When James Baldwin wrote a letter to his nephew in 1963, he started it by saying that he had “begun this letter 5 times and torn it up 5 times.” We often have that feeling when we write about something we care about. A note to a loved one, a letter at an important moment in life, or a simple note to a struggling student in class.
That is how we feel when we try writing about education. Or school. Or teaching.
For good or bad, we've given so much of our lives to this profession. That means the last 9 years or so have been filled with hours worked, sleepless nights, joy, happiness, frustration, feelings of inadequacy, and a few glasses of wine. We often ask students to use some “brainsweat.” We just want them to think a bit harder. Most of our “brainsweat,” along with some tears, has been shed in and for our schools. Specifically, the schools in our cities.
In recent years, we have felt the growing need to talk about it. We want to put the challenges and joys of teaching into words for discussion, nourishment, and encouragement. But even as we type those words, we begin to hear the devils in our minds. To be clear, we aren't saying we are experts of any kind. It is a tough gig, and both of us still spend more time feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of failure than we do recognizing any small successes. Maybe we don’t have much to say. Maybe those balled up pieces of paper should stay in the trash can.
But this blog is an attempt, in some ways, not to listen to those voices. We want to be able to finish some of the ideas that we have about teaching. To pull some shitty drafts (Thanks Anne Lamott) out of the trash can and share them with a friend, or friends. In short, we want to share them with each other. Folks- tread lightly. And try not to take us too seriously.
We want to bounce some of these ideas and experiences off of each other, and each of you, because we think some others are probably stumbling over some of the same things. It's fair to assume that there are more of us. And hopefully we can bring them into the conversation. They’ll fill in many of the blanks in our experience and knowledge. Hopefully, we’ll end up with something useful. If not, in a few years or months or weeks, we will ball this whole thing up and toss it in the trash can.
Cheers. This one is for the shitty first drafts. Let's revise this thing.