Unfortunately, I chose a seat right in the centre of the semi-circle of chairs directly opposite the three Ghanaian drummers who were about to lead our session on TeamBeat. I could feel the hot flush of embarrassment as we were invited to grab a personal drum for the session. My stomach knotted, I felt the pain of self-consciousness and the clock slowed down in slow motion as I realised we were expected to drum, move and dance throughout this session. All of a sudden, my most hated experience in a PD session where a yoga guru led us down a relaxing grassy pathway to a babbling brook (funny how something that is supposed to make people feel at peace makes me tense and unwilling to participate) seemed to be a preferable option. After all when everyone else shuts their eyes in a relaxation session, no one really knows if I'm actually doing the slow breathing and the deliberate relaxing of muscles.
And it was as bad as I feared. These guys were good and everyone was enjoying themselves, but I couldn't coordinate my hands to the demonstrated beat, lifted my left hand when others raised their right in unison, my rhythm always a step or to behind everyone else. I felt another pang of uselessness every time our enthused instructor raised the stakes with a more complex pattern - me being right in his line of sight. One staff member excused himself early to go to an appointment. I wished I was him.
So this is what things are like for many kids in classrooms today. My classroom in all probability. Kids feeling completely lost, hoping like hell that their teacher isn't going to ask them to do anything public and expose their shortcomings. Kids watching the clock, not because they hate learning, but what they are being asked to do is way beyond their comfort level exposing their greatest weaknesses to the scrutiny of their peers. Like me today, they try to lighten the mood with a few witty self-deprecating comments to mask their real fear. It still doesn't make things easier.
I'm not going to say that I'm glad that I had to attend and participate today. That would be a lie. If I had known what was in store for me, regardless of the talented guys leading the way, I would still try and find a way to dodge out of it. But that feeling, that feeling like a kangaroo in the headlights, that feeling of struggling to keep one's head above water, that feeling that many students face on a daily basis in the classroom when I'm the teacher in charge....
.... that feeling is worth remembering.