Well, I know how long it takes to educate a child. You might know the answer as well, but before I tell you what I think... let's analyze that roller coaster I'm about to embark on. If you read my previous blog (Blog #1), you'll remember that I'm sitting in the seat, all buckled up, and saying in my head, "Let's go, let's go, let's go already! I just want to ride the ride!!!!"
Being very impatient, I just want to meet my students... I mean... I just want to ride the roller coaster! However, as a mentor of mine once said to me: "Patience is a virtue, Mark. Don't be in such a hurry to mow my lawn" (as he walks me out to the place on his lawn where I turned too quickly ... leaving some awful track marks). In a quiet, mild-mannered voice he said, "I just want it to look nice, OK? If it takes you a little longer, don't worry about it. I'm paying you by the hour, but I can afford it."
Wow. I'll remember that for the rest of my life... and think about it every time I mow a lawn.
The roller coaster starts to move and we all have that "dropped" feeling in our stomachs... like the day before school starts. As the uneasiness turns to excitement, we start to slowly ascend up the long hill.
It looks like a mile to the top.
As we all enter the school, I look into my room and I see all of the things that I have to do. Names on tags. Folders put into mailboxes. Masters that need copying. Schedules to be typed. My goodness! I thought I made a dent last week and yesterday... but the list looks like a mile long! "Am I ready for them?" I ask.
Looking over the side of the cart that I'm buckled in, I'm now at ease. I know that this humongous piece of metal was probably 13 years in the making... every little inch taken care of, so that no one could possibly get hurt. I look off into the distance ... and see my friends and family on the ground, waving to me, as they look like ants at this point. To the other side, is a landscape that is breathtaking. A relaxed feeling comes over me as I know I'm in the safe hands of the powerful machine that is about to give me pure enjoyment.
In our school, part of the schedule for our "In-Service Day" is having the students come into the class to "meet the teacher" and drop off some supplies before the first day of school. Some of their faces today looked like mine the first time I rode that roller coaster... scared and unsure. That's why I sat down and looked them face to face when I met them for the first time. Maybe I even told a little joke or two. I didn't want them to think that they were going to be riding a huge roller coaster, for sure.
Instead, I want them to look at ease, like how it was for a few of them when we talked about all of the jobs that are available in the classroom. When I mentioned that their first "homework" assignment was to discuss with their parents what jobs they wanted to apply for, not one of them flinched. Not one! What an awesome feeling.
It was as if they were sitting right next to me as we were at the crest of the hill, about ready to go down the amazing ride ... the ride of life in our classroom.
Now that's what I call a POWERFUL roller coaster!
I don't exactly know what the future will hold for our class this year, but I do know that we're going to talk a lot about the following things:
TRUST, FRIENDSHIP, MANNERS, STAMINA, and RESPECT, because as I look down at the roller coaster, I see lots of hills, and loops, and ups, and downs!
I wonder if the "roller coaster makers" talked about the same kinds of things when they were building their ride.
Tomorrow, we're going to be speeding down the hill as it's our 1st day of school and EVERY year of my 18 year career... the very first day is a blur... just like we're on a roller coaster. I can't believe how fast it goes. My 19th first day will probably be the same.
However, all I know is that I want to enjoy every minute of it, because before you know it, I'll have finished 185 blogs, and they'll be off to the next roller coaster... and watching them run off to the next roller coaster is always a little sad, but I know that I did my best to teach them how to learn on their own... even as I sat right next to them.
So there's your answer to the question from the beginning about how long does it take to educate a child....
If you don't know after reading this blog, just go ask someone who makes roller coasters.