Some day it’ll happen. And they’ll find me. Broken. Bent beyond recognition. A fatality by flexibility. I’ll have bent too far.
One lives. One does. One thinks. One wonders. One worries. I am one. And so, I worry. I worry about my flaws. I worry about my flaws as a father, a husband, a friend, a son, a person, and far too often I worry about my flaws as a teacher. And while my list beneath that particular hat is long, presently I ponder one practice, one habit I cannot break, cannot escape. Flexibility. Am I too easy? Am I a pushover? Am I too forgiving? Am I making a difference? Am I ruining lives?
I don’t think that it’s that I really believe those things, but I find them in my head, and so, I have to accept that on some level they are real, for they are present. And, as they are present, they make me especially vulnerable to doubt. And, then when the doubt creeps in from the outside, well…one worries.
Gifted A’s aside, I forever find myself being overly flexible, manifesting itself in my giving more time, more chances, more options, more of anything at my disposal. And though by now I have come to generally accept that after 20 years that’s just who I am as a teacher, it does not mean that I am free from the worry that I bend too much. Still, when I worry further and reach deeper into the core recesses of my belief set, I find that perhaps when one endeavors to create a realm of possibility for his students, flexibility becomes a necessary by-product. If I am going to sell “possible,” then I have to produce possible. I have to be flexible. So I am.
To that point, the two-day in-class final became, for many, a four-day in-class final, and for some that still has not been enough. So, what does Captain Flexibility do? He lets those not done, take it home. Bye-bye in-class final. Hello take-home final. Am I crazy? Maybe. But if the kids are motivated to finish, to do their best, and I stand in the way, am I still peddling possibility? I have to give them more time. After all, in the 180 classroom, it’s not about the grade. There is no reason to cheat. It’s about learning. And if learning requires time, a commodity I possess, then I will freely distribute it. We know that kids have to be motivated. It’s 60% of the 180 Formula. My 60% is my being dedicated. To my students. My students need time. I have the flexibility to give them more time. I will give it. It’s who I am.
I also can and will give options. Had two more boys “own” that they had not read Night, wanting to know if they, too, could then possibly use one of the movies for their essay. Of course they can. No, I am not happy that they failed to read the book, but if there is an option to salvage the situation and provide a learning opportunity, then I will grant it. They–though unable to find it for the book, have found some motivation to do, to learn. And when learning is still possible, I will be flexible.
In the end, when they do find me broken from bending too far, I may well do some time in teacher purgatory, guilty of my sins, but I’ll take my chances. No choice, really. It’s who I am.
Happy Thursday, all.