Friday, September 30, 2005

Training Wheels

While driving on Ditmars Blvd, I seemed to hit at least every fourth stoplight. Usually I would be pretty frustrated by this, mentally trying to figure out mathematical formulas that could solve this problem for me, but today it allowed me to watch the progress of a child and his mother as the child learned to ride his bicycle with training wheels. It was awkward, each push of the pedal deliberate and the child uncertain with where to place his weight as the bicycle teetered from right training wheel to left training wheel and back again. His mother was walking slowly beside him, offering words of encouragement, patting his back from time to time, and letting her hand rest ever-so-lightly on the back of his seat for his reassurance (and maybe her own, too.)

When I finally turned onto my own street, I caught a glimpse of them in my rear view mirror as they made somewhat faster progress across the street and onto the next sidewalk. It was at that moment that I realized I was jealous. I want training wheels! But I want them for teaching. Why can't teaching be like learning to ride a bike? You start by riding in a little seat attached to the back of another teacher's classroom. Next, you have two teachers on either side of you, catching you just when you feel like you're about to topple over. And a third person is there, encouraging you and giving necessary tips. Then when you're ready, the two teachers are detached, but the third person remains.

Instead, (at least with my personal experience as a teacher,) you are put on the bicycle and told that training wheels might be arriving in three weeks. And, as this is a little stream-of-consciousness at the moment, the time has come for another realization that just might lead to contradiction...I can't complain about how I was thrown into teaching, because that was a choice I made when I decided to be a Teaching Fellow. And year two has been exponentially better than year one. The more I think about it, in fact, the more surprised I am at the realization that I actually have training wheels this year, and some of them are first year teachers. It has been a long, hard week (I swear Monday was at least two years ago,) but I am fortunate to work with an incredibly supportive staff. Maybe I didn't have my training wheels last year, but this year I have an amazing group of people standing on both the right and the left, that let me lean on them whenever I need.

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