Over the past few years, things from time to time have been tricky. A motto that I have chosen in times of difficulty or controversy is to just keep on remembering what my purpose is and just keep on doing that. It has been a difficult few years in school. However, my focus stayed on one thing (or 22 to 23 things depending on the year): my students. They are my main focus and why I arrive at school every morning at 6:40 a.m. and why I work often to 10 at night. I love to teach and it is with that purpose that I just keep on teaching. I have refused to get involved in the controversies because I wanted to keep my focus on what matters the most to me: the students. So, if you are a new parent in my room, please know that my purpose is to make sure that your child has the best possible year. I want them to own the learning, I want them to be excited by learning, and I want them to know that they are my number one focus.
After the end of the school year, I was discussing this with one of my friends on the staff. She labeled the strategy, that she also used, as the “Just Keep Swimming” strategy. I was unfamiliar with this line that came from the movie
“Finding Nemo”. She suggested that I look it up and see that part of the movie. And sure enough, on You Tube, I found the clip. At about the 20th second, Dory says to Nemo, “when life gets you down, you know what you need to keep on doing? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” I thought this was an awesome clip and thought this was exactly the mantra that we had both been following, “When life gets you down, just keep swimming”, however in our case, it was just keep teaching.
Over this past year, I made a decision to train for a marathon. When I was younger, I was a competitive runner, but after four surgeries on my shins, I needed to give it up. However, one of my strategies over the past year was “quarter to four, out the door,” where I would leave school and take a walk. This strategy was awesome for several reasons: it gave me a good chance to reflect on the classroom or life, and two, it got me back in shape. So, while I couldn’t run any longer, I could walk. And after I did a half marathon last November, I decided why not train for a marathon? So, on my 53rd birthday, I signed up to do the Maine Marathon on October 6th. I selected that marathon because it seemed really walker friendly and was advertised as being relatively flat to downhill.
But as life often goes, things can change quickly and unexpectedly. Some bridge on the course was closed, so they needed to reroute the course, which resulted in it now being called a moderately hilly course. I could
forget it, but instead, I have added more hills to my training routes and kept on walking. When thrown a curve ball, you need to adjust your strategy and keep on moving towards your goal or purpose.
So, imagine to my surprise one morning when I was on a 12 mile walk. I went out early because this was during the really hot stretch of weather. Part of the walk involved Great Meadows. As I turned the corner and headed down the path between the two impoundments, I noticed lots of objects on the path. Upon getting closer, I noticed these objects were Canada Geese. Lots of Canada Geese. I started walking towards them, yelling out “Move goose, move goose!” That didn’t really work. I wondered to myself, should I turn around and go back the other way? But I really didn’t want to do that. So, I get on going straight. Luckily the first bunch was just two geese so I could easily go around them. But then right ahead of me was the next pack of geese. This time there were about 25 geese. Some were nesting, there were several new babies, and then there were the guard geese. Again, I started yelling out for them to move, which again had no effect. I noticed a bunch of birders out on the board walk and I yelled out to them, do you know how to get these geese to move? And one of the birders replied, “You just keep walking.” So, walk I did. The geese were hissing at me as I passed. I know geese can bite (hence the verb “goosed”) So, I quickly walked through, talking to the geese that I wasn’t going to hurt them. I managed to get through the 25 geese pack uneventfully and then happened upon the next group. Again, I chose to just keep walking. I liked the birders’ advice, it was just like the “Just Keep Swimming” line.
So, this past Sunday, I headed out on a 16 mile walk. Again the walk took me through Great Meadows. And again, there were the geese. “Just keep walking, just keep walking,” rang through my head as I traversed around the obstacles in my walk. But I had my goal, my purpose, and kept on walking. I talked to them as I had several weeks back and this time there was no hissing involved. Perhaps I was more confident heading into this week’s encounter with water fowl. Perhaps I knew it was an obstacle and if I focused on the task on hand, I knew I could make it around them successfully. Whatever the case, I kept on moving and had an awesome 16 mile walk.
My other big thing that I have accomplished this summer was applying to a Doctorate program. I have long been thinking about this for me as a learner, and I found what I think is the perfect program for me. When one of my teacher friends found out about this, she sent me a lovely message that contained a passage from a newsletter that she had received from Shady Hill. It said “”There is no room for complacency in our view of the school’s future. Shady Hill has been a pioneer, but pioneers have a tendency to become settlers, letting a new wave of pioneers roll over them to an even more promising future. To maintain vitality will require new vision and new methods.” She likened my applying to this program as my new adventure and that I was a pioneer that kept on moving, that I wasn’t content to “settle.” This was the utmost compliment and showed that she gets me as someone who wants to keep on moving, keep on walking, keep on swimming, and just keep on moving.
So, it is August 1st, and the new school year is now not that far away. I will keep on moving, keep on walking, keep on swimming, keep on my path.