Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Storing Instead of Using

storageIn Analyzing Shelf Life from Informania by Fran Bullington, she writes,

“Why would I have two bottles of orange peel when I rarely use that spice?  What is the purpose of hoarding spice bottles when each spice loses its potency over time?”

This brought to mind that story about the lady who saved all of her best for a special time and then she died before she ever got to use her best. What a waste!

I have to admit that I also think that way at times and luckily I have a magnificent husband who always encourages me to think that the special time is actually now. Yet, he buys tshirts from our travels and they are still in his dresser drawers with the price tag on them because he is waiting for the perfect time to wear them! I guess I need to be better at encouraging him to enjoy the special time now too.

How many times have I put aside a great lesson or teaching moment because I want to wait for the perfect time? Well, I need to remember that at that time, the perfect time is now. Sometimes those moments don’t happen in the future or the situation never presents itself in the safe way again. And when I try to teach it in the future, I don’t have the same enthusiasm or excitement that I had when I first thought of the idea. I guess like some spices, over time, the enthusiasm loses its potency.

Sometimes I may have something planned but then a teachable moment happens and I need to adjust what I’m doing to focus on this moment now. It is alright to change my plans if I think it is important because the perfect moment is now. I also think it is important to explain to my students why I am changing my plans so they aren’t thrown into confusion. This also helps them identify important moments also and helps them learn to be flexible when necessary.

Sometimes I have great ideas for lessons to do right before the holidays and then during that time, there are unexpected special events that occur or circumstances change where I can’t teach those lessons. Then it is too late to try to fit them in because instead of a great lesson, they become a hurried rushed through lesson which I don’t want to do.

So, after this happened to me a few years in a row, I decided to do my holiday lessons a couple of weeks before the holidays. This primes my students for the upcoming holidays as well as giving us a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy the lesson. Many of my special education students have a hard time with holidays anyway because it is usually unstructured and chaotic which causes them to feel anxious. This is a great way to prepare them for the holidays. I also found it is a great time to talk about their expectations of the holidays, their anxiety, and how to cope with their feelings during these times. Parents have come to me after the holidays and actually told me that this preparation has made a difference and helped the families to enjoy the holidays more.

So I need to stop storing and start using when the time is right. I don’t want my lessons to lose their potency over time.

Does this happen to you? If so, please share your experience and how you deal with it.

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'crafty stuff' by: Nicole Vaughan

1 comment:

Sioux Roslawski said...

Pat--What a wonderful educator you are.

I'm guilty of getting great lotions as gifts, and saving them for special trips, etc. but then the trips rarely come, or I don't pack them, and they sit in the closet gathering dust. However, I recently started enjoying them, because the special time is indeed NOW.

I think another reason why kids sometimes are anxious about holidays is school is the only stable place (emotionally) for them. Why be thrilled when you're going home to spend two weeks with an addicted mom, or parents who are overly-harsh, or a parent who is in a needy, it's-MY-time phase?

This year, we had a snow day on our last day with the kids, so we really missed out on some time we were counting on. I love your idea of beginning the holiday lessons a couple of weeks in advance; it's too late this year, but I will adopt this strategy next year. Thanks for the advice, the blog and the suggestions, Pat. I always enjoy reading your posts--they're helpful (the teaching ones), thoughtful, and I was fascinated reading about your cruises...(Vicariously, I was there with you--ha!)