Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Grace and Growth

What I Picture When I'm Dancing
The last couple of months I have attended a Zumba class at my gym. The first time I went, I couldn't believe how these people could shake their money-makers. Then it dawned on me that maybe I could too. I practiced. I practiced while cooking dinner at home. I practiced during my off period, just shaking from one side to another. Shaking that booty whenever I had the opportunity. I wanted to be one of the women I watched during class who made movement and grace look effortless.

While I have a deep belief in the growth mindset, that we humans can work hard at something to manifest it into reality, I have been frustrated with my progress. Am I getting better at dancing? Well, my husband says I no longer dance like Elaine Benece, Jerry Seinfeld's uncoordinated side kick in Seinfeld. But I still do not move the way I envision I want to.

In fact, when I'm in class, I create a vision of what I am doing with my body, my limbs, that when I look into the mirror does not match my mind's eye. During the salsa portions of class I picture my arms gracefully swaying from side to side to counter balance the movement of my hips in graceful swirls, while my feet move quickly from one point to the next, constantly switching back and forth in seemingly one movement.

Elaine Benece Dancing in Seinfeld Episode
I make the mistake of looking in the mirror
 though, and this is not what I witness. It is more like my body is moving, but it is neither graceful nor is it any kind of movement that looks like it goes together. In short, I struggle. I work at it, and I still continue to struggle. I am getting better, but nevertheless, I continue to struggle.

The way I feel about Zumba is the way I imagine my students who struggle with writing feel about their writing. They struggle with it. They work really hard at it. The seek help to become better. They have a belief that they will grow and become better at it. But they continue to struggle. It is a frustrating cycle for sure. Each year they look in the mirror of state and national testing. Each year they see that they are not meeting the moving standard. Each year they come back to the fight to become better than they were before.

It is for this reason, that although I find Zumba frustrating, I continue to work at it and grow. After all, growth does not always happen to the timeline of others. Sometimes we have to pay close attention and celebrate those small victories. Celebrate those places where we are growing and not lose sight of the tremendous learning that is taking place.

My students will continue to write. And...yes...I will continue to practice shaking my booty.

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