IMAGE CREDIT: Ulpun La-Inyan website
"I long so much to make beautiful things. But beautiful things require effort and disappointment and perseverance."
~ VINCENT VAN GOGH
The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying "Faire et se taire" (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as "Shut up and get on with it." - Helen Simpson
IMAGE CREDIT: Community Blogs
Think about all you're learning in the badge you're pursuing at the moment. In relation to that knowledge, what impact is actually within your reach as a beginning teacher? Who do you want to be as you make your way through the world? Set some intentions to become a teacher who will make a positive impact in the lives of students and colleagues, within the profession, and beyond.
no vulnerability, no learning
In her video “Daring Classrooms," Brené Brown uses the phrase “no vulnerability, no learning.” Think about at least one space that has allowed you to thrive as a learner (and this doesn't have to be a classroom). What conditions were in place that allowed you and others to take positive risks for learning? What did those spaces look like and sound like? What did it feel like to be a learner in that space? If it's not too much of a stretch, write about any connections you see between the ideas you're writing about and the badge you're currently pursuing.
Write an open letter to Vincent Van Gogh, describing your experiences in writing your UGP. Tell him about your efforts and your disappointments. Ask him for advice on how to persevere. As a fellow artist, conclude your letter by proclaiming the step you will take next, right now today, to progress toward making your UGP into a "beautiful thing."
play by your own rules
What are your rules for working toward flow as a writer? How will you enact them right now, today, as you work on your Teacher As Writer badge? How do you help yourself just “shut up and get on with it”?
Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down.
Looking back at the "Teacher As Writer" pose in Pose, Wobble, Flow (Garcia & O'Donnell-Allen, 2015, p. 76), pause for a moment and consider, where do you wobble as a writer? Where do you anticipate wobbling as you write your Unfamiliar Genre Project? What strategies can you imagine using that will help you through that wobble? How do you feel about wobbling as a writer with your students? Will you do it? What are the risks and rewards?
this, too, we believe
If a coffee shop has a motto and "words they like," so should we. We've thought a lot about why it's worth it to teach now. What should our class motto be in this regard? What are the words we like--as in, the words that should ground our thinking as we proceed throughout the semester?
What's the song that gets you through?
What is your personal theme song/fight song/or get-you-through-the-hard-times song--the one that you play on repeat when you’re feeling most vulnerable? Why is that song the song? How does it tap into your strongly held convictions about what it means to be a whole human being? Write about the song’s significance to you personally; then if you can, write about any connections you can make to your own teaching.
Write an open letter to Sonia Nieto, explaining why YOU want to teach now.
What do you, too, believe?
In "The Careful Cultivation of Belief," English teacher Sherri Medwin challenges readers to consider that the core beliefs that guide our work need "careful cultivation..., rich soil and ample space to extend to extend [their] young shoots," and a "network of roots to sustain [them] through inclement weather." What are your core beliefs in regard to teaching and education? How do you anticipate that these ideals will guide your work with students when you have your own classroom?
PROMPTS FROM PREVIOUS SEMESTERS
living a legacy
According to researcher Brené Brown, over 90% of us can remember a specific teacher, coach, or administrator who made us believe in ourselves when no one else did...or didn't. Go back to a moment when an educator made a difference in your life, for good or for ill. Write about that moment and how it is shaping the teacher you want to be for your future students, too. If it makes sense to do so, write about any connections you see to the badge you're currently working on.
Who's your you?
What qualities make an ideal “trusted first reader” for your work? Who is the “one single reader” whom you can write to, someone who will really “get” you and benefit from what you have to share? Who’s your “you”? How can you be that reader for others?
Think about a time when you really, really loved what you were learning in school. What was it about that experience in that classroom with that teacher that made your experience meaningful?
So, what's your major?
You've probably been asked this question a million times. And in the introduction to Why We Teach Now, Sonia Nieto asks another version of it, too. She writes:
What “good questions” do have now about yourself as a writer and a teacher that you didn’t hold at the beginning of this semester? How will these questions guide the way you “walk through the world”? How will they guide your work with your future students and your participation in the profession?
Write yourself a letter. In the first half of the letter, consider this: What has happened to get you to this place, right now today, where you sit in this room? What has gone right? What has gone wrong? If your younger self were a student in your future classroom, what advice would you give?
what is the use of poetry?
In "Poetry As Insurgent Art," Lawrence Ferlinghetti writes, "The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it." If that is indeed the case, how would poetry respond?
In Mindfulness for Beginners, Jon Kabat-Zinn claims that "not knowing is not such a bad thing" (p. 73). As a student who is becoming a teacher, do you agree? Why or why not? How will your answer affect your work with your future students (who may or may not agree with Jon Kabat-Zinn)?
seeing beyond the surface
What does it mean to really see someone? What does seeing someone require? What does it mean to be seen? What does being seen require? What does any of this have to do with being a learner, a teacher, a writer, and a human being inside and outside of school?
the big wait
I love my school and my campus and I don't want to go anywhere else. But its lonely. This transition is so much harder in a way I never imagined. Theres not really anything to do about it--you've dreamed about this for years. You've wanted this your whole life. You've done everything you could to get here. Now what? When you realize this isn't exactly what you imagined, what you had hoped for, and you don't even know if you'll get what you want anywhere else. I mean, I can't do anything else except wait. Wait for the wind to change. Wait for the seasons to pass. Wait for something.
YOU CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT TAYLOR MALI AND HIS WORK ON HIS WEBSITE.
IMAGE CREDIT: Living in Mommywood
What will you make?
You've chosen this badge for a reason. What will it help you make of yourself as a teacher? Why is this role important? How will it help you make an impact on students? On the profession of teaching? And, ultimately, on our society as a whole?
Write a letter to...
...your future self on your first day of teaching. What do you really value as an English teacher? Get that down on paper so that you won't forget. What are one or two small ways that you can imagine living out the work you're doing on your current badge on your very first day? What challenges can you imagine? What are some ways you can make it through those challenges to be the really great teacher you have the potential to be?