Let’s Have Some Fun

Tomorrow I begin my 32nd year of teaching. I wish I had a crystal ball to see what the school year will hold—the high and low points, the most challenging and most memorable students, the ways that my teaching and learning will evolve and what will be the biggest influences on my own professional development.

While some measure of predictability would be nice, it’s really not the best part of my job. In the first few days, I will take the measure of my students and classes, trying to figure out what they most need and use that as the basis for my time with them. I hope my 31 years of experience will come in handy at least occasionally, but if it doesn’t, that’s OK too. We have to start where we are, and figuring out what that means with each class is the most important thing I will do this week and maybe every week.

That’s the great thing about such a people-driven occupation. I’m not the same teacher I was a year ago, a decade ago, and certainly not 30 years ago. I’m still looking for ways to reach students in new and different ways, and I’m constantly trying to discover and integrate the meaning of my work life into my life as a whole.

Similarly, my students are unique individuals experiencing a time of life when they are in search of their identities. Sometimes they will be inconsistent and unpredictable, but that’s all part of a much larger discovery process. Maybe I can play a small role in that process. Maybe they can play a role in my process too.

This summer I read Burned In: Fueling the Fire to Teach, edited by Audrey A. Friedman and Luke Reynolds. One contributor mentioned this quote from Thomas Merton, and it resonates strongly with me in these times when so many critics of education think the answers can be found in policies or data: “In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.”

To any teachers reading this, I hope you have a great school year, full of discovery, meaning, and just the right amount of pleasant surprises. Let’s have some fun!

About these ads
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Let’s Have Some Fun

  1. Mindi Rench says:

    Gary, I loved this part of your blog:
    ” I’m not the same teacher I was a year ago, a decade ago, and certainly not 30 years ago. I’m still looking for ways to reach students in new and different ways, and I’m constantly trying to discover and integrate the meaning of my work life into my life as a whole.”

    I think this describes my own journey over the past 17 years. I am constantly striving to learn more and to be a better teacher than I was the year before. Each year about this time, just as school is about to start, I think about the teacher I USED to be and realize just how much I’ve grown. I hope that through leading by example, I can help my students to see how fulfilling it really is to be a lifelong learner.

    Good luck in your new school year. I’m sure it will be a great one!

  2. Jen H. says:

    I enjoy reading your blog and reflecting on my own thoughts as a teacher. I’m starting year 18 this week. Best wishes to you for a great year!

  3. mardie says:

    Your post reminds me of something I once read about one member of The Group of Seven (Canadian artists) who lamented that in all of his years of work he had never learned to use the colour green perfectly. Maybe it was Tom Thompson, but I’m not sure. In any case, after first thinking the guy was totally off his rocker (I thought he used green quite well, thank you very much), I realized that’s the way it is with a true artist. He/she is never completely satisfied with the last painting because there’s more to see, more to paint, more to learn. Teaching is like that too. Have a great year, Gary. And know that many of us who are not officially your students learn from you every day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s