Balance on one foot, and use the other to push down on whichever pedal is higher. Ready? Ok, try it.
Five minutes later, Sebastian, on the eve of his fifth birthday, was riding his two-wheeler. Twenty minutes later he was zipping around our street like he’d been doing it for weeks.
He’d spent the past year mastering his balance bike, but moving up to the regular bike without training wheels was something he’d resisted.
He would get excited to try every so often, give it a go while I held the handlebars and helped him, but he would get frustrated and go back to the trusty balance bike.
That day, I finally realized the problem: he was having trouble Getting Started. All he needed was some clear instruction on how to do that, and off he went.
Theo worked quietly, putting his puzzle pieces together somewhat randomly, growing more agitated as the pieces wouldn’t fit. He’d done this race car puzzle before, so I wasn’t sure what was going on.
The wheels go on the bottom, I told him, without touching the pieces.
Suddenly he put two wheel pieces together, then two more, and within a few minutes he was done with the puzzle. He went on to do three more.
He just needed a nudge to Get Started.
I spent this past week working in my new classroom. It’s the first one I’ve had since Sebastian was born five years ago. The years I worked part-time since then have been joining onto someone else’s classroom and curriculum. Now I’m flying solo again.
I spent the summer flitting from one teaching manual to another, not quite sure where was the best place to begin, knowing I didn’t have all the information I needed. But now I was finally back here, and there was So Much to sort out.
The first day I just sat on a table at the front of the classroom and looked around. I’d set up many a new classroom, but that day I wasn’t sure where to begin this formidable task of setting up not only a learning space, but also a new curriculum in every subject, a new position, an enormous new challenge.
I decided to just set up the furniture. No curriculum, no lesson plans, no posters on the wall.
Just Get Started, I told myself.
I’m still learning this lesson, even as I see it play out with my children and myself time and time again.
I still want gigantic chunks of time in which to accomplish big goals, but there are no more huge chunks of time, and the big goals must all be broken into very, very small ones now. We’re talking 15 or 20 minutes here.
I don’t like that. I procrastinate. I wait until I have “more time.”
I won’t begin writing again until I have time to do it right, I tell myself.
But there is no time like now. So I’m here. And in my classroom.
(Feel free to give me a nudge if you see me stalling.)