“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.”
― Gloria Steinem
I have found a bit of joy. I’ve been looking for some time now, peering into cracks and squinting through uncertainty…a practice that has revealed a deeper darkness than I care to admit and a blurry reality that doesn’t respond to corrective lenses. I was looking inward and doing some Important Work, for sure, but it is exhausting and often overwhelming and, for now, was not all that joyful. But then, by accident, I found joy.
Like most of us in traditional education, I just completed the first half of this school year and was contemplating the second half (trying hard to see March as just another month along the way). I started thinking about my students and where they were at this point in the year. What had sparked their creative juices and what was just another “assignment”? What prompts had ignited a flurry of pens scurrying across notebook pages and what had left us all listening to the clock tick? I was feeling sad that, despite my best efforts, I just didn’t know them the way they deserved to be known at this point in the year, but I was also feeling a strange determination to Fix It.
And so I dove in. I searched my computer files and explored web sites and I read read read. I looked at what I had done in the past and I searched out what other teachers were doing now and I read read read. I watched hip and sleek YouTube videos and even found myself lost down the dangerous rabbit hole that is TikTok and, of course, I kept reading. I put together new folders, new prompts, new ideas…..I capitalized on the digital world I was stuck in and found shortcuts and longcuts and mediumcuts that would bring my students to explore in ways that would not be possible without the technology. I planned.
On Monday, it all fell flat. (Of course it did, because teaching in the pandemic is awful.) But this particular failure was different. For the first time in almost a year, my disappointment, fatigue and frustration was surprisingly short lived, replace by the memory of hope. The hope I had when I was planning. It is the hope that we all have when we plan: the anticipation that we may have discovered the just right poem or prompt or scaffolding of ideas that will light the spark. Planning is hope and hope is joyful.