I do stairs regularly as part of my exercise regime. Today, I did a set of stairs that were particularly difficult. They were steep and seemed to go on forever.
176 stairs down and 176 stairs up.
It was the UP that was hurting me today.
I’d get about one third of the way up the stairs that never seemed to end, and I’d look up, only to see the flights of stairs still waiting for my feet to touch. About the same time, my mind would be overcome by the enormity of what was to follow and, inevitably, my legs would slow down. Instead of taking two steps at a time with my hands clasped behind my back, my legs would only lift my feet one stair at a time and my arms slowly began to yearn to grasp the side railing calling my name. Inevitably, that’s what would happen and then I would be frustrated with myself as people would pass me (I’m just a tad competitive).
On my final set, which is usually the most difficult, I decided to play a little game with myself. I decided I would only look at the couple stairs in front of me, where my feet were going to be placed next, and not look up at all. I would try to stay disciplined and keep my hands clasped behind my back and I would pretend that railing didn’t exist.
Away I went.
Up to 50 no problem.
Up to 100, feeling strong.
Up to 150, keeping strict with my fingers still clasped behind my back.
Up to the top of 176 stairs without looking up once.
I felt strong. I felt confident. I felt empowered.
If I could have high-fived myself without looking completely insane, I would have.
My last set was my easiest! What a feeling! What an accomplishment!
And, to top things off, no one passed me on my way up. There were people right behind me, struggling more than I. I could hear their breathing. I could hear their foot steps in sync with mine. I could tell that we were motivating each other to continue to keep working hard and focusing on our goal just ahead.
This stair climbing adventure today got me thinking about education and how some educators must feel as they attempt to transform their classrooms into more student-centred, project-based, engaging learning spaces. How overwhelming it must feel to look ahead to the never-ending list of things that one “should”, “could”, or may “want” to be doing to transform this learning environment. The books that one may want to read, the strategies that one may want to try to implement, and the other resources that one may want to tap into. Overwhelming. All the while comparing and watching as people continue to move forward, seemingly more quickly than them. While the others seem to be getting stronger, you feel overcome by the enormity of it all and, as a result, you slow down or stop altogether.
My advice, as I look back on my stair climbing adventure today, don’t look up. Don’t look too far in advance. While it is important to have a good idea of where you want to go, keep focused on the here and now. Keep trying new things, new strategies, and taking advantage of new resources. Try not to get overwhelmed. If you do, just grab ahold of the nearest support and have them help you up to the next plateau. What everyone needs to realize is that we are all struggling in our own way to move forward. It isn’t easy and doesn’t get easy as we learn to transform our learning environments.
Take one step at a time.
Ask for help.
Learn from your colleagues.
Another piece of advice, remember to look back on where you were so that you can celebrate your accomplishments when you see how far you have come.
I hope everyone has an amazing 2013/2014 school year! Best wishes to you all in your learning journey!
What are some recommendations you have for your colleagues as they start this new school year?
* Note: the photos featured here are not of the actual stairs I did today, but are of another set of stairs I did in another location.