Sunday, September 13, 2009

What I learned at school today

My first experience on skis, when I was twelve, didn’t go well. My little sister hasn’t liked heights since she watched me hurtle uncontrollably down the slope and then soar, screaming, over the parking lot. I developed an aversion for cold, snow, and parking lots.

A few years ago I decided it was time to put that in the past, to move on, to give the sport another try. After all, I was decades older, stronger and more coordinated, and my husband is an avid skier.

People who know better than I do tell me he’s very good. He even taught skiing for many years, so it made sense for him to take me out on the bunny slope and get me started.

What I learned had nothing to do with snowplow.

Oh, I eventually got the hang of that, and the handle-tow too (yay me!), but what I saw and overheard that day amongst all the instructors on the hill told me that, because of all their experience on skis, they had forgotten how utterly clueless beginners are.

That wake-up call prods me to try something new every year. For the sake of my journalism students, to make me a better teacher, I relive the feeling that I know nothing. I fail, then I lurch to my feet and try again and again and again.

This year my new thing is blogging. I’m happy to report that it’s a much gentler experience than skiing, easier on my tush and my self-esteem, but figuring out how to set up an account and download photos was just the beginning.

Posting a blog every week forces me to think about the things I do, to reflect on what happens to me. I feel like the raccoons that dig up mushrooms in my back yard and turn them over and over in their paws. While they’re looking for dirt and hoping for grubs I search my experiences for meaning, always hoping, of course, for a story.

Did I really just compare stories with insect larvae? Not a pretty metaphor, perhaps. But then, I’m still learning.


  1. Oh your lucky students.
    I was digging through my WAP notes yesterday, looking for my business plan.
    I shuffled through some of the material you provided. Remembered some really good things I learned, like that I can always be a better writer if I keep working at it.

    Thanks Rachel

  2. I'm so glad to hear you got something out of my courses, Heather. Of course, you came in with a fantastic work ethic and a great brain so I knew you'd do well.

  3. Yes, you're correct Rachel. Writing a blog does require one to sift through the details of one's life and try to come up with something intriguing and perhaps a bit different. Or a reflection or a revelation.
    I'm working on all of the above this week.