Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Beast of the East

Me, going down & up a hill
While this title sounds like something my cross-country, Californian colleagues might call me (#thatsajoke), this is really referring to the 10K McGuire Mud Run held at Fort Dix, NJ.

Yes, 10k.... And I'm not a great runner. I don't usually run. But the focus in this race is on the process: my mom, siblings & I encouraging each other and using team work to overcome ridiculously muddy obstacles. Run up a big muddy hill and when you reach the top, you'll see what I mean.

My mom & brother give me a boost.
My brother gives me a hand up.

During today's race, I ran into  (figuratively) one of my students in class this year. Talk about awkward: We just finished the first 3 days of school and are still in the "getting to know you" phase, and here I am dressed in silly costumes with my family covered in mud. But the great thing was, I got to cheer that student on while really climbing a giant muddy hill, not a metaphorical one, and he and his family cheered me on while I made my climb. How many times in one's teaching career can that be done? And there is more: we, the student and I, both know exactly what obstacles and challenges we each faced and overcame. How often can that be said in the classroom? 

Teaching is similar to doing a mud run: it is a messy process that requires teamwork and problem solving skills to surmount obstacles.Often times we, students and teachers, forget that we are facing the same challenges and engaging in the same process.  Do you think this student will look at me differently after this run-in? Do you think I will know that this student is capable of meeting challenges?

But I do know this: both he and I know that we are capable of doing great things with just a bit of teamwork.

One of the Big Hills-- Student's mom is the one climbing on the right. My Student is waiting to go; he'll be up next.
My mom (very last person in red with bi on back) and I (all the way to the left in black with my bib on back)
watch on and wait our turn.