One morning before school started I had plans to work on a bulletin board. I searched the building for the ladder, the one with the tall side bars and the wheels and side legs that often got stuck.
As I was pushing the ladder, there were times going down the hall that I had to push the ladder and other times I had to pull the ladder. It was a bit frustrating to say the least. I am also pretty sure there are people in my building with more expertise with this ladder, but no one was around to help, so I tried to figure it out myself. How I wished there was an expert around at that moment to give me advice. I was moving pretty quickly down the hall, pulling the ladder behind me with one hand. Feeling satisfied until the ladder stopped with a sudden halt. At that moment I could not pull the ladder any more, the only way to move it now was to push the ladder. And again, I found a rhythm this time pushing the ladder. I could see the bulletin board ahead, I was almost there. I was grateful for this sight ahead since I spent more time looking for the ladder and pushing or pulling it to the bulletin board than it might take me to decorate the bulletin board. Lost in this thought as I am pushing the ladder, I smack into the ladder when it stopped once more.
At that moment I could have become frustrated with this situation, but it occurred to me that instead I could appreciate this moment as a moment of understanding and growth. There was a metaphor here that I could learn from. Sometimes in life we can be pulled along, while other times we have to be pushed ahead.
As educators it is easy to put the brakes on and stop when we are being pushed or pulled in a certain direction. Currently in education we are at a time that some find frustrating and trying, and others find to be exciting. There is so much information that is readily available to us and we can connect with experts from all over the world through the internet and various forms of social media. There are so many ways to think about a situation, just because it was always done this way, or it works for “me” does not mean this is right for students — the learners we proudly serve. What we may need at that time is either a gentle pull or a gentle push to bring us along.
This is something I will try to remember as I continue to work with adult and student learners. It seems that sometimes in order to grow we all need a gentle pull or push to bring us along.