Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Future self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

Now that I've lived through the transition from coursework to dissertation to established faculty member on a tenure track, I'm ready to look back at that fateful year when you were pulling your hair out over a busy schedule. I know you have been worried that teaching in Cortland again would be too much for you. I'm here to tell you, though, that you made it through that semester just fine, because you stuck with your routine of reading, writing, and walking every morning. You scheduled time for reading student work and you stuck to that schedule. Your days were full but not overwhelming.

You let the readings you were doing for Foundations and Qualitative and Portfolio seep into everything so you could have the incubation time you needed. You used your altered syllabi for 111 and 408 so you didn't have to fuss with them much to be prepared for classes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. You didn't think of 408 as content but more as process, and attitude, and the same with 111. You didn't worry about As or Bs but more about your own learning for your last three courses in the program.

Hold fast to Saturday night music jams, even right through the spring and summer. Those minutes spent with music will calm you and send you back into your busy weeks with renewed spirit, just as the daily walks keep you centered. Don't give that up or pretend to be too tired, for music and nature can save you from your own intensity. They will help you keep your sense of balance, and more importantly, your sense of humor.

To my self at the end of the 1990s, I would have said, "Hang on!" because entering the 2000s I got involved in the most exciting band work, building up to String of Pearls, which travelled hours to play in Alexandria Bay, the most exciting performances I've ever been part of (except maybe Milk & Honey playing to thousands at Pops on the River in the early nineties). At the same time as that was happening, you were poised on the brink of NCLB and the idiocy that followed and eventually led you out of the middle school classroom.

As usual, I was lonely ten years ago, irritated with myself for making mildly bad choices. To that lovesick self, I would say, "Hang on!" because the eight years would pass quickly and John would find me. He himself faced a fight with cancer in those eight years. I would tell my self to continue to guard my health - the daily walks have paid off, and if I hadn't made those many trips to the fitness center over this past ten years, I would be in much worse shape that I am.

I've finally gotten to the place I imagined myself many times while I was teaching eighth grade: a faculty member at a college that prepares teachers. I'm still fighting the good fight for sensible public policy, since the Deformers turned their attention to teacher prep just as I entered the field. People listen to me now, though, because I have those letters after my name, just as Robert advised me in December 2010. They have made all the difference when I put my thoughts in print. Kappan has printed two of my articles; many others are in journals both domestic and international.

Hold on. Keep your eyes on the prize.

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