A funny thing happened while preparing for this evening’s Women’s Ministry class at 4:15 this morning. Among other things, I took the Joy Bubble Quiz in chapter three of Choosing Simplicity and found I’ve got enough joy to place me in the top third of respondents. Then, I reflected on how different today looked and felt compared with yesterday, in which I was sure had I lived anywhere but in the desert, I would have found a bridge to jump off of though all appearances indicated a successful, meaningful life. Alternating bouts of curiosity, faith and exhaustion keep me hanging around. But that’s the subject of another post. This one is about a question that so piqued my interest that I text it to myself for later (now) consideration. Not only did I decide to revise the key question so it was about my teaching life, but I decided to share the exercise publicly.
Key Question: As an educator, how do I want to spend my time, talent and outcomes? Who will serve as my accountability partner?
Funnier still, when I read the question this morning, it seemed there was no end of answers, ideas, and energy for classroom-related responses. Now that I look at it again with you, an unnamed, unknown public looking over my shoulder, I can’t seem to think of a single response. Maybe it’s time of day. Maybe the afternoon slump is having it’s way with me. Maybe since I turned off the classical piano in iTunes radio I’ve lost steam. Maybe grading those process papers was more than I could bear. Bingo! Maybe that’s the beginning of my answer – what I don’t want to spend my time doing.
I don’t want to spend my time grading papers. Something about it doesn’t seem quite right at least as far as I’ve reached in 20 years of its practice. I’ve tried ‘strengths-finding’, positive regard, writing two appreciations for every ‘correction’ offered, and it still feels like ick. I no longer even want to think about it. I used to find it at least mildly interesting to search for new approaches but now, time is more precious than ever and I’d rather do other things with it. Or, at least, that’s what my fingers are saying at this moment. What my feet, eyes and mind do when no one else is looking however is another story entirely.
I don’t do things that I tell myself I’d rather be doing when I’m not grading papers. I thought I’d rather be putting the final edits into the collection of letters my Father wrote my Mother when an ocean separated them for most of my third year on planet Earth. That binder has been sitting at the corner of my desk for the better part of this month.
I tell myself I’d rather make a quilt for the upcoming baby shower. I even fantasized about asking the proud soon to be parents for an article of clothing each to include in said quilt. But in fact, I picked fabrics out of my basket, measured the batting, and paired the non-squares I was going to use for the last newborn at the end of the last year, and still haven’t moved the pile from the corner of the room in which it collects dust. Twice a day if not more, I pass by the open closet that keeps my sewing machine safe from use.
So, if I’m not doing what I want, and not doing what I have to, what am I doing? Molting? Wasting time? Growing underground? And, should anything be done about it? Mike Dooley, my much admired, secret and virtual mentor and author of Notes From the Universe, would have a good answer to that question I’m certain. Until I get up the gumption to ask Mike, however, I’ll just keep blogging along.
BTW, I did conduct background research for a thesis I’ll be reading / advising, and decide to use Project Happiness‘ 7 Doors as the outline for the bookless Preparatory Composition course that’s due to start after Spring Break. Attempting neither is small potatoes when one steps back and looks at the range of choices available to someone interested in Critically Reflective Teaching and learning though situated in the compromised context of turbo capitalism with the resulting subtle and aggressive oppressions aimed at our lives. I guess what my eyes, mind and heart do when no one’s looking isn’t so bad. Guess I am happy after all.