That’s a bad title for this blog.
The good thing about not having much of an audience for these blogs? I don’t think twice about the dumb things I write. Let’s be real. I wouldn’t think twice about the dumb things I write even if I had an audience. I’ve never had much of a filter. Never been one for editing, either. Typos galore. I’m an improviser. I let things come and I let them go. They are what they are and it is good even if it isn’t.
Anyway, goodnight FA22, goodnight moon. Goodnight my first semester as an Associate Professor of English Education at the University of Iowa.
Here’s some news for those of you who haven’t read a recent blog. Here’s proof of my compulsive ideations for those of you who have:
This was a hard semester.
This is my 20th year as an educator. Still, this Fall made me feel like a first-year teacher again. A new job at an R1 university. Anxious about the things I don’t know. Trying to figure out my students. My colleagues. Trying to wrap my head around the heads around my work. Clever sentence.
For those of you who aren’t teachers, I want to make something abundantly clear. Especially because this is something often glossed over in public discourse. Teaching is complex, difficult, and emotionally exhausting. There’s no way around it. A teacher is tasked with transforming people. Knowledges, skills, and dispositions are the words thrown around the teacher education program at Iowa. Think of that for a moment. Teacher educators are tasked with helping people cultivate knowledge, skills, and character that make them prepared to teach others. I could list thousands of specific skills or tools or dispositions or whatever, but that’s an ask to build a context in which people leave having been transformed by what happens.
When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares into you.
Isn’t that sentence smart? I just made it up. Just kidding. You might have believed me if you didn’t know any better. Anybody can write anything on the internet and trick people these days. That’s why English Education matters. That’s why literacy matters. We need to be critical when we read. When we scroll. When we click. Man, is that important right now.
Anyway, when I work to transform students I’m transformed by them. I’ve worked with thousands of students. Maybe tens of thousands. Maybe a billion. Maybe a quintillion. There’s no way to tell because math is hard. It’s impossible to represent the ways that work has changed me over the years in this blog. Just know that’s it’s changed me.
Teaching is emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, physically, relationally, and everything-ally challenging work. And that’s part of why I love it. It keeps throwing me wrenches after 20 years. And I keep responding.
I’m proud of what I built with my students this fall, even as I see a thousand things I want to do differently next semester. A quintillion things. I’m proud and also tired.
So the sun is setting on the Fall semester of my 20th year in education. Never thought I’d end up as a professor. Never thought I’d end up at The University of Iowa. And yet here we are.
There’s all sorts of other challenges I’ve named about our move to Iowa City in my blogs this Fall. Being a parent is hard. Being 42 is hard. Moving is hard. You get it.
I need a break. A little introverted time. Gotta go fallow. Take a few breaths and brace for the spring of 2022. I love that about being a teacher. It’s what I loved most about directing plays. You make something. Then it is gone. Then you get the chance to make it again. Make it differently. Practice makes practice and all that practice cultivates something good.
Goodnight, fall 2022, goodnight Sam.