For inspiration, I re-read my blogs, and it backfired. I liked most of them and thought that I needed to write another good one. Kiss of death, that. It breaks all the rules I espouse to my students. Rule #’s 1-15: don’t worry about anything as you draft. Just write. Revising and editing are when you start thinking about your audience. Well, as soon as I thought I ought to write well, I was frozen.
That’s not usually an issue for me, but if too much time goes by without writing, then it is harder to find the flow that is usual in my brain. It’s good for me to struggle though because the more I am a student, the better I am a teacher.
So, I like to think I derailed myself on some subconscious purpose. Yeah, right. It’s more that I am a student, and I’m going to be getting setbacks as all students do.
In my STEM class, my co-teachers and I have been discussing how important it is to learn about a lot of things, constantly, because you never know how it is all going go be assimilated, every learning experience, every exposure to ideas and things. That’s an oversimplification of the idea, but we spend almost every day, sharing our new experiences, and it’s pretty powerful. At least, it is for me.
Today, I asked Danny to teach me how to drive the tractor. He’d offered a long time ago, and I’d chickened out. It shook, shimmied and was loud. Plus. the gears were all completely backward. Today was no better. I drove about ten feet. Maybe twelve. I forgot what he said about letting the clutch out to break, and so I screamed “help” as I rolled backwards, fearing I’d end up hitting the propane tank.
My yelling “help” was tantamount to my students, who come up to me with questions they cannot articulate. They say thing like, “I don’t get it.” I try to question them to find out where they are lost, but sometimes students are so lost that it’s hard to figure out a way in to help them. When I yelled “help”, there wasn’t time for questioning. Danny just told me to let the clutch out. It’s not usually that simple with the classroom. It’s also, I hope, a lot safer place to need to call out for help.
I think about my students a lot, about what I need to do to be a better person so that I’m walking the talk. So, I thought about them when I got off the tractor. I was more than a little scared, and I wanted to be done with it. Danny suggested I not end on such a bad note. I stood next to the tractor and stared at it, hands on hip. To be blunt, I’ve been a bit more afraid of some things, since going through the daily trauma of Danny’s illness back in 2011. Danny is a constant inspiration for me, given that he has moved on so fully.
But, here I am, navigating with more hesitation than normal, well, my normal anyway. So, when I stood there, staring at the tractor, knowing I needed more time to get comfortable with the shaking, trembling, noise of it, well, I also knew I needed to do something besides walk away. So, I climbed back up into the seat, and I turned the key, found first gear and pressed the lever of the gas forward, propelling up the drive at a brisk 2.5 mph. I brought the tractor up to the plateau of the hill of our driveway, and let the clutch out. I’d done enough. For now.
One of my favorite things about teaching is how much humanity we are a part of each day. We have lives in our hands, and though that is a fearsome thing, it is also a beautiful thing. One of my students is currently preparing to present to our parent community about an issue she feels passionate about. She's scared to present, but she is undaunted because she knows what she's doing is the right thing. How she inspires me. Every day, I get to be inspired by others.
I don’t know if I would have stepped back into the seat of that tractor if I hadn’t wanted to do what I must to grow. I don’t know if I would have done that if it weren’t for knowing what Danny must do each day, to be alive and present in the moment. And I don’t know if I would have done it if it weren’t for knowing that I must walk the talk of my teacher profile. I ask students every day to be strong and have grit. I know I have students who feel about reading or writing as I do stepping up onto a tractor.
I am so fortunate to be held to a higher standard because I am an educator.
Goal: get back onto the tractor and move a load of dirt or a rock...or just move the bucket up and down. Keep my eye out for kids who need to “get back on the tractor”
Gratitude: my students, friends, colleagues, and Danny, who push me and make me want to be better.