Slice of Life Challenge day 17 #sol17

On Wednesday, I opened my garage to see this:

FullSizeRender (1)

Taking a big breath in, I grabbed my trusty shovel from its resting place in the corner of the garage.  This was going to take awhile.  A long while. The weather report that had promised an unusually abundant snowfall had, indeed, proven quite accurate.  Every school-aged child had just enjoyed another March snow day in our state, as had I.  Throughout the day, my daughters and I had played board games, written “And Then” stories, watched a movie, gazed at the blustery snowfall outside, as well as a engage in a host of other indoor activities.  And fortunately for us, no power outages had occurred! A good day.

But now, a price needed to be paid.  Due to an unexpected bout of strep throat that swept through the family, my daughters all now needed medication. With the storm and a travel ban, we had been unable to make the trip to the pharmacy (see yesterday’s post about that).

Staring at the enormous volume of snow, I positioned that motivation squarely in the forefront of my mind.  Honestly, the task looked impossible.  It truly did.  But we had to get out. We had to.

So I started shoveling. I knew if I allowed myself to feel angry at the snow, or if I watched the clock, or if I tried to hurry- none of that would be helpful.  It was literally one shovelful at a time.

I pushed myself to focus on the larger goal only when necessary- especially when I began to sense the voice in my head that liked to repeat things like, “You’ll never finish.  This is impossible.”  Those were the times when I widened my view and thought about the goal I needed to reach.  But most of my internal dialogue focused on much smaller goals: This section here; just finish from here to there; make sure this shovelful gets to the top of that pile.  Like that.


I also remembered the fable my daughters love so much, the one about the Tortoise and the Hare.  “Slow and steady wins the race.” Keep going.  Keep going.


And eventually it happened.  It was a long day, and there were many times when I wished our budget would have allowed for the quick, professional snow-plow solution (for those of you not from this part of Connecticut, this is what most people do).

But this experience helped me to think about our students, and how things can feel impossible for them sometimes.  I wonder how many of them, when asked to write or read something, feel like they’ve just opened the garage to see a vast field of snow they must now shovel?  I realized that for me today, it truly was both the larger and smaller goals working together that helped make something  possible, something that had, initially, felt so enormous.


Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops,

10 thoughts on “Slice of Life Challenge day 17 #sol17”

  1. I detest shovelling, and we get 20 or more storms like yours in a winter. Of course we have a snowblower in the garage. Alas, I am not strong enough to handle it. I should shovel instead, but I just drive over the snow and keep going. I think you have the right way of thinking: slow and steady wins this race!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a snow that needed a slower pace for shoveling. I like how you compared your shoveling to a student’s process for learning or overcoming something difficult. Hopefully this will be the last storm for the northeast!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Do not envy you this monsterous task. Fortunately for us in the Ozarks, most of our snow is of small quantities (and we always pray for no ice). But coming from Illinois, I know how overwhelming those snow storms can be. Slow and steady. I liked how you compared this daunting job with how your students must feel when they are given an assignment.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lanny,
    Great description of how to tackle a giant job like that one step at a time. I like the comparison to a reading or writing task for a child. I think that’s a good analogy, and something for teachers to remember. I bet that March snow was heavy too! Glad you got out. Here’s to a healthy spring for all.


    Liked by 1 person

  5. You did it! I suppose you could also compare your story to those students who finish well after a struggle.
    Also: I know you are really tired of all that snow but, as someone who lives where it doesn’t snow, those photos sure are beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Us west Oregonians would go berserk if we looked out and saw that much snow. However, many would jump in their cars to drive somewhere and end up having to leave their car and call a tow truck to get home.

    I realized reading your analogy that I think like this at the beginning of each college quarter. One week at a time and one set of assignments at a time. Thanks for the reminder of staying focused on the present while keeping track of the big picture .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love when teachers can make these seemingly simple, yet so profound analogies … Can you imagine a student feeling like they are knee deep in snow, can’t move, can’t write, just can’t do anything? But helping a student make the small goals, checking them off the list one by one, until the big goal is accomplished. Yeah, that’s what our job is — thank you for clearly showing us this!

    Liked by 1 person

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