Back in the day, before cell phones made us nearly always message-able if not totally reachable, the answering machine was a big deal. It was a little disconcerting at first as many people talked to the machine's voice before realizing they had to wait for the tone to leave a message. I remember my Dad's first few messages went something like this, "What? Hello? Oh, Audrey, they have one of those message machines! What aim I supposed to do?" An audible sigh is heard before Mum would reply, "Leave a message, Lloyd." As I think about working with students, I sometimes feel a bit like my Dad, not sure what to do when the the message doesn't seem to be hitting a live, or rather lively, audience. That is why I am really interested in working on strategies to help enhance student engagement though the use of inquiry and new technologies, hoping that they pick up in person or later on!
Now, that is all great but there is more to this message sending and receiving thing. A long while back now, in the late 70s and early 80s, AT&T and Bell had ads out that urged people to make a long distance call in order to "Reach out and touch someone!" They were fun ads and the jingle still sticks in my mind. As a teacher, one is in the reaching out business. I get that. But here is something else that I have been thinking about. It is based on something I saw about Blue Jay star Josh Donaldson. His high school coach was interviewed and given credit for getting a somewhat head strong player who wasn't always ready to accept coaching on the right track. The coach said something like this, " Oh sure, I helped, I reached out to him all right. I do that for all the players. The big thing was that he was ready to reach back, that made all the difference." In my work, I am trying to keep that in mind. I am going to do my best to learn, grown, and build my craft. I am going to prepare lessons and tasks that have lots of options and handholds for different learners. I am going to try to reach out to them as people and learners. I am also going to try to understand and accept that they may or may not reach back today, tomorrow, or to me at all. That is the humbling path that I see myself travelling in this work. I think trying my best and understanding the results before pushing on will make all the difference.