Wednesday, September 23, 2015

“Miles to go before I sleep…”

Pia Houseal-Allport
School Social Worker 
Seven Generations Charter School
2015 TTEC Cohort

September 14

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, 
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.
- Robert Frost “Stopping by woods on a snowy evening”

I left our week long TTEC professional development invigorated by the energy of my colleagues from George to Maine and stimulated by the engaging dialogue about creative ways to bring the Appalachian Trail alive in our classrooms and ways to bring our classrooms to the Appalachian Trail.  Recognizing that I had miles to go before I completed by commitments, I also left with great intentions to have a solid curriculum completed by the first day of school and multiple hikes to plan with my Seven Generations TTEC colleagues.

The first day of school has come and gone, the curriculum is still to be written and while I went on many hikes with my family, I was not able to connect with colleagues to hit the AT.  The miles I anticipated going so far stalled out.  I was reminded of our conversations with Bob and Max, both through hikers with varied hiking and outdoors experiences, at camp the night of the backpacking trip.  We talked about the various things that had interrupted their miles (illnesses, commitments with family members, etc.).  Often, when we stand in the middle and see that there are miles in every direction, it is hard to see the end goal.

So, this past week, I stopped in to visit with our new sixth graders.  This is the group I will be targeting for this year with my curriculum with hopes to expand throughout the middle school in upcoming years. Coincidentally, the students were working on the top 100 things they would like to accomplish in their life- an activity getting eleven year and twelve years olds thinking about goal setting, both for this year and the years to come. As I circulated the room, things like become a movie star or a basketball player and win the lottery or have my own dog populated the lists, and then I arrived at A’s desk.  Number 1 on her list, the first thing she thought of when asked about goals for her life, was “Hike the Appalachian Trail.” We talked about the TTEC curriculum and how the work that I do with them linked to their social and emotional growth will be linked to hiking and the Appalachian Trail experience this year as well as what she already knew about the Appalachian Trail and how and why it was on her list.  As we talked more and more students joined the conversation and the energy and engaging dialogue that I had experience with colleagues this summer was now palpable in the classroom.

This sign hangs in the ATC headquarters in Harper’s Ferry.  For me, it’s an important reminder that the most important piece is to focus that the long term goal, “leave this world better than when you found it” can be arrived at by taking many varied paths and walking many different miles.  Sometimes, the most important thing to do is just take a walk.  My walk into that 6th grade classroom reinvigorated me on my TTEC path but I knew the energy and excitement of the students to walk these miles together will sustain me this year.

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