Context the 1st: School Without Walls is our elective/credit recovery program. I co-taught a 2 week class called Bike and Hike.
Context the 2nd: #MTBoS30 is Anne Schwartz‘s challenge to the Math-Twitter-Blog-o-Sphere to blog each day for 30 days. By traditional standards, I have failed this challenge (4 days out of 30, none of which are mathematics related)
I would do well to remember that teaching is an exercise in listening and trying to figure out what students are trying to tell you.
We (or rather, Y-Bike, a super awesome non-profit through the YMCA) are taking the kiddos biking.
It is a long bike ride, especially if you are not ready.
Fernanda, who I’ve had for 2 years (and introduce accordingly; to her teachers next year, to the nice person at the rock climbing place when she refuses to get shoes, to anyone she makes faces at, to my parents when they volunteer in my classroom, etc), complains (loudly) that she can’t do it. We adjust gears. Nada. We bike in the back. Nada. One of the nice Y-bike people comes back to conference with us (“Well, we trust you to know your students best,” she says, which feels like an accusation in the heat of the moment, but is actually a gentle reminder that I need to listen). As we conference, Fernanda continues to moan. And walk.
I swear she will walk her bike through all the pain. Maybe out of instinct, maybe out of blind rage, maybe to prove she can.
I take a deep breath.
“We should go back,” I say. I wait for Fernanda to disagree. She doesn’t say anything, so we bike back.
Later, when we are sitting and waiting for everyone else to come back, Fernanda says that she has exercised before, but it has never hurt like this. I tell her it’s a good thing she listened to her body. We look at the route the other kiddos are taking and talk about all the teachers she’s had and what she wants to do after high school.
I would do well to listen to the kiddos.
During one of many random bus conversations, I tell Ning that my new favorite game involves what time we can get the field trip back to school. I am trying to get us back as close to the bell as we can (none of these dumb Price-Is-Right rules. Close as we can, even if it’s over, which we frequently are).
We are only about 5 minutes late on our return from the biking trip, which is pretty good considering that trip takes us the furthest (farthest?) away from school. As we walk up to school, the week-long camping trip is exiting the school.
“How was it?” I ask Carlos, one of my kiddos from this year.
“It was good,” he says, “but the mosquitos bit me here (he points to his arm) and here (he points to the other arm), hasta me picaron los huevos (they even bit my balls).”
It’s definitely time to go home.
Photos: Bikes on bikes on bikes, even if we didn’t ride them the whole way