Currently, I am on parental leave, and I have decided to learn how to skate. I am once again the student. Skating is a sport that scares me; terrifies might not be too strong of a word. My first lesson was three weeks ago, and I almost backed out. It would have been easy; my husband accidentally took both sets of car keys to work. It would have been the perfect excuse. I persisted. I finally made it to the arena, and my next opportunity to back out presented itself: I had difficulty getting my skates and helmet on. I persisted. My desire to challenge myself forced me forward, but my skating instructor smoothed the path. She reminded me of all the characteristics I want to embody as a teacher. For example:
- She welcomes. She greeted me at the entrance to the ice, and held my arm to guide me to the centre. Right away I felt physically and mentally safe.
- She differentiates. Our small class has five skaters, at varying levels. She works with each of us individually to develop skills at our own pace.
- She has high expectations. Apparently, I will be skating backwards by the end of my lessons.
- She encourages. She lets us know how to improve in a positive manner, and she celebrates our successes, no matter how small.
Essentially, becoming a student has reminded "teacher me" to be sensitive to students' trepidations. For some students, showing up to learn the unfamiliar is a success in itself. I need to welcome, differentiate, set high (but achievable) expectations, encourage, and celebrate...both my students' successes and my own.