It’s been over 2.5 weeks since I’ve made the time to sit and write; much has transpired in that amount of time.
I type to you from America…you read that right…San Francisco (NOT ‘Frisco!), California, to be precise. We have been here for almost a week — the chef and bub traveling with the prof for a conference…one I love to attend and I get completely geeked out with fellow ed research nerds like myself.
This year, though, while I enjoyed the sessions and workshops I attended, was definitely different — as if I was able to clone or parcel out myself to various stakeholders, whether that be my family (enter chef and bub!), my fam (enter best friends for life), my academic fam (the good doctors), etc. I am left wanting after this conference; wanting for what exactly, I don’t know, but I think…
I think it was the lack of 90 minute lunches over discussions of the latest conception of ‘urban schools’ or ‘African American youth’ by the establishment (because we still have yet to accept that we ARE the establishment! Etic view and all…), or of what “really” goes on in a classroom, and between teacher and student, and teacher and principal, and teacher and partner.
Perhaps we, the establishment, have gotten it all wrong. We agree that teaching is a worthy vocation, and that it is terribly important in the lives of children, East and West, whatever their access. But how many of us have lived and breathed it in the classroom? How many of us were propelled to so-called ‘ivory tower’ because it was there we thought we could make more of a difference in kids’ lives than being their classroom literacy or English teacher? How many of us feel that, really and truly, at the end of the day, the impact we made in the classroom was more important than having your first book chapter cited over 10 times or whatever random conception of significant scholarship HR subjects us to? As a classroom teacher, we know that in a given year, we had n=34 students per class; we knew the ‘n’s because we were with them, everyday, and through the highs and lows, it mas an amazing experience.
At a mentorship session, we discussed what it was to be at a crossroads, both in your career and personal lives. A change is going to have to come to move forward — this is the essence of the next steps. So I know what I need to do; I’ve known really, but have been to afraid, too comfortable. My how quickly I get comfortable! So, to steal Sammy’s line, a change’s gone come, oh, yes, it will.
So I am missing the academic culture that so took me in during those first few years of annual meeting of the AERA. I felt immersed in the nerd-y-ness and loved being able to do what most people considered “talk shop”. To me, that meant debating what we had just heard about in a session; talking about “how big” this conference was, and in general marveling that those famous names we had been reading for the past few years were here, in the flesh, walking, amongst us! They were here to teach us the way. It has only been until just now, that, as is nearly always the case for me, the way is within me. Much of what I missed this year was my own to bear; learn and move on…
1) I have made good connections, and I need to continue to do that in more solid ways — that is on my list for next year. (2) Account at least 2 days to recoup from travel — especially next year when we’re on the east coast. (3) Attend some of the business meetings and get involved with SIGs (special interest groups). It’s going to be a good way to meet with a smaller group of like minded scholars. This will mean more absence from the chef and bub during that crucial 5-7pm slot, but that is a year from now, so hopefully that won’t be something I would feel guilty about missing a few nights — but again, the trade off would be getting into town a couple of days early to make the transition easier. I will need to remember that when planning for first semester next year! (4) Continue to work it — keep writing, keep collaborating with the Mushrooms, keep exploring and looking for the next ‘do-able’ research project while trying to build my research profile or whatever one needs to label it.
Ethically, what we all do is all to help students by providing them the best possible education. Whether in poverty or in wealth, and I am proud to say that I am currently working with a group of people who personify that belief. If it’s naive, then so be it. But at the end of the day when my head hits the pillow (that sweet, sweet moment), I want to know that I did some good in some amazing way, whether it be digging in the dirt with my son or trying to pinpoint factors in teachers that we can build on to help students achieve at higher levels, or cooking an amazing meal in the kitchen with the chef. To me, that’s what choosing love is all about.