Why this blog?

"... Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves ... Do not search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. The point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." - Letters to a Young Artist, R. M. Rilke

Rooted in the promise and challenge of growth ...

these are letters from a young teacher.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I never thought it possible ...

When I left Germany after two years as an English assistant, a colleague mentioned to me that it would be a shame ("Schade") if I didn't go on to teach German, or use my German in my profession. At the time, I sort of agreed, but I was also fervently protective of my German as a personal treasure, of sorts. Why did I have to use German for my profession? Couldn't I just keep it for myself?

However, I was a bit disheartened by the slim prospects of blending my new interest in early education with my experience in German language and culture. I thought I would have to wait for an opportunity to work in Germany, again, before fulfilling both passions simultaneously. ... But! I was pleasantly surprised when I came upon - of all things - a German-immersion pre-school right in my neighborhood!


This school is still very young, and growing. What has begun as a Preschool-Kindergarten program of about 40 students has grand plans to become a legitimate K-8 school, like other German American schools in the country. But for now, they are developing an official curriculum and establishing themselves in the German American community.

A dream come true?? That's what I'm here to find out!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How did this happen?!

It is with a heavy heart that I have come to a decision to leave this lovely school I've substituted and taught at since February. I had the option to begin a new position in a different classroom at the same school, but in a perfect storming swirl of emotion, logistics, and a blustering wind that has left me facing a new direction, I've accepted - and now begun - a position at a different pre-school.

I have kept my own extensive journal of my time at this school, and find I still have not been able to write about this past - my last - week with the children, because it is hard to believe it. The soul always needs to time to catch up to the body, as they say.

There were many factors that played into my decision. They are not as important to me right now as the joys and thanks I will keep with me when I think about my time with my students.

As I've mentioned in my posts, this school practices the Reggio Emilia pedagogy. It has been such a gift to attend professional development workshops and read up on this unique approach to working with children. What I appreciate most about Reggio Emilia - and about the teachers I've worked with - is that both acknowledge the immense capacity of children to imagine, create, think critically, and reason about so much. There are many "child-centered" schools and pedagogies today, but I feel like Reggio Emilia is an approach that is truly derived from a nuanced understanding of the culture of childhood.

As I have engaged in more concentrated observation and documentation of my students' natural way of being, interacting, exploring, etc., I find that I have gotten to know these kids better than any other students I've had. I know them as individuals, as friends, as playmates, as Lego-ship-builders, as paper-airplane-makers, as dramatic-play-characters, as puzzle-masters, as storytellers, as artists, as imaginers of worlds I could never begin to conceive of ...

How could I leave this? I ask myself.

And yet I know: I am not leaving. I am moving forward. While I keep working away at my graduate studies, I want to be sure I get to experience as many schools as I can, to get a good picture of what is out there, and to continue exploring the most fundamental question of my journey: What does it mean in my life to be a teacher?

It is this question I am chasing...