Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Morning THanks--on teaching

A year of morning thanks

Yesterday, the first day of another long semester, I walked into a classroom of 19-year-olds whose course of study set them right in front of me for a college writing class. None of them chose to be there; it's a core course.

They don't know me; I don't know them. We're a forced marriage. So yesterday I started courting because passion sells in education; and part of my job--a significant part--is motivation. What happens in a classroom is really a species of courtship. And, after almost forty years, I don't know that I have the heart and soul for another round.

Yesterday, a exceptionally sweet note from a student from last semester graced my e-mail. But then, yesterday, another kid walked past me as if I were a load of excrement. That relationship failed, miserably.

The very idea of starting this semester's dalliance is as daunting as it is wearying. Love requires giving--of self, too, in spades. For years in September and January, I've watched 18-wheelers run by and imagined how great it would be to have a job that put you alone in the cab, and allowed you to shut the door once the day was behind you. I'd like to be an owner/operator, no room full of students in front of me. I want a regular job.

Is there such a thing? I doubt it.

But on mornings like this, I feel as if I'm standing on the shore, too blame tired to get back in the water. Just how big is the soul? How many times can you give yourself away?

It drives me to my knees--honestly, it does, this teaching thing. And this morning, an endless sea before me, that teaching keeps me humble, that's what I'm thankful for because it's good for me to be reminded that I'm not an owner/operator, that I am not my own. It's good for me to be on my knees.


ricknieklikebike said...

I don't know myself as an exceptional writer but maybe I'm pretty good. At least my poems follow ideas from one line to the next. I write actively, not passively. I write purposefully and I attempt to write truthfully about any situation. I learned from my writing classes. I learned from deafening failures and moderate successes. I learned how to witness a good story, then attempt to pass the story along. I was an embarrassing marriage partner (in the teacher student sense of course), but I grew from the relationship and I believe I became a responsible writer. Accountability drives any relationship and you pushed me, never knowing whether or not I'd make anything from the push. I shall never put such lessons asunder. One never knows whether a push, or an annoying and difficult challenge to your students will amount to anything. You may be weary, but allow me another hurrah and hazah for a most worthy professor.

Siouxlander said...

It's early in the morning before my second day of classes. I'll carry along your kind words into the classroom. Thanks so very much.