Five years have past; five summers with the length
Of five long winters! again I hear
these waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
with a soft inland murmur.
I have been thinking about the beginning lines of Wordsworth's poem Lines and how I might reflect on these for my second entry. I can imagine him hiking in the Lake District coming across Tintern Abbey and realizing that five years had passed since he had last been there and thinking the thoughts of how much life can change in five years. I have reached my five year mark as a teacher and I find myself looking back and looking forward.
I often heard veteran teachers remark that the first five years were the hardest and that after that it gets better. And although I tried hard to make my learning curve as quick as possible, there is something to teaching for five years. This past year I felt my teaching shift into a different gear and being able to manage things much more easily than before.
I also like looking forward to the next five years and thinking about setting new goals. My last practicum teacher had said to me that he was more interested in what teachers were going to do five years after they were hired rather than the first five years. He was just becoming a VP at the time and was aware that in interviews we often stress the first five years and not the career.
Well, children are crying, its taken me a week to get back to this blog so I am going to cut the "prosy part" short and come to this. What I want to achieve in the next five years is consistency of approach. A more intentional refinement of strategy and expectation. The ability to set long term goals and the consistency to work towards the goals
The idea for this blog has been kicking around in my head for some time. The phrase " Joy of Elevated Thought" comes from William Wordworth's poem Lines Written above Tintern Abbey. The full line is "Disturbed by the Joy of Elevated Thought."
The round about story of how I came to love this line is also a round about story of my learning path and learning to learn - a concept I have become increasingly more passionate about and a topic that will be explored through this blog. Here is the round about story:
I first encountered this poem in first year English. I wrote the worst English essay of my life on it. It was the night before. I had waited till the last moment. I had no idea what was going on in the poem let alone the course. All the poets from Chaucer to T.S. Eliot were in one milky mess in my brain. Our professor kept harping on that our high school education hadn't prepared us. "What were they teaching you?" From being one of the top English students in my high school, I quickly found myself hating the subject that I thought should be my major. I had entered university thinking I could be the next Margaret Atwood. I felt like a failure.
1995 - 2005
In the intervening years a lot happens - I study abroad and realize English can be taught in many ways. Thank you Dr. Wilcox and Dr. Verhoven. I take a literary criticism course that leads me discover how political education theory can be - reader response, formalism, new criticism. Thank you Dr. Rae. I withdraw from concurrent education program. Thank you Julia Blackstock. A few years later take a master's in communication and culture. In this course, I am exposed to great teachers who were also great learners and I realize that learning is something I am in charge of. (Thank you to all professors...too many to name.) I discover that I love making films and teach myself everything I need to know for production through textbooks and experiments. I work in independent media sector. And then I discover mortgages are a good thing and reapply to become a teacher. And of course oodles more in between.
In Europe for a friend's wedding, there is a book on the bedside table in the guest room edited by Ted Hughes. It is called By Heart: 101 Poems to Remember. And in this book is Wordsworth's Lines. By now I had a much better perspective on English Literature. Living longer really helps with that. I could read the poem and understand it so much more. Living longer helps with that too. In fact, the poem, in my mind, was very much about the experiencing of living and reflecting back on who you were and how you got to be the person you are. I fell in love with it.
My family was going through a major crisis because of my little brother's health. We had all moved back to the farm from various places across Canada. Death was a real possibility. I also had a 4 month old baby who was colicky and didn't nap or sleep very well. And it was during this time, that I decided to memorize this poem. I would eek out 20 minutes a day to walk the road with a print out and memorize the poem line by line. There are 159 lines. It was through repetition and memorization - a mode of earning not stressed as much these days - that I came upon Disturbed by the Joy of Elevated Thought. And I felt that this had captured what I longed for in my education and teaching practice. To be disturbed or shaken by the joy or thrill of learning and achieving. And so that's why this blog is called the Joy of Elevated Thought. Keep reading more soon.
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