I came to an interesting realization yesterday. Well, interesting to me at least. I was thinking about how good it felt to write my last blog post. I was thinking about how, when it’s quiet and I have some time, I like to write blog posts.
Then I took a look back at my blog and realized that, while I don’t post as much as many (rare to get more than one blog post a month from me), I have posted about once a month for several years years now. And then I started thinking about all the other writing I do/have done: narratives, my gigantic thesis, proceedings paper for conferences, private journals, various essays. And then I thought about how writing has been a constant in my life since I wrote a winning entry and went to the Young Authors conference way back when I was twelve years old.
And I had this sudden realization that I am a writer.
That was a major shift in my identity. Subtle too though because I think I’ve always been a writer but just didn’t know it. As soon as I had that, I guess I can justify the word here, revelation, it felt right, like a puzzle piece fitting into the empty space where it belongs.
And then so much about what I do and who I am made sense. I LOVE to teach writing. It’s one of my favorite things to teach. Why? Because I’m passionate about it.
When it’s quiet in my home (rare these days…thankfully!), one of the activities I find a deep sense of personal fulfillment within is writing blog posts. Why? Because I’m a writer.
I want to earn my PhD some day. Why? Partly because I want to learn more, of course, but also because I want to write more about what I started writing about in my thesis. Crazy to my husband and many others but now perfectly sensible to me. Why? Because I’m a writer.
So, big deal, right? What does this have to do with anyone but me? Well, not much, except that it does speak to this little phrase “life-long learner” we toss around all the time in the field of education. We want our students to become, or remain, life-long learners. But how do we do that? How do we ensure that throughout their lives our students are going to continue to try new things, and push outside their comfort zone, and reflect on what they are doing and critically think and rethink what they are doing in life and why?
Those answers are huge, complicated, and multi-layered. But I think that one key is to model to our students that we are learning too, and loving all the joy, difficulty, discomfort and accomplishment that comes with learning at any age. Kids aren’t stupid; they know what an adult learner looks like. So you can’t fake it. You have to find a way to work in what your passionate about into your life as a teacher and a parent so kids can see for themselves what it looks like.
Another piece is to help kids find what they are passionate about. Help awaken that. I would hope that finding one’s passion or calling in life would be an important part of what teachers call ‘teaching’ each day.
Finally, make sure that the kids are enjoying themselves enough and feel safe and relaxed enough to allow for self-discovery and a love of learning in the classroom. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times; we force children to go to school, the least we can do is make it a fun place to be. Our students are, after all, children. It’s a good exercise to watch how they act and what they do when left on their own and then compare it with how they act and what they do in a school or classroom.
So a huge realization led to deep thinking about teaching philosophy on a Saturday morning and also, surprise, surprise, a whole bunch of writing…
Photo accessed September 21, 2013 from Flickr: My Most Treasure Gift.