The following blogs make up the chronicle of my last year as a full-time college educator.
A note to all my readers: The following blogs may often be a mess, starting and stopping, fragments, little thoughts, some fully formed story pages, some threads left dangling. I’m not sure how many photos or links I’m going to use, though I know those are sweet little morsels to chew on…Most readers are not so compelled by big blocks of pure text, so I’m giving you this heads up, as it were.
So skip around, read a few words, if you are so moved, come in and out when you feel like it. That’s what I’m doing for now. I cannot promise perfectly regular entries either, but I’m hoping to write weekly, but there’s an intensity and density to the first few days of a school year that I’m trying to capture here.
ALSO: I am starting to poke around for a different platform than WORDPRESS. Thank you ahead of time for reading. But as you know, getting to these blogs requires accounts and or other cumbersome gates to open, so I’m looking for a much simpler, more streamlined way of posting.
I will try to post other blogs as well, but as of today, this will be an ongoing series, made for Netflix, of course. __
August 12, 2020
The school year starts officially tomorrow. Yes, and…
Yes, and …I’m doing it again.
I imagine the whole thing. It is a ritual, it is a yearly reverie.
I imagine the first few days.
For 30 years, I prep myself for the start of the school year, organizing lessons, figuring out which books to assign, looking at the names on my rosters, blah blah, blah. I imagine my imminent semester always with the same smelling idealism—oh, they will come, ready to receive, ready. “Readiness is all.” (Hamlet) I don’t Over plan—I am certainly this: A college prof who plans class but leaves plenty of room for play. It’s a delicious combo for me, one that has seen practice for nearly 30 years. Give myself structure, don’t just WING things, but don’t BOX myself into a lesson plan that leaves no room for the live reality of a sacred space, the classroom.
The classroom is still a kind of holy place for me…miracles can happen, communion occurs everyday, and perhaps the golden touch of change is possible. Change for me, change for others…we will commune. I hope.
I exalt. I imagine. I believe.
They will come, ready to learn, ready, open, curious, awake…
I think about what to wear, make up and hair. I think about shoes!
(I don’t think about shoes anymore, due to the Pandemic. Notes on the Pandemic further on in this blog)
I put lessons together, lightly. Some of these lessons are well-worn, well practiced old shoes, like old coats and old shoes, warm, worn, important, and always effective. Some are brand new, experiments of sorts. Again, I try to find the sweet spot between playful and organized. I don’t want the students to think they have an old hippie who’s gonna wing it…I shiver at that image, and yet I hold it dear to my heart as well. How many great teachers have I had, who just talked and shared their experience and this was enough. I want that sweet spot, baby…between organized and disorganized, between play and work.
I’m thinking of all those students I will be meeting in a few days. I think about my colleagues too, and I want the same relationship with them. Can we find the sweet spot between structure and playfulness? It’s more difficult with my colleagues. Are we too competitive? Are we measured and worried? Are we afraid of each other? Yes, I think we are, a little. It is, after all, our career world. I have learned way way too often that revealing something personal is not often a smart choice in the professional shark tank. We play at being nice. We’re professional. Who’s the “we?” here people? I should just stick to my own experience I know….but I suppose that on the eve of my first few days back to school, I begin to think of myself as part of a larger group…the “We” of community.