The water is your friend. You don’t have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move.
I was the slowest swimmer in the pool.
Even before I started my laps, I knew I would be slower than the teenagers with the swim team caps and the long, lanky limbs that cut the water in sure, untiring strokes. I didn’t bother to compare myself to them.
There were two other swimmers, more my age, who seemed to be swimming at a pace I could match. The woman, though, was surprisingly swift, with a flip turn that snapped, rolled, and shot away from the wall, leaving me in its wake. After trying to keep up with her for a few laps, I focused on the man. His flip turns were somersaults that left him standing in the water six feet from the end of the pool. That was my only advantage, because he was stronger than me, beating the water to a froth down the lane while I concentrated on keeping my kick strong and my stroke smooth and gliding. He would pass me three-fourths of the way down the pool, but I would make up most of the distance with a flip turn and my strongest kicks and strokes. When he rested at the end of the pool, I slowed down a bit, but when he started back up, my inner competitor went into high gear.
As I toweled off after my swim, I wondered how I could teach my students to do the same as learners that I had done — how to size up the competition, choose a reasonable competitor, and push themselves to do their very best work, even though they might never make it to the finish line in first place.
I identified three keys to my successful swim:
A strong foundation of growth mindset was essential. I didn’t turn around and go home because I knew I couldn’t keep up with the teenagers. Beginnings need positive outlooks.
Goal-setting helped me frame my swim. To set sensible goals, I had to know not only what I need to work on, but more importantly, what I can do well. Success needs stepping-stones.
Finally, I had perseverance. Lap after lap, I pushed myself, encouraging myself inside my head when I was doing well, and challenging myself inside my head when I was falling behind. Hard workers need cheerleaders.
By knowing to whom I should compare myself, and by pushing myself to keep up with the reasonable competition, I had a really great swim . . . even though I was the slowest swimmer in the pool.
This week we look at ways teachers can model and mirror learning and behavior they want to see in classrooms. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Mary Lee Hahn
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Mary Lee Hahn has been teaching 4th or 5th graders for more than 20 years. She is the author of Reconsidering Read-Aloud (Stenhouse Publishers). Mary Lee and her colleague in the Dublin City Schools, Franki Sibberson, blog about their reading lives at A Year of Reading.
Free for All
[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links, follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ChoiceLiteracy or Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/choiceliteracy/]
Ruth Ayres shares how she uses conversations with classroom teachers to prepare for modeling instruction:
Heather Rader explains why the care and use of the lowly pencil in classrooms says a lot about what we value and our relationships with students:
Responsive Classroom has a wealth of practical suggestions for using interactive modeling to teach perseverance to young learners, including activities and reinforcing language:
For Members Only
Christy Rush-Levine shows the power of using picture books with young adolescents to model close reading and deepen comprehension of sophisticated texts:
In The Beauty of Imitation, Jennifer Schwanke explains how concerns about plagiarism can get in the way of recognizing the value of mimicking the styles of other writers to find our own:
Jillian Heise uses the quirky genre of book blurbs in her middle school classroom to model summaries and glean information about students’ comprehension, reading interests, and writing skills:
New PD2Go: Joan Moser leads a lesson in picking a partner with K-2 students that includes modeling and guided practice:
This video and workshop guide fulfill Common Core State Standard ELA-Literacy.SL1.1.b: Build on others’ talk in conversations by responding to the comments of others through multiple exchanges.
In an encore video, Aimee Buckner models the listing strategy for fourth graders:
That’s all for this week!