Consistency = Success

This is a parallel story.

Last year, I spent a frustrating year teaching mathematics. Frustrating because, despite what I knew to be good practice, my students’ test results were not stellar. In fact, much of the time, my class averages were below every other class on the team. In the data-driven environment in which we teachers work, that is not a good feeling.

Still, we continued to work consistently addressing standards.

As I prepped to close out the school year, I printed the growth report in mathematics for my students. And here was the surprise: 78% of my students had made high growth! Of the 78%, half were lower achieving, but their growth in Grade 3 had been significant.  If the growth had been high, those consistent teaching practices had been successful.

Now the parallel part of this tale:

This week, I had been feeling pretty low about my fitness and conditioning achievements. I belong to a fabulous gym where the owner, Sherri Sarrouf, and all of the trainers, encourage each member to be the best they can be. This is the most supportive fitness environment I have ever been part of – me, the queen of gym-avoidance; I love going to the gym!

So I emailed Sherri and told her I had a concern that I wasn’t moving forward. And Sherri, being the caring person that she is, wanted to meet with me asap.

Sherri had some data for me too. I had beginning BMI data taken when I first joined the gym. Sherri did a BMI right then and there. I lost pounds, I gained muscle, my metabolic age went down, fat – down. The evidence of success was right in front of me.

I have been consistently going to the gym – mostly because it is so FUN – and the data was there to show I was making progress.

So just like staying the course in mathematics last year, staying the course in my personal life, that consistency, had made a difference. Sometimes growth is subtle.

Consistency = success.

Step 1: Breathe

In the upcoming school year, I will be changing grade levels and classrooms. Honestly, I am not sure which of those two is more scary – learning a new curriculum or moving my collected treasures.

The move to a new classroom is at once exhilarating and deflating.  I do welcome the chance to vigorously downsize my collection of teaching materials. My new rule of thumb is “if you haven’t used it in the last 2 years, reduce, reuse, recycle.” Of course the corollary to that rule is “if you toss it out, you will immediately find it essential to a lesson as soon as the trash truck empties the dumpster.”

Still, I am finding I must be merciless in my assessment of each item’s usefulness; hanging on to something I made 5 years ago just because it has an emotional investment just makes for more to move. And organize. Off and on, I’ve been moving since June 22nd, this activity is getting old.

The moving should finish today. I have two more supply closets to transfer to my new classroom and a willing volunteer to help me.

And maybe then I can breathe… a sigh of relief.

Gettysburg

One of my not-education “hobbies” is family history.  It is exhilarating to me when I find a link to a relative, and especially cool when I can place that relative in history.

Enlistment Photograph taken in NY in 1861.

Enlistment Photograph taken in NY in 1861.

I have found some relatives that fought during the Civil War – and on both sides of that conflict.  My Dutch-born great-grandfather, Anthony Duym, was at Gettysburg 150 year ago as a soldier in the New York 52nd Infantry. He was about 22 years old at the time.

I often joke that my great-grandfather must have been standing in the back of the line for most of the Civil War; to my knowledge he was uninjured despite being in some of the more well-known battles of that conflict. 150 years ago today, his company was in the middle of the fighting in Gettysburg.

In history class, I learned that people came out in carriages with picnic baskets to watch the battle as if it were a sporting event. How wrong that was! One of, if not the, bloodiest battles fought on US soil, visiting Gettysburg in modern times is a humbling experience.

One hundred fifty years is a lot of time passed. It is easy to glamorize and forget the horrible parts of a battle and of a war.

I wish I could have asked my great-grandfather to tell me about his time in the Union Army. I cannot help wondering how it changed him.