This is the fourth do-over for this blog tonight. Four ideas that only got so far before they fizzled. Before I got frustrated. Before I almost quit.
It probably didn’t help that my evening was broken up by a phone call from my daughter in Calgary. She made it back yesterday after having two weeks at home between semesters, but could only move into residence today. Even though she was already living in residence, for spring session they downsize all the students into one area, so everything had to be packed up, driven across campus, and unpacked again. Not fun.
Plus, starting over is hard.
Even if you have been there before, there is always the stress of the unknown. New classes. New roommates. New room. And no matter how old you are, taking on something new isn’t easy.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand that when I’m convincing my daughter to embrace, not fear, change. I love change. I love working through the problem-solving aspect of a new situation or sport or instrument. It’s exciting. It’s not that I get bored easily, but every once in a while I need to feel the challenge of a new experience, which is why teaching is such a perfect fit. Every year we have new students, new colleagues, new courses, new strategies, new, new, new. We are in the change business, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
But for someone who, as a little girl, stressed over the countdown to Christmas, the scary-mystery of wrapped presents, the fear that Santa might not come, and a myriad of other holiday anxieties, it’s not easy for her. So we talked about growth mindset. Again. Because that takes practice…to know that you will learn something new in that stats class….to know it’s okay to ask for help early and often…to know that new friends will be made…to know that challenges make us stronger and more resilient…to look for that silver lining in every one of these new experiences.
Point by point.
And the fear dissipates.
It’s easy to forget that if we haven’t pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones for a while. It’s a good feeling to remember, especially when we work with students, because that is their lived experience. Actually, they don’t have much experience, which is why everything we ask of them can feel new. And uncomfortable. And scary.
We are often trying something new to the kids in the classroom. This past week, it was playing a lot with poetry forms, like blackout poetry and book spine poetry. These are hard for my rule-followers and perfectionists as there isn’t one hard and fast way of creating them. It requires creativity and experimenting and letting go. For some kids, the fact that there isn’t a right/wrong answer here, or a single way of doing it, is hard…the paradox of choice paralyzing. I do a fair amount of talking kids up there too. Modelling and sharing.
But they all did it. Most exciting for me was seeing their pride as we shared pictures of our book spine poems in class, and seeing other students stop and check out the blackout poems on the bulletin boards in the hallways. (Kids. Stopping to read poetry. Yah it happened.) It’s when you get past the fear, that something awesome can happen.
We all need these reminders. I almost quit on this tonight. I thought I’d given all my positivity away in my phone conversation. I wasn’t sure I could find anything to write, yet here we are, and it’s not even midnight! Silver lining lol.
As we go into a new week, no 'almosts' allowed: embrace whatever comes your way, with the best mindset you can give it.
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