Neverending Stories

One of my favourite books from my childhood, ok, maybe my teen or young adulthood. Click the image to view source and read more about the book and the movie.

Neverending Story

2 lessons that never end for me – gleaned from my last post and its comments:

(Another one is my procrastination technique of updating and or creating and or redesigning blogs when I have other things to do. On that note… back to knitting. I have roughly 7 hours to knit about 2 feet of scarf and to go buy some icing sugar, which I forgot to buy yesterday, in order to make fudge for tomorrow.)

I wish you only the best for your holiday, whatever that may be :)

I demand achievement!

Yesterday afternoon was gorgeous – a perfect afternoon for a shopping spree in Montreal, which I hadn’t done in a long while. It’s as if I were a tourist in my own city, since I no longer live in Montreal but lived there for so long.

In the very first store I visited (after stopping in at the Korean grocery on Ste Catherine street for kim bap to eat as I strolled in the sun) I couldn’t help but purchase this bag. I was going to get it even after only seeing this side:

teacher

and then I turned it around – priceless! – I ran to the cashier.

student

I feel like this is all I write about.

Sure, I demand achievement from my students. But they are always reminding me to ‘get a grip’. How do we balance high standards for achievement with getting a grip, with staying real?

When it comes down to it, if I only demanded achievement from my students I wouldn’t get it. Some might try to give it, those ones who are lucky enough to know how to get it through traditional means. But what about those who have other needs that must be met first, before they can even fathom academic achievement?

The teacher on the bag demands achievement – from who? Her students? Herself? Her school? In order for authentic achievement to happen on any level it ideally needs to happen on all of them. We need to listen to each other’s stories, really listen, to develop a relationship with each other that makes us want to achieve together. In that way we can expect achievement, expect success, happiness, accountability, change, love.

Really, I feel like this is all I write about. All I talk about. We can’t expect achievement (academic, social, professional development…) if that is all we demand. Real achievement is collaborative, it is relative, it is caring.

I almost didn’t post this because I feel it is all I write about, that it is the same old story. But then I remembered that there is a reason for stories. The stories we tell and listen to and choose to believe are the ones that tie us together and keep us alive.

So I’ll keep telling this story. I think it’s a good one to tell.

Who are teachers?

“Today’s topic…self-construction”

KRS-One **audio from 1vibe.net, April 22, 2008

7 months ago (though I just discovered it) Clay Burrell wrote On Leaving Teaching to Become a Teacher:

More and more I wonder: is school a good place for teachers who want to make a difference in the lives of their students, and to the future of the world? Is there a way to leave the daily farce of gradebooks, attendance sheets, tests, corporate and statist curriculum, homework assignments, grade-licking college careerist “students” (and parents), fear of parents and administrators, and fear of inconvenient socio-political truths – and at the same time, to make a far more meaningful impact on the lives of the young?

I’m thinking yes. I’m thinking, moreover, obviously. I’m not sure how much longer I want to work for schools. I’d so much rather teach.

Coinciding with that discovery was 2 others:

But really, there are no coincidences.

My mission as a teacher has to do with teasing out the stories, with helping people find their stories – the most positive ones they can.

Like Clay, I don’t think that teaching is relegated to the classroom. In fact most real content that affects peoples lives is not found in the classroom, it’s found in the experiences that make up each of our stories.

Example: KRS-One is truly a teacher. He inspires to create a positive story.

“Today’s topic – self-construction”

“… This is an opportunity for you to rise to your highest self. There it is.”

I’m not going to tell you his story, watch the video up top, and you’ll get an idea of where those quotes come from.

The point here, is that teachers are found all over.

So why do I choose to teach in the classroom?

Classroom teaching is a unique opportunity to help young people choose their direction and write their stories. It’s like living is research, and the classroom is the lab where we get to make sense of all that cool data.

My job has so much more to do with helping kids organize the information that comes at them (the stories of the world) in a way that makes sense for them, then it does with teaching them the stories of the world, and so much more than it does with “…gradebooks, attendance sheets, tests, corporate and statist curriculum, homework assignments, grade-licking college careerist “students” (and parents), fear of parents and administrators, and fear of inconvenient socio-political truths…”

Yeah, there’s some paperwork and politics. I keep my mind focused on student need and my core values of relationship and hope for the future, and the paperwork and politics don’t seem as important. Everything falls into place.

Cause this is what I am supposed to be doing.
It’s the best way I know to rise to my highest self, and to help others do the same.

That’s why I teach.

The Experience Project

I just this moment discovered this project through facebook – in one of those ads that usually annoy the crap out of me in the left hand column (they annoy me because a) they are usually about finding an adult friend or signing up for some kind of scammy looking deal; and b) when I am at home on my weak little 512mb of ram machine they slow down the page loading process). This time though my eye quickly snagged on the idea of teacher stories that was in the headline, so I clicked.

My click brought me to a page with this header image:

First browse makes me like it – a site dedicated to sharing inspirational stories about teachers and teaching is a good thing in my books. Any time we share stories that touch our deep cores about what matters most to us as people we are one step (or maybe, actually, a million steps) closer to creating more of those kinds of experiences.

Once I scanned through the first page I was drawn by ‘The Experience Project’ logo, I like the font, the colours – simple blues (not so sure about the anxious little character at the front, though).

Took me a few moments to find out how to get to the project main page (maybe they need a link that is more obvious…) but once I did I was glad I got there.

I definitely need to explore this some more, but Chalk it Up seems to be but one element of the Experience Project – a social networking site dedicated to sharing the stories that make up our most positive experiences.

Pretty cool stuff. I’m thinking this kind of thing can be a great way to collect and preserve stories shared during an appreciative change process in an organization.

I’m going to join and find out some more about it.

Maybe you can too.

If you do, I am harmonicagoldfish :)