There is a small brick cottage, painted white, on my walking route, across the street from my public school. I’m not sure that anyone is living in it, other than the fact that I occasionally see a dim light in the very back room. I can see, through the front windows that face the street, the rooms are filled with unused furniture. The lacy curtains are yellowed and tied in a knot. There is a small front porch, ringed by overgrown evergreen shrubs. The grass is rarely cut. The back yard is large and partially shady, with a small shed and no gardens. There is a clothesline, a chain link fence and a big, big tree. There is a breezeway or sunroom on the back of the house, and an old screen door that looks nearly ready to fall off its hinges.
I’ve decided that this is my house and every night I walk by it I work on sprucing it up in my mind. The cement driveway needs to go. It is cracked and takes up too much space. I would replace it with a side garden, fenced in, with a small gate lined in hollyhocks, nasturtiums and marigolds. I would build a small vertical herb garden on the side of the house there, so that I could pop out and snip off some thyme or parsley whenever I needed it. The back yard would be devoted to the vegetable garden, of course, and maybe some bee boxes. The shed would be perfect as a combination potting shed/summer writing space.
Inside, the rooms would be painted in warm, bright, cheerful colours. A kitchen the colour of goldenrod, with my formica table and chair set and pink can opener and all my pink melmac dishes. Hanging plants would frame the windows, which would be covered with light, gauzy curtains that the sun could shine through on summer evenings. The bathroom must be the perfect shade of peachy pink, like faded coral. The back room must be filled with light and potted plants. In the winter, I’ll have herbs growing indoors and a big wicker chair to sit in and read.
There would be a writing room and a guest room and cats, of course. On the weekends I could ride my bike to the market and I would keep a small trailer for road trips whenever they called. There would be quilts and fresh flowers and friends staying for the weekend and pancake breakfasts and long evening walks and handmade curtains and beautiful music spilling out open windows.
Dreams, dreams, dreams.
I must clean my room and I must go for a walk and I must get away from the internet and its bad vibes for a while. I’m trying really, really hard. Really hard. Like, every single day.
I am full of teaching self-doubt and therefore need some recommendations of things to read about radical teaching, classrooms without walls, school gardens, students occupying the education system, proposals for massive shifts in curriculum and school culture and generally inspiring stuff about how teachers are not all white, prudish, uptight, censoring robots.
Teachers are colourful and alive and full of love for the world and for words and thoughts and ideas. Teachers have lives and interests. Teachers are fascinating- have secret, hidden selves within them. They don’t all live in the suburbs. They don’t all quote Maya Angelou or Gandhi. They make art and they make poetry and they make solar panels and they struggle to pay their bills and they raise chickens and they play roller derby and they wear sequins and and they live in dirty apartments and they have collections of rare comic books and they play harps and they say fuck. They say fuck a lot. Some of them are entrenched in complicated love triangles, some of them are desperately lonely, some of them are denying parts of themselves that they encourage their students to embrace, some of them think they are ugly, hate their bodies, hate themselves. They have thoughts. They have personal beliefs. They have “political” inclinations.
Teachers teach because they are human beings and they believe in other human beings and because they have something to teach. I feel a massive need to empower myself as a teacher, to embrace and advocate for teachers who are doing revolutionary stuff in their classrooms. I want my students to change all of the unfair things in the world and I cannot do that by pandering to them. I am a teacher and I am fucking badass and the only way I can empower my students is by empowering my self.
I have ALL the feelings about being a teacher.