It didn’t take me long in my career to realize that one of the best things I could do for my students was to practice what I preach and use good coping skills. You know, modeling how to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others and whatnot. I soon learned that if I didn’t exercise regularly, I wasn’t releasing the endorphins I needed to counteract bureaucracy monsters, crises, and vicarious trauma of the job. So I married a personal trainer.
Okay, fine, that’s not why I married him, but it sure was a fantastic bonus prize. Even though he has since changed careers and is now a professional photographer, I still make him make me work out from time to time. At first, it’s weird to have your husband telling you to drop and give him 20 pushups, but once you get over that, it’s awesome. I mean, free in-home training! With a dreamy trainer! Wait, where was I? Oh yes, coping skills.
This morning I had a session with my hubby and he told me to start with a plank. For those of you who don’t know, a plank is an evil yoga move that basically makes you hold your body weight up in a high pushup until your stomach and arms burst into flames. So I get in the plank position and hubby starts telling a story. After about 10 seconds, I am starting to feel the burn. Hubby continues with his story. 10 or 20 more seconds go by. His story goes on. I freak out on him: “You can’t just leave me here in plank position without a road map! I need to know how long I have to suffer!,” I cry out. Taken aback, he said, with encouragement, “10 more seconds, honey. You can do it.” And I did.
It reminds me so much of the kid during testing who always asks, “How much longer do we have?” after every single subtest. Learning is difficult for these kids. It doesn’t come easy and it is hard to persist without a road map. They want to know how long they have to suffer, just like I did in the dreaded plank. So today, when testing a kid with a severe learning disability and emotional disturbance, he immediately asked, “How long do I have to stay here?” I showed him the protocol and how many we were going to do, and had him check them off after each accomplishment. He tried to quit several times. I went back to the roadmap, and encouraged him to continue. He did. It was the most I’ve gotten out of one of my severe needs students in a long time.
Thank you, dreaded plank. And thank you, patient hubby. Now I can only adopt a growth mindset and hope that the plank gets easier for me with practice, and learning to persist with challenging tasks gets easier for my kiddos with practice too...