Behind the Blog

Behind the Blog
My name is Cindy Kruse and I've been learning from elementary students for the past 16 years. I enjoy discovering new technology and implementing it in the classroom, absolutely love literacy, and am passionate about Responsive Classroom. I am constantly striving to learn new and innovative ways to teach students in order to provide authentic, interesting, and joyful classrooms.


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Monday, November 21, 2011

The power of encouragement

Last week I traveled to Philly on the train with my family to cheer on my daughter and son-in-law as they ran the Philadelphia marathon. I had been there two years ago as Cait ran the half-marathon, but this time she was running with her husband Jeff - and they we're running the full marathon, all 26.2 miles. I felt a weird combination of pride, mixed with anticipation and fear. Cait and Jeff had been training for the past year, often running when they didn't even feel like it in order to prepare for this day. In the process, Cait had developed some physical problems - Raynaud's (a very painful and debilitating condition with her toes) and a strained knee. Yet, they were committed to finishing this race. I'm not sure why I was fearful - maybe I was afraid that she would get hurt or sick, but I think I was really afraid she would be so disappointed if she wasn't able to finish.

The day of the marathon was incredible. With close to 30,000 runners and almost twice as many spectators, Philly was alive and jumping. Bands were playing music, cow bells ringing, and supportive fans carrying creative signs designed to encourage their favorite runners, such as - "Who needs toenails anyway?" If you've never been to watch a marathon I can tell you that my description so far is just not doing the experience justice. You really have to experience it to understand it. Fans line up along the street cheering on the runners. You can hear them call out the names of the runners as they pass by - "Good job Joe! Keep it up Laura!" (I have to admit to anyone who is reading this post that initially I did not know that they were actually reading the names of the runners that are posted on the front of their chest along with their race numbers - I was actually thinking, "Wow, these people certainly know a lot of these runners" for about 5 minutes the first time I watched the marathon.

We positioned ourselves strategically along the route to supply much needed encouragement and "Gu" - high energy gummi chews. About 15 minutes before we thought they would be coming we began jockeying for a good position, straining to catch a glimpse of Cait & Jeff. Their faces lit up as they spied us - their personal fans and they continued to run by, clearly focusing on the goal of finishing the race! The most exciting and nerve wracking part was waiting for them as they neared the finish line. My other daughter, Lauren had driven down with her husband and 7 week old baby to surprise her sister at the finish line. When we finally spotted Cait and Jeff coming down the home stretch, Lauren jumped over the fence and ran the last 1/8th mile along with her sister. The smiles on their faces tell it all....

I had tears in my eyes as I saw Cait & Jeff come into the home stretch, knowing that they had achieved a great accomplishment - one they had sacrificed much for over the past year. After the race I asked Cait which section of the race was the most difficult to run. She replied without hesitation, "Kelly Drive - the section along Boat House Row". Those familiar with Philadelphia know that this is an incredibly beautiful part of the course - mostly flat and picture card perfect. I was incredulous...why was this part so hard I asked? Cait answered, "There were absolutely no fans to cheer us on during this stretch, they wouldn't have been able to make it back in time to see anyone finish at the finish line."

Later that day, it dawned on me...the power of encouragement. What a lesson for all of us. Of course being an educator, I can't help but apply this to the classroom (however it can applied to all parts of our lives as well). Imagine what we can accomplish if we (teachers) would adopt this attitude in the classroom - commit to being our student's biggest fans, notice how hard they are working - even when they aren't our own students, cheer them when the going gets tough, even running alongside with them to bring them into the finish line. Just imagine what could be accomplished!