Being Vulnerable With Students

by | Published on | Updated on 2018-04-01 11:14:54


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I suffered a basketball injury a few weeks ago that turned into sciatica and, perhaps, something slightly more serious.

Last week, I began most of my classes with a short talk, saying that they had probably noticed that had been limping for awhile (many students had been expressing concern), and that I was injured playing basketball.

A nerve was damaged, I went on to explain, and that doctors are figuring out how to fix it. I told them that it hurts a bit, and that if they had experienced pain, they probably know that sometimes you don’t have as much patience as you do when you are feeling good.

So I asked them in the remaining few weeks of school to help me out and if I asked them to do something to please do it, and if I asked them not to do something, to not do it. And before they did something in class, try to think about if it would help the class and Mr. Ferlazzo move forward.

Since that time, students have been exceptionally supportive. There have been a couple of times that a student was beginning to not act appropriately, and I heard other students quietly tell them something like, “Remember, Mr. Ferlazzo isn’t feeling good,” and students immediately stopped. I have to admit my eyes got a little watery when those incidents occurred.

One student who can sometimes be particularly challenging wasn’t in class when I had given my short speech. When he returned, I shared it with him privately. His response: “That’s all I need to know, Mr. Ferlazzo! I promise I’ll be good.”