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Posted By Chalkbrd

Field of Corn My dad has always been a farmer at heart.  Even when he worked at another job for over 50 years, he and his two brothers slowly acquired farmland so they could do what they loved the most.  Only a few years ago, the three of them (all in their 70s at the time) were farming more than 1,000 acres.

I remember riding with my dad as we'd travel through the countryside during the summer, and he'd comment about the fields we passed.  Most of them were nice, straight rows of green plants, stretching off into the distance.  There was one field, though, that I remember in particular.  The rows weren't straight, and it made both of us laugh.

"The secret to straight rows," my dad told me, "is to keep your eyes on the end of the row.  If you're too focused on what you're doing right now, that's how your rows will end up, all crooked."

This was a lesson I took with me into my teaching.  When I was in the middle of the year, it was easy for me to get caught up in all the immediate things that needed to be done, and I sometimes forgot about where I was going.  In times like that, when I started to wonder if we were really getting somewhere, or if we were merely spinning our wheels, I tried to remember those fields we'd seen.  I wanted my rows to look straight to those who were outside observers.  I wanted my students to look like they'd learned so much.  But I also had to remind myself that if I wanted that to happen, I had to keep my eyes focused on what my end goals were and not get so caught up in the day to day setbacks.

When times got tough and my rows weren't quite as straight as I wanted them to be, my dad reminded me of something else.  It didn't really matter in the long run if the row was straight or not.  The real goal of any farmer was for his crop to grow.  And you know what?  When the crop grows enough, you can't tell if the rows are straight or not anymore.

If I messed up a bit here and there throughout the year, it really didn't matter in the long run.  If my students met their goal at the end of the year and produced the crop of language acquisition, then I could be satisfied with my fields.

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