This will be the first in a series of blogs on things I learned from life and how they apply to life.
In early April, while ACTIVELY monitoring during the STAAR EOC test, I planted my left knee and turned, immediately feeling a pop and some pain. My knees pop a lot despite my relative youth of 38- so I just thought I had sprained it. I carried on as normal for about a day, then realized it impacted my normal exercise routine that is essentially a sort of HIIT workout. So, I scaled back the workout.
By the last week of school, the knee was no better, so I went to the doctor. He did an x-ray and found nothing broken, and suggested that I get an MRI to confirm if it was a tear. We were moving over the summer, and would be on the road for two weeks before we moved into our new house, so I asked to wait. He gave me some meds, which helped a bit, but in the course of moving into storage then into the new house, the pain increased. I got the MRI and discovered I have a torn meniscus and will have surgery on July 30.
This all relates to our classrooms and campuses like this: our class/campus is our body. On any given day, a part of our body gets injured. Gets torn. A student has a bad day, gets in a fight, fails a test, gets bullied. A teacher feels alone, rejected, dejected, or gets bullied. (Yeah, it happens.) As an educator, we may feel it, recognize the pain of the injured party, but we have things to do. Lessons to prep, observations to do, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. We think the injury will go away if we just modify (or mollify) it for a bit. Give it space and time to heal. Rub the ointment of kind words on the hurt party, but do nothing to actually treat the injury.
I do not know if the tear got worse from the first injury or not. But I do know that my knee has been hurting for over three months, and ignoring it and thinking positively has not made it better. Here are the steps that have made (or will make) it better- be it my knew or your class/campus injury.
1. Got to a doctor
A doctor knows their stuff, yes, but they are primarily a different perspective. They lean on their knowledge and skill to assess your medical needs. As educators, our "doctors" are those we can go to with a different perspective than our own. Peers, friends of the teacher, even fellow students can provide a sort of expert insight into the pain in your school body. So when a teacher seems to be hurting, ask their teacher friends what is up- and when it is a student, ask their friends.
2. Get an MRI
An MRI gives a deeper picture of an injury. A school injury MRI is deeper diving into what the pain is. Asking hard questions of the one who is hurt is the best way to do this. And yes, it will hurt you. That MRI bill sure does not feel great right now. But it is needed to get to the heart of the injury.
3. Treat it
For me, it will be surgery to repair. For an EDU injury, it will- like a surgery- have risks. You will have to dig into the injury, whatever it is, and seek to repair it. Continue conversations, address wrongs and slight and actually make them right. Discipline and correction may be necessary. Change to your plan and approach may be needed. And even if it is repaired- if the rejected teacher is accepted, the bullied student gets relief- you are not done.
When my surgery is done, I will not be right back at my HIIT training and mud runs. I will be on crutches for week, then I will have to rehab. I will have to rebuild lost muscle and flexibility. When a teacher or student in our school body is injured, then repaired, they too need rehab. Broken trust or instilled fears cannot be corrected with one action. That person needs to be rehabbed- reinforced regularly- until they are strong enough to return to "activities as normal."
I am not exactly looking forward to surgery and rehab. I don't think anyone does. But I am looking forward to eventually returning to "activities as normal." If there is an injury that occurred your students or teachers over the summer, they may come back with an emotional limp. Do not wait to see if it will go away- treat it.