Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Recently I was chatting with my friend Lexi about working out, and I was surprised when she said she didn’t like her trainer. Like Lexi, the trainer is middle-aged, female, and even has a background in teaching. Lexi is one of those people who gets along well with everyone, with a bubbly personality you can’t help but love. I asked her what the problem was and she said, “Every week she’s just going through the motions – it’s clear she couldn’t care less about anything but filling the half hour.” Lexi signed up for a package of sessions, and is looking forward to her last session soon so she can be done with the trainer.
I thought about my own experiences with Josh, my trainer for the past 18 months. I never thought I’d have a trainer because of the expense and the discomfort I’d feel working one-on-one with someone. But the sessions were a requirement to join the gym that is closest to my home, so I reluctantly signed on. Josh was assigned to me, and I didn’t have high hopes. He is young enough to be my son. He is in peak physical condition. I am . . . not. Within the first few weeks of working together, I discovered he loves country music and rap – the only two musical genres I detest. He and I are polar opposites politically, which in a presidential election year should be enough for unfriending forever.
But here’s the thing. Josh is a wonderful trainer, we have a terrific rapport, and I look forward to our sessions every week. Over time I’ve increased the quantity of them, simply because they are so good for me. Josh does his job well because he is in tune with my needs. Every week he asks about any nagging injuries, and makes adjustments continually. He is always changing up the sets, reps, and expectations. I thought about the difference between my experiences and Lexi’s, and realized the collaboration works because of three things:
1. Josh and I are willing to learn.
2. We work hard.
3. We laugh a lot.
We live in a world filled with litmus tests. If I had to come up with an ideal trainer for me based on my age, gender, beliefs, and experiences, that person would look nothing like Josh. And I am probably a better person because somehow life conspired to make me collaborate weekly with someone I have almost nothing in common with, save for the fact we like to learn, work hard, and laugh.
You will have a new colleague (or two or three) this fall who is voting for the wrong person for president, who arranges her classroom library in a hideous way, who eats too many Cheetos or too much tofu. What a shame it would be to miss out on what could be a great collaboration simply because a new coworker isn’t an obvious soul mate at first glance. Why not start with a little laughter and a lot of hard work together, and see where it takes you?
This week we look at student-centered classroom design. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
Free for All
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Andrea Smith discovers the value of more creative nonfiction book tub titles after listening to ideas from her students:
Ann Marie Corgill shares how she organizes materials for literacy learning in ways that match student needs and traffic patterns:
You’ll find a wealth of creative ideas for student-centered classroom design on this Pinterest board:
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Tara Barnett and Kate Mills describe the principles they use to design a student-centered classroom:
At a time of escalating violence throughout the world, children need peaceful spaces. Katie DiCesare creates a “peace table” in her first-grade classroom as a safe place for working through everything from playground squabbles to emotional distress:
In this week’s video, Katherine Sokolowski shares a wall display from her fifth graders that students build to celebrate who they are and people they love from home:
Are you contemplating the removal of your teacher desk this year? Shari Frost has suggestions for how to manage and house teaching materials you will need without a teacher desk:
In this time-lapse encore video, The Sisters (Gail Boushey and Joan Moser) help young teacher Carrie reorganize her desk and rug area so that both she and the children have better access to this space:
That’s all for this week!