Practice makes better

phlebotomyAside from humidity and pop up rain showers, summer ushers in my yearly doctor’s appointments. Last summer I met a nurse who was unskilled at drawing my blood. By the looks of it, she was in her 60s so I assumed she was experienced. She stuck me multiple times, but that red fluid did not spring forth. She enlisted the assistance of another nurse who finally found success after two sticks. Then my life fluid flowed, albeit slowly. During every doctor’s appointment that summer where blood was required, I clinched up, but each nurse seemed to be a master plebotomist.

That horrible experience could be chalked up to one of two things, either I was dehydrated or the nurse was not skilled. When this summer rolled around so did my annual appointments. My heart sped up when that same nurse greeted me with a smile. I am sure she did not remember me.  When it was time to draw blood, I took deep breaths, tried to forget about the previous year, cleared my head, but most of all I wished it was over. Then a thought ran through my mind.

But first some explanation: During the other part of the exam, she mentioned that her job as a medical assistant was a second career. She was a retired police officer who had relocated with family and decided to go back to school. This had been her first year which told me that during my encounter with her last year, she was a newbie.

Now back to the thought that went through my mind: She has done this hundreds of time in the last year so she should be better. She will find that vein on the first stick, I thought. Voila! She came at me with the syringe, I whispered a prayer, and it flowed without incident. Yes!

As I reflected on this experience, I realized that the teacher spirit in me wanted to believe that her repeated experiences had made her more skilled. Instead of requesting another nurse, I gave her another chance. This is the hope I have for my students on day 1 and each of the 180 days thereafter. I am with my students, my 4th graders, coaching them through the proverbial veins of education in their search for the blood of knowledge. Oh that was a bad analogy! During this experience, I felt that same “laboratory” feeling that I feel in the classroom.

Practice makes better or maybe water does. There is still the possibility that I could have been dehydrated, but I am sticking to this story!

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