Sunday, March 18, 2012

Leaving My Comfort Zone

Let it be known that I am a shy introvert, TIME magazine recently affirmed that I am not alone and that it is not a bad thing. That being said, shy introverts still need to function in a rather extroverted world. I have spent the better part of my life trying to do just that - fit in. Now, when I finally realize I can just be who I am and not worry about fitting in, along comes an opportunity to leave the comfort of my 'one class at a time' school visits and go big. Well, bigger than I was going.

One at a time classroom visits are an easy step from regular teaching. The one exception is that every 30 minutes I have a brand new class with the bright eager ones, the bored ones, the you can't teach me anything ones and the sweet one who just wants a hug. You just don't know who is who. By the end of the thirty minutes you do know, but then they are gone and the next mystery class appears. The challenge, however, is invigorating and for every less than successful class presentation there are a dozen great experiences.

So I was not prepared for the phone call from the Title 1 director from Winslow Elementary School asking if I would do a presentation for 100 Title 1 students and their parents. I admit, I stumbled through an initial response as that voice in my head was screaming Don't Do It! I tried to explain that I had never done presentations on that scale and then I heard myself asking, "What did you have in mind?" The answer : A 30 minute presentation that is interactive.

Gulp. I thought back to directing 120 high school students in various successful concerts, forgetting momentarily the sheer fright I endured , and agreed to do it.

Long story short - it was a fabulous experience. The principal, staff and students were amazing and we had a great time together. So great, in fact, that this past week I read Zero, Zilch, Nada to over 500 students and staff at Winslow to help kick off their first March Maddness Mathathon. It too, was a fun time, with PTO made paper balloons, a power point of the book shown on an inflatable screen by the principal, and a gym full 0f kids chanting Harry's balloon song together. So this shy introvert expanded her comfort zone a bit, but only temporarily. I am returning to Winslow to spend a day with K-1 classes doing those single classroom visits.
Thanks, WES!