Monday, June 05, 2017

Teaching the Children Never Ends for Educators

I was just thinking that my sisters have now passed a significant milestone in their road to retirement-----the last Sunday afternoon and evening with the weight of the week ahead in their minds and most likely the knot in their stomachs.

Sunday afternoons and evenings most often included a layer of uncertainty and maybe even a little dread-----so much to think about with planning for and tackling the knowns and unknowns of the week ahead. 

No more.  

They're now IN the week ahead, and I have a feeling it's gonna be an intense but manageable potpourri of emotions as they complete each task for the final time, pack up their classrooms and say good bye to their last crop of students. 

So, I'm wishing them the best and congratulating both of them on all they have achieved as teachers, mentors and good examples for young people. I'm really proud of you, Barbara and Laurie!

No doubt their teaching will continue, only from now on their classrooms will be round or square with smooth and cushiony dirt for floors.  Their students will enter the classroom with their own horses or maybe just come to learn about horses. 

I've learned after 15 years away from my classroom that the passion to share knowledge is lifelong for natural educators.  

So, even though my sisters will bring to a close to their successful chapters of guiding, mentoring, instructing and influencing young people, their talents will continue to have an impact.

Only this time, the focus will involve their other lifelong passion:  horses. 

While Barbara and Laurie were putting in their last Sunday of weekly planning, I had the opportunity yesterday to watch some other teachers and horse lovers at work over at Brian Wood's outdoor arena, located off Woodside Road just a few fields away from our house. 

It's hard to put into words how thrilling this experience happened to be, but I'll try.  

First, the beauty.  Brian's arena does not have dirt like most others.  Its closely cropped grass surface made for a stunning photographic setting as about 25 young and enthusiastic riders entered the enclosure to learn some basic horsemanship skills at different stations.

Add to that, give or take, a half a dozen dogs of varying breeds.  Then, a few parents stood both inside and outside the rail fence.  Three or four instructors, all of the same generation of Wood family worked individually and generously with each of the youngsters.

These women recognized almost immediately each young rider's level, experience and knowledge and took it from there. 

I was there because Terra and Lefty were there.  In their case, many "firsts" occurred. Lefty had never been ridden with dogs flitting in and out of his space.  Terra had never ridden Lefty with any horse other than Lily (the day before). Terra had never trotted Lefty. She had never opened a gate on Lefty, nor sidepassed, nor executed quarter turns.

She had practiced backing him a couple of times the day before. 

Both Lefty and Terra had a workout under the kind and instructive tutelage of each instructor.  Their progress at each station was nothing less than dramatic, and they also enjoyed a few well-earned compliments.

This was pretty much the same for every student throughout the the three hour-long gathering. 

A lot of positive activity happened in that arena, including an appropriate scolding issued to some riders who while waiting their turn abandoned several safety issues.  They were told to get off their horses, and did not need to be told twice. 

When kids are learning to ride horses and to succeed at each task, they must also learn to multi-task with their brain, their eyes, their hands and their legs.  It's an understatement to say that MUCH is going on all at once, and to coordinate all elements for beginners is challenging at best. 

I saw some wonderful examples of teaching and learning yesterday, and I kept thinking of my sisters as soon they will be able to add to the mix of adults who provide so many intangibles to youngsters learning virtually any skill.  

In this case, it's horses, but the discipline runs pretty much the same with those who guide and mentor others in any other chosen sport or skill. 

Lots of exciting times ahead, and I figure that this week's retirement for a couple of teachers in the family means good times ahead for countless aspiring horse lovers. 

Enjoy your week, Barbara and Laurie, and many thanks to the Gold 'n Grouse phenomenal mentors for the impressive display of outdoor education they provided yesterday at Brian's beautiful arena. 

It was truly a beautiful experience and not just the scenery. 

Happy Monday. 

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