And that’s a good thing.
Because creative folks like me (and I believe we’re all creative) shake things up when we’re bored. (We sometimes get in trouble, but if we do too much cost-benefit analysis we will never break the cycle.)
This past week, the week after break, I gave my students space and time to work, clean up assignments, and it’s working well. But I couldn’t help feeling something was missing. It’s tough to look at curriculum I created, like a painting or sketch, and know it’s not done, it’s not good enough, and it needs more. I have little guidance, or opportunity for dialogue, and am professionally isolated this year. (More about that when I analyze Call-Out Culture, losing my tribe, and being sent to the metaphorical solo igloo.) Rest in peace, Jean Briggs. I feel you. It’s sure darn cold and lonely when you’re iced out of the group.
And very timely, the gentlemen at The Great Handshake wrote the essay I needed:
My co-blogger Adam always says that great teachers are really just about making moments. Those kind of moments form memories by disrupting the normal blur of the school day, and those memories connect to some kind of learning for the students in our classrooms. Unfortunately, we often forget the great gift of memorable moments. We tend to let each day pass without noticing, and we fall victims to the seduction of forgetting. It seems kind of nice not to think, but before we have taken notice we are bored and miserable.
Those words, ‘memorable moments.’ There are a hundred of them every day. The student who says, “I love coming to this class!” with no sarcasm or cynicism, the ELL student who wants to keep writing on the Digital Dogs post, the colleague who says a kind word, or the young thinker who uses the digital tools to create something new and solid, and supports my instructional efforts.
The best teachers and educators recognize this tendency that we all have to slide through our days without any meta-cognition, and they become masters of disruption. They have the ability to build fences, around huge spaces where kids can feel secure and creative, and then within that space, they disrupt, ignite and engage.
The thing is–and I am not alone–we teachers live in fear so we falter, freeze and fail. Our nature as educators is to meet and exceed standards: and if those standards are subjective and punitive, we stumble Sisypheanally up a mind-numbing hill. If we are to empower and engage our students, we must look to our own engagement and empowerment first.
What this looks like may not fit into a subjective checklist. It is now my mental challenge to get over that, get beyond it, and not allow it to stifle this process.
Thank you for the reminder, gentlemen.