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Character of Teaching

While having tea in a small coffee shop I inhabit, I jotted down the beginnings of a poem.

A phrase that repeated itself in my dissertation and the interviews was “differences make a difference.” When I began teaching, people asked “what made me go into teaching, particularly at 32 years of age.” It was the sentiment that I might make a difference, maybe not for every student, but for some. It reminds me of the Crosby, Stills, and Nash song: Teach Your Children Well, but it is more than teaching. It is serving them and whatever I do well.

Someday, whether we are teachers or not, we feel a desire to be lost. Responsibilities weigh on us whether we are parents, at our work, partners in a relationship, etc. In our relationships with the weight of responsibilities, something calls us each back. It is more of a whisper. It can only belong to each of us. Teaching was this way for me.

I experience a desire to be lost,

Weighing down on me,

Responsibilities cloak me like a vapour

Covering me with their many coats,

They arrive without being asked.

From the multitude, one desire arises;

A clarion call from the cosmos,

It carresses my soul;

It whispers “be useful and kind.”

A flower sharing its pollen,

Spread on the wings of others;

Teach what is possible–

What is possible of each of us?

Save them from glory seekers and profiteers;

Gently, send them away

Pollinating a new generation,

Flowering anew with compassion,

Rejoice as they float around the corner,

Knowing not what they will sow,

Trusting your character.

I took this picture on the upper reaches of the Fraser River. Around the corner from Kathy, the river narrows quickly and there is a waterfall.

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About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

10 responses »

  1. Sweet poem, nice picture.

    Reply
  2. As I read the last six lines of your poem, I thought of my adult children. They are not following the religious path I consciously taught them, but they each follow a spiritual path of loving nature and moving in the direction of kindness – things I likely taught them by my actions and character. Thank you for helping me let go and trust that all is well.

    Reply
  3. I have a feeling many of us can relate to this poem. It is so real.

    Reply

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