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  • Writer's pictureY.A.Y

This Might Get Emotional

Every teacher has special memories that live in our hearts and remind us why we decided to become (and remain!) teachers. There have been challenges I have faced as a teacher and long, long days (and months), but those stories are for another time. This is about one of those moments that made me feel incredibly lucky to do the work I do, and to be a part of the magic that can happen when you spend enough time with kids, especially if you are giving them a place to be themselves.


I once had a class of 16/17 year old boys for a week-long Improv Comedy intensive. At this stage in my career, while I am always committed to my students, I was beginning to question whether my current vocation was still right for me. It was frustrating, and thankless, and there were no opportunities for growth where I was teaching. All that said, it was a super fun week with these incredible kids, and on the last day of the program, I held an informal "goodbye/celebration" ceremony for them before their final show. They were all invited to have "2 minutes on the mic" to perform a bit, a joke, or give a speech (earnest or comedic). One of them approached the mic with a disclaimer, "This...might get emotional..." and since we were used to his consistent sense of humour, we didn’t realize how serious he was. It really did get emotional! He shared how the week and class had been so special to him, how he felt encouraged by his teacher and peers to be himself in a way that not many other people do. As he began to give thanks to the group for being such amazing people, he allowed himself to shed some tears, and immediately, with no prompt from me, ALL his classmates (again, ALL 16/17 year old boys*) immediately got up to give him a group hug. It was one of the most beautiful moments I have witnessed in my career (and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t choking back tears myself!). *If I used to have a presumption about teenage boys’ capacity to express emotion, I don’t anymore!


You know how you can know something, like “work has value” because it’s said by the management team and you think it’s probably true but you never really question it? This was one of those moments where I actually felt the value of the work I do. Wellness comes in many forms. For a teenager to tap into his inner resources of confidence and trust, in connection with a sense of camaraderie with his social world and environment, in order to open up and be vulnerable, then met with incredible compassion from his peers - if that’s not the value of wellness in practice, I don’t know what is!


I can see how this sounds like a teacher flex, and it kind of is. I am deeply proud to have co-facilitated a space, experience and group dynamic that created such a powerful moment for this student and his classmates, but the strength of character and heart that is required to express those sentiments with true emotion and the willingness to embrace and share in it together - those teenage boys get all the credit. And as they gathered themselves and began to get hyped for their final show, I remember thinking, “I guess I should probably keep teaching…”



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