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Instructional Leadership, Instructional Practice


Written by Patty Williams, TE Instructional Coach

I LOVE watching my 4 year old son as he learns how to swim. Or should I say learns how to ‘float’…which is not that exciting. 🙂 Yet there was  an incident that occurred in one of his swim classes that inspired and motivated me. One Monday evening a 3 year old little girl attending her first swim class eagerly waddled her way to her instructor.. She was the cutest little girl with a little red bow in her hair and a Little Mermaid swimsuit on. While the other students in her class cried as the instructor lifted them in the water to stand on a high-ledge inside the swimming pool, she excited leaped from the edge of pool into the instructors arms!

There are about 5 differentiated-levels of classes taking place at the same time in the same pool. There are swimmers learning how to dive, float, or simply get comfortable with being in the water. Having made her way back up to the edge of the pool and ignoring her instructor,  the little girl with the red bow sharply eyed the advanced swimmers that were practicing their dives. Suddenly, she put her hands together like a little tepee and JUMPED into the water! Holy moly! The instructor quickly swam to her rescue and pulled her out of the water. What do ya’ know, two seconds later the brave little diver tried to mimic the dive again and dove belly first back into the swimming pool!

Some of you are probably thinking, ‘Why is the instructor not paying enough attention to her? Where are her parents? That’s sooo dangerous!!!” I had those same thoughts. But my first thought was, “Man that little girl is FEARLESS! I wish I could be that fearless ALL the time.” The little three year old girl didn’t consider the dangers of jumping in a pool without knowing how to swim, and I’m not saying that I wish to make a decision in that manner. What I am saying is that she made a decision without fear. She wasn’t afraid of failing in attempting a challenging swimming skill. She wasn’t afraid of what her peers or instructor were going to say about her…she just jumped.

I consider myself a fierce person, someone that takes risks, perseveres and endures. But I’ve definitely had moments of doubt and fear that have paralyzed me at times. I’ve had these moments as a woman, mother, and as an educator. I was fearful of several things during my first year of teaching. I remember crying after receiving my first set of benchmark data. My class ranked the lowest in the district on the Reading district common assessment. I thought, “What am I doing to these kids?! I’m not closing the achievement gap; I’m widening it! I’m a total failure.” It took a couple of days of crying before I convinced myself that that moment was just a setback. I eventually talked to a veteran teacher that had the top districts scores to pick her brain about what I could change in my instruction to help my kids succeed. In hindsight though, I wish I had the spirit of that little girl in my son’s swim class. I wish that when I saw those test scores, I could have jumped immediately into a solution instead of whimpering for 2 days feeling sorry for myself. Even now, I would love to embody that little girl’s spirit of fearlessness in all of my pursuits.

What do you think? Have you ever just jumped? Or have you had more moments of paralysis caused by fear? What were the results?



One thought on “JUST JUMP!

  1. I love this story and am at once reminded of growing up amongst mountain rivers in the Uinta mountians of Utah and visiting Rivers in the Yosemite valley with my family as a young teen. There was always some sort of physical challenge presented by my parents or my older brothers and one of those was often jumping into really cold rivers off of a bridge. I was filled with fear. I saw those who I loved and those who loved me do this before me and encourage me to do it. They assured me that they would be there to catch me if I fell, to celebrate me when I was done and to be just as cold at the end. This gave me the strength to jump. I do not consider myself fearless and brave on my own like this little girl at the pool. I do see this as a quality that can be fostered and learned by supportive and encouraging teams that lead by example, love unconditionally and support even when the jump doesnt go so well. Thank you Patty for this inspiring post.

    Posted by Larissa Brown | July 2, 2012, 1:20 pm

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