Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Power of Dreaming: Feeling My Way

What the Lark Knows (M.A. Reilly, 2010)

I. Slow Walking

Back in December I concluded a post, When Things Fall Apart: Slow Walking on Made Roads, by writing:
The road before me is unmade.
Will send posts.
At the time I was facing unemployment, uncertainty and alternating between feeling very centered and very scared.  Nonetheless, I knew that doing what I had always done needed to end.  At that time, I wrote:
For the last year I have been writing about learning while walking.  This has been no accident.   And now as I leave my current job and step into that which I cannot define, I recognize that this is and will continue to be a time of significant growth and wonder, fueled by a disequilibrium that has not been soothed by simply taking the next job offer.  I am learning that there's real courage in saying no to job offers, especially in an economy as challenging as this one and with responsibilities to family.  Saying no is not easy.  And yet, I am reminded that simply agreeing to the next job offer that resembles what I am leaving at best 'resettles' my disequilibrium by providing a direction, a baseline, that repeats the same dynamic of schools as mechanistic places.
In the seven months since that post, I've figured out that going on the interviews for school-based jobs was at best, counter-productive.  I gave it up, that last bit of familiar security and I began dreaming instead about how I wanted my life and work to be. I wondered what might happen if I began paying attention to my dreams and saying them aloud.  In many interesting ways, this blog became a way of talking out loud.  Towards the end of 2010 when I began the blog, I had no idea anyone would actually read/view what I was posting and had even less belief that anyone would actually respond. Please know that your responses to my written and visual work, along with my husband and son's responses and support in our day-to-day lives, helped me to believe that I could create other paths to walk. I could not know that I would arrive here, tonight. There is so much to learn by acknowledging what I can't know and acting nonetheless.

II. Daring to Dream

Dreaming is no small matter especially as I learned to consider it child's play, and at best something I might do as entertainment after I finished the serious work of the day.  As a woman, dreaming was largely not something I allowed myself--or when I did, it was a private matter.  I didn't dare say it aloud. Although I daydreamed, I did not make time to follow the lines of possibility these dreams suggested as such action seemed wasteful, perhaps even foolish.

The Color of a Dream I Had (M.A. Reilly, 2009)
In freeing myself from the tangle of doing the work I have always done, I was able to begin to consider what if?  At the time I was working through this, Lolly Daskal (@LollyDaskal) recommended (via a tweet) Whitney Johnson's Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream and I downloaded the book and began to read.  The work resonated. Johnson (2012) writes:
Conventional planning, at which many of us excel, will hold us in good stead as we dream, but dreaming is ultimately about feeling our way toward what we were meant to do (p. 175).
Feeling our way toward what we were meant to do is courageous work and feels right.  I started to dream about how I want to live my life, edging closer to partial understandings through happenstance.  I imagined what good I might do in the world via my own business--one dedicated to exploring and enhancing learning.   I began to appreciate the idea of being self-employed--of being responsible for the work I opted to do and not being limited by someone's version of schooling.

III. Thank You
A Thousand Years of Dreaming (M.A. Reilly, 2012)

I suspect I am not alone in dreaming, curtailing dreams, and bravely trying it again--and so I wanted to share this post.  So many good things have happened in this brief span of months and I have learned that being open to uncertainty is a requisite to dreaming and being.

As a pubic school educator, I have designed and worked to prevent reading-based difficulties for very young children and to intervene in literacy-based challenges for intermediate through high school students during the last 20 years. I've done this work as a teacher, administrator and professor. Because I  worked as a practitioner (regardless of job title), I have had the opportunity to learn so much by teaching, researching, and theorizing. This work across the years has resulted in hybrid practices that blend arts-based learning, direct instruction, culturally relevant pedagogies, with technology-based thinking and tools. Now I have the opportunity to apply this learning (along with new learning) to the consulting work I am designing and doing.

This summer I am working in a city to help teachers prevent reading difficulties for young children. I am so psyched to be teaching and applying what I love to do: engaging in meaningful and emerging work with teachers and students. I am confident that I will learn so much by applying what I observe and what I learn alongside children and their teachers to my practice.

Next fall, I will return to supporting literacy coaches working in NYC public schools as I did this past year, and will also co-teach and theorize with middle school students and their teachers in several urban public schools in NJ, as well as conduct a few other projects focusing on the early grades.  Alongside this, I will make art (both in and outside of classroom spaces).

I can't wait.

Fall Moon Rising (M.A. Reilly, 2011)
IV. Postscript

The road before me,
like all roads we make,
is still unmade.

Will send posts.

Work Cited
Johnson, Whitney (2012-05-08). Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream. INgrooves. Kindle Edition

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