Lessons from a Fox

A few months ago I met Gaspard the Fox, the most handsomest fox in London. I also connected with Gaspard’s human, Zeb.

If you’re not familiar with this story, it is a magical tale of friendship between man and creature. It has captured me. In fact, it was such a beautiful story, that I’ve introduced my Littles to Gaspard and Zeb, too.

As I’ve observed this friendship, that for me has really unfurled over 140 character and image combinations on Twitter, I realized that Gaspard has been teaching me things about teaching.

Ask for help. Gaspard was injured and found Zeb’s front stoop. She knew she needed help. I’m not sure she knew she was asking a human for help, but in her own way, she reached out. We need to ask for help. We might not be sure who to ask, either–but we need to ask someone. Whether it’s someone in our building, district or Twitter PLN. Even if we don’t know what we are asking for? We need to ask. Often we don’t know what we don’t know–we just know we feel weary or overwhelmed or spent. Just ask.

Be Loyal. Gaspard is a celebrity now. Yet she remains loyal to Zeb, even to the point of introducing two of her pups to Zeb. Be loyal to your school’s mission and vision. If you can’t be loyal to it? It’s probably time to find somewhere else that fits better. Or? It’s time to be a voice to help change the trajectory of your school. But, be loyal. Don’t be a naysayer; don’t undo the hard work and effort that everyone is a part of each day. Wear your school with pride, even on the days where you’re frustrated. In fact, especially on those days.

Trust. Gaspard trusts Zeb. He hand feeds her aged Parmesan. She waits for him to return after work listening for the click of his bicycle wheels on the pavement. We need to trust each other in our schools. We need to relax our grip to make room for another pair of hands. We have to be willing to share our vulnerabilities in order that trust be established and maintained.

Keep the wonder. I check my Twitter feed daily to see if Gaspard has been seen. You see, she doesn’t visit Zeb daily. There’s a constant expectancy. That’s what we need to build for our learners. Each day we need to captivate them with wondering what is next. Learning moments  need to be connective and relevant and filled with wonder.

Be true to yourself. After all, Gaspard is still a fox. She is independent and sly and nimble. She hasn’t changed who she is, but has invited Zeb into her world. We can’t lose who we are as educators. We can’t be buried by the bureaucracy. We need to be who we are to get the most out of our learners. We can’t compromise our philosophies.

REST! One of the last images Zeb has shared of Gaspard is this one.

She is weary. She is flat out on her belly, on the pavement. We all feel like this at various times in our school year. We have to stop what we are doing on occasion and simply rest. Rest our minds, rest our hearts and rest our souls.

There are lessons all around. I feel blessed to be an observer of this uncanny animal friendship and even more so for what it’s teaching me!

Salut, Gaspard! (& Zeb for letting me share in your story!)

P.S. To learn more about Gaspard and Zeb, take a peek on Twitter @gaspardthefox and @zebsoanes

Author: Dr. Valerie King

Quirky thinker. Joyful teacher. Perpetual learner. For the Kids.

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