Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ragged, dogged blogging

I want so much to be blogging, to get your insight, to have the excuse to think through my own.  Nearly every night I think about it and it's the thing that doesn't have to be done on a huge list of things that do.  Or so I thought.  This week, I got knocked into such a high intensity experience of isolation in my work, that I have decided to prioritize being here.  I think it may be more important that I write with curiosity and passion about the things that I'm thinking about than to complete my checklist for work every day.  Here's what's on my mind:

1- As coaches, I have wondered if it’s our job to be supportive and curious and resourceful and positive, and at the same time be like advertising execs and the stereotypical brilliant wives of important men: secretly influential, so that teachers feel the ownership of their own ideas (truly) and we aren’t being overly dogmatic or pushy, but still getting the ideas out there.  This feels harder for me than teaching by a factor of at least 6.

2- Back in the summer, I was reading one of the UbD books and was intrigued by their use of GPA as a metaphor for planning backwards: that you must know where you're going to plan a route to get there.  In my experience, this is of course a very useful idea, but it was noticeable to me that no where in the book was there any mention of a starting point.  Using rich diagnostic materials and knowing what to look for in student work on those tasks is challenging, and using the information that comes out of those diagnostics can feel like realizing that you're trying to get from Brazil to NYC barefoot.  But I can't help but believe that this is an essential component of teaching, as it's only by knowing where we begin that the pathway to any end can be direct and useful.

3- Students all want to learn.  Teachers all want their students to learn.  Coaches all want their teachers to successfully work with kids so that they learn.  We are seriously in it together, and often our actions don't match these truths.  Damn.

4- You know that feeling that you get when you're about to do something big: take a trip, move in with someone, start a new job...For me, it feels like the whole world is opening and all sorts of possibilities that normally feel outside my regular realm of experience are all available to me.  I am capable of so much and I can't wait to experience what's coming.  I want to live on this edge all the time.  I want to live each moment like the world is full of possibilities and I'm about to take them all on.  Enthusiastic, strong, ready.

5- Sometimes it's important to just buckle down and spend way more time than I'd like doing work to prepare for what's coming.  I'll feel better being prepared, and it's just a true thing that education takes time to do well, or at least to learn how to do well.  Sometimes it's also important to just be present to whatever is happening, to enjoy it or feel it's discomfort, but to resist the temptation to distract myself with work and to practice radical self-acceptance.  Then it's cool to do both at the same time.

Sending you all abundance in every realm, acknowledgment for the incredible work that you do, no matter how imperfect, because this work that we do is impossibly hard, completely worthwhile and you're the only ones doing it.  Thank goodness.


  1. I will be brave and admit, I too, suffer from teacher isolation. I blog, I try to be funny, share a few things that mean something....and, I feel like no one cares. No comments. I see traffic...the blogger initiative folks said we should really blog for ourselves, but truthfully, I blog for connection to passionate folks.
    Thank you for being brave and reaching out to those of us who are trying to resourceful, trying to teach our students to think, and taking risks.

  2. Dear dear touching and kind. It is you who offer with this comment the community, support and encouragement that we all long for. I'm excited to visit your Mathland! Be well, chin up and trust...all that you so generously offer is coming back to you!