A few days ago, I publicly declared that I was reclaiming my love of reading in 2018, and to do that, I would be trying to read a book(ish) a week. The first step in this journey was dusting off my library card and making a trip to the stacks. Such fun to roam the aisles and pick up books I wouldn’t otherwise select!
For my first official book read, I chose Grayson by Lynne Cox. It’s a short memoir from Cox, an American long-distance open-water swimmer. The story centers on her experience swimming with a baby gray whale who had gotten separated from his mother. Cox’s bond with the whale while attempting to reconnect him with his mother is touching.
A few passages and my connections to them:
Sometimes the answers we find while searching are better or more creative than anything we could ever have imagined before.” When introducing new technology tools to teachers, there is often this desire to fully understand the tool before introducing it to students. But in doing so, we strip students of the opportunity to explore and create their own experience, their own learning.
In our district, we are at the beginning of a five year plan called District Design 2022. Our vision, the unrelenting pursuit of the extraordinary school experience, is so that we can ignite genius and empower students to advance the world. It can be hard to remember that this quest won’t happen tomorrow, or next month, or even next year. It’s a five year plan, and even that may be ambitious. And even though we have yearly objectives, and ideas of what students need to become empowered, it will require humility and a lot of introspection to find the answers within the struggles.
The struggle can be made even more complicated by the fact that not everyone understands why we are swimming against the tide. Our plan is ambitious, and it can be hard for some to justify the WHY for radical change when our district is already performing in the top 1% of the state on standardized testing.
Cox realizes that the only way to help the baby whale is to set aside her own needs, and think, and behave, like a whale. There are moments of doubt, especially when she finds herself a mile from shore in the cold Pacific waters with no mother whale in sight. At times, the baby dives deep in to the ocean, and remains unseen for 10-15 minutes at a time. It’s during these times, Cox surmises, that the baby is getting away from the surface level distractions to listen for the calls of the mother.
It’s in one of these moments that Cox reflects:
Wait as long as you need to. The waiting is as important as the doing: it’s the time you spend training and the rest in between; it’s the reading and the thinking about what you’ve read; it’s the written words, what is said, what is left unsaid, the space between the thoughts on the page, that makes the story, and it’s the space between the notes, the intervals between fast and slow, that makes the music. It’s the love of being together, the spacing, the tension of being apart, that brings you back together.
The waiting is as important as the doing… So many times I have pushed ahead because I see the destination and I am eager to get there. I may not have given teachers time to move beyond the surface distractions and dive deep. But it’s these moments, this space between the thoughts, that builds capacity, builds commitment, moves the vision to reality.
Thanks Lynne Cox for writing this gem of a book. I look forward to the next book on my list.
Have one you want to add to my list? Please add it on my blog post titled “The Next Chapter”.