“For just that moment of speaking, whatever you say is there, briefer even than the taste of gelato or the light on the frescoes at San Marco.”
– Angie Estes, “Want” in Poets on the Psalms
A most powerful insight that has developed for me over time is this: words, rituals, do in fact have power over humanity- power to heal and power to transform- perhaps only in the moment, perhaps over a lifetime.
I recently wrote about the power of ritual to harness our both intention and attention toward honoring the moments of our lives. Because this topic of ritual has been on my mind, I used the inspiration to create a writing prompt for my writers group made of amazing women whom I know through either the Columbus Area Writing Project or the Pages program.
Being a teacher, especially the first years, gave me a chance to explore, and exhaust, my mental facilities and creative energies. Teaching is rewarding, but it can sometimes (especially with grading) leave little “mind” to explore other endeavors.
However, most English teachers began as writers, or at least great appreciators of the art of writing, and my guess is what we wrote, read, and loved was not a non-fiction, primary source text about the creation of the Declaration of Independence. Not that this information isn’t important, exciting or worthwhile, but most teachers of English began the job because they love art and the emotional and intellectual benefits it brings.
As a teacher, I think I had forgotten the initial spark that brought me into the English classroom. However, after my first couple of years, I got involved in an arts integration program for my students that reignited my love for creative expression. That summer, I applied and was accepted into a Columbus Area Writing Project cohort, which is an organization under the umbrella of the National Writing Project.
In the two and a half weeks that I was part of the program, I connected with other professionals who were also passionate about education, innovation, and writing. I was inspired, and still am, by all that I learned from them.
In the program, I learned the power of meaningful modeling at the teacher’s level. It only really works when the teacher can have an “aha” moment that is as meaningful as the students will have in the classroom.
I learned the power of reflection. When we learn, it needs to be discussed. It needs to be processed. That is how we know we have learned; it is when learning becomes meaningful.
In addition, I wrote. So much… Too much. It helped me to connect to the part of myself that I want to bring into the classroom. The part of me that does what I teach.
CAWP offers summer programs every year that result in “teacher-consultant” certification (respected and well represented within the NCTE community), I would be happy to share more of my experiences with that. In addition, they offer a fall conference which I just attended. This is my second year as an attendee and presenter.
This week, I will post some of the insights and resources gained from this conference in additional posts.