Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ice Skating Report Card

Once a year these past 41 years, I go ice-skating with the kids at school. Used to be at a funky rink in the Outer Sunset (48th Ave.?), then down to Belmont and now at the Yerba Buena Center. The “like riding a bicycle” cliché holds true for skating as well as the muscle memory kicks in. I started off a wee bit tentative and incrementally gained confidence, even knowing that one false move could ruin my hard-earned vacation about to start. I survived the 45 minutes without mishap and am thinking about trying to go again with my granddaughter Zadie.

Meanwhile, my daughter Talia (see above) wrote a great Facebook post about her experience and gave me permission to share it here. Wish I had written it first! Enjoy!

Maya Angelou has a great quote that I don't remember verbatim, but it goes something like this: "You can tell everything you need to know about a person by how they handle a sudden rainstorm, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights." I'd like to add ice-skating to that list. I am utterly fascinated to see which kids just cling to the railing, which wobble around slow and steady, which go a million miles an hour completely out of control, which refuse to even lace up and choose to sit shivering on the side.

There are those that are the first out on the ice and the last to leave, those that take a lap and then sit the rest of the time and cheer everyone else on. There are those that stop and help someone when they fall and those that zoom right past without so much as a pause. There are those that avoid falling at all costs and are deathly afraid of it, those that fall and turn bright red, ignore your outstretched hand and get up desperately fast, those that laugh when they fall, those that overreact, those that blame other people around them, pointing accusatory fingers, those that want to hold your hand and those that refuse.

I'm not a great skater— I go once a year, but I've managed to learn how to orchestrate a fancy-ish looking spin with a partner which pretty much just entails me stopping and flinging the other person around in a circle. I did this with as many fifth graders who would let me (and even some who wouldn't). I was fascinated by who wanted to and who completely refused, who didn't want to at first, did one and then wanted to do it five more times, or who successfully did it once and then had no interest in another, or who insisted we go "faster this time!"

Comfort zones! It's literally my profession to push them. I taught the same kids last year and therefore, feel I've never known my students as intimately. Their ice-skating personalities almost across the board match up to their learning profiles. Are they willing to make mistakes? Do they take risks? Do they challenge themselves? Do they put in the work and effort to improve? I swear I think this should be on their report cards.   
                                           -Talia Goodkin, 5th grade teacher @ The San Francisco School

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