Tuesday, October 17, 2017

This One

It's volleyball season, which means loads of volleyball around here. Friday we spent the day in Jeddah dashing between two schools - the girls' tournament at one international school and the boys' tournament at another. 

(Abaya on. In car. Through security. Abaya off. Cheer, cheer, cheer. Check schedules. Abaya on. Dash out of one gym. Repeat the process.)

At one point, during the boys second set with a team they had played (and lost to) twice previously during this tournament, they found themselves down - by ten points. Now, I get being tired, but they had won the first set so dropping this set would force the third - not a rest. If they lost this game they were out. If they won, they went on to play in the championship game.

Cheering fiercely for our boys to get their head in the game (cue High School Musical) I kept yelling, "This one! This point!"

As I watched communication break down and the ball take an angle that was better in a physics experiment than a volleyball game, I found myself thinking philosophically. Then they won that point and the next one and the momentum shifted and I was swept back up in the intensity of the moment.

I find myself thinking back on that set and how it applies to teaching; taking each day as a fresh day, "this" day. Sometimes thinking of teaching in terms of 'days' is still too huge. There are times that days are seemingly unimaginable chunks - both for us and for our students. We need to be break them down into even smaller bits of time. 

For students, maybe "this point" is writing the next sentence, solving the current math problem, recording one bit of data from an experiment, jotting  a sticky, or respectful comment in a group conversation.

For us, maybe "this one" is a deep breath before the next thing comes out of our mouth to re-direct a student or the pacing of today's mini-lesson, or trying another approach with the manipulatives. 

In all cases, for students and teachers, some of the "this one"s are going to go awry. Some of them will be aces. How do we keep our energy up and ourselves focus - letting all the previous 'points' fade from our minds and approaching "this one" as a series of focused moments to victory?

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  1. I love your analogy here! Welcome back. This one is a great way to get back in the groove.

  2. A friend once told me that teachers are good at looking at the moment in front of them and zoning everything else out. I do that. We need to be in that moment so deeply, that looking too far ahead is overwhelming. I think that's how we do it. We do the next right thing, as Glennon Doyle always says, just do the next right thing. It's manageable. So glad you're back blogging!!! Missed your voice!

  3. So glad you are back in this community because I needed to read your SOL today! Your analogy is going to stay with me and keep me going through all my THIS ONEs!! Plus, I loved reading about volleyball. My nephew just graduated from Long Beach State on a volleyball scholarship! I learned so much about that game from attending his games. Such a great team sport! Finally, thanks for teaching me a new word - abaya. I googled it and now can "see" your outfit and actions even better with that precise detail!