There’s a rhythm to rowing. It takes months, years, even decades to develop. Rowers strive for a consistent beat, whether they measure 28 strokes per minute, or if the coxswain is yelling for another Power 10 at full pressure. Finding a rhythm requires focus, practice, and experience.
Just like teaching.
Unlike kayaking or paddleboarding, a complete amateur cannot jump into a narrow rowing shell with any hope of remaining upright. Despite popular opinion, not everyone can walk into a classroom and teach. Both rowing and teaching are open to almost anyone at almost any age. Both activities look easy from a distance. But in order to be successful, you need a few basics.
|Rowing||What you need for success||Teaching|
|Access to a boat, a waterway, and oars, slings||The right equipment||Desks, a classroom, computers, online resources, books, pencils, paper, a board or screen to project lessons|
|To keep from flipping into the water, a rower needs good balance||Good balance||Teachers need a healthy work-life balance; work cannot dominate every waking hour, especially after two years of the pandemic|
|Rowing is a highly technical sport; someone has to teach you how to row; a good team with a good coach can motivate you to wake up at 5:00 am||A good coach, a team, a group||First year teachers need a mentor; experienced teachers need colleagues to share ideas, cover class while you run to the bathroom, or gripe about the latest district busywork requirement|
|Port, starboard, gunwale, feather, coxswain, rigger, catch, slide||Technical vocabulary||Teachers need to know the latest jargon: SEL, ELs, CCSS, objectives vs. outcomes|
|Row upstream on the starboard side, use the second arch heading downstream, help novices on the dock; don’t help experienced rowers unless they ask||Knowledge of the rules||Arrive at school well before the duty-day starts; don’t complain except to fellow teachers; deal with parents in a timely manner; don’t post photos of your students on social media; don’t ask questions in an all-staff meeting|
|Row every morning, or every evening; row when it’s 90 degrees outside; row on your rowing machine all winter; subscribe to rowing websites||Practice, practice, practice||The first year sucks, but it gets better; the rewards come much later, when your students come back to see you or you learn that you were their favorite teacher|
|It’s almost counterintuitive, but once you find your rhythm, you can completely relax; it takes intense concentration to row,||Find your rhythm||Establish routines during the first weeks of school – this will save your sanity by November; we all need to set a new rhythm this year|
Rowing has taught me discipline. Rowing has helped me get through the most difficult year of my entire life. Rowing is my lifelong passion – partly because I can find a rhythm outdoors, open to the healing powers of nature.
As we head back into the classroom after two years of pandemic teaching, it is more important than ever before to find our rhythm.