What am I doing here?

What am I doing here?

Driving to work today, thinking over some of the job action issues and frankly just the general chaos of the job, this question came to mind. What am I doing here? Surely, there is a job less stressful; I am a skilled human being….

Unfortunately, or probably fortunately, there is only one answer. Teaching has always been and will always be my first passion. It never occurred to me to do something else. Well, there was that bad moment when I didn’t have enough money to go continue my studies. I had spent all I had saved during high school, but wasn’t yet eligible for student loans, and had no support from home. I remember standing in the counselling area at Camosun College looking at programs I could complete in a year. I just couldn’t picture myself doing any of them. I worked it out in the end, and completed my B.Ed, as had always been the plan.

Arriving at work, my fate sealed long ago, happily, the question, what am I doing here, started to play in my mind.

What am I doing here?

What do I bring to this that is unique to me? What are my greatest gifts I can give? I have yet to compose this blog post, but here is the short version of what I have been thinking about. We talk a lot about personalized learning, but I fundamentally believe that learning should be contextualized, collaborative, social. The teacher is part of the collaboration and community of learning. I bring myself to the room, everyday. I bring my experiences in this world, my perspectives, my passions, and my knowledge, and yes my weaknesses, pet peeves, my blind spots, and my stress levels. So do the students. It’s messy, and human, and therefore imperfect and perfect all at the same time.

What am I doing here?

This question is always a good one. Sometimes I like the answer and sometimes I don’t, but I ask it over and over each day. Why am I teaching this, why am I assigning that, why am I assessing this, why am I saying that, why am I doing this instead of that? Sometimes my work is research-based. Sometimes it is based on instinct. Sometimes my decisions are based purely on how I am going to get through. Sometimes the decisions are excellent, sometimes they are good, sometimes they are absolutely the wrong thing to do. I have to own it all.

What am I doing here?

Ah, my favourite kind of question – it involves both history and geography, and aren’t they always linked? We live in time and space. We must teach the students we have, not just curriculum. What am I doing to address historical injustices? How am I helping students find their role and voice in this community, in this world? Can students see themselves and their ancestors in the curriculum? How can I help students understand that the questions, concerns, problems and joys they experience are not vastly different from the ones experienced by people here 50 years ago, 200 years ago, 4000 years ago.

What am I doing here? What I love.

2 thoughts on “What am I doing here?

  1. I think I understand this, especially in you. I have some of it, I think I get it. And it is, I think, about half needing a excellent outcome (benefit for the student, and half loving the process itself (demanding that it be good enough, and then sometimes finding surprisingly good). It occurs to me as I read through these how the process of writing the blog serves both. The duty felt to comment often on the subject forces pertinent things to the top, Now they are more accessible than sitting down to do something similar- like a column in a paper or magazine once a week or once a month.
    When I was writing the book, and could spend enough time on it without interruption, things would start to pop. I’d be on a roll, and couldn’t capture all the good stuff fast enough. I would keep note paper by the bed and otherwise with me all the time. It is a joyous place to be.
    However, the way you are doing is still a big challenge. The pressure of the deadline does help, but I would think the demands are sometimes less than pleasant. I am convinced my kids have much more brain power than I. I have read things that all of you have written, and I am impressed! gpjoe

    • Thanks for your thoughts. I think you put it very well – the need for excellence, but knowing the process is where we have to focus to reach it. I understand the joy you felt writing the book. I have been thinking a lot about this. I want the students to feel that joy, too, and they will not if they are only engaging the process that I am giving them. They need to experience the pleasure and frustration of creation, and take confidence in their own brains as they see them work.

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