Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Prize Pony?!

As for me, prizes are nothing. My prize is my work.
Katharine Hepburn

In an effort to keep my students at least a tad focused next week, I launched a contest today: "It's Almost Spring Break Sestina Sweepstakes!"  We had spent the week in the rain and tears of Elizabeth Bishop's "Sestina" and I wanted them to start turning their thoughts to sunshine (easy enough in our 80 degree weather today!) and to try writing a sestina on their own.  It is not the type of assignment I would grade, but I still wanted sincere effort, so the contest was born.  They will upload their sestinas to GoogleDocs, send me the link, and I will post them on the class website. Then, they will submit their vote for favorites and the highest vote-getter wins a prize.  It took until my last class  of the day to get the question, "What's the prize?"  Upon receiving the sharp look from my quizzical eye, she followed up with, "I mean, are we talking candy or are we talking pony?" 

"Somewhere in between," I said.

Really, it was a fair question.  Don't we often want to know what our reward will be for a job well done?  We use this information to determine whether or not something is worthy of our time, attention, skills and energy.  But maybe we need to be willing to give our effort even when we don't know what the reward might be, or if there will be one at all.   And maybe the best rewards are the ones we don't even know are coming.  Unsolicited compliments from my husband.  An "out-of-the-blue" thank you note from a student who graduated years ago.  The trust of a colleague who needs to talk.  A sincere hug of appreciation from a friend.  An extra half-hour in the sunshine with my boys. 

These rewards sustain us.  They keep us moving forward, keep us willing to help and hope. 

When I was eight, a pony would have been the best prize in the world.  But as I near 38, nothing can beat the rewards my students, my co-workers, my friends and my family surprise me with each day.

1 comment:

Magical Ms. M said...

I love this line from your student, "are we talking candy, or are we talking pony." That's good stuff.