What might it look like if you had an unshakable faith in the possible? I don’t think that’s as much about “hope” as it is being able to visualize clearly what could happen if . . .
We know that research supports this theory of visualization as practice. When we create pictures in our mind’s eye, we can create the impossible. Impossible becomes “I’m possible” as we often tell scores of children in classrooms across the country. We also talk about a “growth mindset” that allows us to use setbacks and failure as springboards to success.
I’ve been thinking a lot about those ideas as I get ready for another year teaching ELA to 7th graders.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my younger daughter who absolutely didn’t, couldn’t ride a bike — and had no interest in practicing with either her dad or me. We offered treats, training wheels, and trinkets. She scoffed at the idea. She was six years old. I was convinced she’d go to high school never having learned to ride a two-wheeler.
Her older sister could be found zooming around everywhere on her bike — but Younger Daughter decided her scooter was good enough. So, while packing up for a weekend camping trip, my husband threw both the bike for our older daughter and the scooter for Younger Daughter into the truck. Last minute, I urged him to throw in the little one’s bike, too. “You never know; she might get the urge to try!” I said ever-so hopefully.
We arrived to the campground late that night, but the next morning our eldest grabbed her bike to ride around. The little one followed earnestly on her scooter while my husband and I sat in our camp chairs, sipping coffee. The scooter was no match for the speed of the bike, though, and I could see a tiny bit of frustration welling up in the little one.
Suddenly, she was back at the truck, tossing her scooter down and grabbing her bike. The bike without the training wheels. I glanced quickly at my husband, whose eyes had locked on YD (Younger Daughter). I had barely looked away from her when out of the corner of my eye . . .
She took off. RIDING HER BIKE. THE BIKE WITHOUT THE TRAINING WHEELS.
A few shaky turns around the corner, but she was OFF! I screamed at my husband to follow her because, surely, she would crash. And so he did — running after a little biking speed demon. A few minutes later, he returned, breathless. “She seems just fine,” he explained. I was dumbstruck.
Hours later — ok, maybe it was just a few minutes later — YD returned on her bike, set it down, and wanted breakfast.
ME: Honey — WOW! You rode that bike like a pro!
YD: Yeah. What’s for breakfast?
ME: (ignoring the child’s hunger) How did you learn to ride your bike? You’ve never practiced!
YD: I practiced in my head.
And with that, she was done explaining. She’d practiced in her head. Later, I would prod and she’d reveal how she would picture herself riding her bike, without falling. I think the balance she gained on the scooter probably helped, but it was the visualizing that made the difference.