Sunday, September 19, 2010

Climbing High Enough

“It’s always a beautiful day, if you just climb high enough.”
-- airline pilot to passengers

Each day, I try to climb high enough in my work as a teacher. It’s so easy to get lost in the feeling that everything’s small and restricted in teaching and learning – that I and my handful of students are wee creatures at the center of a diminutive universe called 9th grade English. From that close-up perspective, teaching and learning is little more than a relentless struggle against enormous and persistent obstacles. We may find success one day, but there’s always the fear that some type of failure will find us tomorrow. However, like the pilot, I know that somewhere up above my shortsighted view there’s a perspective that shows English class in its proper place in the universe. My students are learning how to use and understand their language from countless “teachers” each day – my English class, yes, but also everything they read in any class or anywhere, every word they speak or hear, every television show or movie they watch, and on and on. From the largest and farthest perspective – the “big picture”, we might say – Mr. Salsich’s English class on a country road in Connecticut is a minuscule current in an endless and shoreless river of language learning. I’ll keep working hard writing detailed lesson plans and pulling my weight in the classroom, but I’ll also try, as often as possible, to climb in my thoughts to a higher place where the truth of things comes clear – that the river of learning will continue to course along, come what may in my little classroom.

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