As a young teacher some 40 years ago, I always wanted to “get somewhere” in my profession – be a somebody, a prize-winner, a creative whiz kid in the classroom, someone students would never forget, blah blah blah – but now, with my senior-citizen’s silver hair and well-furrowed face, I have learned that it’s best to try to get nowhere at all. I look back on those years of racing and rushing and struggling and striving as so many years of wasted powers – years when I ignored the goodness of present classroom moments in favor of foolish, made-up future scenarios. If I thought Thursday’s class was great, I wanted Friday’s to be greater. I wasn’t satisfied with small successes in class; I had to make the super splash that everyone would talk about tomorrow. I was “getting somewhere”, climbing the mountain of admirable teaching, taking the teaching profession by storm. Trouble is, I wasn’t anywhere near as good as I thought I was, mostly because my mania for getting somewhere was only getting me far away from the simple happiness of helping students read and write a little better than last year. In my desire to become a super teacher, I forgot what I already was – a guy who truly loved talking about books and writing with teenagers. That’s really what teaching English is all about – not showboating, not flamboyant lessons, but just helping kids become better writers and readers. Nowadays I know this, and I also know, quite happily, that I never have to get somewhere, because at any given moment in the classroom -- I mean any moment -- I'm already there.
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