Making Right Turns

The other day I was heading home and it was after 4:00pm (I tell you this because many streets in my neighborhood restrict left turns between 7:00-9:00 am and 4:00-7:00pm.) so I ended up going around the blocks, making right turns. It was as if I were on automatic pilot, not realizing what I was doing. Most times I go further down the street to an accessible left turn option. But here I was making my right turns until I arrived in my driveway. I have to say that I sat in my car and thought about this for awhile. When we hit roadblocks what do we do? Do we look for an easy way out? Do we challenge our thinking and try new ways? Do we wait, look for guidance or just go for it? To be honest I would say. “That depends.” Is the same old, same old, always bad? Does easy access (right turns) mean you’re stuck in your ways or just playing it safe? Is it wrong to try to stay safe and not confront challenges head on, every time? And again, that depends. And what and where does this mindset lead us? I think of this in terms of school, learning and teaching. (And always in terms of life, but I will let each of us extrapolate that for ourselves, since we all have our own journeys to travel.) Back to kids and their learning and to our teaching (of course if truth be told, these rolls are flexible and interchangeable). If right turns (our set of norms for teaching) are our own comfort zone and learning differences just a word, how do get to know our kids and what they need? If we are all over the place and their is no structure or routine, how do our kids feel safe in their environment, to practice their learning? If we ask children to be brave and try it, do we show by example? Do they see our mistakes, our failures and hopefully our resilience?  Do they trust that the consequence of failure is the opportunity to iterate until they are satisfied with their work? I know with kinders that building stamina as they practiced the Daily 5 rotation was essential to this structure. We didn’t hurry, we went slowly, we collaborated and learned what readers do. My “right turners” needed  extra support and encouragement to believe that there were other options in the books they could choose. My “right turners” needed support and encouragement to subitize numbers beyond 10. My “right turners” needed support and encouragement to share their story on paper. But first came the “right turns” and when they were ready to face the challenge, they looked to see what was next for them. I wonder if the safety nets of time, practice and staying put (comfortable with the “now” in learning) might be the “right turns” that we all seek at times.

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