Sunday, November 16, 2014

Run With Endurance

Meet my friend Kate.  
Oh, you've never heard me talk about Kate before?  
Well, that's because I met her on the trail.  
After running/walking 13.1 miles together, we're besties now.  

The morning started cold.  Real cold.  My toes were actually numb in my running shoes.  
Before the racers lined up, the announcer told us about how she ran this trail 8 years ago.
And fell.  60 feet.  And shattered her pelvis.  And spent 2 sub-freezing nights alone.
"Stay focused", "follow the orange ribbons", "be careful" they told us.  
We would soon find out why. 

Here is a topo of the trail.  Notice the first 4 miles are uphill with a gain of about 1,000 feet.  
Notice also the sheer drop from mile 8.5 to 9.5.  We'll look at that later.

What they don't tell you is, the first four miles (uphill) are in sand. Sand!  
From this pic, you can see that we had just come up the canyon.  It was still cold in the shade. 

At about 0.5 miles, we could hear the sound of a flute.  A Native American flute.
Turns out, it was Kokopelli, the figure you see on petroglyphs in the Southwest.  
Kokopelli is thought to be the god of fertilization.  Legend holds it that if a woman hears
Kokopelli's flute, she is to run, lest she become pregnant.  "Run!" the flute was telling us. 

Look at the tops of those canyon walls.  Soon we would be running atop them. 

This pic shows the trail coming out of the canyon, onto the top of the mesa.  
It was at about this point that the trail became very rocky, full of boulders.  
We had to scramble over some boulders five feet tall.  

We came around a corner and spotted this beauty.  

After we summitted the Saddle, the trail was relatively flat, but still sandy.

Around another corner and we spot these beauties.  

Soon after we left the arches, we came to the edge of the canyon.  Look down.  
Do you see a "trail" on the right side?  Yeah, that's a road.  

Yeah, yeah.  It's a marathon.  We should have been running.  
But with views like this, how can you NOT stop to take pics?!

The trail ran so close to the edge.  It was easy to see how our announcer had slipped and fallen.
From here, we started our steep decline.  
From here to the road, it was pretty much jumping down from boulders.

Some of the boulders were so big, there were volunteers on hand to help us make it safely.  
Speaking of volunteers, they were the best!  
As you could see from the pics, the trail was pretty remote.
Some volunteers had to travel to their aid station the night before and camp out in order to be ready for us by race time.  Thank you volunteers!

And here's the road.  Really?  Uphill at mile 10?  
We really didn't think this through, did we?

After we crested the road, we turned off and entered the river. 
Yes, I just said "river".  We were told the river would be knee-deep.
Um yeah.  The water was up to my rear end!
And cold.  And it lasted for one entire mile.
Did I mention it was cold?  
Kate and I yelped every time it got deeper. 
Once again, my toes were frozen.

Going Home!
Disclaimer: NOT our pic!
Unfortunately, the race photographer is taking FOREVER publishing the pics.
I would love to show you a pic of Kate and I as we crossed the finish line, 
holding hands high above our heads.

Janine and I at the Finish Line Party.  What fun!  
Good food.  Live band.  Smiles all around.  
Can't wait to do it all over again.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Architecture of Accomplished Teaching

The Architecture of Accomplished Teaching.  National Board candidates and teachers know this double helix well.  They are accustomed to using the upward spiral to impact student learning.  I would like to posit that National Board candidates use the highly reflective practice when reflecting on their own journey to certification.

When accomplished teachers look at the architecture for their students, they start with their students.  Who are they?  Where are they now?  

Then, said teachers set high goals that are appropriate to those students at that time.  As the teachers deliver instruction, they are constantly revisiting the goals and the student.  Is the student making progress?  If not, where is the breakdown?  

Through reflection, the accomplished teacher sets new goals and the upward spiral continues.  

But, what about using the architecture on yourself?  Is it not true that you, a National Board Candidate, looked yourself in the proverbial mirror one (or more) years ago and asked yourself, "Who am I?  Where am I now?  What are my goals?"

No doubt you had several conversations with yourself and maybe even with an advisor; a confidant.  You set worthwhile goals and you worked hard to achieve them.  Hard.  "National Board Certification is easy," said no teacher ever.

Through deep reflection, you honed your craft, tweaked your practice.  It is safe to say, you are not the same teacher you were a year ago.  And here's the beautiful thing: you never will be the same, just as the butterfly cannot become a caterpillar again.  You are transformed.  

And here we sit.  The day before "score release".  The day you thought would never come.  Today will probably seem like an eternity.  Might I suggest you use today to thank the people who helped you come so far?  Maybe your family really stepped it up and took over household chores while you typed. and typed. and typed.  Maybe it was a colleague who listened.  A mentor who guided.  No matter the scores tomorrow, you know you could not have come so far were it not for them.

But, what happens tomorrow?  For some, it will be the affirmation of a lifelong passion.  Certification.  How wonderful that must feel.  

For others, it will be the realization that there is still more mountain to climb.  The double helix continues upwards.

Advanced Candidates, don't look at your score as something that is "less than".  Look at it as "more than".  More than it was a year ago.  

What do we do as accomplished teachers?  We look at our students where they are now.  Look at yourself.  You have come so far.  Where are you now?  Where do you want to be?  Look at your scores.  Where is there room for improvement?  For me, it was Entry 4: Documented Accomplishments and two assessment center exercises.  Yes, I too, am an Advanced Candidate.

Set a worthwhile goal for yourself.  Work to achieve that goal and reflect on your practice as you continue to move up that double helix.  Continue climbing until you have reached that summit!  

where Glory meets my suffering