On my first day of summer vacation, what did I do? I played golf. That’s right. I went from meeting 184 days’ worth of challenges directly to the links where I would be totally humbled by a little dimpled ball.
No doubt golf is frustrating. You tee up, take a few practice swings and feel pretty good about your chances of making your new driver do what the salesman in Golfsmith promised it would do. Address the ball. Run through all those little known secrets you saw on the Golf for Dummies DVD. Yeah, I got this. Then somewhere between the takeaway and the follow-through something happens; you miss the sweet spot and all you can do is watch helplessly as your ball soars/hooks/slices toward A) the water trap B) the bunker C) the next fairway D) the tick-ridden, snake laden overgrowth.
It doesn’t help that my game is wildly erratic and that on any given try, I could get a good roll even on a pop-up or end up in the rough on a really great shot. It doesn’t help that when I took golf at the local community college, the instructor said of my swing, “It’s the swing of a softball player. It ain’t pretty, but it seems to be working for you.” It doesn’t help that too much of the time, I am all about the heave and brawn of the driver at the expense of the finesse and precision of the irons.
So, yeah, why would I actually choose to do this on my first day of summer vacation?
Well, I guess this sounds wimpy, but on the course, I can accept my weaknesses. I know I will never be a threat to Anika and I don’t really care. I am a pretty consistent novice and I see those infinitesimal increments of improvement in my game. As long as I have a couple of decent tee shots, I am really OK with my golf inadequacies .
In the classroom, though, it’s a different story. I want to be the best I can be. Some people would call me a classic Type A. Every single day in school, I am all about doing one better than the day before. Simply making par–effective– isn’t good enough. I am looking, everyday, to at least birdie every shot. I actually want that ace every time I put the key into the lock and turn on the lights in my classroom. I don’t care if it’s a blind shot or a bad lie, I am going to do everything in my power to come in under par. Though statewide, from Montauk to Utica, the powers that be have told NY teachers, “Highly effective is only a place we visit,” I am not buying it. I’m not content to be an instructional tourist. I want full club membership and all the privileges that comes with that. I don’t want any gimmies, either.
Here’s the thing. If you believe that you can only be effective, you can end up teaching the way I play golf. You go into the game thinking that a few good shots will keep you coming back. When the people in charge in Albany and Washington tell you that effective is good enough, they are not encouraging excellence. They are saying good enough is good enough.
Not one of my colleagues is just good enough; not one of my colleagues would say they are content with good enough. I work among seasoned pros who, every day, choose the right club for the task and who every day make it their missions to meet the challenges of the classroom with energy and skill in order to do what’s best for the kids they teach. I would play best ball with anyone in my corridor any day of the week. They make the cut every quarter and I am proud to be on The Tour with them. I would be proud to caddy for any/all of them!