Just Keep Swimming

That little jingle—be honest you sang the title of this blog—has been a constant companion in my classroom. Every time my students get stuck or frustrated, I would lighten the mood by singing, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” The kids would get my point and they would keep going. Kids don’t naturally want to quit; sometimes we just have to let them know they are close and encourage them to keep going.

In college, one of my teachers was blind—like a seeing-eye dog sleeping under his desk while he lectured. He would write on the chalkboard; and for the first few weeks of class, he would slide his hand down the tray trying to find the chalk but could not find it. I remember the entire class watching in pained silence, willing him to keep moving down two more inches to reach the chalk. There were moments he was a hair’s breadth from his goal, but I guess feeling self-conscience he would stop just moments before reaching it. After two weeks of watching a room of 40 college sophomores and juniors silently lean in unison to somehow “help” him reach the chalk, I could stand it no more!

“Just keep going,” I quietly whispered from the back of the room.

He extended his hand about three inches and reached the chalk. “Thank you,” he said as he wrote what appeared to be “Proclus” on the board.

I think it’s safe to say that we are all blind in some way. We go out into the world trying something new or learning something new. As a teacher, I can see my students’ blindness, and I am there to remind them to just keep swimming. I can see when they are so close, and only a few more moments of struggle will yield the great rewards. I need to encourage them to not give up.




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