I was reading C. S. Lewis this morning and I came across this line:
“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”
I think this sums up this past school year for me, as a teacher in the classroom and a writer on this blog: I've not tried to be original, but I have tried to tell the truth.
This wasn't always the case. Earlier in my career, recognition wooed me. I wanted awards. I wanted to be the favorite. I worked like a demon while thinking myself a saint.
But — no more. Now, it's about more learning and less stress: for me, for my students, for you, and for yours. That's what the books and the articles are about; what the talks and courses are about; what my high school lessons in Room F-207 are about.
So what's the truth? I want to close out the school year with a few that I feel deep in my bones:
- Schools can be places of human flourishing, centers of love and learning; they can do this as they promote the long-term flourishing of young people by teaching them toward mastery in the disciplines and the arts. Students can grow: in their knowledge and application of physical fitness in Physical Education class; in their capacity for reading, comprehending, and discussing complex texts; in their understanding and application of the fundamentals of computer science or business finance or the visual arts; into better thinkers, readers, writers, speakers, people, problem-solvers. Lesson by lesson, all across the school day: these things are possible and they are worth our labors and pains. These things aren't impossible, but they are rare: because we forget, because we get distracted, because we're stressed and under pressure. I’ve visited and received emails from pockets and places all around the United States this past year, and what's clear is that with the folks we've got, good things can happen.
- But right now, it's time to pause. We all need a break: walks in the woods, talks with friends, time in the hammock. My sister is a speech pathologist in a school near mine, and she said the other day her principal played this old video. I had forgotten about it. But, it's timely as all heck. Colleague, you and I are on pause.
So, to close out this school year, a few quick announcements:
- I'm gonna take a month of being quiet. I’ve been feeling a sense that this summer is a time to pause from regular publishing on the blog. I write in large spurts, so even though I send a blog post most Tuesdays and Thursdays, there are many weeks when I don’t write a thing for the blog and instead send out what I wrote months ago. But for the next month, even though there’s lots I want to say, I’m going to refrain from saying it. Because there's a time for quiet. And though I love the writer's discipline, I love even more being the change I'd like to see in the world. And right now, one of those changes is, Shhhhh! Quiet. 🙂
- I've got a few blog articles I meant to share with you these last couple of weeks but that I didn't get a chance to. I'll list those now, and you can click as you desire:
- School Year Shut Down: Dedicate the Year Behind — this was part of a series I did on getting our souls ready for the end of the school year, but in the final weeks of school I wasn't able to get it done. It's an amazing idea, though! Check it out, quick read.
- School Year Shut Down: Reframing the End-of-Year Countdown, by Dr. John Tanner — this was a piece that our colleague John Tanner in Middletown, DE wrote for his staff newsletter. I was working with John's staff this past year via a Zoom partnership, and I loved how John took an idea I shared and made it AMAZING.
- We're on Pause — I mentioned this brief video I made above, but it's good stuff! Especially because there is a photo of my adorable son in there (I'm not biased at ALL).
- How to Say No — this isn't my article, but I think it's GREAT. Especially helpful in advance of the inevitable moment when someone comes to you this summer asking you to fill a vacancy left by one of the droves of folks who left the profession in the past year. It's NOT your job to do it all, colleague! It's your job to TEACH.
- A Time to Weep, a Time to Love — I didn't finish this, but I labored over it during the week following the tragedy in Uvalde. I apologize before you click on it — it ends before it gets into task-list practicality. But it was on my heart, and in case it helps, there it is.
I tell you what, colleague — it may sound cheesy or disingenuous, but in my heart and my will and my mind there is an earnestness for you, the work you've done, and the work you'll do.
With great love,
P.S. See you again in July.
P.P.S. If you need something, just holler via email. Newsletter subscribers: the email you get my messages from is the email to reply to!