Things I Know 303 of 365: Teachers have grandteachers

For a while, I thought a lot about lineage. Where do I belong? Who am I standing next to?

– Jim Hodges

As I’ve said before, I was entrusted with the supervision of several pre-service teachers when I was in the classroom. Last week, I sent the following email to Marc Engel who did his student teaching in my classroom:

you have a blog yet?

Katie Sauvain, who student taught with me the year prior to Marc blogged privately while completing her student teaching. After our official roles had finished, Katie opened up her blog for me to see how she had been processing her experiences. They opened up my understanding of how my guidance was heard and which points landed most saliently.

Though she had been blogging for her own reflection, Katie’s posts served to inspire my own reflection.

The role I played while supervising Marc’s student teaching was refined because of Katie’s thoughts. She had not been writing to me. Her posts were not course evaluations or any type of evaluation, really. She was reflecting and I (and hopefully Marc) benefitted from that reflection.

Marc started blogging last week. He’s in his second year at the head of his own classroom and the pressure I put on him to engage in a semi-transparent reflective process is the result of having a limited understanding of my own learning from that point in my teaching career. It wasn’t until my third or fourth year in the classroom that I began blogging. The slings and arrows of my earliest practice exist only in a smathering of journal entries I wrote alongside my students as they wrote. They are Polaroids compared to the mural of practice I’ve come to consider this space to be.

For now, Marc’s blog is private. I’m uncertain whom else he’s opened it to, but I feel privileged he’s opened to me this new window into his practice. I’ve commented on every post. I’ll keep doing so as long as he’s writing.

Reading Katie and Marc’s thoughts as they reflect on their teaching and the learning of their students helps me to continue to feel connected to the teachers I had a hand in preparing. It is continued affirmation of my belief in building community and ritual in the teaching profession.

A year or two ago, my sixth-grade language arts teacher, Mrs. Haake, commented on a couple posts I’d written. In the space between my transition from middle school to our connection in this space, we had become peers. I’m uncertain if she still stops by to see what I’m thinking, but I choose to believe she does. I like to think of the lineage of practice that connects Mrs. Haake, Katie, Marc and me. Mrs. Haake is Katie and Marc’s grandteacher. The work she did to prepare sixth-grade me has ripples she’ll never see in the work Katie does each day in California and Marc does in New York.

Perhaps that’s why I look to Marc and Katie’s blogs. Teaching is heinously isolationist. Teachers in the same school oftentimes have no mental picture of the practice of their peers. This is to say nothing of those who have come before. The longitudinal connection I feel when I read what Katie and Marc are doing continue to inform my practice and understanding of education. I am learning from and with them with each post. And, of course, I’m incredibly proud.

3 thoughts on “Things I Know 303 of 365: Teachers have grandteachers

  1. In your last paragraph, replace “teaching” or “education” with “parenting,” “teachers” with “parents,” and “school” with any geographic or socio-economic grouping and the ideas still hold true. The tight similarities between teaching and parenting still sneak up on me often.

  2. Zac, yes I am here off and on checking on you and looking over your shoulder like Santa.  🙂  Only this time, you brought me the present.  You literally brought tears to my eyes with this post.  You captured the best and the worst part about teaching and wrapped it all up in a neat little gift.  It is so surreal to think that I AM a grandteacher!  That's the best part about our jobs–the effect we have on each child we teach.  It's just too bad that as teachers we have to wait so long to see the results–but, oh, it is so worth the wait!  I am very proud. . .thank you.

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