“Just Try” (3 somewhat related vignettes from my week’s activities)

2 10 2011

“Mrs. Hagkull?” My gaze shifts away from the pages of the book I’m reading to the Kindergarten class as Jaden’s voice interrupts mine. For the 3rd time of the day, I gently correct her. It’s hard for a young student at the beginning of the school year to remember all the rules and routines of the classroom. “Jaden, a boy teacher is always a mister.  Girl teachers can be a Mrs. or a Miss, but a teacher who is a man is always a mister. You can call me Mr. Hagkull, okay?” Her gaze drops and she seems uncertain. “I don’t think I can remember that,” she says with a look of genuine concern. “Just try Jaden. I think you can.”


Wednesday was our school’s annual Terry Fox Run and this day has a lot of meaning for me. At Tyson Elementary, we began with an assembly in the gym, including a very inspirational video clip and then each class filed outside to participate in a school-wide run through the neighboring streets. As a Prep teacher with no class in particular to supervise, my role was to stay back with the dozen or so students that did not have their off-campus permission slips signed and we walked/jogged around the perimeter of the school fields. “Your not going to let old Mr. Hagkull pass you, are you?” I joked as I caught up to a group of Gr. 4 boys.  One of them replied with a “I can’t run very fast.”

“Just try” I said. “We’re doing this for Terry today.” After a brief pause, (after I assume he was reflecting on what I said) he started to sprint. It made me smile.


“Hey Brad, what are you doing?” The voice was from one of girls who was in my youth group years ago. “Blowing up tires, what does it look like?” I replied. We were both at our town’s Community Centre – she was working out and I was in a storage room with 21 sport wheelchairs and getting ready for the first Chilliwack Cheetahs Wheelchair Basketball practice of the season. As the coach, this is one of the preparation responsibilities that other coaches in the stand up game don’t get to experience. “Have you ever sat in one of these?” I asked her.

“Uhhh, I don’t think . . .”

I intentionally cut her off: “The gym’s empty right now. Why don’t you take one for a spin? I’ve even got a basketball for you. Just try” Once Kate sat down in the wheelchair and tried to push and dribble at the same time, a big smile overtook her face. “This is harder than it looks!” she said. For the next 20 minutes, Kate, her new husband and his brother each had their own wheelchair and motored around the gym, laughing at each others inabilities. It was pretty cool to watch.


I’m a big believer in the fact that extra effort deserves to be recognized. And when people around you respond to a challenge you’ve given to try something new, it’s an especially rewarding thing to watch unfold. This week I found that there is power in the “Just trys”. I’m thinking that I need to incorporate that phrase into my conversations a  bit more.




One response

2 10 2011
Carolyn Bartel

Great stories and I’ll add that to my list of words “to try” this week. One word that I try and get my students to say is “okay”. In so many instances, be it encouragement or discipline, the simple word “okay” seems to say “I get you Mrs. Bartel”.

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