Today was one of those days where there was electricity in the classroom air. Students writing, drawing, helping, reflecting; while I circulated, wrote, drew, helped, reflected… It was seamless, and to this nerdy teacher, a beautiful sight to see and experience. I stopped on more than a few occasions and surveyed the functioning fluidity of our classroom community, and beamed a little inside.
Upon arriving home, I lay my bags on the steps, prepare afternoon snack, and let out little Berns. I stood there at the back door and my mind drifted off in reflection of all the great strides my students have made this year. Then my thoughts are rebounded back to Slice of Life.
This is my second year participating in the SOL challenge. I started it last year, having never ever written publically in my entire life. I welcome a challenge and am one of those weirdos that subscribe to the, If it makes you uncomfortable, If you are hesitant or scared, go full force ahead. It gets me in trouble sometimes.
Last year it was new. It was exciting and I felt the swell of the novel tide, swept up in commenting and community and sheer printed bluntness.
This year it is new. Different in the sense that I am different. In the same way my students experience a new grade, there are new expectations, new feelings, new surroundings and people in the space time continuum.
I find myself this year going to a deeper place in the pit of my gut, less apprehensive about the repercussions of the weight the authenticity of my words will bear upon my reader. Is that inconsiderate? I don’t know. Is that careless? Not sure. All I know is that when I feel like I cannot write about something… When I feel like I am stuck… I go to my gut. What am I feeling? What’s real and what’s true? Where else is there to go when the snarl is facing you? Sometimes, it’s not pretty.
Lately, what seems to be true seems to only manifest and articulate itself in the form of poetry. Often… even at times when I have begun writing a narrative. Why? I ask myself… Maybe because I’m having a hard time articulating my feelings? The chaos of my surroundings influences the flow of my verse. Yeah, Yeah. duh. I know.
The words are staggering out. They are jagged. They are rough. They are scraped up in the gravel, entangled with grits of sharp stone. Ouch. It hurts. Until I come to a place of verse… I’m rhyming for God’s sake. I haven’t been a rhymer since Junior high, and I find myself… I find that that is what is coming out. That is what feels right.
I read The War of Art this past year by Steven Pressfield, and it’s impacted me greatly in all aspects of my life. “The professional does not permit himself to become hidebound within one incarnation, however comfortable or successful. Like a transmigrating soul, he shucks his outworn body and dons a new one. He continues his journey.”
I’m continuing the journey, my journey. As a writer and as an educator and implementing the lessons along the way. Pushing self- doubt and the ugly resistance I have towards my craft aside. Every piece may not be a masterpiece, but it is my piece all the same, never before recognized in time and place.
I take these lessons. Frustration-Satisfaction-Reinvention-Revision into the classroom with me and have developed a fresh perspective in regards to my students; their work ethic, their frustration, their passion. How can I expect a student to feel engaged and invested in an assignment if it is not authentic?… If it does not originate itself from an authentic place of feeling and emotion and being? I cannot. How can I expect a student to feel comfortable sharing their work if I do not foster a community in which I practice what I preach and put myself out there as well?
Maybe this seems like yesterday’s news, but I was not always a teacher who presented completed pieces of written work to my students. Model, yes. Published completed, not so much. Now I do and it’s made all the difference. They see me differently. I see my students for who they are individually and I see my classroom for its whole, as an energetic dynamic entity in need of the infusion of energy, motivation, sharing, and commenting. It’s fluid. The energy. It’s alive. It needs to be nurtured and cared for.
I am such a nerd. I own it and I’m cool with that. Writing means something to me. I dive deep into what matters to me and what I feel and I use this medium to articulate the madness.
Sometimes my writing, it feels electric, and sometimes it falls short of my expectations. Always- pen to paper- finger to keyboard- It’s still a spark. It’s still me on my journey, not shutting the show down and turning off the lights. I will continue to do so, and I know, I feel, deep in my gut, that that spark is all that’s needed sometimes to ignite an electric fire.