When I was a kid, I dreamed of being a ball player. My parents house in Long Island, New York is kind of built into a hill. A ranch style house, the front of the house is level with the street while the back of the house has a porch that is easily a 4–5 foot drop from the backyard. Stairs on either side of the porch take you down to a patio or the grass.
This wall became the perfect backdrop for being a pitcher or being able to call strikes when playing a game. The wall had a wavy finish to it, like the cement had being troweled to not be flat.
This wall has been climbed on and pitched to, it has been jumped off of and hung from by me, my brother, and a 100 friends and cousins. My own children have scaled it and turned the wall into everything I made of it. It was the catcher when I was imagining to be Dennis Eckersley or it was the automatic catcher when someone was whipping a tennis ball or wiffle ball at me.
I’ve always admired people who knew what they were going to be from a young age. Whether it was prescient or revisionist, it’s admirable to be clear on what you want to do. I’d argue the majority of us have a much more circuitous path.
I didn’t play in the major leagues. I topped out in Babe Ruth Little League and splitting catching duties on the 7th grade baseball team in South Woods Middle School. My other dream of playing for the New York Giants didn’t happen either, although my illustrious career as a middle school quarterback was the stuff of dreams.
My point is that the circuitous path is a good one, even if everyone takes it. Try something different, try something new. Do something for awhile and then stop. Maybe come back to it.
That’s the beauty of education.
There are many styles to emulate and there are so many ways to teach. Whether it’s your first year or 21st, please keep in one that you are not an automaton.
You are creative and capable.
You are a learner and able to make changes as you see fit.
You are welcome to make mistakes.
You are welcome to use your favorite materials or say some of the same things within the same lessons year to year.
Please remember all of these things and give yourself permission to be you. It will make your students better because of it.