We stood in line for the summer tubing hill, helmets on and tubes in tow. My 9-year-old daughter was smiling from ear to ear, ready to get in her tube and be pushed down the hill. She loves roller coasters, and, being from Texas, this summer tubing hill is the closest she’s ever come to sledding.
Meanwhile, my 6-year-old son stood in line pouting. “No way,” he said. “This is too terrifying.”
“It’s ok,” I assured him. “We can watch for a while.”
So we did. We watched as his sister went down the first time, screaming with joy. We watched as she went down the second time, asking the young woman working the hill to spin her as fast as she could. We watched as she tried going forwards in the tube, then backwards, then returning to fast spinning.
“No way,” my son kept saying. “Look how fast and scary that is! And I’ve never even done it before!”
We left the tubing hill that day with one happy kid and one who seemed to have no regret about not going for it.
But the next day, when we went back to the hill, it was a bit different. When I said we were heading back, my son said, quietly, “I think I might want to try today, Mom.”
My daughter was first in line again while my son was slowly buckling his helmet on. When he walked up to the edge of the hill he had second thoughts and stepped back. “I’m not sure I’m ready, yet. Let’s watch some more,” he said.
We watched for a minute and then he looked at me and pointed to the hill again. I reminded him that we’d be together, in a double tube, that I would never take him on something I thought was dangerous, that he could see how much fun it could be.
So he walked with me to the top of the hill. I looked at the young woman about to push us down and I gave her my best pleading look and said, “Push us gently. This is his first ride and he’s a bit nervous.”
And then we were off.
At the bottom he looked at me and said, “THAT WAS THE FUNNEST THING EVER!” and then we high-fived and jumped with excitement and he marveled at his own bravery as we rode the magic carpet up the hill to do it all again.
You see, I was on vacation, but after four full weeks working with teachers to plan their own journeys towards blended learning in their classrooms, the whole summer tubing hill suddenly seemed like a metaphor for how teachers feel about changing styles and new technology.
Some teachers are like my daughter – daredevils ready to be pushed as fast as possible down the hill. As these teachers innovate and try new things with their students, they let others watch. They invite colleagues who need to see what this all looks like in action, who want to gauge how steep the hill is, into their classroom to watch them go, even when they know the ride might be bumpy.
Some teachers are like my son and need to watch from the top of the hill first. Some might watch for just a few minutes, and others might watch for a while, like my son did. These teachers want to make sure it’s safe first. They want to see the results to make sure it’s the right move for their students.
This school year, as teachers welcome new students into their classrooms, I have two wishes:
Daredevils, don’t forget to open your doors and invite colleagues in to watch you learn.
Those watching from the top of the hill, remember, it’s ok to wait and watch, but don’t wait too long because, just as my son learned, it’s pretty fun to go down that hill.