Emily Whiting describes rock climbing as a time she can remove herself from society and just be in nature. As for her skill, she says, “If you can get one move further than you did the last time, that’s its own triumph.”
Lisa’s inspirational poster - full-size version after the cut What a powerful message. As a teacher, I often encounter children who strive to make progress in a difficult area. Perhaps one child struggles with reading. We work to help her get up to grade level, but she is not achieving this goal. It is time to remember that, although she might not have reached the top goal, we can celebrate small triumphs—better fluency, moving up a level or two, finding books more enjoyable. Each of these is a triumph unto itself and deserves celebrating. Maybe organization is a hard skill for a child. He forgets his homework each day, his desk is a mess, and he loses his material around the room. Perhaps he will always struggle with organization, but maybe he can learn to place his completed homework in his folder after finishing it so it makes it back to school. Maybe he can find a buddy to help him clean his desk once a week. Small triumphs can be celebrated, too.
I remember a recent day we spent recently performing science experiments that had been previously demonstrated for us. We were changing the variable to change the experiment. The children had the whole day to rework the experiments and try to achieve their goal. About halfway through the day, the children started getting frustrated. They came to talk with me about the day. They wanted to stop. They weren’t “accomplishing anything,” they said, finding that each time they attempted the experiment, it failed.
We spoke about the changes they were making. One group in particular was working to see how far wind from a fan would move a ping-pong ball if the direction of the wind was changed with each roll of the ball. The problem they were having was being sure the ball wasn’t moving simply because they themselves had moved it. It had to be wind energy that moved the ball, not the human factor. So they tried a ramp. But the ball kept rolling off the ramp and heading in different directions. Then they created a trench for the ball to roll in so it would keep the same direction. But now they realized that how they released the ball changed each time.
By the time they spoke with me, they wanted to quit. Instead, I pointed out how far they had come, and we worked to create a barrier they could lift that would allow the ball to drop down the ramp without them pushing it. This time they were successful and got valuable data about wind energy. Small movements needed to be recognized in order to give them the motivation to keep moving forward.
I think I am going to create a poster with Ms. Whiting’s idea. It deserves a special place in the classroom. We should always be reminded that “If you can get one move further than you did the last time, that’s its own triumph.”
You can see some of the work my students did on Science Day on our wiki, Energizing Energy.Emily’s message…via Lisa…for the classroom…and everywhere else!