Big or Small?

I used to spend a lot of my focus on the minutia of my teaching-related tasks. This was during my years as a college physics instructor, a student teacher in a middle school science classroom, a full-time high school physics teacher, and a long-term middle school science substitute teacher. How can I perfect the layout of this assignment that isn’t even fully written? Can I find/make the perfect video for this concept? What are bloggers saying about this specific  piece of electrostatics pedagogy? Unsurprisingly, this route took me through plenty of late nights and early mornings to complete grading and lesson plans.

Increasingly, now, it very easy for me to get halted by big questions. What are the implications for my students’ lives of this single statement I’m about to make? How can I frame this lesson to encourage my students to be champions of the cause of justice and hell-bent seekers of truth?

At the heart of both of these extremes, though, are my self-doubting heart nagging: Am I doing this right? Am I good enough? From one perspective the answer is definitely “no.” No matter what the ideal we choose, we, by definition, never reach it. I know, intellectually, that a better approach is to acknowledge and appreciate that I am learning, accept that it is difficult, and instead let my heart ask: Where can we go from here?

The “we” there isn’t about any sort of multiple personality disorder. The word is coming from a place of desiring and needing to consult with others with similar goals, and who also strive to see themselves as protagonists of the work of educating humanity.

Fine, Leif. We get it. You haven’t had the opportunity to collaborate as meaningfully as you like with peer educators. Are you going to talk about teaching or not? That’s your ticket into the blogging teachers community. Ha! Maybe I actually do have to admit some MPD. Just kidding, that’s the collective voice I’m imaging from the chorus.

It doesn’t seem that I am directly responding to any of the questions I initially posed here. That’s fine. If we’re cognizant of our role as humans living during humanity’s turning point, we’ll always have more questions than answers, right? I’ll let that be an affirmation.


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