I'm a deep kind of tired today, unusual for October, but haven't had a whole lot of Octobers in my mid-fifties. The wispy edge of a tenacious nor'easter keeps spitting some of the bay at us, so we keep planning walks as the sun peeks through, then retreat as another band of rain comes in sideways.
I'm spending too much time playing the game, trying to satisfy the requirements of an epiphenomenal universe of SGOs, CCRALs, NJCCCSs, and RSTs. I do these things in the classroom, as does any decent teacher (and most us are decent), but it is simply impossible to choreograph moment by moment, day by day, the dance of ideas that plays between all of those learning in a functioning class.
I remember playing a pick-up hockey game years ago on Duck Pond, behind my junior high school back when ponds froze enough to play on. We were mostly kids in our teens, but a few adults joined us, including the father of a friend, a man who once played semi-pro hockey in Canada.
I was pretty good with the stick, but not so much with the skating, and Mr. Rand made a beautiful pass to a spot I should have been. I was trying to figure out what he was planning to do, and missed a lovely chance at a breakaway.
When he glared at me, I started saying "I thought that..." and he barked back words through his toothless grin words I still hear decades later:
Do not think, it's hockey, just play.
I am not arguing that we pursue our craft mindlessly, nor do I believe that teaching is natural--we all must practice, we all must discern, we all must work hard to make our classrooms become the beautiful symphonies of ideas interspersed with unexpected improvisations and, well, bursts of noise.
I can teach a child to mimic Miles Davis' tone, but never quite get it, and I can push a child to mechanically recreate small bits of his improvisations, enough to know who she's imitating, but that's not very useful in the long run. That child will never be Miles Davis, and neither will I--and it wouldn't matter anyway, because Davis never played anything the same way twice.
Even if I could faithfully script my classes, each one would be different. It's not the delivery of content that makes a teacher--it's the dance of ideas, the interplay of minds, the opening of worlds we cannot possibly anticipate because every child carries her own version of the universe into our classrooms.
In a couple of days I will be asked to write a script to satisfy the whims of a few powerful men who think they can play like Miles.
It may be time to break up the band....
I'm no Miles Davis.....