Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cross Racing, Student Teaching, and the Process

I had the incredible opportunity to race back-to-back weekends of cyclocross just recently. The perfect way to cap-off the month of November and start off the always glorious December. With my birthday being on the 14th, I could smell a top 10 spot in the cat. 4 race, in which my results had been improving (as had my fitness).

Similarly, student-teaching had been slowly winding down throughout November. There is something to be said for the modified year 'round calendar. The kids had a 2 week break in october and a week in november. Not bad.

The goal for the race was to start strong, recover, and finish strong. I knew I couldn't hang with the leaders' pace for the entire race, but I figured I could manage coming through top 10 at the end of lap 1, and hopefully, hang on for a similar finish. I came through the first lap somewhere in the top 10, which was a huge moral victory for me.

At that point, I started my painful slide backwards.

It's not that I'm a bad bike racer, it's that I'm slow, lacking fitness, and lacking awesome, grass eating wattage.

With 2 laps to go, coming into the head wind, I was able to jump on to a 3 man group and recover at a still-slow-but-faster-than-before speed. Sitting on was nice, I recovered, and managed to out sprint all 3 for a 13th out of 60 finish. A great finish.

It was at that point, immediately after the race, sitting in the infield, that my brain went right back to the classroom; to planning, the process, classroom management, all of those things. As much as I want to ride, I want to teach even more.

When I took up cycling, I was unfamiliar on how to train properly, and I lacked the fitness. My fitness held me back from my development and enjoyment of cycling. Similarly, student-teaching holds the individual from the true growth, development and enjoyment of teaching. The process is designed to inundate student-teachers with work, with lessons, and with material. One class might advoacate for the use of a standardized, Madeline Hunter-style lesson plan, while another might debunk lesson plans altogether. And ofcourse you have Guide Teachers (and I'm currently learning from one of the best), that are quick to point out the many flaws in the program.

If I've learned anything from cycling and teaching, it's that they are eerily similar. It is through personal commitment, risk-taking, long hours, and thoughtful approach that great strides can be made. Just as the cyclist spends six hours on a training ride breaking down muscles on long climbs, the teacher must spend hours experimenting and taking risks in the classroom; breaking down the comfort zones and unfamiliarity. And just as the cyslist must recover and reflect on training, the teacher must reflect on the classroom experience in order to create more thoughtful lessons.

I look forward to training and studying as the new year approaches.

Negotiating the uphill barriers.

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