Education Is Homeland Security

July 23, 2010

For July 19, 2010

The Possible’s slow fuse is lit
 By the Imagination.
• Emily Dickinson

I’m a no-nonsense kind of gal. I don’t coo over babies and long to have another tiny one around the house, although, note to my children, I really enjoyed them when they were tiny. I don’t like tearjerkers. I wear comfortable shoes. I visit a hair stylist only to have a couple of inches chopped off the parts of my hair that have grown irritatingly long. I cut my own bangs. I spend less than ten dollars a year on makeup. My girly side never fully developed, although I do love shiny stuff like rhinestones.

While other little girls were sugar and spicing it, I preferred reading revolting stuff, grubbing in the trash, and taking my fashion cues from movie gangsters, my grandpa, and Fred Astaire. I’ll take snips and snails and puppy dog tails over pink frou-frouish delectables any day. And about that shiny stuff, crows like it too.

I usually eschew the touchy and feely, but sometimes in the business of teaching, I need it. I need to be reminded why I do this job that can often feel thankless. Teachers are blamed for many things that are beyond their control. We are easy targets for cultural disappointment.

We can design meaningful lessons and we can provide classroom opportunities that are differentiated to address our students’ multiple learning preferences and abilities, but, in the end, we cannot force anyone to learn. Still, we need to believe that it’s possible that all of our students will learn. I think often about what’s possible in the classroom, and sometimes I ask my students to think about it too.

I’ve been working for years on a collaborative found poem taken from responses to the question, “What is possible in your classroom?” This year, some of the responses are from students finishing a teacher licensure program. The ongoing poem is entitled “Education Is Homeland Security,” and here are a few of this year’s responses. I’ll add them to the others to remind me that regardless of how bleak things may seem, what teachers do matters and continues to make a difference in people’s lives:

It is possible to inspire, love, challenge, intrigue, respect, cherish, and give one hundred percent to your students. It is possible to share yourself and stay true to who you are. It is possible to be someone’s favorite teacher.

It is possible to create a space that celebrates students as individuals and as impassioned collectives. It is possible for students to change their communities. It is possible for education to be an adventure we as a class embark upon every day.

It is possible for students who don’t want to discover anything to change everything.

It is possible that each day as students leave our room, they will know that they are loved .No matter what type of home students come from, they have a safe haven where people believe in them. Connection.

It is possible for me to choose to love and care about each student who comes into my classroom.

In my classroom, it is possible for students to learn valuable life skills, no matter their academic skill level. I want to make a difference in all of my students’ lives. In my classroom, it is possible to be successful. Hopefully, it is also possible to dream.

You’ll see more of these later. As a funsultant, I am inspired by these possibilities and by the opportunities for learning that are orchestrated in classrooms around the world. What is possible is unlimited.

If a teacher has ever made a difference in your life or challenged your thinking or helped you in any way, I hope you’ll let her or him know. S/he needs your encouragement in order to live in the possibilities.

We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize. • Thich Nhat Hanh


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