Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Riding the Wave

Image from here.

Although I find the water very relaxing, comforting, medicinal, and therapeutic, I am not much of a swimmer. I nearly suffocated as a child - a very odd story...ask me about it some time... And for that reason have always struggled with losing control, especially when the waves of the ocean are buffeting me. I've also had some serious sinus trouble in my life - 3 broken noses, a 2-year stint with a sinus infection, all culminating in surgery my senior year of high school and acute knowledge of every pressure change Mother Nature throws at me (rain is coming for this weekend...). Surgery on my sinuses reduced/eliminated my ability to close off my nose while swimming so, yes, I hold my nose when I swim. For that reason, although I admire surfers and swimmers, I've never been much of one, myself. But today, I heard an analogy from Dr. Robert Schultz, a professor at a local college with whom I am working closely on a project with my juniors. We were discussing the classroom, how to maneuver through course-work for the project, and he stated, "Teaching is surfing - the students are the waves and we have to learn to balance, to swerve, as their needs and digressions are discovered." I don't think I could put it more clearly myself. I've always described teaching as a duck on water - on the surface, I am calm, I know what I'm doing (HAH!), and I can manage most situations, but underneath the surface, my legs are pumping at a hundred miles a minute and flailing in many different directions. Can it be both? Can I be a duck who is surfing? I think that best describes this year - I joked with my evaluating supervisor that the year has been great because I've lost about 15 pounds in baby weight by scrambling for my next classroom. She laughed but then in a very serious tone said they were going to try to fix that for me next year. A surfing duck - I scramble for everything, lose papers, forget to eat, but still manage to pull off lessons that seem to work, show that I have some semblance of knowledge, and still manage to veer to the right or left, depending on what is happening with my students and in the classroom. I think I just found my new mascot.

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