If you were any animal, what would it be?
While I would love to say a cheetah for its stealthy ability to run and its sleek body movement in the wild, the fact that I am a wood duck proved more accurately after a recent field trip to a Botanical Garden and boat ride on the bayou.
While I've gone with classes in the past on this same field trip, ridden this same boat through the bayou, and heard about the wood duck nesting boxes erected along the side of the bayou- I guess I had never really given much thought to the special nature of the baby wood duck and the mother duck who calls her babies to literally fall out of the wooden boxes since they are unable to fly.
I think the mother wood duck must feel like a teacher most days of her motherly life in her little nesting box. Why?
Because as a teacher I worry and fret about what I'm doing in the classroom to help my students be successful. Sometimes as a teacher you feel like your kids have automatic hearing they can turn off and on when they only hear half of what you've said... every.single.day. You wonder if they know how talented they are or unique and you want them to know there is something special about them- not their neighbor or their best friend who sits on the other side of the room, or the student they think has it all together. Each student provides something special to the overall class dynamic. Sometimes their persistent personality may challenge your patience. Sometimes it makes you consider other career options. Sometimes it makes you wonder if you're the only positive voice that child will hear so you should be choosy with your words; and some days you've reached your own limit and just need some space from them to regroup. As a teacher you're always wondering if you're providing the content in a challenging, yet understandable way so students can apply it to their own learning. I'm always second guessing myself. Always. I'm never satisfied with the year, sadly, until it is over and my students leave me for the last time to enter the world of junior high. At that moment, I know they will be ok. They're ready. Some will wobble when they get there. Others will soar, but either way- they will make their way into the world and hopefully remember all we did, learned, practiced, and loved.
So why am I the wood duck and not the sleek, stealthy cheetah I long to be?
Because the mother wood duck pops out of her nesting box when her babies are just a few days old, still unable to fly, and calls for them to come out of the nest also. Each baby pops its head out of the hole, teeters on the edge of the opening, and falls into the water or to the ground below. Baby wood ducks have been known to fall up to 50 feet. .....think on that for a moment... 50 feet. The mother sits below and watches, without helping the baby wood duck. I guess she trusts she did a good job in the nest and the babies will be just fine. And I guess that's where I need to do a better job as a wood duck- trusting I did a good job; trusting my students know love, know positive thinking, know that pushing themselves is a good thing, know there are consequences to their actions, know that they have the power and ability to make our world a better place, know their words matter, know how to write a logical response to a question or prompt, know the differences between genre and how important reading is to their lives. I hope they know they have improved in their personal achievements from the years before and believe in themselves enough to carry those ideas to the next grade and beyond.