Part of my preparation for becoming a teacher, at my MAT program at Johns Hopkins, was to take time to reflect on what I was doing. Further, since my mid-teens, I have rarely been without a small pocket notebook in which to jot down observations and reflections. In addition, I used to regularly take time here at DKos to reflect upon both what happened in my classroom and the intersection between being a teacher and being an active citizen, one involved in various ways in what was happening in our society.
As one whose primary instructional responsibility over more than two and a half decades in the classroom (in 10 schools that were public, charter, private, and now religious) in two states and the District of Columbia has been American government, but who has taught a variety of other subjects as well, to classrooms ranging from 7th grade through 12th, with students ranging from special education to extremely gifted, I often wrestle with the way of how I instruct — and the content I include — and connecting that to the lives of the students (and their families) I teach, both in the immediate presence and the rapidly oncoming future which will extend far beyond my time on this earth. After all, I am now 74 and the students I will teach this year could be as young as 15.
That cant be a very “ scary” proposition: I can never forget the challenging words of Henry Adams, that “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
It has been a while since I offered such a reflection here. At present I am at a crossroads between school years, between one where without much preparation we suddenly had to convert to all virtual instruction with the seniors I taught losing almost all the expected culminating activities of their high school careers (and many lost their final athletic seasons), to a year where regardless of how the school officially operates (still not known for the start of the year with any certainty) i will at least for the first semester be instructing only virtually, with students whom I do not yet really know. I am doing so because both my spouse and I are considered to be at high risk from the virus.
And all of this is occurring at a very challenging time for American society.
So let me share some thoughts and reflections.