Scattered Impressions?

If it hadn’t been for the huge winter storms and the eight days of missed classes, today would have been a professional-development day … and I suppose I would have been preparing to receive training on some Technological Tool or other, then deliver some training on some aspect of the Relatively New Curriculum.  But with those huge winter storms, today became a makeup day … and I also received a jury summons for today.  It will be an interesting day for the Latin Family; I’m sure they’ll do well overall, but I’ll be curious to see how N handles the challenge of managing herself and doing something important on the First Day Back, when Mr. S isn’t there.  I can imagine a flood of potential excuses, but I can also imagine the possibility of some really excellent work.  We’ll have to see.

B isn’t a current Latin Family member, though she plans to become one and many of her friends currently are.  But B and her family go to church with me, and after the service yesterday, B was telling me she’s concerned about the lost days and the potential makeup days and, above all, with how she’s doing in Ms. X’s class.  Apparently the standards and expectations are unclear, at least to B and many of her friends, and Ms. X likes to talk about “rigorous grading” and “getting what you got.”  And B, who’s always done well in That Subject Area in the past, is understandably worried.  She went to Ms. X’s tutoring sessions, she said, but Ms. X does pretty much the same thing there that she does in class, which doesn’t really help that much.  Whenever students of mine come for tutoring, I always take time to ask, to find out what the specific problem is, to watch them attempt to Make That Thing or Read That Passage … but apparently that’s not Ms. X’s style.

How do these scattered impressions connect with each other?  And how do they relate to the message I got last night from C, who was a Latin Family member years ago?  Many A Ms. X and Mr. Y dismissed C as “smart but lazy” or “bad attitude,” but there was a lot going on in C’s life even then that made it hard to focus on Ms. X’s worksheet or Mr. Y’s note-taking.  “I have a little boy now,” she said, “and I want to finish school,” and then C wants to do some Important Work she’s discovered a passion for.  I’ll be back in touch with C later today, I hope, and I’ll be finding out more about her plans … and about why, after all these years, she got in touch with me exactly when she did.

Somehow or other, I have a feeling, C’s message and the conversation with B and a day (or two or three) of jury duty are all important pieces of a puzzle that’s slowly coming together.  But how do they connect, and what larger picture will they reveal when the puzzle is all assembled?  If you’re operating from a factory-mindset, from the “relentless perfectionism” that B sees in herself (and that, I realize, often led C to prefer not to start the assignment if she thought she’d finish badly), then a puzzle without directions is nothing but frustrating.  “Where’s the box with the picture?” we ask ourselves.  “Where are the directions for exactly how to assemble this thing?”  But in a joyful learning community, and in the beautiful imperfection of life itself, sometimes there isn’t a box, a picture, or a set of directions.  Sometimes you have to figure things out for yourself, try different arrangements, give up in frustration for a while and then come back.  Maybe that’s one important lesson from these scattered impressions, one I need to take with me into the uncertainty of the day and week ahead.

I wonder what else is there for us all to discover!

Published in: on February 17, 2014 at 11:18 am  Leave a Comment  

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