It seems that they'd have to reinvent themselves again and again to keep things interesting. I imagine an enterprising vampire would always have to create new goals to stave off the recurring barrage of monotony.
My long teaching career can be likened to the vampire's challenge. In order to keep things interesting I'm always tackling new areas in the educational arena. When I started teaching, my focus was on learning American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf culture. That kept me on my toes for many, many years. As I became more knowledgeable and skilled, I took a deep dive into literacy development. The marriage of the two became the focus of my dissertation. It is where my heart beats and I continue to pursue it, but it's become part of me. It doesn't hold the same immediacy that it once did. I've earned the right to say I know a lot.
Over the past several years, I've begun to explore how the things I've learned connect with Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Social Justice Education (SJE). I'm finding this is an area that is calling out to me. It isn't just because it's fascinating, it's because it's needed.
Consider my week last week. I returned from lunch to find a child sitting in my classroom with our Dean of Students. My kindergarten student became angry during lunch (the kindergarten students eat in the classroom) and had a tantrum. Fried potatoes, broccoli, and chicken were scattered on the tables and floor. Small pieces of potato were mashed into the rugs, book bins were tossed, pencils strewn, crayons broken, an open bottle knocked over on a table dripped water into a large puddle on the floor, and a very angry boy sat with his arms crossed on the floor.
I knew immediately what to do. I've watched our former social worker, Melanie, talk with students in this situation before and emulated her approach. I also brought in our daily work with mindfulness and breathwork. I pulled from my knowledge of this boy and how he responds best to feeling safe rather than challenged. He slowly shared his feelings with me and I listened. I gave him other options for expressing his anger. We continued to talk as he helped me clean the room. A connection of trust was growing and although I realize these outbursts will occur again, I do believe he will develop the mechanisms over time to deal with his anger in a healthier way.
Two days before this, another boy was hurt on the playground. He was scared, so was I. He had a very nasty bump developing over his eyebrow and it freaked me out. He suddenly looked very little. Still, the things I've learned kicked in and he was comforted and safe. It seems my role as an educator these days requires more and more of this type of thing.
|The Six Elements of Social Justice Education|
(Click to enlarge)
I teach a Children's Lit course at Fordham University and have had fantastic opportunities to talk with some incredibly passionate students about it. Our discussions push my thinking and bring me insights I wouldn't have realized on my own.
I'm able to integrate SJE into the work I do with my Broadway Books First Class program. It's exciting work. It's important work. It's the kind of work that keeps vampires and educators on their toes. In this season of gratitude, I'm thankful I continue to have things to motivate and interest me. I have so much more to learn. May the passion never cease.