Dr. Parking Lot: Extending The Baked Potato Analogy

‘Tis the season. Along with holiday carols, shopping sprees, and gingerbread lattes (I do prefer the Chestnut Praline one instead 🙂 ), it’s almost time for my winter parking tweets.

Along with Self-Reg, play-based learning, and technology, I’ve shared many blog posts on parking. Little did I realize that another one would be brewing when I tweeted out this message the other day.

It wasn’t long after this that two things happened.

1) The projected snowfall amount changed from 5 cm to 10 cm.

2) Kristi Keery-Bishop, a former vice principal of mine and an educator that I truly admire, shared this tweet with me.

What?! Never in all of my years of sharing parking tweets have I ever really thought of a solution … other than pray that I make it in the lines and get out and scrape snow around my car to look for any evidence of a line. 

Kristi’s solution in all of its simplicity could actually work and reduce a lot of my stress come Monday morning. Her idea had me searching for pylons today. It took trips to three Dollarama stores, one Home Hardware, and one Canadian Tire store to find exactly three pylons: one for each side of the parking space. When I’m committed to an idea, I stick with it to find what I need.

As I was putting the pylons into my cart and planning out my trip to the school tomorrow to place them on the lines, I couldn’t help but think about Shelley Moore‘s baked potato video and a universal design for learning.

You see, as a grown-up, one of my biggest accommodations needs to be around parking.

It’s not that I can’t park, but I rely on visuals. I’ve tried to use landmarks before to help me out, but after teaching at 8 different schools, I’ve been exposed to lots of different landmarks, and some schools have clearer ones than others. Last week, I tried looking for a landmark at my new school, but the only one is a concrete structure at the end of the row of cars, but I don’t park there. Being the second person in the lot (after the caretaker), I guess that I could, but I don’t like parking near low concrete structures. This makes it more difficult for me to pull out and judge my turn, which creates another area of stress for me. Now what? 

The pylons would be like the toppings on the baked potato. Some people don’t like them. Maybe some people can use other landmarks — like the approximate closeness to a random tree (the butter on the baked potato) — to judge their parking, but I need the pylons (the sour cream). I sit here and worry about what others might think if they drive by and see the pylons. Will the caretaker move them before I arrive? Just like in a classroom context, will there be the question of, why doesn’t everyone have pylons? Everyone has a parking space though, and a choice of accommodations. An educator that arrives later might use proximity to another car (the bacon for the baked potato) to judge his/her parking. But for me, the pylons are necessary. I can add them on before Monday morning, and maybe even stick them back out again when I leave.

Just like with the learners in our classrooms, giving everyone a parking space helps us all begin together. The person that rides the bike or walks to school might bypass the spot. And the people that need help finding that spot — like me — can choose from a range of add-ons to make parking work for them. The key is that we all get safely in the lot. Do we need to do so in the same way? By exploring these other options, how might we gain a better understanding of our students and what they might need? Until we all get my ideal parking lot without lines (thanks Lisa Corbett!) …

… I’m going to try the pylon addition. What about you? Now to hope that we have a short winter season where line stress is at a minimum.



4 thoughts on “Dr. Parking Lot: Extending The Baked Potato Analogy

  1. Aviva,

    Thanks for always being so open and honest around your parking. It’s inspiring to see someone put those struggles out there and embrace them. The DR. Baked Potato is a great metaphor that I will be sure to share. I also have a new podcast to listen to.
    Fingers crossed that your pylon toppings work. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a low snow total so no Plowing is required.

    Here’s to safe and stress free parking

    • Thanks Jason! I appreciate your support with this. Shelley Moore’s podcasts are some of my favourites, so even if the pylon idea doesn’t work, another listen to DR. BAKED POTATO was totally worth it. With luck the snow will be melting soon, but if not, at least I know that I’ll be bringing others a little joy with my parking tweets. 🙂


  2. it’s not just me who has anxiety around winter driving? In fact, for me, it’s driving anytime of the year, but that’s a story for another day. It’s worse being a passenger for me, than a driver. Except in the winter, then I’m in a complete state of panic! As for parking, what I figure is, if you don’t know where the lines are, no-one else does either! So, no matter where you park, you look good to everyone else!

    • Thanks for your comment! I think we have a lot in common. I will never drive on the highway, and almost always get lost, so I stick to places I know. I used to feel as you did about winter parking, but then I worked at a school where everyone had assigned spots. As the first one there each day, I single handedly messed up the parking for the entire school. Even landmarks couldn’t help me get in the right space. Eventually I had to email the staff and ask for a Winter Parking Protocol when the lines weren’t visible. Basically it was a case of me parking in my principal’s spot because I was then next to a huge yellow structure that I couldn’t possibly overlook. Sometimes I still had problems figuring how far to pull my car up, but that’s another story. 🙂 Seeing the gradually increasing snowfall amounts for Monday, I might go with Plan B, and get a ride from my step-dad. Not sure what that will mean when it comes to lines for Tuesday. Why does parking need to be so stressful?! 🙂


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