Friday, April 19, 2019

Letting Go of Fear (in Our 10th Year!)

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Howdy, Campers! Happy Poetry Friday(poem and the link to PF is below)

Before we begin, there's good news for those of you who want to win a terrific book: We’ve extended the deadline to enter our latest book giveaway of a signed copy of The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults by editor and author Cheryl B. Klein. You’ll find giveaway instructions in Carmela’sMarch 29 post. The new deadline is now Tuesday, May 7, in part to honor the 100th anniversary of Children’s Book Week. Click here to find out how to enter.

And now...happy 10th blogiversary, fellow Teaching Authors! In particular, happy blogiversary to our founder and fearless leader, Carmela Martino, who has steered the TA ship across the years. I cannot begin to thank you for hauling me on deck just before we set sail. My world is so much richer for it!

pretty amazing

In honor of this memorable milestone, all current and several former Teaching Authors are sharing our favorite posts.  I've decided to go all the way back to 2009. Here's my post on our first topic, "How I Became a Teaching Author."  At the end of that post I conclude that teaching is generosity.

I've become more and more comfortable being honest with our readers. Today I know that being honest is a form of generosity.  (And to be honest, I was scared straight out of my jimmy-jammies writing that post.)

In this safe space, we've often shared fears about writing or teaching (find some of those posts here); I felt like an imposter as a writer and as a teacher for so long, fear was a second skin.

But this year something's changed. 

I must be like the Cowardly Lion at the end of the movie, The Wizard of Oz. As he is awarded a medal for courage, he becomes brave. After I was given an outstanding instructor award by the UCLA Extension Writers' Program, I believed that I actually was a good instructor, rather than pretending to be one.

Here is a not-yet-good-enough draft of a poem about how I so often felt:

TEACH
by April Halprin Wayland

I cannot do this today.
I sit on the stool in this empty classroom.


How dare I believe I can teach.
Am I a teacher?

Do other teachers feel this way--
slightly flu-ish, wanting to puke, even?

They should bring in someone else,
someone with a sword, maybe.

I wonder if my second grade teacher felt this way.
I wonder if all my teachers felt this way.

I almost fall off my stool 
imagining that.

But as I began teaching the first quarter of this year, here's what I wrote:
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AGAIN
by April Halprin Wayland
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Again she drives in early
unloads books
hooks up her laptop to the screen
puts one sheet of lavender paper
on each desk
puts the perfectly blooming hyacinth
just so on the edge of her desk
tapes her favorite quote on the front door
and two more inside her classroom.
.
Again she takes off running shoes
puts on high heels
brushes her hair
fills her water bottle
settles in.

She breathes for a moment,
closing her eyes.

Then she looks at the clock,
opens the door
and...
begins.

poems (c) 2019 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved. (Even on that crummy draft.)

One sign on my classroom door

As we celebrate 10 years of this blog, I celebrated 20 years as an instructor in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program.

I am no longer afraid to walk through that door. (And, though the fear has diminished, I still sweat writing this blog!  Perhaps that fear will disappear by our 20th blogiversary.)


my wonderful first class of 2019 holding some of their favorite picture books
both photos taken by our guest speaker, author Alexis O'Neill

Thank you for teaching me so much, readers. 

Happy Ramadan, Passover and/or Easter to all!

 And thank you, Amy at The Poem Farm for hosting!

Posted by April Halprin Wayland with help from Eli, the licky, lanky dog with the operatic bark.

Eli consulting Bear

15 comments:

Tabatha said...

Congratulations! I am not at all surprised that you would win an award for being an outstanding teacher. You have taught me many times with your blog posts, and I can see how generous and thoughtful you are.
Nice photo of Eli and Bear!

Kimberly Hutmacher said...

Congratulations! I'm so grateful for the generosity of all of the teaching authors over these last ten years.

Amy LV said...

Oh, April! This poem makes me cry. Both do. I could not agree more that teaching is generosity. You are not only generous with your knowledge, you are generous with your spirit and your heart. Your students are fortunate. I consider myself your student too...and I am pretending to have a piece of lavender paper placed just-so...by you. Big hug and many congratulations! xxxx

Books4Learning said...

Congrats on 10 years! I love how your poems contrast the insecurity of a newer teacher with the confidence of a veteran.

Mrs. Wyman said...

Wow! So much to celebrate, I don't know where to begin. Even after teaching Kindergarten for 20 years now, I still have those "I cannot do this today" thoughts, but then I open the door and it begins! Again, congratulations! -- Christie @ https://wonderingandwondering.wordpress.com/

Cheriee Weichel said...

Congratulations on your award. I am now a retired teacher, but I always worried that someday, someone was going to figure out that I was mostly faking it and discover what a fraud I was. Now I substitute teach in school libraries (and occasionally in classrooms) and that fear still rises.

Linda B said...

Congratulations, April! That is awesome. I think I've told you more than once how I'd love to be in your class, know it would be a learning experience like no other! Yes, I agree, as a teacher we do 'think' those questions and sometimes wish "someone with a sword" would take our places. My only mantra for myself was to 'carry on', knowing there are also times that I loved it. Terrific post for anyone who's faced a class!

jama said...

Congratulations, Happy 10th Blogiversary and Happy 20 years of teaching! Wow! Have enjoyed all the TA posts over the years. Here's to at least 10 more years :)!

Ruth said...

What a fantastic post! I am so thankful that some of those teaching fears go away with experience. I still have my days when I feel as though I'm not a real teacher, but they are way fewer than they used to be. And now I even have some days when I feel as though I did a fabulous job! You're an inspiration, today and always.

Carmela Martino said...

Oh, April, MY world is so much richer for sharing this blog with you and the other TAs! And I so love this: "teaching is generosity." I'd add that I think generosity is also a form a love. Perhaps that's why so many of us teachers (me included) struggle with fear--the fear not only that we won't be "good enough," but that our love will be rejected.
How I wish I could sit in your classroom. Congrats on your award and on 20 years! This year I'll be celebrating 21 years of teaching at our community college. I'm so grateful to still be learning!
Hugs to you! <3 <3 <3

Catherine Flynn said...

Congratulations on both milestones! When I was a new teacher, I remember always feeling like I was juggling one too many balls and that one would drop any minute. That feeling left me years ago, but I think we all still have moments of doubt. I love the "sheet of lavender paper" waiting on the desks. Thank you for sharing so generously!

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Congratulations, April, and thank you for all your generosity! xox

shelleyrae @ book'd out said...

Happy Blogoversary!

Linda said...

Congratulations, April. It is a joy to read your poems because I shared some of the same feelings when I first started teaching. : )

Jane G said...

Perfect in every way. Thank you April!