Sometimes the most scenic roads in life are the detours you didn’t mean to take.
A few weeks ago I heard Martha Stewart give a keynote about her success, and one of her nuggets of wisdom was to take a different route every day. She explained:
I almost never take the same route twice. I follow different paths through the woods or around the farm, and in the city, I wander down various streets to peek in on new restaurants or shops. I take new routes coming into the city so there’s always something novel and interesting to look at — new architecture, a field, or a reservoir I hadn’t seen before. It helps the brain to always keep things interesting! And you’ll never be bored.
I was driving home from the conference in Boston to my home in Maine, mulling over Martha’s words, when I noticed a sign flashing, alerting travelers to a major accident on the interstate just a few miles up the road. I detoured onto Route 1, a coastal route notorious for its congestion. I’d never been on that stretch of road, even after almost 30 years of living in Maine. It’s 150 miles from my home, so without a destination on it, the road isn’t one I’d ever choose to take. I drove by the playhouse where my niece worked for many summers, and through picturesque little towns with people strolling and enjoying a gorgeous early fall day, the leaves just beginning to turn. Instead of the drone of being in that monotonous travel zone of cruising down the highway, I felt wide awake as I drove slowly and observed new places. Eventually I was able to route back to the highway, but not before I’d experienced firsthand the power of Martha’s advice.
How often do you take a different route in your school? Unfortunately many of the possible routes into schools have been closed off because of security concerns, but I suspect there are still other ways in than the one you usually take. How often do you go through the primary or intermediate wing — not to go to a colleague’s classroom, but just to take a different route and see what pops up? We are always in such a hurry these days. There’s something freeing about taking extra time to go up and down a staircase you rarely traverse, or walk through a wing of the high school you’ve never been in before. You might be surprised at what you find, and the power and sense of control that comes from slowing down and letting learning come to you.
This week we go off the beaten path a bit and look at slow, quiet learning. Plus more as always — enjoy!
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Here are two features from the archives to help you mull over quiet and slow learning.
In a quick take video, Ruth Shagoury talks about how to work through the quiet and sometimes awkward moments of establishing relationships with English language learners:
Tom Newkirk talks about the value of slow reading and his book on the topic:
This TED talk from Susan Cain is on the power of introverts in a world that privileges extroverts:
Tony Baldasaro at Edutopia has suggestions for Embracing Introversion in the classroom:
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Gigi McAllister realizes she is a slow thinker, and this makes her reconsider some of her classroom practices to support children who need more time to respond:
Kim Campbell has suggestions for ways teachers can help introverts have more say in literacy workshops:
Do you have English language learners in the silent period in your school? Stella Villalba has tips for teachers working with them:
Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris explain how to slow down and enter lessons more mindfully. This is the first installment in a three-part series on mindfulness in classrooms:
In this week’s video, Beth Lawson helps fourth grader Donovan focus his many ideas for writing through some dictation in a writing conference:
That’s all for this week!