Posts Tagged ‘little engine that could’

I am a very novice runner.  I am using the Couch to 5K app on my phone to help me become a runner. The app is helping me set goals and figure out a program that will (supposedly) have me running a full 5 km by the time it’s done.  I just did the last run of Week 3 (out of an 9 week schedule) today. I am also using a different app on my phone (RunKeeper) to keep track of how far I have gone and how many calories I burn with each run.   These tools help motivate me and keep me on track.

I have been walking quite regularly for about 7 months (having a very energetic puppy has helped me stick to my regular walking schedule!) and I decided a few weeks ago that I needed a new challenge, something hard, that I could work for and try to accomplish. I needed to push myself to do something I didn’t think I could do.  And mostly, running is hard. Really, really hard.  There are times when I have been out running and it hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be, but there are other times when it is VERY hard.  Times when the wind is blowing towards me and it feels like my legs can hardly move.  And times when it would be so much easier to just stay home.  There are lots of excuses: I am busy, I have grading to do, it is cold outside…and the list goes on.

And yet, I force myself to find the time, dress more warmly, and hit the pavement.  In part because I want to prove to myself that I can do it.  In part, because I secretly kind of like it, even when (especially when) it is hard.  As I run, I am reminded of a story from my childhood, The Little Engine Who Could, who struggles up the hill all the while chugging “I think I can, I think I can”.  I say that to myself a lot when I am halfway through a run and I want to give up and walk the rest of the way home!

I was thinking about my personal running challenge and the Little Engine that Could’s inspirational words this past week. I was also thinking about the students in my Web 2.0 course who are currently working on their major assignment for the course.  This assignment asks students to complete an inquiry project that explores a variety of Web 2.0 tools and blog about their experiences learning about the tools for personal and professional uses.  This term, I am team teaching the Web 2.0 course with my fabulous co-instructor Jennifer Branch and between us we are teaching about 45 students.  Last week we were reading and commenting on the blogs to give our students some interim feedback as they enter the last month of the course.

It struck me as I read through the blogs and made the comments about them, that our students are likely feeling the same way about their blogs and their inquiry as I feel about running.  Learning about Web 2.0 is hard; pushing yourself outside your comfort zone to learn how to ‘do’ Web 2.0 is challenging and uncomfortable.  It would no doubt be easier to not learn about these tools, easier to not think about how to transform teaching and learning with technology, safer to just keep on doing things the way it has always been done. But just because it would be easier, safer, less stressful to ignore Web 2.0 and not take this course, I hope that by December, when the course is done, the students in this course will be proud of what they have achieved and happy that they took on this challenge to learn about Web 2.0.  I hope that they persevere, like the Little Engine that Could, and continue to push themselves to learn more about technology and how they can use Web 2.0 tools to enhance their practice.  I hope they are inspired to continue blogging or to introduce new tools to their students and colleagues or to keep playing with new tools.  I hope they are no longer afraid to try something new.

I know there probably have been times this term that my students have cursed me and this assignment! I know that my students are sometimes struggling to find their voices and to figure out how to work through this project.  Inquiry is hard. Web 2.0 is hard.  Running is hard. But sometimes working through these challenges and doing something that is really hard, means that in the end, when it is all finished, the accomplishment means so much more and feels so great.  I will keep running, even though it is hard.  I hope my students keep on playing with Web 2.0 and pushing themselves to successfully finish their inquiry projects, even though that too is hard.  Each of us can channel the Little Engine that Could and remember his famous words, “I think I can, I think I can”.


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