The other night when I came home from work, my children were playing on their bicycles in our driveway. My two youngest daughters, Laura and Marlena, ran up to me as soon as I pulled up.
“DadDadDadDadDad! Can you take our training wheels off?”
They wanted to learn how to ride their bike on two wheels. We had been close with Laura (the older of the two) last summer, but didn't quite get there.
So first, off came Laura's training wheels. I took her into the road and said I'd push her and run behind her, hands loosely on her hips, and her job was to pedal and steer. I also told her that when she wanted to stop, she should ride into the grass.
Within two minutes, Laura had the hang of it.
Next up was little Mena — two years younger than Laura. I took the trainers off her bike, and in another two minutes she had it, too.
In four minutes, Laura and Marlena learned how to ride their bikes on two wheels. But how long do you think it would have taken to train them if
- A) they didn't want to, and/or
- B) they were years younger, only barely beginning to walk?
This has me thinking of the timing of learning. When our students are eager and ready to learn, it's pretty easy to look like the superstar teacher. “I taught my kids how to ride their bikes in four minutes,” I could say.
But I was a small part of it. Their minds and hearts were fertile soil for bike-riding lessons. They were eager to learn how to ride on two wheels, and they were physically ready to do it, too.
Eagerness and readiness are difficult conditions to create in our classrooms. Yet, that's part of the job. The good news is that knowing the conditions we're after is part of the path to creating them.