Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Slice of Life: What We Don't Know

If I had known when we set out for our fly fishing trip to Vermont that I wouldn't catch a single fish, I probably wouldn't even have bothered to try.

Don't get me wrong, the trip was not a failure. There was the otter, the kingfisher, the B&Bs, the Orvis Outlet Store, Niagara Falls. There are a myriad of moment-uous memories. Just none that involve trout at the end of my line.

That got me thinking about high stakes testing. I "fish" my heart out for the entire school year, and invariably, I don't "catch" much. And then I beat myself up.

Well, this year's going to be different. I'm not going to worry about the year as a whole. Instead of taking one big trip that depends on a single outcome, I'm going to slice this year up into 180 daily jaunts. Whatever good comes with each day (whether I aim for it, or it happens in spite of my intentions) will be the "trout" of the day.

I know this isn't a new way of thinking, but it finally makes sense to me. And I'm going to go with it.

Let's check back in a couple of months and see how it's working out for me.

Until then, I'll wish you tight lines, and be sure you watch your back cast.


  1. Oh, Mary Lee...so wise. I just read the below quote last night, and reading your post, I think of it again:

    "My dad told me about a rule he and other soldiers followed in the Pacific during World War II. It was called the Law of 26, and it postulates that for every result you expect from an action there will be twenty-six results you do not expect..." - WRITING TO CHANGE THE WORLD by Mary Pipher

  2. Your words are simple and wise and true--and the comments above by ALV are great as well! Glad I stumbled across your slice and I know I'll keep in mind for a long, long time. "180 daily jaunts"...look forward to reading your updates!

  3. Wise words, and a wonderful quote added by Amy in the comments, too!

    That moment (times 180,000) is where the learning happens anyway. Even if it doesn't get measured, it still happened and will become part of us, something that never happens with a test score.

    Great photo! A perfect stream on a perfect day. (I'm so looking forward to meeting you at the NCTE14.)

  4. Anonymous9:17 AM

    I love this reminder! Destinations/goals are important, but sometimes the greatest moments/best learning of the trip are in the journey itself.

  5. Such a great metaphor for the school year! I will be thinking about this slice each day - thank you!!

  6. Love the idea of 180 daily jaunts. In the moment...

  7. Anonymous5:35 PM

    I'm getting the feeling that the stress and pressure of THE TEST will not be for much longer. Just hang in there :) Keep fishing !

  8. I love the concept of focusing on the trout to be found each day. Here's to a wonderful beginning of your 180 daily jaunts!

  9. Hey, I like your fishing philosophy. Let's go tackle this one together and celebrate the wonder that each day brings.

  10. You have often talked about being in the moment, and this sounds like an extension of that, with an extra serving of gratitude. Sounds like a great plan to me!

  11. I love this approach. True of teaching, of writing...of life. Thanks, Mary Lee.

  12. Day by day...love your analogy.


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