Watching Grey’s Anatomy Made Me A Better Teacher


Sometimes life surprises you. Two weeks before the end of the school year, as busy and chaotic as it was, I felt like I needed to add something to my life.  My mind was overflowing.  I needed to use my brain in another way, and I was looking for something that would not require me to drive anywhere, spend  money, or take away time from my already busy schedule.  I was looking for a way to decompress, and escape.  And after asking around, I decided to give watching Grey’s Anatomy a try.

Even though it has been a popular show for several years, and I am about 16 years too late,  I finally decided it was time to try and watch it.  I remember watching ER in college, and enjoyed the exposure to the medical field as well as the ongoing story line.  It is interesting how quickly you can get hooked on something.  After a few episodes, I was already predicting where the story would go.   As I would do household chores, or have minutes of in between time, I could sneak time to watch my show.  At first, my goal was an escape, a way to use my brain differently, something to look forward to after work, but as I neared the end of the first season, “Teacher Mode” clicked into gear, and I realized that there were a lot of ways I could use this the series to make me a better teacher. Sometimes stepping away from content directly correlated with your career allows you to see the big picture and gives you feedback about how you can be better.

Teamwork.  Watching the doctors work together during surgery has given me a whole new appreciation for how important it is to have a team you can count on.

12After viewing about 5 surgeries, I realized that I could improve my craft by leaning more into the team I work with. While the projects we are working on are not intricate medical procedures; they are important parts of education and life.  It is our goal as a school, as a team to take our students from  one level and get them the ready for the next.  Just like in the operating room, there are unforeseen challenges, and difficult moments.  Watching the doctors consult with each other before, during and after the surgery reminds me of how important our Professional Learning Networks are. 

The interns (I am only in season 3), stand together.  They support each other, they have each others back, and their friendship really helps to make the tough parts of the job possible.  I work with some of the best people around.  Lunchtime is amazing.  A number of the 8th grade teachers gather together, and we really enjoy spending time together.  Our school is going through several changes for the coming school year, and there has been a lot of movement throughout the building.  One of the best parts of the last week was when we talked about where we would eat lunch next year.  It meant a lot to me that I was included in plans to make sure that we all found a way to still connect and stay together.  Feeling like you belong is one of the coolest things! 

Organization. One of the things that instantly grabbed my attention was the board that explains which patients are in which rooms with which conditions. “The Board” is critical to the operating room, and therefore has made me think a lot about how I organize information about students, what is happening in my class,  yearbook and student council related things,  as well as conversations with parents and staff.

One of my goals for the 2019-20 school year is to take the methods I am currently using to organize information and bring them to a higher level that allows me to be more effective.

Attention to Details.  I cannot help but be fascinated with the way surgeons work.  A quarter of an inch is a big deal.  The details are important.

Often it is to the advantage of the educator to look at the big picture, and not get consumed with the details.  However, the little things do matter.  Visualize a surgeon demanding perfection.  It is a good reminder to pause, work slowly, accurately and value precision.  It is important to make up what you lack in natural talent by discipline and practice.

Bedside Manner.  Everyone has his or her own style.  But, most people would agree that how you talk to students, parents, and colleagues really matters.

One of the things that stands out, is the way in which the surgeons talk to patients and family members about really tough medical issues.  Never have I been more aware of the impact that can be made by taking the extra effort to be generous with my words and attitude.  I work across the hall from a colleague who excels at this.  She is honestly one of the warmest people I know, and feels like the sun.  Students and staff are drawn to her; and she models the kindness and compassion I strive to have as a teacher.  It is a gift to see her in action.

Accepting Feedback.  If you are in the medical field, you have to be willing to objectively listen to what someone else tells you about a case, or about the work that you are doing. It does not mean that you are not good at what you do; it means that there is something for you to learn. It means that someone thinks you are worth it.

Sometimes it is really hard to hear words of advice and not take them personally.  Many times I have struggled hear what I need to work on. When I watch the interns on Grey’s Anatomy receive feedback, they might be frustrated temporarily, but they lean into the feedback and realize that it is a necessary part of getting better.  It does not mean that they are not good at what they do. It means that they need to compartmentalize the advice and hear only what someone is saying.  

Sometimes You Get to Scrub In on Something Really Cool.  It is pretty awesome when you get an opportunity  to do something out of the ordinary.

In Grey’s Anatomy the surgical interns thrive on the opportunity to be part of an advanced,  or unique surgery that they have not  been a part of before.  A week ago, I had the coolest opportunity.  I was asked to photograph our 5th Grade Orientation.  For a few hours I was able to see a completely different side of education.  I got to see a team of administrators working together, 8th graders we could count on, and experience coming to a new school through the eyes of the students.  The event left me with an adrenaline rush!  The energy from the event and the pictures made a lasting impact on me.  It was then, that I decided I wanted to focus on being a source of energy among our students and staff.

Celebrate Success.  There are high points and low points in every field.  It is important to cheer each other on, and celebrate every success.

When surgeons achieve their goal after an operation or figure out something that has been puzzling them; they cannot help but be overcome with joy! This will continue to be one of my goals! One of the best parts of success is having someone to share it with.  I work with some incredibly successful teachers, and it is awesome to share in the excitement of their success.

photo-1463334535327-f9009ae62bf7The 2019-20 school year is going to be amazing.  When it begins at the end of the summer, I know I will be ready!  For some reason, I have a feeling something pretty amazing is in store for our school. And, I will get to be a part of it.







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