Sunday, December 18, 2011

Seeing and Not Seeing

Dear friends,

We’re coming up on Christmas, which for teachers means a breathing point. Christmas break is a chance to reassess, eat well and see those we love. I haven’t written for some time because I lacked the perspective necessary to communicate with you all. There is a vicious rut called the “bitch fest” that teachers can fall into. It is traveling on the road of complaint. When stuck there the world becomes myopic and dark and we lose balance. I lost balance for a few weeks. My ambitious undertaking of teaching a four act play had overwhelmed me and I had become immobilized within it. In the process however I gained a great deal of practical teaching skills.

Halfway through this first year I can now see the work I have begun to do. One year ago I graduated from college and had no idea where I wanted to go. The realization and lack of direction was followed by an unforgettable night before commencement. From a house fire to the coming together of family and the further bonding of friends it was the final blow of exhaustion in a long year. In realizing that I can see that I have accumulated a lot of experiences since that unbelievable night. Now I see the long 17 hour drive I took to Mississippi some four months later as a watershed moment. In so doing the students that I have come to love and the string of failures that have resulted in knowledge come into focus. I look forward to the distance that will afford me further awareness and insights into this time.

At this juncture I truly feel on an adventure. The events fueling that realization are the local eccentrics that have endeared themselves to me and the time to be still I was afforded through the blessing of a respiratory infection. Two weeks ago I was in bed for five days, and much like graduation, my brain had some time to heal from the all the damage I inflected on it.

In my stillness I remembered where I came from and in that process saw some successes in my classroom. Three boys (known as Da Boyz) tumble, draw, rap and have a command of language that makes them my A students. We understand each other through a love of underground hip-hop and mutual appreciation of odd cartoons. These relationships sustain me. In seeing someone and acknowledging your vision of them you love them and you can both grow from the experience. At its core that’s what teaching is. I still have much to learn about organization and planning, but those are skills that can be learned and I know they will come.

-Andrew

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