be good as new. 

Had I accepted the misdiagnosis, I would have likely never played again, and though it may sound hyperbolic, my life would have changed in a profoundly negative way. 

While we spend countless hours trying to diagnose our kids’ academic and social emotional needs, think about how often we misdiagnose teacher mental health. 

Imagine, then, moving through any week, month, or entire school year assuming your staff is “fine.” Consider the lack of clarity, awareness, and honesty necessary to identify when a staff member is struggling and in need of a check in. In essence, we misdiagnose them this way because they’re grown ups, but we all bring our “stuff” to school with us. 

Grown up stuff is just easier to hide. 

A shoddy marriage.

A terminally ill parent.

Postpartum depression.

Burnout.

Through extensive SEL and trauma informed work, our staff has learned to diagnose student learning and behavior in a way that cannot be overstated. From daily references to the zones of regulation to private, in-the-moment restorative practice, to focused walk-and-talks, teachers exhaust so much emotional capital on their kids, and rightfully so. It’s their job to take care of the kids.

So, leaders, I implore you to invest in the same level of empathy and care in your staff.

It’s our job to take care of them. 

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