The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.
Recently we replaced the electrical outlets in our home. The electrician came and looked through the house. His son, an apprentice, followed along. The job was expected to take less than a day. The next morning the young apprentice arrived at our home with his tool belt slung around his hips. He crouched in front of the first outlet and looked. The kids and I were getting ready to leave for a library trip. The electrician went to the truck for more tools. When all of the books were gathered, the electrician was still staring down the outlet.
“You okay?” my ten-year-old son asked.
“Yeah, I’m just thinking,” the electrician said.
“Must take a long time to swap all these outlets if you’ve gotta think that long for the first one,” Jay said, walking out the door. The electrician went to the truck for more tools.
When we returned from the library, the electrician was staring at an outlet. “Man, I could never be an electrician, because I can’t look at outlets for that long,” Jay said.
The electrician chuckled. “I don’t want to do it wrong.”
“Then I really couldn’t be an electrician,” Jay said. “You gotta do things wrong to figure out how to do ‘em right. At least that’s how it is with Legos.” The electrician smiled.
Jay walked away and the electrician pulled the outlet from the wall and snipped a few wires. He stopped staring and started working. Some of the outlets he had to rewire more than once in order to get them right. There was a trail of packaging from new outlets and remnants from old outlets that followed him like Hansel and Gretel’s bread trail. He made more trips to his truck, looked up information on his phone, called his dad, ate some snacks, and kept swapping outlets. Finally he had only one room left. In the end, he replaced all of the outlets in this room in less time than it took him to replace the first outlet.
This is the nature of learning. We make mistakes to figure out how to make things work. We have a choice when faced with changes in education. We can freeze and stare. Or we can keep working, trying again, talking with others, and working through the mess to find what works.
This week we look at different ways to press the pause button and think about what’s working and what isn’t. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
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Courtney Pawol looks at how being an introvert affects her role in learning communities, and then moves from insight to practical changes to help the introverts in her first-grade classroom:
We can’t forget the importance of being kind to ourselves. Ruth Ayres explains how pausing to take time for small pleasures can add up to big delights:
Pernille Ripp shares 12 practical tips for pausing and reclaiming teaching balance:
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Gretchen Schroeder has three strategies for slowing down with her high school students and savoring literacy learning:
Christy Rush-Levine takes an oddly shaped unused nook in her classroom and turns it into a charming space where students can choose to take a quiet break with a “Self-Imposed Time-Out” (SITO):
Celebrations are the pause that refreshes between writing units for many teachers. Melanie Meehan shares suggestions for Creative Celebrations:
New PD2Go: Max Brand demonstrates and explains how movement activities in classrooms with young learners can be much more than a brain break or “getting the wiggles out.” Movement can forge potent connections between mind, body, and story:
In an encore video, Sean Moore demonstrates two different quick kinesthetic movements in this one-minute video to help his second-grade students focus and transition between whole-class instruction segments:
That’s all for this week!