Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mastery: Quantative vs. Qualtative and Living In the Gray

Ok, bear with me on this one.

Today in our morning meeting with the teacher leadership and Administration group, we had a good conversation about what in edu speak we call Mastery Based Skills or Content. We discussed what "mastery" should represent in the context of student learning.  My understanding from the work we had done in August was that skills are mastered or they are not. You know or don't know. You can do or not do. For example: the student demonstrates mastery of the five rules of improv or not. You catch my drift.  There is quantifiable evidence collected and a grade can be given.

The conversation that evolved is that there are in fact "levels of mastery"... The gray...and it is not so black or white. 

Stay with me, I'm getting there...

I went back to read the comments on Facebook from friends who had read this mornings blog post about feeling successful and confident and all the complications that go with it. The incomparable Deborah offered a good reminder: that much of the WLS journey is a mind game and comparisons are inevitable.  It is a tough head space to be in but we all go there from time to time and it is simply a place of gray where we may need to flounder for a bit until we regain our footing. In addition, each person is so different from the next. Height, starting weight, co-morbidities, size of new sleeve, age....you name it and it is another variable in the equation that equals success. 

Who can say among us that we have mastered WLS? My guess is that even those that have reached goal and are in maintenance would say they have not mastered their sleeve. This process is not black and white. It is as gray as it comes. Our level of mastery will differ depending on all the variables that make up each of our unique equations.

Does not being the most successful, demonstrating the greatest level of mastery (losing the most weight the fastest) mean that we have failed or that the success we have had is not valid or simply enough?  This is where quantitate vs. qualitative comes into play.  While the number of pounds lost is quantitative as is my BMI, lower blood pressure, number of medications I take, rate with which I have lost, and average intake of calories per day or even grams or protein I eat the real mastery of this journey is the qualitative.  They are the things that can't be measured.
  • The feelings I had the first time I walked up the subway steps in Union Square and my knees didn't hurt.
  • Feeling beautiful at Tes's wedding in June when for the first time I was not ashamed to stand up in front of a crowd and be looked at.
  • Telling the girl at The Gap in July that it was the first time I had shopped off the rack in 17 years and how she told me how proud she was of me.
  • The experience of flying on a plane and not having to ask for a seatbelt extender.
  • Feeling confident enough to want to do a pin-up photo shoot.
  • Writing this blog.
It has opened up so many conversations and I have been able to answer countless questions and support others on the same journey, and many who are not because I have been able to live in the gray.  

I will say this: the person whom I referenced and the comments that were made is an amazing person and has been there for me in countless ways.  I simply needed to process my own feelings and this blog is my forum and I share it publicly.

My friend Sara called tonight and we had a wonderful visit.  She raised a great point that she didn't see what the person had said as negative but as a cheering on- which I am sure is how it was intended.  The reality is, that labels are powerful and I have worked so hard to shift to a new way of thinking about myself, trying to move as far from that label as possible. Easier said than done.  

I will keep writing and keep challenging myself and my thinking and encouraging dialogue and questions. Thank you for reading.

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