Friday, July 30, 2010

Lori vs. Stick Shift

If my life were a TV show, I'd like it to be an uplifting and inspiring series entitled something like, "Life with Lori". Truth is, it more closely resembles "I Love Lucy". I'll skip the story about how I discovered I'd worn my dress backwards to church last Sunday and get right to today's episode; Lori vs. Stick Shift.

I am home alone for a few days, stuck with my husband's car. Most of you, when you hear that it is a Nissan 350z convertible, will hardly be thinking, "Oh, poor Lori." However, when you realize that I haven't driven a stick shift for 35 years, you may sense the comedy that is about to ensue.

I entered the vehicle in our driveway this morning with an inspiring little pep talk to myself…."I can totally do this. It's just like riding a bike. There isn't a single hill between here and my meeting…etc." I stepped on the brake, pushed in the clutch, and slid the gearshift over and back. After carefully releasing the clutch and providing enough gas to get the rig going, I was greatly surprised by forward motion. "Hmm. That must not have been reverse." I tried again, and was propelled 3 inches forward instead of backward. Following one more of these little gallops, I now found myself about one inch away from the garage door. Refusing to let the little bucket of bolts beat me, but knowing I was endangering our home, I opened the garage door and tried again. Same result. I got back out of the car, moved an old toilet, bookshelf and lawn mower out of harms way and tried again- nope, moving forward.

I was completely stupefied. The position of the stick shift was CLEARLY on the R for reverse, yet I was not travelling that way. The car was now halfway in and halfway out of the garage. I called my friend Joan because she has the tremendous ability of laughing with me and at me without thinking less of me. However, instead of just enjoying the folly of my predicament, she said, "Have you tried pushing down?" "What!?" "Try pushing down on the head of the stickshift when you move it over to reverse."

Oh my gosh! Newfound hope burst forth in my breast! Perhaps I wouldn't have to live like this, garage door up, for the next three days, exposing myself to burglars, killers and neighborhood questions and ridicule.

I tried the suggested idea and was elated to find myself BACKING UP! I blessed the sod Joan walks on and made it to my meeting in one piece.

It occurred to me later, how significantly my experience mirrors what happens sometimes in education. How often do we continue to try the same thing over and over while expecting different results? It seems so silly, yet in the throes of the experience, we just can't believe that what we are trying isn't working, so we do it again and again and again. We work really hard. We do everything we know to do. The result? Folly, frustration and failure to meet our goals. I'm not a bad driver. I'm actually a really good driver. But my knowledge base didn't match the vehicles need. Likewise, I am a good teacher. I work really hard. But if I am met with a child that my technique isn't working for, I can't continue to try the same thing over and over. I have to try something different. The good news is that something different might not even be difficult. We just have to reach outside the confines of our classrooms, confer with colleagues, and get back in there.

cross posted at


  1. This is a perfect story for a PD! What a great analogy! Thank you!

  2. I'm so glad Franki posted about your new blog today. I cracked up at the story, and then found myself nodding my head at your analogy. Great stuff. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I would just like to say "Ditto" to Carol and Karen's comments. I LOVED this post and analogy!

  4. I appreciate your kind comments and the fact that you took time to even read my thoughts. :) Thanks.