Sunday, September 22, 2013

a new home for an old soul

i have always fluctuated in the way that i approach new paths -- sometimes i am a full-speed-ahead voyager, other times i proceed with caution.  the path that after-school paved is no different.  i flung myself head-first into this work, but find comfort in the familiar - writing lesson plans, professional development, too many meetings to keep straight in my mental calendar. there is the comfort of september and bulletin boards brazen with our boasts.

i am comfortable knowing that my fight against injustice takes place no matter where i am, and that finding peaceful solutions to violence has become a daily way of life.  I’ve learned so much in returning to the place I grew up to work, breathe and be again.  i do not always practice what i preach, but in terms of the ways i connect with students, i try hard.  one of the things that students have said to me before is that they want to learn from me because i tell them stories about myself, my life, who i am.   i don't know any other way to teach, than to talk about my experiences.  if i connect what we're learning to myself, there's a greater chance that my students will try to connect it to themselves, as well.

with strong movement professionally, it’s interesting that i find myself personally withdrawing – but it’s a testament to the fact that my heart now lives outside of my body, in the form of a 12 month old runningman, with comedic timing like no other, a double-dimpled grin that absolutely leaves me powerless, and a natural Mohawk to die for.  while i have not grown comfortable while waxing domestic, the role of motherhood is much like the role of teaching.  i come to the work jumping off of cliffs without looking, and find myself too exhausted to sleep… yet the joy is unparalleled.  my son is more astounding than i could’ve ever guessed, so much so that i struggle to write well about his influence on my psyche.

but one thing is for sure – he is an old soul.  he hears music from the past and recognizes it; he is well beyond his year.  the time that separates us is spent working with other children, sharing my stories, teaching them new ways to do and think, trying to complete the circle so that one day i will practice what i preach full-time, and know how to navigate the newest path unfolding before my feet.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

a classroom elegy

welcome back to my educator friends!  i enjoy the crisp air of fall during the evenings of late summer, because it signals another year of opportunity, growth and learning -- for both me and my students.  while i understand how short the breath of fresh air during summer can feel, i also have a new respect for people in other professions who do not get the glory of a well-deserved summer.  though i am still in education, i am not currently a classroom teacher, and spent my summer in programs with youth, running events with families and planning for the fall - so my vacation was lived in weekend getaways up north or day trips to my favorite Michigan places.

this year, we have lofty goals in our program to increase our connection to the school day, so that we are reflecting routines and habits of mind that classroom teachers are using, and to increase and invite parent connections in our program - so that there begins to be parity between what we're teaching and the messages students are getting at home.  we have a unique position as an after-school program that requires our parents to pick-up, that we see them on a daily basis.  we're also looking to build community partnerships in Wayne and Westland, so that we can build our community action club and youth advisory council's connections to life outside of our program.

more updates coming soon!  good luck setting up your classrooms (for those in NYC) and on your opening days with kids (in Michigan).  may it be a great fall of questioning, reading, writing and understanding a little more each day.