Slice of Life Story Challenge, Day 2 #sol19

The Unbearable Lightness of Shoveling

Slowly and sleepily, I roll over.  Using the gentle light of my iPhone, I check the time– “It’s 5:47 a.m.,” the phone seems to say with a long face.

Nope, no delay is coming.  Too late. The call would’ve come by now.  But it snowed… didn’t it?  Sigh.  Okay, time to suit up, I think to myself.

Now downstairs in the entryway, I pull on my old gray ski bib, tattered scarf, Job Lot gloves, my grandfather’s old coat, and the rubber snow boots my mother bought me three years ago. No sound in the house but the swish of my loyal nylon.  Time to shovel.

Quietly, I make my way through the back door and out to the garage.  Looking around for the shovel, winter air whispers to me, coldly in my ears: “I’m still here,” it says.  “I’m not going anywhere.”  I punch the Genie garage door opener, and, as the door noisily rises, I wonder how deep the snow will be on the other side?

As the pale light of the morning illuminates the driveway, I see that less than an inch of snow has fallen.  And it suddenly occurs to me: no two snowfalls are ever alike.  A few weeks ago, the snow, although not deep, had been laminated in thick, crunchy ice.  And the time before that, several inches of wet, heavy stuff had been dumped, piling up high.  Today, a light powdered sugar coats the driveway.  All of the snowfalls, so different. All of them.

Sometimes shoveling snow requires great effort– enormous amounts of muscle, time, and effort, effort that wears me out.  Really “putting my back into it” is required.  Other times, though, this task requires different muscles, different techniques, less time.  Sometimes it falls in between.

Shoveling that morning, I am reminded of what it’s like working with students.  Like snowfalls, no two are alike.  To help kids grow as writers and readers, some require more effort, more time.  Some require different methods, approaches, levels of patience and exertion.  Still others progress more quickly, and teaching them can feel a little like pushing powdered sugar off the driveway.

I wonder if all of us who teach realize this? I think to myself.  We must…right?

Bending down with my shovel, I thank the snow for these thoughts.

Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 23 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 and reading consultant in Northwestern 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 co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops, twowritingteachers.org.

11 thoughts on “Slice of Life Story Challenge, Day 2 #sol19”

  1. Oh Lanny, this is lovely. You are a such a beautiful writer. I love that everything you put on before heading outside has a story or memory of its own. I especially love how this winds around to you thinking about the children we teach. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. More snow and more snow. Maybe the goal, pushing this further, is to figure out how to make all the teaching feel like light shoveling. Maybe it’s a cue system; if it feels like a dusting, the teaching isn’t hard enough. A foot of wet? the teaching’s too heavy. We can’t control the snow that we have to shove, but we CAN control our teaching with what we are asking kids to do and how much scaffolding (or shoveling) they need to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We must… I adore metaphor and this is nearly perfect. The season and the practice are in our minds and then we think about those classes and students and how each year so different. This is disconcerting to many teachers, but since I often change my approach to teaching I love this about teaching.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love how Mother Nature is running the show. I always think every year in the garden, I face different obstacles- too much rain, too little rain, wind, too hot, too cold, etc. It is so true that like every event, every student is unique. That’s what makes teaching so interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

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