Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Give Me a Steep Hill!

Although many friends and members of my PLN are runners, I'm more of a bike enthusiast. As long as the Minnesota weather cooperates, I enjoy going for long bike rides on the numerous trails around my neighborhood. Whether I'm with my kids, husband, or just by myself, biking is my preferred outdoor activity.

Yesterday, while on one of those exhilarating solo bike rides, I was pedaling up a long steep hill. Just when I had to stand up to give myself more momentum (and felt maybe I wouldn't make it), I finally reached the top. Now, those of you who bike know the sheer joy of cruising down a hill, wind in your hair, almost feeling like you're flying.

I got to thinking how much these hills relate to my work as a teacher. Whereas flat terrain is like using the teacher's guide (TE), hills are like taking risks and trying new ideas. Flat terrain is teaching the way you've always taught, with a fixed mindset, remaining in your comfort zone.

With a growth mindset, the climbs are much more exciting than flat terrain because they lead to the thrilling cruise down the hill.

Are they difficult? Are they challenging? Are they often lonely?  Yes!

They are never boring, that's for sure. In addition, the momentum they generate for future learning and success can't be quantified.

In the past two years, biking uphill for me included:
  • diving into Twitter and building my PLN, despite a lack of Twitter presence among my school colleagues
  • joining the Global Read Aloud (GRA) when nobody else in my building was involved
  • celebrating International Dot Day for the past two years with only my teaching partner and our students
  • trying out something new to my teaching partner and I, called Genius Hour, and learning as the year went on
  • teaching Kelly Gallagher's Reading Reasons and Six Real-World Writing Purposes with passion and enthusiasm
  • jumping on the TLAP ship and transforming my classroom practices to include hooks and tons of engagement (the only pirate in my building)
  • trying my first (and my building's second) author Skype with Dave Burgess, then following it up with a Skype with author David E. Kelly
  • incorporating Erik Palmer's PVLEGS Speaking and Listening framework (which wasn't part of the curriculum)
  • engaging in weekly Socratic Seminars (with TodaysMeet back channel), the highlight of my week, with only one colleague who realized the benefits for students
Next year, hopefully my hill will get steeper thanks to: more author Skypes, a class Twitter account, Mystery Skype, broadening our GRA involvement through Edmodo and Skype, student online portfolios, and whatever I discover along the way from my fabulous PLN.

Just like a biker builds muscle, teaching with a growth mindset builds confidence. Each hill becomes easier to climb. We look for steeper hills to push ourselves and our students outside their comfort zones and stimulate learning.

Although flat terrain is easier, I'll take another hill any day!

1 comment:

  1. I have climbed some of those hills as well, and can see some more coming on the horizon. Even if you don't have an in-building "bike buddy" the rest of us are here to take the ride right along side you! :)