Speaking of collecting and restoring old notes, here’s one I recently recovered. It was written at the start of last year. I find it especially timely as it comes at a time when I have been thinking a lot about the anatomy of habit formation. One of the positive habits that I am currently working on is maintaining a professional blog. Here’s to the value of writing while teaching:
This year, I am intent on creating better habits. I’ve organized my desks in groups of four; I’ve planned my weeks with ends in mind (to a point… I can’t say I have every duck in its row, or even most; such is the nature of the profession. I can say that I am getting better at herding my ducks. If you’ve never heard of hearding ducks, it’s a bit like herding cats, only there’s water to contend with. Water makes spills and spills make messes, sigh. Go on, ducks).
Anyway, if there is one thing I’ve noticed about habits, it is this: they are built, one day at a time. So, if I plan to develop a blog, I had better start blogging. Forget that the draft I began in earnest last Wednesday has yet to be completed because I lack for pretty pictures to complement each paragraph. Forget that I could write something beautiful and profound if only I had the time, because if only may never come, but time certainly will, and five months from now I don’t want to be wondering….”What happened? What did I mean to write down? I think I’ve grown, but how can I tell?”
We tell our students, all the time, “Write this down so you don’t forget.” How often, I wonder, do we take our own advice to heart? How many weeks of unheralded epiphanies have gone unrecorded? I’m sure mine are no more special than most. In fact, given the level of apparent brilliance of many of my colleagues, I’m quite sure that my own thoughts and understandings will pale in comparison. Still, they will be recorded, as mine.
This is what I have: a commitment I intend to take seriously, for better or worse. I believe there is value in writing. And I also believe, though this runs slightly against my introverted nature, that there is value in sharing one’s reflections. Perhaps another will read and recognize some glimmer of some truth they had already recognized and almost forgot. I’ll let others do this, if they’ll excuse my clumsiness. I’m writing at the kitchen table, as I engage my 11-month-old daughter in a constant stream of discussion that is relatively nonsensical. It’s wonderful, but incredibly sloppy. Sloppy as herding ducks, I guess; or cats, for that matter. Sloppy as teaching and learning. Sloppy as this blog will probably be. But, it will exist,and perhaps there will be a time in the future, when I can afford to straighten up, to disinfect, and polish, and perhaps then I will smile the way that grandmothers smile when they sort through shoeboxes of photographs in attics, disorganized artifacts of a time when having more time seemed like everything.