At some point I realized that the delirium of my blogging was due to the explosion of learning I was going through and how my blogging was my way of processing and sharing the products that came out of that learning. This doesn't mean I have stopped learning or that my transition out of traditional language teaching has now become complete. By no means is that true.
I think the season I am in is a season of reflection and refinement. The blind fury of learning to become a target language teacher has calmed, and I am no longer high on discovery. What I spend a lot of my time doing now is deeply evaluating everything I do and everything I did before this transformation started taking place. And while I am culling my tools and resources to weed out the things that just simply don't yield student language acquisition or higher levels of proficiency, I am also looking for better applications of my target language teaching.
The question I most frequently ask myself now is, "Do I need this?" A close second is probably, "How effective is this?" Another important question I ponder is, "What is the most efficient, yet powerful way to help my students own this?" Most of the time the answers to these questions are less about what I am doing and more about what I need to get my students to do.
I also have realized that a lot of my job is about attention. How am I gathering student attention? What do I want the outcome to be from having that attention? So, where am I going to point that attention?
All of these questions keep bringing me back to text type. There are those who work closely with me who are probably tired of hearing me say those two words, but I will never stop. I carry them as close to me as a tattoo on my skin. Everything I plan, everything I have my students do, every resource I curate or create gets evaluated through the lens of text type. With all things I ask myself, "What text type does this model?" or "What text type does this push students to produce?" The answers that come from asking those questions are everything because without considering text type, language teachers are hard pressed to produce student proficiency.
Anyway, this post isn't about text type or really even about proficiency, rather it is about my learning. The tsunami has passed, but now I feel that the things I have been exposed or have learned are working their way into the cracks and crevices of my teaching practices. This is a time of re-watering for the purpose of saturation.
After either Hurricane Katrina or Rita, I took my daughter and her friend to the barren beaches in Galveston. The hurricane had blown away pretty much everything on the beaches, so they were more beautiful than I had ever seen and more vast than they would be again for years. On the way home, we drove the main drag of Galveston, and there on the left was a centuries old cemetery. I probably wouldn't have noticed it except it was absolutely blanketed with so many wild flowers you couldn't see the ground beneath them. It looked like it had snowed flower banks instead of snow. Being a lover of wild flowers, I turned as soon as I could to find a way into the cemetery in hopes of a few cool photos. When we got out of the car and found the gate, it was even more beautiful than I could have hoped for, and as I stood there among the ancient grave markers, I realized why the place was covered with patches of yellow, red and purple flowers. The hurricane had not just blown things away. As the waters calmed and receded, old seeds were watered and others were deposited by the winds from who knows where, and this little plot of land was some of the only soil left in city to plant in.
This journey of learning we are on never ends, but each leg has a different purpose and a different pace. When the road is crazy and chaotic, we should just hold on for the ride and take in as much as we can. When it slows and seems to go on without much to look at along the way, the journey hasn't ended. A good, long car ride makes me wax a little poetic every time.
Like the cemetery after the storm, a little time and patience can yield deeper, more meaningful learning than we have experienced before. We don't even realize what has been planted in us until those things are allowed to sprout their way into our teaching, but growing doesn't happen in the storm. Only after, and only after the sun returns.
For those of you who find yourselves in a season like me, take heart. You are not finished learning yet. More blooms are on the way.