I was speaking with nearly 600 delightful students at an elementary school today when a woman pulled me aside between presentations. She had been a substitute teacher years ago when she filled in for my classroom aide one day. This is the paraphrased memory she conveyed to me today from that subbing experience, something she recalled like it was yesterday:
You were talking about taking risks I believe, and you told the kids about some game like soccer or volleyball for the blind. You told the students that players blocked the ball with their bodies, and without thinking, you dove onto your side to demonstrate, forgetting you were wearing a skirt! I never forgot that dive, and I bet your students didn't either!
I laughed out loud today, suddenly recalling that moment that had completely faded from memory! No way had I held that spontaneous demonstration in my "hurray Miss Nimmer" moments, even though the skirt had not betrayed me and the students had a pretty enormous laugh. It was a sudden impulse, a moment of athletic drama, then just part of my distant past. However, for this lady who brought it all back to me today, it was priceless and awesome, and she believed the students in that room that day would still agree.
We labor over lesson plans. We study strategies, timing, assessment, and data. We research and rehearse and reflect. And yet, the most profound teachable moments are often those where some hunch, some nudge, some whisper tells us to step outside ourselves and fling ourselves onto the carpeted floor, sans pads and Helmut and teammates and ball and match. You've done it too...maybe not a dive like this but something when you lost all awareness of self and became something else for your students: a growling lion or a strutting bard or a rapping grammarian. For those unscripted moments in time, we are not ourselves, but our students perhaps learn more about us than when we believe we actually are. Bravo to this dichotomy. Colleagues, dive with me. It is the only way to win!
The sport I was demonstrating is goalball, a rutile, intense, incredible athletic endeavor for the blind. Take a look: