Let's face it, we're all creatures of habit. Call it "muscle memory" or say that "the brain is pattern seeking" but the end result is the same - we tend to sit in the same general location in large classroom or performance spaces.
I'm a back of the room kind of girl. I know that I can get quite antsy. As an adult I can't sit still for longer than 5 minutes (a problem I never had as a child, according to my mother) and have developed a number of strategies to help me stay focused in large group meetings or lectures - I crochet (yes, the rapid movement of my hands while working a pattern helps my brain to focus on what I'm hearing), I fiddle with my fingers and rings, my feet tap dance, and I love it when presenters provide "fidgets'. But I also know that all of these things can be distracting to others, so I tend to sit toward the back of a group so that if I need to stand/stetch/walk for a while it won't bother the whole group.
Imagine my reaction when my friend Rhonda (of Flat Rhonda fame) encouraged me to sit at the center front table at this July's Conscious Discipline Summer Institute (#CD1B2014). "Sit up front," she said. "You'll have to be 'all in'," she said.
And so, against my natural inclination, I sat at the front center table. And I had the best time of my life. Saying that I'd have to be "all in" was putting it mildly. Throughout Becky's presentations she pulled various members from my table to help demonstrate different skills and scenarios. We were just feet away from the action at all times, so we didn't have a chance for our minds to wander. And, to my great joy, the members of my table family were very understanding of my need to move. They could have given me the look every time I picked up my phone, but they knew that I was tweeting my notes and "a-ha"s in the moment so I could easily find them at a later date (and I can't tell you how many times I've gone back to my tweets to remember key concepts from that week). When I started digging through the table basket, they'd pass me my favorite fidget. And when I started to get emotional on Weepy Wednesday (yes, apparently that's a common thing at CD1) they were there with a pat on the back, a quick hand squeeze, or a note of encouragement.
At no point was I worried about what others would think. At no point did I "mark it" - a practice in which a dancer walks through the movement instead of doing it full out in a rehearsal. At no point was I just going through the motions. For one week I was truly ALL IN and I learned more from those around me and about myself in that week than I have in the past year.
So here we go. In a week it will be the first day of my 16th year of teaching. It'd be easy to mark it, but where would that get me? My commitment for the entire school year is to be ALL IN. I'm giving everything my all. I'm doing it full out. I'm sitting in the front row of life. And I challenge you to do the same. Let's see what kind of impact it will have on the year ahead.