Learning to Skate

As a kid growing up in Alaska, it was practically a requirement to learn how to ice skate.  The joke is that we are born with skates on our feet and a hockey stick in our hands.  The reality is that we all learn by accident or we take a class.


I remember my first ice skating class. I was probably about five years old.  All of the kids were lined up along the wall, hanging on for dear life, skates strapped to our feet.  The teacher told us that for the entire first class we were going to learn to do the unthinkable.  We were going to learn to fall.  As a kid, this sounded crazy, and many adults I talk too, think that this is nuts.  It was the teaching best method ever.  My teacher knew that if we spent 30 minutes doing the one thing we all feared; falling and failing on purpose, we would lose the fear of falling and failing.  She knew that once we were good at falling, it would seem like a normal part of learning all of the other new skating skills: gliding, turning, crossing our feet in from of each other, etc.  She also knew that we would get good at falling, meaning that we would adjust the way we fell to minimize damage to our little bodies.


I always relay this story to teachers that are reluctant to try using a new technology tool in their classroom for fear of failure.  We push our students to practice new skills everyday, with the distinct possibility of failure, so we have to be willing to take a similar risk in our teaching practice.  Certainly our hope is that we do not fail, but we have to plan that it may happen and know how to turn that into a learning opportunity for ourselves.


Next time you are fearful of implementing a new tool or technique in your classroom, imagine that you just strapped on a pair of skates and you are ready for the possibility that you might fall and rejoice when you complete the double twist jump and land on your feet.

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