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How Opening a Pool Opened My Mind

This past weekend, I spent a few hours helping my future father- and brother-in-law opening their family's pool. This was a completely new experience for me. I'm not the first person that people think of when they need help with physical labor or mechanical reasoning, but I volunteered because I like to learn new things.

Growing up, my family didn't have a pool. My mom occasionally lived in an apartment with a pool, so we could reap the benefits of having one. I just had never done any of the required maintenance to open one. And this work reminded me of what my students must feel when they encounter a new task for the first time.

I offer a few comparisons between the opening of the pool and the learning that takes place in classrooms:

  • Watch out for the spiders! Maybe there aren't gigantic arachnids in our classrooms, but there were in the pool. Asking kids to step outside their comfort zones can be scary. You won't want to do it, but the more you do it, the less scary it is. 
  • You're going to be sore. Although most of the work we do in the classroom doesn't ask kids to exert much physical labor, the mental work we do is tough. It should leave their brains exhausted and "stretched." I'm feeling this now two days after helping with the pool. Much like the reading and writing we do in my classroom, it might feel foreign, sore, or strange to students at first. When it becomes routine, they'll get used to it and can handle it. 
  • You'll learn along the way. I never would've imagined that there's such a strict process involved with preparing a pool for the fall/winter and opening it in the spring/summer. Too often we just see the finished product and forget about the hard work involved along the way. I think this is true for our students, too. They have to be reminded that process is more important than product, and we have to teach them to be methodical in their thinking. 
With all that said, I approached my classroom a little differently today. It's good to be reminded every once in a while that there are things you don't know and muscles you haven't used. 

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