I’ve had a whole month of not being a classroom teacher. I’m still not sure how I feel about that. The school bell rings, even without me there to hear it. Reading and writing are taught, even without me doing it. Students’ lives are impacted, and school goes on with or without me.
That’s fine. I’m getting comfortable with that. I just miss it.
If you’ve been around this site long enough, you may have realized I did away with the old tag line. I started this blog in January of 2010. I’ve moved things around, had new hosting, and a few redesigns. This summer I got serious about it and purchased my own domain name. I made a major redesign and moved it to Squarespace.
But in every iteration of this website, I’ve always had the same tag line:
Learning and reflection from a teacher in progress
Only now I’m not a teacher anymore—not in the usual sense of the word. So I took it off. I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal, but it was. It signaled the end of an era for me, even if it’s temporary.
A few days after I decided to quit teaching I wanted to tear this whole site down and never write on it again. I took a few days to think it over and decided against it.
Instead of learning and reflections from a teacher in progress, this site will be about learning and reflections from a man in progress.
1. I’m still pursuing
I unabashedly love the title of my blog. Pursuing Context. It came to me out of the blue one day. It has a timeless quality to it. It fits so many circumstances. It reflects so much of my life.
I love the power of the word pursuing. I have a thing for present participles. If used correctly, present participles denote not only a feeling right now, but of a continuance to come. It ends up being a much stronger word choice than pursuit.
It’s also a transitive verb, which means it needs an object. For you non English nerds, that means it must be doing its verb action to something. In my case, the object of the verb pursuing is context—which happens to be what I’m looking for more than ever now.
2. I’m still looking for context
Context has to be one of my favorite words. I love the way it sounds as it is spoken. I love its simplicity. It literally means with words.
That’s been my whole life—from learning to read, to having my nose in a book every chance I had in elementary school, to writing my own stories in middle school, to required reading for high school English classes, to my educational papers and textbooks in college, and then to finally finding a new love of books in my adult life.
Then I got to share that process with others when I became a dad and then a teacher. I still love to share words. That will never change.
But context has a richness that’s just below the surface too. It’s not always the way we use it in reading class.
No, the deeper thought here is significance. It’s relevance, and meaning. We speak of context when having conversations or solving problems. Context is vital. My whole life is looking for that deeper context. I imagine yours is too.
3. I’m still learning
Teachers are learners first. How can one teach without first understanding how one learns? The two are inseparable. They coil around each other like smoke and fire. It’s hard to see where one starts and another ends.
There is so much out there for me to learn. The support I’ve received has simply been astounding. Almost everyone encouraged me to new and better things on the horizon.
Just because I’m not currently involved in education doesn’t mean I need to stop learning.
4. I’m still reflecting
Reflection comes naturally to me. I’ve kept journals and notebooks for decades. I’m a thinker.
I like to step back, break things down, and process what’s going on in my world. My online writing has been the most front-facing way I’ve done that over the last four years.
My gut reaction after resigning from teaching was going to be a scorched earth policy on all things education in my life. I was going to get rid of everything that had had to do with teaching, including this site.
But there’s no way I could really do that.
Writing is how I think and see the world. Reflecting is a natural part of that. I’m going to take this as an opportunity to broaden my scope a bit.
5. I’m still, well, me
I’m cast down, but not cast out. It’s in darker days I have to remember that God is for me and not against me. He can return beauty from the ashes of my lost dreams. He’s there right beside me in the darkest valleys. His word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
My screen name since 2002 has been newfirewithin. I come back to that word at times. I have a unique fire burning within me. We all do. And more than ever I need that fire of pursuit, context, learning, and reflection to be new and fresh. For that reason I will always be a man in progress.