My youngest daughter is a little athlete. She’s 12 with a short, powerful build, and is a good runner, gymnasts, and is turning into a great swimmer. In April, she took part in the state gymnastics meet where they took the top 10 gymnsts based on score, and she missed by 0.1 of a point. Ouch. After much crying, we talked a little bit about how she did, and she openly admitted that yes, she could have done better had she practiced.
Well, last week, we got our swim team schedule, and she’s down right giddy (love that word) about this because she’s a great swimmer, and her relay teams will dominate much of the season. Of course, two days later, we get a call, sure enough, one of the 10 girls at the state level is dropping out, my daughter can now go to Nationals, held in Madison. *insert sarcastic “whoo hoo” here* Madison isn’t that far, and had she made the top 10 to begin with, I’m pretty sure we’d be going, no questions asked. However, now we’d dealt with the disappointment, moved on, and she’s been working on swimming. We had a long discussion last night around the kitchen table, looking at schedules, and she’d miss three swim meets out of a ten meet season. My wife and I gave her the options, but said “this is your decision, and we’ll support you fully which ever way you go”. This morning, I sent the email off stating we’d not be going to Nationals. The reason: “I like swimming more than gymnastics.”
Now, why the long story? As educators, we are constantly doing this, steeling ourselves for the next disappointment, the time the legs of the chair are kicked out from under us, so we can say, “see that never works!” However, why do we do this? Habit? Circumstance? Down right orneriness?? Why don’t we work ourselves in the manner of my daughter, making that decision to see the good, finally cutting out the “junk thoughts” as our school councilor calls them. I can say, I work hard not to totally hate my schedule, but there are days where things fit just perfectly, and I look forward to that. Sure I could still be wallowing in my “oh my gosh can I ever get a good schedule” mode (I think my schudule’s been “good” 3 our the 12 years I’ve been here) but why?
As you start to finish the year up, teaching assignment will change, teachers will come and go, but the kids, they will be back in the fall. What will you do during that summer time? Will you work to find those things that you love, those passions, and create ways of sharing those with your student, involving them in your own learning? Or, will this summer be like the others, with little outside learning (other then mandatory classes), keeping that attitude perpetuating itself for another year’s worth of kids? How will these simple decision effect an entire classroom full of students?
Each year, I spend 45 minutes of class talking about my experiences in Alaska, teaching Eskimos on the Norton Sound. Does is dredge up some yucky memories? Sure it does. However, the decision to relive some of those memories pays me back many times over in school. Many former students, many years removed from my class, still comment how that was the neatest thing ever, to find out their teacher lived in Alaska of all places.
What do you have to share, to give, that makes those connections? Will you bring a renewed sense of “I can” to your classroom, or wallow in the “what ifs” of life? What is your decision?