As you know, I have been working the last two years to be a musher. I am, at heart, an educator. And every good educator knows that learning is a big part of teaching. Not only that, but being aware of how we learn is quintessential.
So this means that my mind is always on and alert thinking and learning from all my experiences, including dog mushing. In the past year I have had to learn how to manage a team of 4, 6, and 10 dogs. This year I have to learn how to manage 16 dogs. This is really not as easy as some people may think. Imagine 16 kindergarten age kids that you must get to run in one direction without being side tracked by one another or distracted by objects in their environment. Good luck!
So, after the first day of running a 16 dog team with help, I realized that it was possible and I just need to adjust my perspective a bit. The following run however changed everything, again. I had to run my 16 dog team on my own. This meant if there was a problem, I had to fix it on my own, and what was even more of an issue was the break on the 4-wheeler was not at its best. Trying to get off to fix a problem would mean some creative parking so the 4-wheeler would not be pulled away even if it was in gear.
If this was not bad enough, 15 minutes before the run we discovered we were out of gas. Now, as a teacher I have to be constantly on my toes ready to deal with any problem that presents itself. This is one of the reasons I enjoy working with dogs, it is a lot like working in a classroom. Fast paced, exciting, sometimes dangerous. Finding out about the gas set me into a mode of wearing my administrative teacher hat and quickly finding a solution.
I proposed that the other musher run ahead of me get gas and meet me on the trail for a fill up. The other musher, Rich, cocked his head and thought for a minute. And then he said, " sure I think the dogs can do that." I froze in my steps and thought about what he said, looking at him with "Deer-in-the-headlight-eyes." He was really looking at the solution from the dogs perspective. Would it hurt them at all if they had to pull the 4-wheeler for awhile without gas on the trail we were choosing for the day. I on the other hand saw the problem from the perspective of an administrator, which was how could we get the run done as soon as possible without sacrificing time to run out and get gas, wasting more gas in the process.
Now these are some broad and sweeping statements of perspectives that are represented by teachers and administrators, but in a general sense, this is what happens in a school. As an experienced and comfortable classroom teacher, I am constantly thinking of my students first, questioning the use of curriculum, technology, methodology I use in the classroom. As a beginner musher, I am not always so great to take off my manage the family and time hat, and put on my teacher hat. But it really needs to be done. If my end goal is for my dogs and myself to be a successful musher, I need to be willing to change my perspective for the benefit of the dogs in this partnership.
What perspectives have you tried on lately?