“Unbelievable! Amazing!” Yes, that’s right, I watched the Summer Olympics. For the past two weeks, when my television was on, the Olympic Games were on. I watched in awe as the athletes did their thing with such precision and poise. Watching the runners in the track and field events was almost surreal. The looks on their faces made it seem as though they were just going for a stroll in the park while they ran faster than gazelles. How do they do that? Then, right after the run, they were usually rudely interviewed by some media outlet and could easily answer the reporter’s questions while breathing normally. After I go for a run, the only thing I want to do is throw up. If someone tries to talk to me, I grunt and breathe heavily. Again, these athletes appear extra-normal like superheroes or Gods. It was so much fun to watch them all perform in Rio.
However, the biggest take-away for me was the fact that these athletes are just normal humans like you and me who put forth great effort and dedication. They practice, practice, and practice their sport day and night. They hone their craft until they are good enough to make the Olympics. They aren’t born being able to swim faster than a dolphin or whack a volleyball as if it’s a missile. They have to practice again and again. The reporters reminded the viewers time and time again that this was the case. These Olympians sacrificed so much to get where they were. As a teacher, that was my big take-away. It’s the growth-mindset principal in practice, in the real-world. Despite telling our students over and over again the importance of being open to the idea that they can do anything they put their mind to, they ignore us. Now we have proof of concept. We have real-life examples of what happens when someone utilizes a growth mindset– they can become an Olympic athlete. How cool is that?
As the summer vacation winds to a close and I find myself getting prepared for my big dance, my Olympic-style competition– the academic year–I can’t help but reflect on my practice, all of the hard work I’ve put in over the last three months to prepare for my 1,000-hour event. I spent my summer vacation revising my curriculum, creating a new academic program, learning some new skills, setting up my classroom, and reading some new books. I’m feeling renewed and recharged. I feel as though I’m ready for my big race. I’ve put in the hours and hours of practice. Heck, I even drew blood at one point as I learned how to knit. That needle was sharp. So, while I may not be going to Rio anytime soon, I am going to enter my classroom in a few short weeks, ready to inspire and excite my new sixth graders.
The next several blog posts will delve deeply into the work I did do over the summer. This was my most productive summer vacation ever and I want to reflect on it so as to capture the essence of what created these momentous series of events. I never thought I would learn how to solve the Rubik’s Cube, but I did. So, as I reflect on my summer work, I’m hoping to glean some understanding of the genius that led to all of the greatness I encountered this summer. Seriously though, I just want to understand why my 39th year on Earth as a human provided me with the pallette on which I created my brilliant canvas of work this summer. I’m not usually this motivated or excited about farm animals, but I can’t wait to hold a newborn bunny in about 30 days. So, thus begins my journey into self-discovery.