“Can I ride my bike around the block?” Rose asked at 6 am as I was getting ready for day two back at work.
“How about after school?” I replied, hoping she’d forget. There was no way she could make it all the way around the block on the pink tricycle she had just learned to pedal.
But sure enough, no sooner had I dropped my bags after coming in the door (a pandemic perk is my husband is working from home, so he had already picked the girls up from my parent’s house) and Rose was asking to ride her bike.
When we got outside, I suggested we just ride in the driveway. “No, I want to go around the block,” Rose insisted.
“Ok,” I said thinking we’d get to the end of the driveway and she’d realize she couldn’t do it. But Rose surprised me. She kept pedaling, slow…very slow and steady. Eventually, we had made it to the end of our street.
“Do you want to keep going around the block or head back home? I asked, already knowing her response.
Without hesitation, we were on our way around the block. “I’m so great at this,” Rose kept repeating, never realizing her sisters, up ahead, going back and forth on their scooters as they waited for us. As I watched Rose’s persistence, I focused less on her turtle pace and more on her attitude. Here she was, having just learned to pedal, embarking on a task that, at first, seemed impossible to me- yet she always believed she could do it. When we approached obstacles, slight inclines, veering off course into the middle of the road, or at times getting stuck-Rose asked for help and just kept pedaling with pride.
I started to think about what I could borrow from my three year old as we approach a new school year, sure to look different than any other school year. What if I stopped thinking about the obstacles and the challenges, but instead switch my mindset. Instead of constantly saying, “I have to… teach virtually, squeeze in coaching, figure out how to engage kids in new ways, wear a mask…”, I could say, “I get to…” This year, I get to teach a group of first graders and think about what school could look like online. This year, I get to teach kids and coach teachers in work I love and believe in. This year, I get to go to school and work with people that will support me and I love to work with. This year, I get to work in a school that has done everything they can to make it safe.
There will be obstacles and inclines for all of us this year. Let’s be kind to ourselves and remember that we can ask for help. There will also be moments of joy and triumph as we all take on new learning and watch the kids in front of us continue to grow…because we get to be their teachers.