It has been a long time since I celebrated.
I connected so strongly with what Tara wrote last week in her post returning to celebration after a time away. Blogging had been feeling like a chore to me. Weekends had been especially hard, and I knew something had to give. It seemed like an easy choice to take celebration off the table for a few weeks, especially since I struggle as a writer to find ways to make these celebration posts feel interesting and necessary. And it did help me to remove this one expectation and cut myself some slack. I haven’t really missed writing these posts, even though I believe strongly in gritty celebration. But I have missed the community–very much. And so, to borrow Tara’s metaphor, I’m diving back in again and keeping Ruth’s very wise truths about celebration in mind.
It’s the final week of the semester (cause to celebrate in itself!) and I’ve spent the week reading my students’ reflective essays and blog posts about what they’ve learned and unlearned this semester. These are always my favorite assignments of the semester. I marvel at all of the different paths learning takes. What I try to create in my courses is a structure and a foundation to support and encourage many different learning journeys. In nearly twenty years of teaching, one of my best unlearnings is that I need to get out of the way. Teaching should be an invitation, not a demand, to learn. There is usually resistance at the beginning of the semester (“Just tell us what you want!”) and some students flounder with so much freedom, but most end up taking to it and loving the experience of being in charge of themselves as learners. The stories of their learning journeys are always full of surprises and discoveries for me as well.
- Margaret hopes her final course audit post will be better than an IRS audit.
- Rian tallies up Adolescent Literature by the numbers (and reminds us that classes are supposed to feel “awkward and weird” at the beginning).
- Lindsey curses the professor (that would be me!) and then goes on to read 44 books and fall down the rabbit hole of social media.
- Tristan discovers that what she needs to unlearn is self-hatred.
- Jeff dives deep into cynicism and lethargy only to discover that he actually learned something in an online class after all.
- Vicky realizes that great teaching is all about great learning.
- Maggie pushes herself to read outside her comfort zone and discovers new favorite genres and styles.
- Sarah synthesizes what she learned from her Independent Learning Project and shares why she’ll be sure to give her students time for passion projects.
And so this week, I celebrate my students’ embrace of learning and unlearning, their willingness to dive in, muck about, make messes, play, explore, know and not know. I’ve learned as much or more from them as they have from me, and that’s just the way it should be.