Broken Down in Traffic Who is Going to Help?

Disabled Car Blocking Traffic

Have you ever been stuck in traffic? Slowly inching forward a few car lengths at a time, only to discover that your lane is blocked by a disabled car.

I was the broken down car yesterday.

A broken alternator cause my car and battery to completely fail two-car lengths from one of the busiest intersections in town, during “Rush Hour”. Sitting in the middle of the road with no way to indicate that my car was dead and the transmission was locked in park.

Luckily, I had my phone and was quickly able to call a tow. Unexpected was the lessons I learned about everyday people reactions to me, the stuck motorist.

  • Angry and Unhelpful
    These drivers made an uncomfortable situation worse and potentially dangerous. They sped by honking or dangerously merged out of my lane causing countless near misses with other cars.
  • Friendly and Unhelpful
    These drivers often rolled down a window to see if I needed to make a call or offered a jump start. The problem was that while they had the best intentions a jump start wouldn’t help and if they tried to use tow straps, my transmission would be ruined since it was stuck in park.
  • Oblivious
    These drivers were the ones that barely looked up to realize that they needed to change lanes. Most barely looked up from the device they had in their laps and several almost rear-ended me.

I could not help but think about the parallels of being a stranded motorist and being educator that finds himself / herself sudden deficient in modern, technology infused pedagogies. Basically, they are stuck in rush hour with a car that won’t go.

But how are we like the motorist that I observed?

  • Angry and Unhelpful
    These peers criticize, with righteous indignation, that all educators should be prepared for student-centered, personalized learning. They don’t offer help and assume the educator simply doesn’t want to learn instead of assuming they have a dead vehicle and a locked transmission.
  • Friendly and Unhelpful
    These peers offer lots of encouragement and may even “help” by constantly sharing information about #edchats and curated lists of resources they found on the Internet. They don’t have an understanding of why an educator would hesitate to move forward and assume a bit positivity is all it will take to turn the corner.
  • Oblivious
    These peers are not aware of the struggles of other educators around them. They are either to busy with their own thing or just don’t care.

Have you ever been guilty of the behavior above? I have and now plan on being more like the towman that picked me up. He did a few things that stuck with me:

  1. Created a Safe Place
    Positioned his truck and used his warning lights so that other drivers were aware of the situation.
  2. Invited Me to Get Comfortable
    Let me to get into his truck and warm up. It was only 10 degrees and I’d been sitting for 40 minutes.
  3. Determined the Actual Problem without Making Assumptions
    Asked me a variety of questions and let me know that all modern vehicles have a manual transmission release and showed me how to use it. Then he left my car in my driveway in a spot that allowed me to easily work on my car.

So be the tow truck driver. Now if we could just get all of the stuck teachers to call for a tow.

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