Things happen when you travel, and sometimes you lose control. And sometimes that is the best possible outcome.
I was settling in to my transition hotel before heading off for a week-long writing workshop. I decided to treat myself to one last ridiculous dinner before heading up to the retreat center and their beautiful, healthy, locally sourced food. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed the sky was divided in that clear way that happens to southern skies before a big thunderstorm. It looked like a dark gray blanket was being pulled across the sky. I got out of my car and walked quickly to the restaurant, looking forward to watching the rain from inside while enjoying a delicious meal. Something was off about the restaurant, though, and as I got to the door I realized: the power was out and the alarm lights were flashing inside. I finally realized the sirens I had been hearing in the distance were actually getting quite close.
Well, I thought, I had snacks at the hotel, and an excellent book. I drove back down the road to the hotel where I realized that the power was out there, too. In fact, the approaching line of storms had somehow taken down the power for the entire area. I opened my curtains, letting in the just-enough-to-read-by light and watched the storms roll across and pass through. In the room next door, two young men were relaxing after a day of hard work on some local construction project. As the rain pounded the roof, they sang along with their music and laughed heartily at each other’s jokes. In fact, they continued singing and laughing for the whole hour or so we were without electricity. When the power came back on, their room went quiet. Instead of music and singing, I heard the low hum of their TV set.
I missed the noise and the laughter, and as I realized this I thought about my students. About their general discomfort with wide open blocks of time. I am getting better and better at letting the silence after a question sit until something surprising bubbles up from a student. The students seem to be getting worse at sitting in the silence. I wonder if they could take an expected block of time — like when the power goes out — and make a party of it. And I wonder if they could ignore the power when it comes back on because they are enjoying the moment and the experience.
Teachers use a lot of electricity metaphors. We spark ideas or discussion. We look for the light bulb moments. We complete circuits of ideas. I think when I get from traveling, it may be time to turn off the power and see what we can accomplish without electricity.