Every January, K-5 teachers in Concord sit down to start writing their progress reports. The Meriam-Webster online definition of progress is:
- movement forward or toward a place
- the process of improving or developing something over a period of time
Since my life is about to become more complicated, I sat down this morning at 8:00 a.m. and started writing the first of my 24 students. The students and I had sat down this week and discussed the “Personal Development ” standards on the first page. We went over what this would look like. When I asked them what does “student focuses on teacher instruction” look like, the students said, “Mrs. Erickson isn’t standing on a table to get our attention.”
So, this morning, after I did a few, I started to think about the timing to do my 11 mile walk. A friend called me early to say it was pretty icy outside. I decided to wait until about 10:00 a.m. to venture out. While inside, I debated waiting until Sunday when it was suppose to be sunny outside. I looked at weather.com that said there was a risk of thundershowers during the late morning. I seriously thought about delaying, but adhering to my strategy of facing head on any challenge thrown my way, I changed into my workout clothes and headed out.
When I arrived at the Meriam Corner parking area for the Battle Trail, I was encouraged by what looked like a clear path. The one thing I have missed during this winter training was my trails. I loved training for my first marathon on my trails and since my last walk on them on December 9th before winter hit us pretty hard. So, I turned quickly towards my trail. And within 100 yards, I discovered that the trail was not mud, but ice. And treacherous slippery ice. The kind of ice if I fell, I would probably hurt myself pretty badly. Sadly, I turned around and headed towards the road. After about 1.5 miles, I discovered that some of the puddles that I had to cross through had a thin coating of ice at the bottom. And shortly after that, the sky opened up, drenching me. 2.4 miles into this walk and I suddenly thought that I needed to persevere through this winter training. Much like my students said, persevering is not just saying immediately, “I can’t do this.” Life’s curve balls have taught me that I can do this. I am training for a marathon where I am raising funds for children who are fighting cancer. They don’t have the option of saying it’s raining and wet and icy, I don’t want to do treatment today. So, on I trudged. During this excursion, I discovered many different surfaces. There were those patches of pavement where I could walk really quickly without feeling like a tight rope walker. There were those parts of the sidewalk where there were glacial like ice formations where I needed to totally slow down and inch my way across. When I tired of those side walk glaciers, I tried walking on the side of the road. There were deep puddles and very icy patches that caused me to think if I slipped here I would end up in the road, so I scurried back to the sidewalks. There were the sidewalks that were completely muddy. There were the sidewalks that had mud and ice. There were sidewalks that had deep puddles that totally soaked my shoes. And there were the sidewalks that had the deep puddles with ice at the bottom. There was dense fog that blanketed parts of my walk. But, I made progress and managed to stay upright for the 11 miles.
While I was moving along, I kept thinking about this standard and how it could also connect to not just learning, but also to growing. “Perseveres through the growing process” is not a standard on the progress report, but is applicable to both the students and myself. Before vacation, one of my students didn’t react well to some feedback that they received on a piece of writing. I was trying to chalk it up to it was right before the holidays and we were all a little stressed. But during this walk, I thought, I need to reconnect with this student and talk about how this was a growing process — to be able to hear something you weren’t expecting to hear and how to handle that type of situation. It is a both a learning and a growing situation. Sometimes life does not go the way you wanted it to, and how you handle that disappointment is really important to your growth as both a student and a person.
Perseverance is a key attribute to have in all aspects of life. It’s a great standard not just on our progress reports, but on our life progress reports. And progress, moving forward or towards a place, or the process of improving or developing something over a period of time, is another thing we can all strive towards.