Not that long ago at The Cloverleaf School, we took a two-week fall break….a pause, if you will. I spent one of those weeks in the north Georgia mountains with my Mom. To celebrate her 65th birthday, I rented a chalet in the resort town of Sky Valley, Georgia. Each day, we were surrounded by gorgeous vistas, glorious mountain-top views, and trees with leaves of extraordinary hues. What was missing? There were no cell phone towers, no wireless internet routers, and absolutely no way to connect with “Words with Friends” or “Candy Crush Saga.” In a nutshell, we took a pause from modern-day life. How would all of my friends on Facebook know that I was alive? How could I connect with the rest of the world? Would I have to write a letter? Are stamps still for sale?
During this pause, the strangest thing happened. A surprising connection was made between me and my mom. This connection was not made over high-speed fiber optic cables; rather, it was made face-to-face. Mom and I have a great relationship and spend plenty of time together in the real world.
So how then did I end up finding out new and fascinating facts about our family? Well, the answer is simple: she talked and I listened. Without the distractions of the “virtual” world, Mom was able to reminisce with me in the real world about her real childhood in the very real mountains where we were staying. I paused long enough to actively listen. I was engaged, asked follow up questions, and even took the time to write about what I was learning. Perhaps one day I will be able to genuinely connect with my daughter while on a birthday trip to those very mountains. By then, they will most likely hold all the trappings of the virtual world. Maybe I can request that the front office shut down those amenities to our chalet in order to truly pause.
During this trip, I also paused to reflect on my teaching. Do I pause long enough to listen to the answers my students give? Do I pause long enough to listen to their stories that might be off topic from our current learning objective but still very important? Do I pause long enough to ascertain what their true passions might be? As a teacher, I assign homework. Here is homework for all of us: think about what part of our day could use the power of a pause.