My students schooled me this week in how to let go when you want to hold on. Oh, they have no idea they taught me a lesson. But that’s what makes teaching such a blessing.
This post is part of the Five-Minute Friday quick write hosted by Kate Moutang. Join us each Thursday night on Twitter (#FMFParty) for fun and fellowship, then grab a pen and start writing when the prompt goes live!
“Your goal,” I said to the two teams of students, “is to see which group can make the longest line.”
They looked at each other in confusion. “What do you mean?” a brave student asked.
“Just what I said.”
“Are there any rules,” someone asked.
“I’m glad you asked, there’s only three rules. You may only use what you have with you when I say, Go!, you must keep your shirts and pants on, and you have just 15 minutes.” I looked around at the slightly confused faces, but I knew my smart students would figure it out. “Ready, set, go!”
The students looked at their other team members and down at the hula hoop that marked the starting point. No one moved. After thirty seconds, one of the girls asked, “Can I use my jacket?”
“As long as you keep your shirt on, yes.”
“What about my shoelaces?” a boy asked.
“If you have them with you right now, absolutely.”
They started taking off sweatshirts and lining them up sleeve to sleeve. As one line started to grow, the other team came out of their trance and began removing their outer layers.
“I have a charging cord in my backpack,” a high school student said. “May I use that?”
“Did you have your backpack with you when we started?”
“Then, yes, you may use it.”
Before long, both teams gathered around the students with backpacks, amazed at all the objects a backpack could hold. Students lined up their planners, library books, lipstick, pencils, and charging cords. As one team advanced, the other team would call out in glee after finding something really long in someone’s backpack.
The excitement level grew as I counted down the minutes. One boy had 20 tiny paper boats in his backpack (who knew a backpack could hold 20 boats?). A junior-high boy pulled out his wallet and removed over $70 in bills. He used rocks to keep them from blowing away.
Cooperatively, without yelling, shouting, or demanding, the students volunteered to let go for the sake of the competition.
With only a minute left, one of the girls called out, “Hold on! Can we use US, too?”
Her team had several really tall boys.
“Of course! You have 45 second left,” I warned them.
When my timer went off, I couldn’t believe what I saw. Two not-so-straight lines of things and people stretching hundreds of feet from the hula hoops.
I couldn’t help but admire their spirit of the generosity and cooperation. When I compared their actions to my own miserly I-don’t-want-anyone-to-touch-my-stuff attitude, I felt ashamed. Ashamed that I hold things too tightly and I don’t trust others with my self or my stuff.
My students have little, but they don’t hesitate to let go. I have a lot, but I hold on too tightly.
What started as an exercise in team-building turned into a lesson for the teacher.What are you holding on to that you should be letting go? #holdon #letgo #fmfparty Click To Tweet