Once again my summer swirled by faster than the blink of Ernesto's eye, leaving me somewhat misty-eyed and wondering as I always do: Just where in the Sam Hill did my summer go?
How's a girl suppose to get anything done when the cosmic universe aligns and conspires against her?
So perhaps on the first day of school instead of complaining about our students and their lack of preparation, we should provide some writing utensils and paper. You know, just to get everyone started on sure footing.
#4…Tell, Show, Do…
I can unequivocally state that the ever-spectacular Josh would make a great classroom teacher. Even in the great outdoors, the educational mantra of "Tell, Show, Do" works.
You can tell me all you want how you want me to paddle, but I doubt that I will be able to replicate it. If you tell and show me, I might be able to paddle the way you want me to. But if you tell me, show me and let me practice it, well then, I just might make it to the end of our little Class III adventure without being tossed into the water and without my ever-patient-guide Josh popping me upside the head with his paddle.
#3 Practice Makes Perfect…
As we journeyed down the stream, I noticed one guide struggled with his rafters to get them to paddle correctly, so he moved his raft off to the bank of the river for his own paddle remediation. According to Josh, guides will keep their rafters there practicing until they finally get it. Meanwhile, the rest of us weren't penalized for the ineptness/ignorance/stupidity of others. Instead, we were able to continue on with our journey.
As our school year progresses, we should remember to allot enough practice time for mastery and to remember not to penalize those students who do get it by forcing them to suffer through the remediation process. Let those kiddos continue on their journey.
#2 Leave well enough alone…
But there were also other times, when only one of us was instructed to paddle. Alone. By oneself. Without anyone else. Those times were equally important and critical.
Sometimes working alone is better and essential. As educators, we need to remember which serves us better. Otherwise, we'll end up with a class confused, headed in the wrong direction and drowning in educational flotsam.
And drum roll pah-leese, the #1 thing Richie learned on her rafting trip…
#1 Push Your Comfort Zone…
OK, OK, OK so maybe it took a little bit of prodding and some assurances by both Josh and my husband, before I agreed to step outside my comfort zone. But stepping outside the predictable and venturing into the unknown did provide the "miles of smiles" promised for my rafting adventure as well as a new level of confidence--something difficult to achieve once you cross over the other side of 50.
So often our students fail in the classroom simply because they fear trying something new or fear moving beyond their own education comfort zone. We must remember to provide the necessary assurances for our kiddos to take the leap into uncharted waters and stretch themselves academically.
And perhaps more importantly, we should remember to step outside our own pedagogical comfort zone and take a risk with new methods, new materials and maybe even a new vision.
So that pretty much wraps up what I learned over my summer vacation. The next day as we headed back to the 100-plus temperatures wilting the great state of Texas, my husband and I groused about how we missed Josh and our river rafting adventure already.
In addition to referring to him as "a great/extraordinary guide," "the ever-patient Josh" and "all-around nice guy," we also added with a certain measure of sadness the following nomenclature: "Josh-the-son-in-law-we'll-never-have."
But that, my friends, is a story for another time and place. And yes, if my daughters ever read this post, they would be screaming, "OH MOM!" right about now.
But I don't care, I'm a Class III River Rafting fool.