A Reflection on Vulnerability

I love audiobooks and at the recommendation of a good friend I am currently listening to Daring to Lead by Brene Brown. The part I am at talks about the importance of vulnerability. When speaking with another good friend tonight, she referred to vulnerability as "sharing your humanness". I don't think vulnerable is something most teachers are comfortable, but as I tell my students leadership is an uncomfortable position. The rest of this post is me sharing about a challenging situation because I think it is important to be more honest about how this is part of our daily grind.

This weekend, I had the privilege of coaching one of the finest groups of students I have ever had the opportunity to get to know. As my students know, I am a little bit competitive and I take mock trial very seriously. My students (along with our coaching team) work day in and day out to prepare their case and become a cohesive team. Unlike most sports, our mock trial team gets one shot, the state tournament. In order to make it to the final round, you have to start by winning consistently from the first round of competition. It is a very high stress two day experience.

At the end of last year, my team was ranked in the teens. We were coming into the tournament expected by others to be in the middle of the pack. My students competed with so much heart and polish that they were undefeated in the first four rounds and for the first time in school history, made it to the championship round. They performed incredibly, but in the end, the other team won the title following the final round.

Following the announcement that we made it into the finals, and again after they announced we placed 2nd, I did something I don't typically do in front of my students, I cried. I showed honest emotion when expressing how proud I was. I expressed excitement at their achievement. I shared in their relief that the emotional rollercoaster of a day was over. I reminded each one of them through nonverbal communication that they helped the team reach this great achievement and that I valued their contributions. Through shared emotions, we reminded each other that they were allowed to have strong feelings about the experience we had been through as a team.

I share this not because vulnerability means bursting into tears, but because for me, it means being willing to share in human experiences. These experiences include being allowed to have emotions, being allowed to feel excitement, pride, and disappointment. This includes actively demonstrating how to work through high pressure situations as a team, how to overcome adversity, and how to continue to find joy and celebrate success. Vulnerability is hard. It takes courage, just like leadership.

I hope by sharing this experience, more teachers will consider the value in their vulnerability and will give themselves the credit they deserve for sharing those hard moments with their students and colleagues on a daily basis. What we do is hard. What we do requires courageous, vulnerable leadership. What we do matters. 


  1. This is wonderful! Thank you for sharing!
    -Morgan @ www.mommyaboveall.com


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