Last week we decided to replace our old dishwasher. After what must have been thousands of loads our trusty friend, who had always been loud, was becoming unruly. Once we turned her (or him?) on the only conversations we could have in the kitchen had to be yelled. Between cycles it (?) would let out a loud screech, similar to a car slamming on the breaks at the last moment. It seemed that he (!) wanted us to know that he was here even if he wasn’t going to be here much longer.
When the new machine arrived I slid it into the opening between the cabinets. My vision of a quick installation faded away when I realized that the electric connection had been cut too short for the new machine. After solving that problem the first test run revealed a small leak in one of the water connections I had made. Thankfully we now have a working, dry, quiet, new dishwasher.
In the midst of my dishwasher mini-drama I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a mid-career teacher looking ahead to the beginning of another school year. There is the knowledge that I have a lot of skills, experience, and ideas. Simultaneously I know that teaching is hard and that designing curriculum, building trusting relationships with students, and establishing an intentional classroom culture continually require one to fully immerse and extend her/himself while developing new skills and maintaining openness.
Once the year begins (similar to when the old dishwasher is disconnected,) the school year presents constant challenges and requires me to continually problem solve, learn, design creatively, and reflect. Like the dishwasher, the beauty of teaching is in the unpredictable and unexpected and how these things require teachers to adapt and re-create themselves and their teaching.