legacies

had a good talk tonight with a friend about leaving a legacy– talking through our feelings about leaving the school in just a few weeks. the question was, are we leaving a legacy? if not, should we be disappointed in ourselves?

both of us have only been here for 2 years. it seems very short. before that, i spent 5 years teaching at Codman; before that, 1 year at Milton, before that, 1 year at SACS, before that, 2 1/2 years at Nashoba. before that, i spent 1 year student teaching at Mt. Anthony. how long will i be at my next school? at least 2 years, hopefully more.

at each place i taught, i made my own curriculum; sometimes well, sometimes less so. at Codman, i was very proud of having built a program- not just a curriculum, but projects and partnerships with local people and organizations that i had developed over several years. i definitely did my best work there, and felt angst handing off my curriculum and role to the teacher who filled my position after me.

but my thinking now is that a school should be dynamic– that classes should not exist in a set day-to-day agenda divorced from the teacher of the course. the curriculum should not be rigidly codified. that would be a script. there should be room, and understanding, for teachers’ flair; their interests and abilities, to shape the course. yes, i do think that the general shape of the curriculum, its essential questions and basic content and framing, should persist, but it should be malleable. a course is never the same course when a new/different teacher teaches it. each teacher should give it new life. new incarnations should exist.

so my thought is that my legacy is more in my students than in the curricula i have made. i would be happy to see my imprint, my influence, in how they think, in how they act, in what they think about. i hope my AP Psych students have more empathy, and amazement, and affection for the many variations in the human race. i hope my AP World students are more curious about other cultures, think about how our history made us, and question and challenge the dominant narrative. i hope my Codman students from years past remember the stories of Vietnam and Iraq War veterans; i hope they remember discussing the Civil Rights era with elders at the Senior Center nearby; i hope they remember bits of the spoken word poems they wrote and performed. i hope they remember the power they demonstrated in the writing and discussing and thinking we did in the course, and a sense of this power has stayed with them, even a little. i hope all my students have a moment somewhere in their lives, if they have not already by the time they get to me, of realization of the delight of learning. i don’t need to feel that i’m the first teacher to offer this to them, but i do wish them access: access to that delight.

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