As a student in Salem State’s MA/MAT program, I am somewhat constantly studying, reading, and writing about new things in the world of teaching, literature, and composition. Mostly because of my position as a student and minimally because of my age, many of the pedagogies, theories, technologies, and ideas that I am engaging with are pretty new and relevant. The net result here is that, without much independent motivation or initiative, I stay pretty up to date on what is happening in the world of education. I am trying new software, reflecting on new pedagogical ideas, and constantly challenging what I think I know about teaching (which, admittedly, is essentially nothing); I’m doing all of this in the company of dedicated, brilliant, and passionate teachers and aspiring teachers. It is unquestionably amazing; I can see and feel my relevance, ability, and versatility stretching and expanding.
Enter stage right: the problem.
At some point in the hopefully near future, I am going to complete my degrees and graduate. At some point in the hopefully very distant future, I am going to age right out of my twenties and into a time in which instinctive harmony with technology and modern adolescent culture is a distant memory. I’ve hung out with my mom; I know how this works.
While I look forward to the wisdom, experience, and tempered stability that comes with age and years of classroom time, I can’t help but entertain an uneasiness in the back of my mind. How will I stay relevant? How comfortable should I get with certain pedagogical ideas or theories before I decide to update or adjust them? How much of my time should I divert from one-on-one work with students or reflection on student work to research in my field or to challenge my current ideas? Is my rate of growth and learning intended to decline to some degree once I transfer out of graduate studies and into full time teaching?
I recognize that the answers to these questions are different for everyone and that I may be unable to answer them for myself until I progress further along on this path. I just want to be sure that I am developing the habits and lifestyle necessary to sustain at least some level of constant growth and expansion throughout my teaching, even once growth and expansion are no longer academically required of me. I always want to be equipped to meaningfully address the academic and personal requirements of students who enter my classroom.