Effortful Learning

Would summer be so wonderful if we hadn’t lived through winter?

Would a vacation be as magical if we hadn’t worked so hard?

It seems to me that there is significantly more pleasure involved when the experience comes as a result of something that is challenging, difficult, and even unpleasant. Maybe that’s why I’m feeling so elated about my recent experience teaching teachers in Houston, Texas.

I spent this past week in Houston supporting grade 4 teachers as they prepare to launch Writing Workshop with their students in just a few weeks.  Preparing for these four days of professional development was challenging.  There was a Sunday training session to attend, there were plans to follow, materials to prepare, charts to create, tools to make, technology to figure out, new people to meet, travel to coordinate, and packing to do.  In addition, there was some emotional stress.  I’ve never traveled for work, and  I didn’t know the district, the participants, or my seven colleagues.   I’m sure I over-prepared, but I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing. The truth is, there was a lot that could have gone wrong.

But things didn’t go wrong.  The week was wonderful. It was probably one of the best professional development experiences of my career as a Literacy Coach. The travel was easy, all of the sessions (10 in all) went well, the participants were positive and engaged, and my colleagues were supportive, kind, and fun.  On top of it all, I was able to spend a little bit of time in a city that I’ve never been to. As each day ended, I felt stronger.  I got to know my participants.  I adjusted my plans in response to their strengths and needs, and the sessions improved.  I navigated the hotel, the city, the car, and the school with more ease, and I built relationships with my colleagues.  When people ask me how my week in Texas went, I’m thrilled to report that it was fabulous!  I learned so much and outgrew myself once again.

Would the week have been as great if I hadn’t been worried about it and spent so many of my summer days planning and organizing?  I don’t know, but what I do know is that working hard to achieve something feels so much better than when things come easily.  It’s strange, but for me it’s true.

4 thoughts on “Effortful Learning”

  1. I’m excited to hear how well things went! Hooray! And I’m intrigued by your observation that you value working hard to achieve something. That’s a wonderful mindset and a really motivational way to approach work. I know that when I was younger I sometimes gave up on things if I met too many obstacles, but your post made me realize that these days I, too, tend to value what I work for. Thanks for helping me realize that!

  2.  I don’t know, but what I do know is that working hard to achieve something feels so much better than when things come easily.

    I believe this is true for me as well. It’s always a great feeling to know your hard work paid off. I’m so glad you had such an amazing week. I’m so proud of you for tackling so much new and finding joy in the process. I’m sure the participants you worked with had a wonderful week thanks to your efforts… and having you as their leader’

  3. What a wonderful experience for all those involved! What a challenge and yet the success, certain for those who know you, will strengthen all the work you do going forward. What a terrific achievement for a coach with so much to share.

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