Sunday, July 23, 2017

Stay In Your Lane

I swam laps this week at the Y and in the lane next to me was a high school kid. In talking I learned that he is on a competitive swim team and his favorite stroke is the butterfly.

He was fast.

While I feel like I get stronger and a little better each time I swim, I couldn't help notice that he would finish two laps to my one. At the end of my workout he was at the end of his lane, waiting to race the clock again. I told him "Good swim." 

He looked up and replied, "You too."

I thought about that comment on my way back to the locker room. It was a good swim, even if he could have swam laps around me. The pool hadn't been crowded, I'd had my own lane, and I had swam one of my best times yet. It reminded me of middle school track and a lesson I needed to take from my younger self. I was often assigned the mile and the 800 for our races. Make no mistake, this isn't because I was speedy. My son, Luke, just finished up his middle school career in track. His fastest mile was right around five minutes. Mine would have been closer to eight minutes. I was assigned the races because no one else wanted to run distance. While I wasn't fast, I was an excellent pacer, still am. So, I'd head out and run. I knew I wouldn't win, but that didn't bother me. I liked being on the team. I'd focus on my own race and not worry about the people speeding past.

I think this is true in teaching too. Sometimes when I am online, or at school, I see what others are teaching and begin to look at myself. Am I doing enough? I work so hard, but maybe I'm not keeping up? It is enough to create some strong self doubt. Lately, I've been writing more. I'm looking at the topic I've been presenting on for Scholastic - the impact of audience in our classrooms. It's important and it is something I think about a lot, but then that voice comes in. Who am I to write about what I'm doing? 

It's at this point that I think I need to take a breath, look inward, see that what I'm doing does matter, and just concentrate on my own lane. Not that I can't speed up and beat someone to the finish line if I so choose, but when I'm looking left and right, you can begin to feel like you aren't enough, what you are doing isn't enough. Not cool and, more importantly, not healthy.

Teaching often reminds me of being a mom. I never feel caught up, I never feel like I've accomplished everything I want to do. And yet, we can only do so much. Like parenting, there are tremendous rewards, but it is also an exhausting profession. In it, and back in the pool, I'm going to try to channel my middle school self and just enjoy being there and doing my best. Everything else can simply fall into place.