Teachers, The Ted Lassos of the Educational World

By admin Nov29,2023


Teachers spend their days spreading joy and being the Ted Lassos of the educational world.

Warning: Spoiler alert to Ted Lasso Season 1-3!

 A friend recently recommended that I watch Ted Lasso. For those not in the know, it’s a show about an American coach who takes over an English football club. Despite what at times seems like the entire world against him, Ted Lasso keeps positive and as he says, keeps being “a goldfish.” To Ted, it’s about the relationships he forms, it’s about the sign he puts up that simply reads, “Believe.” He’s the cockeyed optimist in a mustache with a Kansas accent. Even at his lowest, Ted Lasso is in there, doing what is right, holding nothing against anyone else. It’s the Ted Lasso way.

 As I concluded the series, I couldn’t help feeling a sense of comradery. Maybe it was because, like Ted, I too left the team that I had come to love dearly this past year. Maybe it was simply because the end of a school year can feel a lot like a Premiere League final.

Or maybe it’s because everything about Ted Lasso reminds me of being a teacher and never more so than right now.

Take the start of the series for instance. It isn’t until the end of the first season that Ted learns that he’s been hired under false pretenses. Teachers can relate. Almost 50% of us leave before our fifth year, and when we’re polled the same response comes up every time-teacher autonomy. Many teachers begin their careers in poorer sections of town and gravitate towards more affluent areas as they become veterans. When asked why, they don’t say it’s the kids in these areas, they say teacher autonomy- they say they want to teach what kids actually need, not what administration in these areas continues to squawk about- standardized tests.

Teachers in credentialed programs across the nation report the same. There’s a real disconnect between what teachers are trained to do, and what current administrations expect them to do, most often due to standardized testing. When hired under this false pretense, what do teachers do anyway? We do our very best for children, and we don’t make excuses.

 And like Ted at a press conference, we still have to explain our results, even though we know behind closed doors we also need to do what is right for our team.

Season Two: Panic Attacks, Passive-Aggressiveness and More

In season two, Ted meets with a therapist in an attempt to handle his panic attacks. He finds it extremely difficult to share any of this with anyone because he knows he must project leadership under the most stressful of circumstances.

And isn’t that like every teacher you know? From kids having melt-downs mid-lesson, to the many scheduled demands placed on us, to sudden administrators being surprise “instructional leaders” and often when things aren’t going smoothly, to irate, or passive-aggressive blogging parents, to administrators with rhetorical catchphrases. It still falls on the teacher’s shoulders to get the job done. We know it, just like Ted does.

And the attempts to offer us self-care training, and mental health connections is nice, but is any of that really going to make our job of teaching any easier? Like Ted Lasso, we know sometimes we just need more help, whether on the pitch or in the coach’s room.

Third Season: The foundation is family

In the third and last season of Ted Lasso, Ted decides ultimately that he needs to return home to be with his son. He leaves London and heads back to Kansas. I don’t think there could be a more apt metaphor for nearly all of the teachers I know than this.

The teachers I know give of themselves above and beyond their daily schedule, just like Ted. They take work home, they plan, prep, and grade sitting on the bleachers waiting for their daughter’s at-bat. They curl up by the fireplace on a Saturday morning to give feedback to 120 science journals, one after the other.

It’s often not until the end of the year that this teacher realizes how little he has seen of his family, and that’s like every other teacher I know.

Teachers, like soccer players, are asked to be no different than one of Ted Lasso’s goldfish. We’re supposed to have a short memory, to look to the here and now, and to be empty vessels to fill with professional development often despite our years and years of practice, credentialing, coursework, or classroom experiences.  We’re told that test scores will improve for those who take on the best practices in brand-new professional literature. All we have to do is trust in those who are there to develop us, at times over what our heads and hearts tell us.

Ted Lasso= Teachers

But like Ted Lasso, teachers know that it isn’t about the trophy. It’s about what we do for the young people that are on our team. And no matter what happens around us, we know, and will continue to know, what is right for kids if we follow our hearts.  Like Ted Lasso, we are the experts on what is happening in our locker rooms. We are the ones who know what our teams need.

Teachers are the Ted Lasso’s of the educational world. We walked onto the pitch because we wanted to be there despite being at times hired under false pretenses. We stand beside our kids because we want what is best for them, even when the system fails them.

And at the end of the day, just like Ted Lasso, everything that does not support the connection to our team is just noise from the crowd.

By admin

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