What I learned in the summer program, besides how to teach writing:
1. I love to learn! Clearly, since I’m a teacher that may not be a stretch. However, I did NOT expect to love to learn in the summer. When I started teaching I decided summers would be mine to rest my brain cells, allow my stress levels to return to normal and do a WHOLE BUNCH of nothing. I was successful at that for 2 straight summers, but by the end of the 2nd I started to feel less than productive. This summer was a 2-for-1. Combine something I love with something I need—writing with graduate credits. Success. But it was deeper than that. So, now I intend to learn something each summer. It could be finally committing to learning to swim. After all, with all these water related activities I’ve started getting in to, the skill is a must have. I want to take a jewelry making class. I want to approach scrapbooking from a teacher portfolio standpoint and make it fun and funky to look at. I could go study abroad for a summer and learn about something and somewhere else at once. The sky is the limit and the limit, as my girl Shai would say, is the muthafuggin sky.
2. You ain’t got to give me nothing, I’m gon’ take it. Yeah…so this program had some glitches in it that I wouldn’t have expected. For a couple days I was baffled, trying to figure out how I’d missed the signs for this impending mishap. In the end, my old resolve kicked in and I played it like I played it in undergrad. See, the truth of the matter is, I didn’t learn a whole lot in undergrad based on course titles and supposed content matter. I learned a lot of unintentional lessons, 1 of which was not to wait for a teacher to give me ANYTHING. Same rules apply, apparently, no matter what stage of the academic game I’m in. Where the program fell short, I decided what I wanted from it and took it faster than a subway pick-pocket in NYC.
3. I walked away from this experience far more confident with public speaking. Just Thursday I got up and rocked the mic, in part of the closing ceremony, and freestyled my whole portion of the program without a hitch and good crowd response. I still hate the sound of my voice on a microphone but you can’t have everything. I also now possess lots of creative and fun ways to pass along information to colleagues, students, parents, and even friends. Look out friends for my 40th birthday. I got 4.5 years to get my theme and design tight. And like my girl says, if I came to support yours, your face BETTER be in the place. I learned how to publish folks’ work in a real shiny fashion. I will be using this with my students to produce awesome artifacts from here on out. I also learned how to make my future students do all the work so as to preserve my eyes, my sleep needs, and my sanity. Those were the major points but I also learned to keep a potential crush in check long enough to see it had no potential, to overcome biases for the greater good, to let the absurd remain absurd (thanks Minnie), and to keep smiling no matter what.
4. Free ain’t NEVER free. The summer program was advertised as free. And it practically was, compared to the actual cost of graduate credits at Howard University. EXCEPT...for the things we discovered into the game that we’d have to pay for with no knowledge and no pre-planning. While I didn’t end up paying thousands of dollars for the 6 graduate credits, there was unexpected dollars spent. More than that, I spent CRAZY amounts of time working on assignments and more time than I’m comfortable with too tired to do anything else. It’s summer, damnit, and I wanted to play some. It’s all good though. Throwback. What I’ve gained from this summer will repay me for what I put out and it just might put me in a position to be able to afford to play much more on the back end in the years where it counts the most: ie those that you wish you didn’t have to work anymore but social security only covers the gas money to get you to your Walmart greeters job that your retired back and knees really can’t take. No thank you. My future doesn’t involve retiring to take on a part time job at 76. I don’t like it. I don’t believe in it and frankly it makes me uncomfortable. That means I must plug along with these kinds of experiences, hobnobbing for “free” and coming in contact with the movers and shakers in my field. This is just the beginning.
5. Once my mind is set to it, it’s going to get done, and at a quality that surprises even me. The whole time I was working on projects for this program I would hit these walls. I would have a tantrum, literally, and call on the person/s I know have learned how to move me past myself over the years. I would be instructed to walk away from the project, get some rest, and return to it. I did force a 2 hr nap in the middle of one project but that was because I could feel my sanity slipping away faster than usual. Other than that, at no point did I follow anyone’s instructions to chill for a bit. Why? Cause my own force was behind me and guiding this ship toward awesomeness. Cocky much? Trust me, I have earned the right to be so with the quality of work I cranked out through manic moments, time crunches, and the desire to still be livin’ it up for the summer.
6. If I make a promise, I keep it, unless I forget. These days, Forgetful Jones (Sesame Street throwback) is often my name. I have my mind wrapped around too many things to remember what all I’ve committed to. Even calendars and things don’t always work because….I forget to look at them. In this case though, I promised a very dear friend that at the end of this exercise (the program) I would take stock of all that I learned about myself and write it down—to help commit it to memory. The goal: to stop surprising myself and remember on the front end what I’m capable of, and perhaps release some of the mania that comes on while trying to make the magic happen. If I remember in the beginning that I am incredibly talented, I can just knowingly apply said talents and make it happen. So, here’s to You. I stand before you [all] exposing the new rings on my tree and the new wrinkles on my brain. I cannot help but to acknowledge those present who walk with me and encourage me along the way, or those whose presence is always with me, guiding me in new and improved charmed directions to keep me on the path of my life’s purpose. Y’all ROCK!!
& so do I.
Watch me move.