Teachable moment

Been a long while between blogs, not because there hasn’t been enough to comment on, but maybe too much.

For one, I’ve been trying to keep up with the frenetic pace of education-related legislation passing through Mississippi’s now Republican controlled state government. Although much of it amounts to breaking-things-that-aren’t-broken (aimed mostly at our pension system), or making-what’s-broken-worse (like the newly passed charter schools law), there have been a few glimmers of hope, including the move to fund pre-K and continued support for National Board Certification.

I’ve also watched with some interest as a local after-school program has garnered a good bit of national attention. The Sunflower Freedom School Project, started by three Teach for America alums who chose to stay and make a difference in the Delta. The Project is a good work by sincere people. However, as the producer of a recent documentary about the project suggested, it is only a small band-aid on a very old, deep, festering wound.

Mostly, though, I’ve been focused on my students and on what I’m learning and re-learning about teaching everyday in my classroom. Am I doing enough? Am I doing it well enough? Am I doing too much?

The fight every day is to not give in to despair or become overwhelmed by frustration. It would be so easy to blame the students, the parents, the administrators, other teachers, the poverty…

Then, near the end of one long, unusually busy day, I paused in the middle of my classroom and realized just how much learning was happening there in that space at that moment. Students were huddled in self-selected groups of two, three, or four. A few chose to work independently. All were enaged, engrossed, enticed by the search for answers to their own questions. I had given them models and guidelines and ground rules, but they had taken flight. 

And I was thankful, I hadn’t missed it.

Related categories: