Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Free Fallin'

Is this how you feel when you jump back into the busy school year??
I can't caption what I was saying here:)

With all the chaos of the school year starting, adding on a last minute school entry, unpacking classroom materials, and throw in a new form of state assessments, it's no wonder teachers feel a bit overwhelmed upon their return to school.  Last summer, I had the opportunity to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.  As I thought about the experience, I found some similarities to education.  First of all, to many people, it just looks nuts!!  You have to be a little crazy to do this...I guess the same is true with educators.  I'm not questioning anyone's sanity, but to an outsider, having a classroom or school full of children all day, spending your own money to buy classroom supplies, and planning lessons and grading papers on weekends may seem crazy to someone who wasn't born to be in the classroom.

Secondly, it requires a leap of faith.  The scariest part of my skydiving experience was putting my feet on the ledge and just letting go.  Getting out of that plane is like getting out of our comfort zones.  Teachers have to push themselves before they push their students and they lead by example and take risks.
A leap of faith

Next is the free fall....It's disorienting, it's hard to breath, and you look funny while you're doing it!  It's funny that the most chaotic part of the experience was also the most memorable.  Again, with education, sometimes our most trying times and challenging students can be the most memorable and those we impact the most (and sometimes make our hair stand on end!)
Free Fall

Then, amid the blur of clouds and the rush of the wind, the parachute opens.  In an instant, the world becomes calm and you get one of the best views you have ever had.  You see the world from a whole new perspective...one that you wouldn't have experienced if you didn't take the risk to be that high up.  When we help students to see from new perspectives, it leads them to new ways of understanding and perhaps new ways of creating their own reality or a better reality for themselves and for others.
Enjoying a different perspective

Finally, we come back to earth.  There is an immediate feeling of relief and at the same time a wish that it could have lasted a little longer.  It took a while to process the experience and I kept thinking about it for days.  At first it was a feeling of adrenaline and excitement.  Then it was remembering the little details.  Then it was sharing with others (with lots of pictures:).  Another thing I realized is that I couldn't have done it alone.  For my first jump, I chose a tandem jump.  I was hooked up to an experienced jumper who had the only parachute...we were in it together all the way!  In education, we have mentor teachers, teaching partners, professional learning communities, and parents as partners in education.  We don't (and can't) do it alone. As educators, we work in collaborative groups to help each and every child reach their full potential and help support one another through good times and bad. And each year, we jump back into the fray again...and we love every minute of it!

Educational Twitter Account @jon_wennstrom


"Sometimes it's the smallest decisions that can change your life forever." - Kerri Russell

"For myself I am an optimist - it does not seem to be much use being anything else." - Winston Churchill

"The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others." - Albert Schweitzer



  1. Great use of images! Nice weaving them together to present your message! That which does not scare us a little does not stretch us to grow...it's good to be daring!
    Cheers for bringing it to my attention!

    @GwynethJones - The Daring Librarian

  2. Jon...you are one part crazy and another part adventurer! I applaud your courage to take a "leap of faith"!

    As for the post, you are exactly correct, in many ways the parallels are evident. My favorite part is when you talk about stepping out of your comfort zone. This is something everyone could benefit from.

    Thanks for the share.


  3. YES!!! This is EXACTLY what a new year feels like. Thank you for this awesome post. Can't wait to share with my team.