I’m not good with unscheduled time. I end up walking around my house during summer vacations aimlessly. I think that I should polish the furniture, but end up reading instead. I think that I should clean out the closet, but end up knitting. I think that I should join a gym, but stay in my pajamas and watch Netflix all day.
Then it’s time to get ready for the new school year. Yay! An important schedule thrust upon me. With the dawn of a new school year I shed my ennui and am filled with anticipation. Looking at the curriculum, or in my case this year, planning a new program, opens up endless possibilities.
What can I build on from last year? What worked well that can be tweaked to work even better? How can I inspire and motivate the new students and empower them to embrace the idea of learning a new language and to feel a part of the high school? I ponder these questions and develop my strategy before school starts.
Bowling is exactly the same thing. Well, not exactly. I don’t hurl heavy balls at my students. But I anticipate the game in the same way. I plan ahead. I set my goals. I mentally perfect the stance I will take. The pins are lined up perfectly, and each frame will bring success. I am energized.
Then……the gutter ball. And a twinge in my thumb. What in the world happened? I was so prepared mentally and physically. I try again. Much better this time. The ball has momentum. It’s ready to strike successfully but at the end it veers slightly and only some of the pins make contact.
The school year starts out in much the same way. I’m so on top of my game, so prepared for success……and then the students arrive.
I present the awesome first day’s lesson. Ask the essential question. Review important vocabulary they may have forgotten over the summer. Give them the technology to research and come up with their unique perspective on the topic.
And they look at me blankly.
Then, slowly, a hand is raised. The twinge in my thumb starts to throb less. “Can I go to the bathroom?” Sigh. A gutter ball.
Time to rethink my stance. Time to approach the topic differently. Time to ask for their essential question, not mine. Time to take a deep breath and line up the ball to motivate these high school students. Time to get ready for the fierce competition with the wi-fi access and large mirrors of the bathroom. Now success will come.
I plan a new approach that will surely motivate and get awesome results. Instill in my students a desire to take advantage of the education about which I’m so excited. I’m so ready for the next day/week/unit. Strike!
Bring it on.
Teaching is like bowling.