10 Ways Teaching Is Like Playing In The Super Bowl

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Credit: Keith Allison

It’s time for the Super Bowl once again when most of America will gather around the TV, gorge on nachos and wings and watch corporations duke it out for the title of “Best Commercial”. Oh, and there’s a football game too. That got us thinking about all the ways playing in the Super Bowl is a lot like teaching. Here are a few…

1. You’re only as good as the team around you

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You might be the Tom Brady of teaching, but if the rest of your grade level isn’t even good enough for the practice squad, odds are you’re in big trouble. Teachers need a good support system around them to be successful, just like a quarterback needs an offensive line to keep him from getting crushed.

2. The world is watching you

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Seventeen of the twenty most watched broadcasts in television history are Super Bowls. If you’re playing in the big game, literally the eyes of the world are upon you. That’s a lot like how teachers feel too. Between parents, administrators, superintendents, politicians and society in general, everyone is super interested in what we do and how we do it.

3. And they all think your job is easy

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All football fans believe they have all the answers. They know exactly what to do in every situation and they can’t believe any coach or player would ever be stupid enough to not do exactly the same thing. Gee, where have I heard that before? There are a lot of non-teachers out there who love telling teachers what they would do in our shoes and how amazing they would be at our job. 

4. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense

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When you’re up against a high-powered team, you need to find ways to slow them down and stop their momentum. The same is true when you’re in the classroom full of “energetic” students. From the minute they walk through the door you can tell you’re in for a rough day. So what do you do? Blindside them with activities, flood them with thought-provoking questions and take the steam right out of their sails.

5. Coaching is key

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Even though kids like to think that classrooms are battle royales of “Teacher vs. Student”, the truth is it’s really more like Coach and player. We spend all year showing them the basics, running drills, practicing day after day. And when the time comes to take the field (or the standardized test) you pray they’ll be ready. Even the most talented player needs good coaching to get to the Super Bowl, and even the most talented students need teachers to guide them to victory.

6. You need a deep playbook

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In football, you can’t keep running the same play over and over. The defense will figure you out and you’ll be in big trouble. Teachers feel the same way every time they write their lesson plans. You need to mix things up, get a little creative and not be afraid to take the occasional risk. When the time is right, you pull out that trick play and take the other team (or your students) by complete surprise.

7. You also need to be able to improvise

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Sometimes all the planning in the world can’t save you. You draw up the perfect plan, you are completely prepared for what’s coming next, and then disaster strikes. Out of nowhere you need to quickly come up with a Plan B and hope it’s enough. 

8. It’s a long season

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The grind of an NFL season is long and arduous… just like a school year. Months of planning and preparation go into an NFL season… just like a school year. There will be times during an NFL season players feel completely drained, exhausted and both mentally and emotionally spent. Teachers feel like that every day by 10 A.M.

9. You never know what could throw you for a loss 

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You’ve called the right play, your players are prepared, you are completely confident that you are making the right decision. 5 seconds later your quarterback gets folded in half like a cheap accordion and you lose 10 yards. It happens in teaching too. It could be a fire drill, a surprise observation, an assembly you forgot about, there are a million things that can quickly derail your day.

10. You hope all that hard work pays off

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If you’re playing in a Super Bowl, it means you have survived all the struggles, pain and suffering to get to where you are. If you’re a teacher still teaching at the end of the year, it also means you’ve survived struggles, pain and suffering. But when the final whistle blows, or the last test has been turned in, all you can do is hope you did everything possible to succeed.

Super Bowl Teacher

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David Rode

Veteran Legend

I'm currently a Middle School Math Teacher which means I'm also a glutton for punishment. Honestly though, I am keenly aware that Middle School is basically the worst 3 years in the life of a child, so it's my mission to make it suck less. I'm also a musician, a community theater, Dad to two amazing children, and I don't get a lot of sleep.

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