#SOLC17 and Poetry Friday: We talked about the fact… by Robert Lax

The Slice of Life March Writing Challenge @ Two Writing Teachers – 31 days of  a writing community.

Poetry Friday is hosted by Michelle@Today’s Little Ditty

Late yesterday evening, a teacher I had mentored some years ago called me to catch up on news: she loved teaching the new grade level was was assigned in September and anxious about at first, she was thinking of starting a blog and writing more, and (this was the part she had really called to talk about) she  couldn’t believe how much she was delighting in teaching.  She was sometimes surprised by this delight, she said, given that she had had such self doubt way back in the days that she first knew me, when she was just launching a teaching life of her own.

In those days, she reminisced, every day was a struggle. Every day was a new invitation to admit to defeat.  Every day felt like an admonition to stop teaching and find a new line of work.  We laughed about those days, and the emails we’d send back and forth: her doubts and fears, my feeble attempts at reassurance and advice.  We traded ideas about reading and writing workshop (she teaches fourth grade now, I still teach sixth grade), and new books to read.  By the time we’d signed off, my heart was filled with the joy that had travelled  across the many thousands of miles between us: I always knew Sarah was born to be a teacher, now Sarah knew this, and believed this, too.

Teaching requires juggling so many disparate skills, it is difficult work.  Even after one has been at it for many years, few of us can say that every day is a perfect day…in fact, it’s those imperfect days that tend to teach us the most.  Never the less, the longer we teach and the more we lean in to the heart and soul of our teaching lives, the better we learn to deal with even the imperfect with grace.   This is what I heard in Sarah’s voice – hard won self confidence in her craft, and the grace with which to navigate the bumps and turns  in the road.

This Poetry Friday, I share the poem below, which speaks (I think) to arriving at grace in the  craft of teaching:

abstract-figures-font-b-circus-b-font-show-scenery-oil-painting-canvas-printings-printed-on-canvas

We talked about the fact…    by Robert Lax

We talked about the fact that
it wasn’t the danger,
it wasn’t the skill,
it wasn’t the applause
that made the act what it was.
It was principally the grace;
the bringing into being,
for a moment,
the beautiful thing,
the somersault,
the leap,
the entrechat on horseback.
The skill,
of course, has something to do
with it. It is pleasant
to know you can do anything
so difficult. It is good when you
have mastered it, and you are
really in competition with yourself.

“When we make a mistake in
the ring we are very angry. The
audience doesn’t know, but we
know.”

But it is a pleasure
to do anything
so difficult
and do it
gracefully.

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “#SOLC17 and Poetry Friday: We talked about the fact… by Robert Lax

  1. Perfect poem to match today’s thoughts. How wonderful to hear from a previous mentee! My favorite line today: “the longer we teach and the more we lean in to the heart and soul of our teaching lives.” So true!

  2. I think the last line of the poem says it all. Teaching is the art of making something that is difficult to do seem easy so that it feels like anyone can do it. And we are our worst critics when things don’t go well.

  3. Thanks for speaking to the hard won rewards of teaching. I don’t think anyone who has never attempted to teach has a clue as to how difficult a job it is. Teachers are truly our unsung heroes. How wonderful to hear from your mentee. Perfect poem!

  4. This is such a lovely pairing of two complimentary pieces of writing. The personal writing is so sincere; the poem illuminates the first piece. This might make a good mentor model for your students for comparing two texts. I loved them both for different reasons,

  5. This is such a lovely pairing of two complementary pieces of writing. The personal writing is so sincere; the poem illuminates the first piece. This might make a good mentor model for your students for comparing two texts. I loved them both for different reasons,

  6. Some days I wish I could push self-doubt out the window. She creeps in every day, even on the good days. I understand that heart-filled feeling when you talked to your mentee. Sounds like you two have a special bond.

  7. I love every bit of this, Tara. It’s so satisfying to reconnect with colleagues and “talk shop.” The poem and the Chagall painting are perfect together. It is a challenge, but pure “pleasure
    to do anything
    so difficult
    and do it
    gracefully.”

  8. So inspiring, Tara! I love how you describe your friend’s current state of mind: “she couldn’t believe how much she was delighting in teaching. She was sometimes surprised by this delight, she said, given that she had had such self doubt way back.”

    This reminds me of my own teaching years and how I never got to that delight. Maybe if I’d stuck it out longer… But I have so many friends who did and truly loved it, as you both do. This makes me happy because, goodness knows, our kids and grandkids need teachers like you and your friend!

  9. Oh how I love the artwork! The poem is perfect too. I can certainly connect it to the art of teaching. I’ve been enjoying the double slices today too. I see a lot of slicers participating in Poetry Friday.

  10. Wow! That poem really puts the feeling of a good teaching moment on the page….or in my case the screen. That’s a keeper! Thank you for sharing that with us. I want to share that with my staff!

  11. This is a hard won fact of teaching: “deal with even the imperfect with grace.” Your words are so supportive. For the newbie and the veteran teacher. Thank you.

  12. You make me proud to have been a teacher, Tara, with your graceful words, ones I can always count on to raise my thinking. How wonderful to have had that conversation with your former mentee.

  13. I like the analogy of teaching school as being ringmaster, juggler and trapeze artist. I think you have to be a performer. Have a big personality. Have a huge heart. Plus all the preparation and optimism. Sort of like being a parent, but of course, you don’t get the kids for life. I bet in some cases, there is real joy in that. 🙂

  14. Yes! That poem is perfect for talking about teaching. I loved everything about this post. Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

Thank you for reading my blog! Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s