Monday, September 5, 2016

When to step on the gas...

Every once in a while I like to play country girl while visiting my dad's place. He lives in East Texas, and the family has some acreage that we all love to go 4-wheeling on. The Lollipop especially loves 4-wheeling, which is a great outlet for a timid girl who worries about everything. Except, that she still usually worries about everything, and this weekend it got me thinking about being a coach and education in general. 

Saturday evening the family all loaded up on the 4-wheelers and headed out to a friend's house who lives deeper into the country - down a long dirt road, not winding, but still. On the way out the Lollipop, driving with me behind, stayed a respectable distance behind the leader. She gets nervous about braking (after bumping into a few things), and she gets nervous about getting lost (she's never been truly lost, but this is always a fear), so I poked her a few times to get her to catch up, but I let her do her thing. I knew that she needed to be comfortable and that if I fussed too much she would end up miserable. It was difficult though, because I wanted to GO! This is where I see myself a lot with teachers. I want to give them enough room to explore and feel safe, but I am not a "take time to explore" person. Unlike the Lollipop, I just like to rev the engine and go. If I fail, fine, I'll fix it or try again. So it is difficult for me to hang back, but I know that hanging back is sometimes the thing to do. Sometimes, as in this case, I didn't know where I was going either, so hanging back was good because I couldn't get us "unlost" if we ended up separated from the parade. I feel this in coaching sometimes too, I need to get a good feel for where teachers want to go before I forge ahead. 

Taken by Lollipop as we raced down the trail.
However, on the way home, I was done being patient. The trail, while dusty, was a straight shot back to the house. The sun was setting, fireflies were lining both sides of the path, and it was time to GO! So I reached over her and gunned it. Lollipop screamed, as she does, but then she felt the thrill. We flew down the road, past the Peach riding along dancing and singing, and yelled "Firefly!" to one another each time one flashed. We took pictures of the sunset and the moon, and enjoyed the ride. 

This is the best part of coaching (and parenting) I think. I could have sit back and let her keep leisurely putting along, but she wouldn't have learned anything about herself. She wouldn't have learned anything about taking a leap just to see where she lands. She wouldn't have learned anything about driving and braking and getting unlost. That's what I think life is all about, and education is life. There is no way to have all of the answers, but if we don't try, how will we learn? Teachers get stuck putting around sometimes. They know that if they putt down the road, they will reach the end with satisfactory results. Stepping on the gas might cause them to get lost or to fail. Xena spoke of FAIL - First Attempt in Learning. I've heard it also as First Attempt, Iterate, Learn. Taking the first step is great, but when that fails, what happens? Do we stop? Do we slow down? Do we stay behind everyone else so we don't fail again? I hope not!
If we know where we are going, we can take some chances on how we get there. In education, we have to take some chances on how we get there, because we have to teach our children about failure and taking chances and paving their own way. I'm a little bored with hearing, "we don't know what the future will be, so we have to prepare our kids for the unexpected." No one has ever known what the future will be - hello, it's the future! Every single generation has said the same thing. But, I actually I do know where I want my kids to end up - happy. I believe that being problem-solvers, risk-takers, question-askers, collaborators and loving people will make them happy because they will be better prepared for the ambiguity of life. 

We need to start stepping on the gas. Give yourself a little time to explore, but then GO! Feel the wind in your hair, enjoy the scenery, and learn!

Selfie on the go (taken during the slow ride)  :)


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