I just moved on to my third load of laundry this morning (being a teacher aka academic aka "Visiting Lecturer," my personal, "need-to-get-to" list fills up during the week more often than not). Somewhere in the sorting process, I began thinking about my trek through this blog. I thought about where I'd like this to go, and I began thinking about creating a space for educators to "weigh in" on how things are going in the classroom. We do it already, don't we? In the break room, around the coffee machine (we love our coffee), on Facebook...so why not here as well?
I was joking with my creative writing students the other day after defining the apostrophe. I told them about the now infamous, "O Captain, My Captain" line from Dead Poets Society:
And although this has never happened (it's Hollywood, folks...this is as likely to happen as the scarring, "You complete me" line from Jerry Maguire), it has come close. When I had to leave my first teaching job in Selma, TX after the sudden passing of my father (those students are now sharing Facebook pictures of their pregnancies and weddings, by the way), I was saying goodbye and started to cry. At that moment my students began singing a pronoun song that I had made up in class. It was my "O Captain, My Captain" moment that has yet to be recreated quite that way since.
I have called myself a teacher now for over a decade. But I am still a student when it comes to learning and would love to hear about your experiences as a teacher.
I often find myself telling potential teachers that you can't teach someone how to teach. Think about it. What we learn in the classroom as teachers comes so much more from doing than reading about it, doesn't it? I'm not saying that I haven't picked up on new techniques or asked for advice from fellow teachers on certain issues that have come up. It would be hypocritical of me to call myself a teacher and then close the door on learning anything new for myself. But ideas that have worked for others may not necessarily work for me. We bring our personalities into the classroom. Our classes are, in turn, shaped by the personalities of the students themselves. I always feel sad at the end of the semester when I've had the "perfect mix" of students and know that that will never be re-created again. It reminds me of a story a musician told about his experiences at concerts -- thousands get together under one roof for one night, and this group will never be the same, the exact same, ever again. It's what makes the experience unique, exciting, memorable.
So...in addition to talking about writing/art/creating, I'd also like to use this open forum to discuss the ups and downs of teaching in the 21st century. Even though I said "what may work for you may not work for me," it still helps to know when other teachers are experiencing similar issues or dealing with some of the same issues that I am faced with. And in the sharing of ideas, I may find a solution that fits my needs through our discussions and conversations online. A virtual chat room for the educators/innovators. A virtual classroom.
So, class...let's begin.