13 August 2010

TEACHING IS A CONTACT SPORT

  I have been quiet on Twitter the past three weeks, have only skimmed my Reader files, stopped most posting to my delicious and diigo accounts, even forgot to check facebook (!) One week of that was vacation, so I was doing much more interesting stuff, but for the other two weeks I needed the noise in my head to go away as I hold my breath before school starts. And I am about to write a post for me,  without bullitts and and way too long.
  I don't know a teacher anywhere who doesn't hold his/her breath in those last days before the onslaught: I live inside my head more than most people (my family tells me so), so once school starts, I will spend some of the next nine months missing the time to think, savor, reflect, READ, make connections, explore any flights of fantasy that appear as I tackle each new text for the umpteenth time, and generally, let my abstract random learning style take my mind where it wants to go without considering the practical aspects of the time I am spending on non-school work. I am not going to write a book that will make it all clear for every single teacher who ever walks into a classroom. Don't want to.  Can't: it has become clear to me that it will take my whole career for me to develop the wisdom to teach anyone other than my students. And though this is certainly not the attitude I "should" have in this collaborative learning age: I know things my students need to know.
   For all of history, learned people have passed knowledge to the young. Methods have differed, but there it is. I have read anything I could get my hands on for 45 years, and this experience makes me invaluable to the kids I am about to meet. My enthusiasm for what I do makes me invaluable. We had a good laugh during one class last year, when someone asked if I slept. Surprised, I said "well, yeah, but not much--I can sleep when I'm dead." (They did not get the Warren Zevon allusion. Point to Healigan) They all laughed uproariously, and I realized that they wanted to know how I taught them, had three teens of my own, read books they would never read, stood at the movie theatre in line for both movies they wanted to see and the boring old stuff, liked both the Roots and Mozart, cared about punk art and knitted two of the hangings on my wall, noticed the weather change before they even saw it in the window, watched TV (though they do understand my lack of interest in Jersey Shore) and played video games, went to church every Sunday but admired Islam, etc. We stopped for a minute and I reminded them not to believe everything they saw on TV: regardless of the fact that I was getting older and I was living with wrinkles (horrors) and had to color my hair (toss of the head), the truth was, experience and age made people smarter, and THAT feels good. Class got more interesting for all of us after that. Sometimes kids just want to, need to, listen.
   SO.....though I have spent much of the summer getting great new ideas and techniques from my PLN on twitter and the EC Ning and a Way to Teach, and practicing how to manage a social life on the internet (not too good at it. Still a fan of face to face), I'm done now. Teaching is a contact sport, and summer is for reflection, but September is for playing the game.
   Now is for realizing
 1) what can really be accomplished in the next nine months, and
 2) the power that my particular school environment will have on what I can do with my
    new group of personalities,
 3) it does not have to be new to work, and
 4) we all have to have fun AND work hard. Oh, and that as of September, I will have to  
     avoid mixing my metaphors.
  The best part is that I concentrate on them day to day, that the roller coaster ride that is teaching teens just has to be enjoyed. It is a Zen thing: be in the moment, Leslie. Be mindful of this second and love it, no matter what happens.

1 comment:

Vanilla Chunk said...

for me, it's two weeks until S-Day. On Monday, I'll go into my classroom and see what shape it's in after summer school. Do I still have my couch? My projector? My speakers?
At my school, we have anthologies aligned to our standards and lo to the teacher who ignores those.