After teaching for six years (two in high school), I made the choice to leave secondary education. In retrospect it became emotionally similar to ending a long-term relationship…
(Article published on Medium.com)
It’s 10 p.m. and one of my best friends and I decide to compulsively go buy about thirty dollars’ worth of flowers. We did this often–impulse buying after stressful days at work. Flowers are practical. And so is that nail polish with self-imposed misogynistic names. Spontaneity kept our minds quasi-busy. The moment we sat down—the moment we stopped—that was when our minds would dwell on heartbreak and failure so seemingly ubiquitous in education.
Continue reading “Breaking Up with a Job You Love”
As a teacher, there are always little flashes of light.
Iridescent glimmers after long hours of digging. Dirt under your nails. Grit in your teeth. A rasp in your breath as you are suddenly able to inhale, with clarity in your lungs, a purpose. The scent of rain after a long drought… the kind that lingers in the air and forms steam off asphalt. That makes wilted plants perk up. It makes the waiting worth it.
The thought of hope made tangible is an addiction worth giving into.
And then there is, of course, the sudden fade to black and dust that I often lose myself in. Blinded by bureaucracy and unrelenting tasks. Suffocated by the lack of positivity. The pile of a to do list that hopelessly grows in the face of the illogical. When you are constantly assessing what you need to do, you begin to wonder if you will ever have time to be yourself again. How can you when your day often stretches beyond the uncomfortable limit of ten hours? The weight of students is often combined with the weight of leaving a personal life behind –writing, riding, gardening, adventuring, loved ones. They tug at each other. But you need both.
Continue reading “Flashes of Light: Present Moments”
One of the hardest things about teaching is the acting.
When you have a weekend, or even just a night, where certain situations push you to emotional exhaustion, or even go so far as changing you, putting an eternal dent in your identity. And then, you suddenly find yourself sitting in front of a class, wondering how to bring the pieces of your mind together. How to convince them that you’re okay when a rush of thoughts are occurring in your head, and your heart sinks into your chest. When you have to remain in the present for them, but the sensation of falling is pulling you back towards stagnation. Grief weighs the most when you stop.
Continue reading “The Balancing Act: Teaching Openly in the Humanities (Part II)”
It’s 7 a.m. and the wheels of my brain are already in spin, its synapses engaged with one of the Great Courses audiobooks from Audible.
In graduate school, the mornings became my haven of thought and research. Gone were my college all-nighters–filled with a glass of wine for inspiration and the double shots of espresso and writing until I got kicked out of the local coffee shop; after which, I would go back to my apartment and sit at my desk, surrounded by notes from my roommates: that I should go to sleep and cease the habit of housing four different types of liquids (normally water, coffee, tea, and diet coke).
The me of the present, who now shuts down mentally at 10 p.m., questions how any of that was possible; but, it does not deny the credibility of memories backed by my lovely and brutally honest college roommates who dislike the name Peter, know that a Mike Tyson can also be George Forman, and question my love of succulents.
Continue reading “It’s all Semantics to Me”
‘The Learning process is something you can incite, literally, incite, like a riot.’ This is what happened that year. We read and talked and disagreed, and the world, so very much world, began to shake inside us as we found our humanity in all this inhumanity, found empathy and compassion, found moral compasses, as we learned to hold history accountable, to hold the newspaper headlines accountable, to hold each other accountable. And all this in English class, not at home, not at church or temple or mosque, but from reading novels with Ms. W. In one year, she turned us into thinkers. I began to understand reading and writing as a revolution, thinking as being a profoundly active verb. I began to understand that a person writing quietly in a room might be burning down the world. And then rebuilding it, word by word, into something magnificent.” -Audre Lorde
It’s a damp, muggy, beautiful July morning in Charleston. I am doing yoga beneath the ancient oak tree that sits by my apartment. From my twisted angle, the sun flickers a honeyed-yellow light between the pieces of Spanish moss. I inhale slowly and close my eyes, forgetting the last of the moving boxes I have to pack. Imagining myself at the front of a high school classroom–finally achieving my purpose: making a difference. I love my college kids, and I am still so passionate about teaching them, but the mentality of the ivory tower drained my idealism within my teaching philosophy. Continue reading “First Years and Appreciation: We Are Not Falling Apart”
The question mark is, perhaps, the most powerful syntactical mark that exists. The nature of the interrogative clause or phrase is that of thought–you inquire as a response to a problem. You draft, you adjust, you adapt, you grow, you think, you try, you test, you risk–all thanks to a question mark. All thanks to a question. What is inquiry but a hypothesis waiting to be tested? What is testing a hypothesis but progressing towards something extraordinary?
It always starts with a question:
Continue reading “Dear Students: Ask Questions”
I love movement. Running. Galloping. Dancing. Walking. Climbing. Movement is freedom. It is the release of anxiety. It elevates my thoughts. It makes me aware of my entire body. It is tangible progress towards something. It is also, sadly, something our westernized culture seems to have forgotten.
Sitting at a desk for eight hours a day, outside of traveling around the country, was one of the reasons I left my government job in Washington. Prior to finishing my Master’s, I knew that a cubicle/office job would not be a sustainable option, but the temptation of random recruitment and the combination of idealism with an opportunity to affect the politics of our country were enough to seduce me. And there I was, in a future I did not predict. Sitting in a cube. Wearing my suit. Drinking my coffee.
Sitting all day, ironically, is exhausting–but not in the manner of exhaustion that envelopes you, cushions you, after a long day of physically exerting work. It is a droopy exhaustion. Lethargy from nothing. Perhaps from preventing a rhythmic flow of blood through your body, or from your spine being contorted over itself. Science-y stuff.
Continue reading “Lazy Mind and Body: the Need for Kinetic Activity (in One-to-One Schools)”