Honking My Own Horn

For the first few months after I left teaching, my brain was busy trying to make sense out of a 30+ year career that had ended. I wrote about it (big surprise), a small text dump of philosophy and experiences. A blog reader here on WP suggested I post on Medium. I found myself part of a “magazine” — The Synapse — dedicated to teaching.

One of my pieces, “Student Centered vs. Teacher Center Learning” has been read by thousands of people, mostly young teachers. They’re highlighting passages, clapping for the content, following me. It makes me so so happy to have said something useful — after all — and helpful, for the ones just walking into the classroom now as teachers.

Another thing that’s happened related to teaching since I left, the Youtube videos I posted for my students (and never took down) are helping students today. Once in a while I get a comment thanking me. “That was the clearest explanation of the thesis statement ever. Thank you Mrs. Kennedy.”

I don’t think of myself as a teacher any more. I’ve also realized it was a way to make a living and I enjoyed it, mostly. It was NOT the grand “vocation” I often believed it to be back in the day. It seems to have been a long, long time ago that I was teaching, though it was only 3 years. But when I learn that something I’ve written has helped a young teacher or a kid in an English class, I feel warm inside.


10 thoughts on “Honking My Own Horn

  1. I noticd quickly that when I was giving english lessons to a group of middle aged housewives the theoretical side of it failed me. It was not so bad we had fun and laughs, but a teacher needs a lot more than that.

    • I would say that especially teaching Swiss people a teacher needs to meet those “bundslich” expectations of complete explanation and form of things. It has to be “recht” even when it’s English and it ISN’T “recht.” I taught hundreds of Swiss students and for some, it was liberating to learn they could have fun in a different language. For others it was terrifying. One Swiss student I had wanted to write a book to tell Americans how to organize their culture, country, lives… My colleagues and I had a lot of challenges with the Swiss and made a lot of jokes about them, but I mostly got along with them very well.

  2. Yes I can relate to that. I’m still making sense of the end of my career 2 years ago but you’re right, I don’t want to do it any more although I have a sense of my skills being wasted now I’ve retired. However, I’m embarking on new things that have ignited my passions again. 🙂

    • It takes a while — a lot longer than I imagined it would — to make sense out of years of working at/for something. I finally have, but it was not as easy as I thought it would be and the end of the journey is a lot different from what I imagined. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Making sense of ones journey is part of the road. I particularly appreciate how you are continuing to get responses and feedback on things posted long ago. The ripple of our dropped stones may have impact long after we’ve forgotten that we were there. Sometimes we get the feedback and sometimes we don’t. Its helped me to realize that my impact may not be known to me, and that’s okay. It also helps guide my day to day behavior. I find I am less careless with comments, etc.

    • Yep! It means a lot to me to think I might be helping new teachers. I also believe in student centered learning since the top-down method doesn’t work for everyone, did not work well for me. I thought a lot about what I wish I’d known as a new teacher (I knew nothing) and I cared most about the kids for whom school had never been a screaming success but who were smart and willing to learn. I dunno. In a way, I felt that retirement was my death as a teacher (that’s OK) and I wanted to leave something behind CONSCIOUSLY beyond the “you touched many lives” thing which is probably true. I truly thought about what I learned and wanted to put it out there for anyone who could use it. So, it’s made me very happy that people DO use it. ❤

  4. I’m always glad I never had a grand vocation. Writing manuals for software just isn’t that kind of thing. But Garry felt his work “meant something” and possibly, it did … though lately I think he is seriously questioning some of his assumptions about his work. He wonders if there were too many things he should have done, but never got the time to do properly.

    They still use the script he designed when he was at our college radio station. Everyone uses it, from the networks to the tiny little country stations. It’s his singular contribution to the art. The rest of the stuff? I think it mattered but I also understand why he wonders about it.

    • What kept me there without questioning it was that it had intrinsic value — in and of itself and to me, personally. That I question it now is kind of interesting because I never questioned it while I was teaching. I would have had a hard time — as the person I was then — doing anything else even though NOW I wish I’d taken that job leading horse riding adventures in Mongolia OR had stayed with Head Ski. I’ve also realized that part of the intrinsic meaning of teaching, for me, is that my work continues to be useful to someone. I suspect this kind of thinking is true of anyone who stays in a helping profession for half their life.

      One of Garry’s biggest and most meaningful contributions is also pretty superficial — his skin color. I wish we didn’t live in a world where that matters/mattered, but when Garry began I KNOW people were saying, “But he’s Colored!” That had to have been harsh when Garry is so much more than that and his efforts so much more significant. But in the final analysis, it’s a legacy. ❤

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