BalancePosted: November 26, 2012
As a librarian who teaches, my head is often a-swirl with new ideas for lessons, creative ways to use picture books, and thoughts about collaboration, curriculum and collection. I’ve developed ideas from reading the blogs, articles and tweets of other librarians and educators, roaming the aisles of the public library, and learning from my colleagues.
This weekend, however, I drew my inspiration from a yoga class and a hike. Although I wish I could claim to be in the class pictured to the left, that is unfortunately just a stock photo. My yoga class took place on a cold and blustery New England day. But the image remains the same. Substitute a spacious church meeting room with sunlight streaming in, participants wearing a few extra layers of clothing and you get the idea.
I love tree pose. Over the years, however, as my strength has diminished and my balance has gotten shakier, I have had to modify my stance. This weekend, however, when the yoga teachers instructed us to come together in a circle and provide support for each other, I could miraculously grow a beautiful tree unlike any I had in the last few years.This was my first ah-ha moment of the weekend. With a little support (educators sometimes refer to it as scaffolding), students can achieve so much more than they can working on their own. The strength of the yoga community held me up and I held them up as well. Even though I was having trouble on my own, I had something to contribute to the group.
While hiking, I often get the opportunity to discover a hidden gem previously unbeknownst to me. Agassiz Rock, in Manchester-by-the-sea, Massachusetts is one such place. After a short climb up Beaverdam Hill, my friends and I came upon the large glacial erratic perched at the summit. One of the surrounding boulders, pictured here, was balanced and being held up by the strength of a much smaller rock placed just so. You can probably guess where I am going with this. With the help of its much smaller neighbor, this boulder has stood strong for the millennia (or at least a very long time). “Ah ha” I thought. “Sometimes support comes from something (or someone) that you least expect.” Even this (relatively) little rock played a supporting role in this geologic marvel. So, too, can even our youngest students provide assistance to each other in the wonderful process of learning.
Balance, strength and support. I intend to integrate this conceptual framework into my teaching. I’ll look for ways to draw on the strengths of my students. I’ll develop units with more opportunities for partnering and group work. I’ll acknowledge the little moments that can often make such a huge difference in the success of a lesson.
And I will continue to be grateful (here’s my belated Thanksgiving contribution to the blogosphere) for the friends, family and colleagues who keep me balanced in this journey called life.