Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Letting Go...

Hi all,
The end of summer, for those of us with kids, ends tonight!  School begins in hours and thus ends the loosey-goosey routine of summer sleep-ins, late bonfires and swimming in the backyard pool. 

While I am glad to be done with the heat of 2011, a new chapter begins for me.  I start teaching German to middle schoolers in one day, with the loosest of guidelines to structure my lesson plans on.  I was hired about two weeks ago and will have 83 students starting September 1, 2011.  My nights have been filled with nightmares of stage fright and cotton-tongue. (If you've never experienced either of these diseases, count yourself lucky!)

I have visions of German zombies chasing me on my horses, cats randomly spouting German phrases from Goethe, Einstein or Nietzsche and chickens laying eggs with little beer mugs in them.  The German in me, is going crazy over the lack of existing structure and outline for this course.  (The Norwegian in me is doing the happy dance over the freedom from structure.)
"Externally, some parts may seem useless because the inner coherence of the animal nature has given them this
form without regard to outer circumstances. Thus...(not) the questoin, what are they for?
BUT rather -
WHERE do they come from?" (Suhrkamp, Goethe)
 I have literally spent 100 hours looking for music, videos and on-line lesson plans in my quest to keep this class relevant AND exciting for the 12-14 year olds of the 21st Century.  Trying to find "school-friendly", modern, catchy music was much more of a challenge than I thought.  Dropping a "*"bomb in a foreign language may be cool on the bus, but over the speakers in the classroom is a bit different.

Last night, as I was sitting at the desk in my bedroom, overlooking my horses milling about in front of the barn while the sun was setting on this late August evening, I looked over at my husband and said "I don't think I can do this.  I don't have enough time.  I want these kids to have fun AND learn German.  UGH!"  His response was to say "Just let go.  Your expectations are college level and these are middle schoolers.  You LOVE middle schoolers.  They love you.  Just let go and run with it."

All day, that phrase "Just let go" has been rattling around in my head as I listened dutifully to the PowerPoints on things important to the school environment, made photo copies of worksheets for the coming days, and attempted to decorate a kitchen as a German classroom without compromising the kitchen space. 

I came home to my family, the farm, the laundry and relaxed to Pizza Hut pizza with the family. I hopped on Facebook to check in with my on-line family, when I stumbled upon this video.

I was completely entranced.  Maybe that was due to the poor quality of sleep lately or maybe it was simply because the video was beautiful to watch and easy to listen to.  It embodied the phrase "Let go..."

As some of you know, I love skiing and am a ski racing coach along with all my equine activities in the summer.  What you may not know, is that I am a closet snowboarder and that I actually will sit to watch skateboarders and snowboarders performing in the halfpipe when I would never sit still to watch a football game. 

I have heard of longboarding but never have tried it.  After watching this video, at the "mature" age of 40, I could actually imagine myself doing some of this.  This video stopped me in my tracks, obsessing over German lesson plans and reminded me that sometimes "letting go" brings an unexpected, dangerous pleasure along with new heights in performance. 

Here's to letting go of summer and riding the slow curve while flipping the switch into fall.
- Inkoze
Inkoze on top of the world in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Summer 2011

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