Monday, March 7, 2011

Defining moments

"And the next time I teach this course, I'd like to..." was the phrase that clinched it for me.  I realized when I heard myself speaking those words that I want a next time...I want to teach this class again...this is where I want to be.  It took both that defining moment and every bit of resolve I have to turn down the non-teaching role I was offered last week.  To look a person I admire in the eye and say that I'd rather be in the classroom than in the role being offered.

Conventional wisdom says that we advance in our chosen professions, that we take the next step up the ladder, that we move, ultimately, into management.  I've taken those steps before--sometimes choosing wisely; other times not--and I am honored (and not a little surprised) to be given another opportunity.  But if I have a calling, it is to lead within the classroom, rather than without.  It's not a perfect job and there are days when I question not only why I do it, but also whether I am remotely competent.  The answers to both why and whether are seeing a student have his "aha" moment or hearing a student say she's thought about something in a completely new light.  And one of the greatest joys is reading what students are capable of writing, especially when they given room to find a voice--their own.The one they lost in some academic desert.

It was hard for me to hear that my "no" was a disappointment to that person I admire.  It would have been far harder for me to walk away from the classroom.  And the next time I teach this course, I'd like to remember this moment. 


  1. She writes. Well, I might add. She listens. Well, I think. To self and others. And she is a teacher and a writer. Classroom or not. Book or not. Period.

    Conventional wisdom is just that. Conventional. Created by others, belonging to others. Safe. Making complex decisions simple. Small. Diminishing the wisdom from within. Critical. Admonishing a will to defy it. Predictable. Rebuking steps taken outside of it.

    “No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our lives are made. Destiny is made known silently.” DeMille, I think.

    To you, for your decisions, for your wisdom in knowing the difference between it and that of others, for saying no.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Okay, how odd. Did not remove my comment; didn't seem to be loading it. maybe this time it'll stick....

    Someone many years ago shared with me their philosophy that decisions, much like shoes, need to be tried on, worn, to see how they look on you, to feel how they fit on you. They explained that you can put on a fabulous looking pair of shoes, a pair that looks like what you want or what you think you need, and after walking around in them, they just don't fit. No matter what a deal they may be, or how good they may look, if they don't fit, they just don't fit. So when you try on a decision, "I'm going to take this job, I'm going to move to this city", and wear it for a while, you'll know whether it fits. Your body, your mind, your emotions, your language in this case, will tell you.

    Michael, I like that quote.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.