Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Safety drill

You know the drill. You're sitting on an airplane, taxiing before takeoff, and either there's a crew of flight attendants (or a talking-head video) running through safety routines. How to buckle your seat belt. Where the exits, lavatories, and flotation devices are. You know.

That was me last night, experiencing a familiar ritual. Until the person on the microphone threw in a curve ball. During the bit about oxygen masks -- how in the event of a loss of cabin pressure, they'll drop from the ceiling, how to pull the mask towards me to start the flow of oxygen, how the bag might not inflate but that oxygen is still flowing, how to adjust the mask around my face using elastics, how to help my child first (if I had one) before putting on my own mask -- the flight attendant slyly said this, "If you're sitting with more than one child, choose your favorite."

I couldn't help smiling and connecting her joke to the classroom where there are countless choices to face, often impossible ones about what to prioritize over what. Fortunately, they also tend to be more forgiving ones that can be revisited and adjusted often, different from the looming finality of last night's dangling oxygen mask, tinged with dark humor.

9 comments:

  1. This is a great reflective piece. I love how you connect something so familiar (and often ignored) to our profession.

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  2. I remember when the Thailand was hit with the tsunami in 2004. A mom with two children was interviewed. She cried as she told the interviewer that she had to make a choice between her children. She was stuck in a tree with them and she could not save both of them and herself so she let go of the old one who had a better chance of saving himself than the toddler. The ending turned out good. An adult a bit down the way was able to catch the older child and hold him in another tree. They were reunited after they were secured. I can't even begin to image having to make that kind of choice!

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    1. Oh. My. Thanks for sharing this wrenching vignette, Linsey.

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  3. Ha! Loved this, Brian! Thanks for sharing--I like finding the humor in everyday life too!

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  4. I love the way you said the flight served you a slice. Your connections always make me think. Oh, the endless classroom decisions- some days I feel like I have no idea what is the right/first/best decision to make at any given time. Thank goodness for tomorrows.

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    1. I appreciate your thinking aloud, Erika. Teaching also seems to serve me up a regular tension involving wanting to learn from choices I've made before and simultaneously wanting to have a really short memory of my worst choices. I'm with you on the last point: Steady appreciation for the next new day :)

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  5. It is amazing to see the kind of connections our brains make. I really liked what you said in the end that choices we make during teaching are more forgiving (of course only when we take time to reflect and make adjustments or changes).

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  6. This made me think of John Gillespie McGhee & "High Flight" portion "...footless halls of air..." which, in teaching, is like each day running into the next on & on & on... reflection, humor, empathy & decisions all make it possible & most rewardable/enjoyable. Life's greatest thrill is tomorrow.

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  7. Wow... Dark humor indeed from the flight attendant! You are masterful at connecting the every day experiences to the classroom and you are right... We are constantly making choices of one thing over another.

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