What the completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks has taught me about challenge and success

As I write this it hurts to sit down, it hurts to type, it hurts in places that have nothing even to do with walking!

On Saturday, along with 5 friends, I walked the Yorkshire Three Peaks – a 25-mile hike between, up and down three (very big) hills in North Yorkshire.

I’ve never walked 25 miles before – let alone up and down hills, over rough ground and through bogs –  yes we got lost.

You may be one of the people who can run that sort of distance, I’m not, so for me this was a massive challenge.

Since struggling up the hills I’ve drawn a few interesting parallels and reflections on other challenges I, and the people around me, face on a daily basis.

The assumption of success

Noone on the 25-mile walk even suggested that we should give up. Maybe some thought it (I didn’t), but the fact it wasn’t suggested meant it wasn’t even considered. I feel like this is the case with some of my students, and not with others. Some students have an assumption they’ll succeed – others have the assumption they probably won’t.

I’m going to consider this in my teaching – do I teach students to succeed or do I teach them not to fail – and what is the difference?

With the assumption of success, you’re already halfway there.

Team spirit

I don’t think I’d have achieved this if it hadn’t been for the people I was with. Despite all having different abilities (I was often at the back), we cheered, distracted and helped each other to the same goal.

How could I cultivate an environment in my classroom where students are supporting and encouraging each other?

Heading towards the final peak, with about 15 miles still to go.
Heading towards the final peak, with about 15 miles still to go – I’m at the back!

Speed Vs progress

When climbing hills like that speed is not important – it’s only progress that makes a difference. Even with tiny, painful steps the landscape changes around you – showing that constant progress. In the same way, when learning something new the shape of your ability and quality of work changes.

How could I show students this in the classroom? Or myself when I’m working towards one of my larger goals.

How can I assimilate that feeling of looking at a changed landscape after only a few minutes painful baby steps?

The ever-changing landscape from the top of the final peak

The importance of comparable challenges

I have a number of challenges in my life. But none are as clear and obvious as that of walking up a hill.

I will use that as a personal metaphor when I reach something difficult and try to find a comparable challenge for my students – what have they done which compares to the challenge at hand? Do they have something outside of school which could give them the grit and resilience they need in the classroom?

How many of your challenges could you compare with this?

How could your challenges help you understand your students’?



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