There is a lot you can pull from Palmer quote, and throughout the text, but the words I keep coming back to are “heart”, “courage”, and “community.” As a student, I look at this as the core of our first days of student teaching and takeover in the classroom – weaving ourselves into the classroom community so that we can learn from the students and the teachers. To use our hearts, in our teaching and how we interact with students, to open doors and build bridges for learning, inspiration, and empowerment. And to have the courage to be vulnerable, and to stay vulnerable for the greater good of the classroom – to be an example for importance and the respect we should have for the community in our classrooms. Everyday to connect with students and weave content into our lives, we have to wear our heart on our sleeves. It has to be out there to be seen, to be believed, to be accepted by our students – and we have to create a classroom where it is respected. Everything we do is ‘for the kids’, it’s how I’ve approached any job I’ve had – making these connections, having courageous (truthful) conversations and weaving a fabric of community. I think a lot of it comes in response to my experiences in school, which was a stark contrast to this.
In my experience, I honestly can’t say if I had a middle school or high school teacher that taught in this way or connected with me. I respected all of my teachers, as I was raised to do, but it never went beyond that. I was always the outsider – whether it was a place I was put, a feeling I could never shake, or a place I stayed to survive, I can’t really say. I never made the effort to speak with them or engage in conversations in or out of class, I never asked for help, and I definitely never hung out in their classes or spent time with them outside of my assigned class period. Any efforts they made were either to ask if I had an older brother or an occasional personalized hello when I walked into the classroom, which I always responded with eye contact, a charming smile, and a “Hi Mr/Ms/Mrs…”. I was pleasant. I never expected more from them and they never expected more from me. I was perfectly content with my ‘satisfactory’ citizenship marks because I was quiet, or because I didn’t raise my hand or participate in classroom discussions.
From my perspective as an MAT student and working in a high school setting, I do agree with Palmer, and making vulnerable connections with students about who I am and what I’m passionate about is something that I’ve always done. But when I read the text from the perspective of me as a high school student I don’t know if I was as impacted. I went to good schools, I had very knowledgeable teachers who were passionate about teaching and their content areas. I had good teachers, great teachers, cool teachers, funny teachers, and a lot of teachers I can’t remember, but just because I didn’t connect with any of them doesn’t make them less of a teacher in my mind, or take away from what they taught me, or the connections they made with any of my peers. My personal identity was so grounded in my cultural background and my family life that I don’t think it would have made a difference or impacted my education in anyway. I’ve always stayed true to my own identity and my knowledge and confidence of who I was never wavered. If anything, my experiences made me appreciate the opportunities I had in college to connect who I was with what I was learning – which probably wouldn’t have been as easy for me without some of the educational tools they taught me.