Saturday, July 31, 2010


I don't know many people who operate without a sense of the ideal. The perfect scenario in many contexts, the elusive and mostly unreachable dream. Most people have some sense of this whether it be in the context of friendships, romantic relationships, family, career, or life in general.

I may think about ideals more than most people. I don't really know- it isn't exactly a frequent topic of discussion. Regardless, I have an ideal situation in my head for many parts of my life. And I know that the vast majority of details in my dreams will not become reality, and this allows me to feel comfortable dwelling in these thoughts.

One particularly developed ideal is my classroom. This is something I have been creating and shaping and forming for a few years now, and I was certain. Like so many other elements in my life, I was completely confident in what I wanted, and not very open to the chance that this might change. And like so many other elements in my life, I feel like God or karma or fate (pick the one you believe in :) just swiftly kicked me over. And upon falling and hitting my head, I was exposed to an entire world I never dreamed of.

I used to imagine my classroom in an old building, somewhere in the heart of the city. "Urban education" at it's finest, with rough kids and limited resources and demographics that left me in the minority. I really like the culture of different cultures, and especially in the city. My classroom would be filled with hope of a better life and experiences that thrill the heart and inspire the mind. I would have books that drew students into exploration and a uniformed sort of chaos in my classroom decorations. The classroom would feel warm, complimented by items of comfort and assurance like soft chairs and lamps and music. I have arranged seats in a way that allows for collaboration and individuality at the same time. There are centers that focus on writing and reading and math and science and social studies and friendship and growth. I display student work with pride and create opportunities in the classroom for students to connect with each other and discover themselves as a unique person. My classroom is colorful without being too bright- one continuous theme that clutches the room. And so we grow together.

This is my ideal. I used to think that things would be easier if I could just snap my fingers and find myself standing in this situation, completely ready to take on the world. I would dream of the day that I could make this come true- work with my hands and use my resources and pour time and energy into such a place.

My Romanian classroom is very likely not going to fit with this vision. I won't be teaching all of the subjects, and I certainly won't be in a Chicago neighborhood confronting poverty and rejecting stereotypes. But I will be reveling in another culture. And I can create in my classroom opportunities for growth and friendship and collaboration and individuality and inspiration and excitement. I can develop an environment of warmth and trust and risk. I can be an awesome teacher outside of my comfort. I can become someone who grows and develops friendships and collaborates and finds a deeper sense of individuality and seeks inspiration and experiences excitement. And I am quickly becoming convinced that this is the best thing of all about this jump outside of the ideal.

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