Today, the Grade 1’s went on a field trip to Lee Academy to visit our reading buddies. One of the special activities planned for this field trip was to play together in the snow. Lee Academy is a beautiful school on a huge property, and with all of the snow this winter, this playing activity was sure to be fun. Today though, challenged me in a way that I hadn’t expected.
When we got off the bus at the school, one of the teachers told us that we were going to start with our short hike. Because of all of the snow and freezing rain yesterday, they changed the plans a bit, and this teacher quickly outlined for us the new plans. We needed to walk across the field to get to the trails. No problem! It started off easily enough, but then there were the snow drifts. At one point, I took a step and the snow was higher than my knee. Couple the height of the snow with the weight of my backpack, and I think that it was around this point that I toppled over … a comical sight for sure! As I was sitting on my knees, I seriously considered two options:
- Crawl across the snow. I noticed some students ahead of me that were doing just that!
- Turn back and give up. I knew that I really couldn’t choose this option, but I was seriously contemplating how I could.
And that’s when I looked behind me at these six- and seven-year-olds that were “persevering.”
- They were falling down and getting back up again.
- They were crawling along the snow when it became too deep.
- They were kicking the snow out of the way, so that they had a flatter area to walk.
- They were walking in other people’s footprints.
These Grade 1’s were problem solving, but their teacher was ready to give up. That didn’t sit right with me.
That’s when I noticed a student from one of the other classes. I think that she had the same initial thoughts that I did. She was stuck in one place on the path, and looking longingly at heading back towards the main doors of the school. So I went up to her and said, “Do you want to do this together?” And she did! She took my hand, and together, we made it through the snow. We both stumbled. We both fell down. We both benefitted from some encouraging words from other students and other staff members. But we both made it!
You know what? It was kind of exhilarating to work through something hard — not even really school related – and make it out on top. On our way back to school today, I worked with one of my students to make a PicCollage about this “snow walking” experience. Together, we asked all of the students in our class, “How did you get through the deep snow?” My amazing EA, Melissa Wedgewood, and I even contributed an answer to the question. While I was chuckling as I spoke and wrote my response, it was interesting to see what everyone said (and the words that they chose to use).
I notice how the students thought positively about problem solving and making it through the snow. I was negative though. I focused on falling, when maybe, I should have focused on getting back up again.
That’s exactly what a fellow teacher at my school, Frances Nicolaides, did after having a similar outdoor experience today. She went skiing for the first time with the Grade 6 and 7 students. Tonight, I happened to catch her Instagram post, which I asked if I could share here.
Not only did Frances persevere, but she remembered to do so with a positive attitude. Positive words make a difference. I wish that I could change my word choice now. I may have been trying to be funny, but could the kids tell? Maybe not. I will say though, that like Frances, I’m glad that I struggled through the “snow hike” today, and I’m glad that I could do so with the Grade 1’s. I ask my students to “persevere” all of the time. One child even used this word when talking about how she made it through the deep snow today.
Today reminded me that students need to see how teachers struggle and persevere — inside and outside of the classroom – and maybe this will impact on their desire to do so as well. How do you model perseverance for your students? What impact do you see this having on them? Maybe a little struggle is a good thing … and a little struggle with a positive attitude is even better!