Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Six Different Ways to See a Stick Horse

The funk has been clouding my brain this week. I don't know why. It's been there lurking in dark corners, and I've been battling it with healthy doses of morning coffee, soul-soothing music, and family time. But, today it won.

I fought valiantly, if I may say so myself. As soon as I realized I was feeling funky this morning, on my way to work, I recognized it: something wasn't right, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I held it off during first period, which wasn't too hard because my first period class is downright angelic. But it went downhill from there. 

By 3A (a short period between third and fourth that only meets four days a week), I was dipping graham crackers in a jar of Nutella, had already cracked open my lunchtime Coke Zero, and gave the kiddos time to study their notes for tomorrow's quiz while the smooth melodies of Lucy Wainwright Roche played quietly in the background.

I may or may not have assumed a meditative pose on the rug near my desk and answered questions from the floor during this brief time. 

It helped a little. 

By sixth period, I'd had all I could handle. By seventh period, I was in tears. 

It didn't last long, but the funk got me. It had me in its ragged claws, scuttling across the floors of my mind. I sat in my classroom with the door open, lights off, and music playing until 4:00 and no one peeked in to ask why, which was perfectly fine by me. That's another thing about the funk: it's catching, and no one wants it. 

And then my evening went like this: 
  1. My beautiful Bella had "good news for the day" (her exact words, I swear) when I picked her up from preschool: she buttoned her pants all by herself each time she went to the potty today.
  2. Bella and I, upon discovering that the park is not yet open for Spring (not surprising, given that it isn't yet Spring), ate ice cream outside and played on the playground at Sonic. 
  3. We played outside even more when we got home (after warming up in the car en route).
  4. Adam brought pizza home for dinner. There was no way I was in the mood for cooking, though literally banging around a few pots and pans may have helped my mood. 
  5. I read on the couch for about 30 minutes after dinner.
  6. I hit the treadmill and completed my fastest mile yet. Still not "fast," but fast for me.
  7. While recovering my breath, I opened good ol' Life is a Verb to a completely random page. And found myself face-to-face with a message that I so desperately needed today.


I think I spent large portions of my day today running around and around the mountain, telling everyone that his or her path was wrong. 

Most specifically, my (challenging) sixth period class comes to mind. In controlling my urge to rant (you're welcome), suffice it to say that I have wracked my brain for methods of dealing with this particular group of students, each of whom I dearly enjoy on an individual level. Today, I felt like I was beating my head against the wall trying to get them to follow where I was trying so desperately to lead them. Actually, I think I would have enjoyed beating my head against the real and actual cinder block wall rather than stand there one more second and practically beg for their respect and attention. 

But, who says my path up the mountain is the only one? Why was I leading them up my path? What if their path was a different one?

I know that most students in this group live to talk. I mean, live for it. So, my other tenth graders all did a great job with my activity...so what? Who said I had to be in charge of sixth period today? Could I not have achieved the same goal by putting them in groups and letting them talk it out, rather than attempting to lead a whole-class discussion? This is basic, basic, basic pedagogy. I know these things, pretty much inside and out. I understand the fundamentals of classroom management and instructional design, I promise. But where there's funk and frustration, there's little room for thinking outside the box. 

Sometimes you gotta take a step back and look at the mountain from a distance. Then the path reveals itself. 

This little lesson in perspective also led me and Bella on an adventure in creativity. 

Bella, I say this is a stick horse? Am I right? 
But what else could it be? 

Suddenly, she saw her stick horse as a bridge...

a limbo stick...

a walking stick...

a measuring stick...

and a pillow.

If a preschooler knows that there are six different ways to see a stick horse, why did I devote so much energy today to trying to get others to gallop? 

















1 comment:

  1. Cute and smart! Sometimes we just have to learn things the hard way.

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