After I managed to cover very little of my planned lesson in one of the 9th grade sections today, I was somewhat disheartened. I scolded myself for a few minutes after school, thinking my curriculum was hopelessly damaged and I was a perfectly dreadful teacher. Fortunately, however, I soon came around to thinking about the value, and actual force, of flexibility. Finding that the word “flexible” means, according to one dictionary, “capable of being bent repeatedly without injury or damage,” I thought of a slim, supple tree limb. Countless storms blow past it in its long life, yet it stays as strong as ever, and always produces its handsome blossoms in the spring. In the strongest storms, tall pines on hillsides simply bend back and forth and await the return of stillness and sunshine. In fact, don’t our arms and legs actually grow stronger when they are “flexed” – when they are “bent repeatedly” in various kinds of exercise? Not only do they not suffer “injury or damage”, but because of their increased elasticity, they actually prosper when faced (as in a gym) with stress and resistance. When I ride my bike, pedaling faster and climbing steeper hills only makes my flexible legs stronger. The more I thought about this, the clearer it became that my 9th grade class today, the one in which I “failed” to finish my lesson, might have actually been a gift to me. My detailed lesson plan ran into resistance, similar to the strong winds a tree limb faces, but I didn’t allow myself to suffer “injury or damage”. I remained flexible. I simply swayed with the distractions and interruptions, and soon enough we returned to a fairly unruffled working mode and finished a few important tasks. Later, looking back on it, I realized that I was just as strong a teacher as I was that morning, and the students were just as brilliant, and my curriculum was as focused and well-planned as I like it to be. The “winds” of today’s distractions and interruptions had had no ill effects, and, in fact, may have made me a wiser and more tenacious English teacher.
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