Wednesday, February 18, 2009

(Self-)Climate Change

"Reduce your carbon footprint." "Go green." These phrases, and myriad others, have been preached for the past few years as our world has begrudgingly embraced (embattled?) global climate change. In thinking about climate as a set of long-term patterns, I decided to assess my own self-climate. A bit of psychobabble, perhaps, but I think there's some science here.

I tend to be a very serious person. I take my family seriously. I take my job seriously -- in fact, it's hard for me to use the word "job" when it comes to teaching because I love it so much. I worship God seriously. I interact with others seriously. This is not to say that I'm not congenial or friendly: my friends would say that I'm a fairly outgoing person. However, in the classroom, I'm a driven, serious teacher. Being a serious person, for better or for worse, is part of my self-climate.

After nearly 30 years of life, I know, too, that I'm a person who gets very excited about something up front, but often can't sustain that excitement to any sort of tangible fruition. Case in point: I am one of three advisers of our school's Green Team, an environmental action and awareness group. I joined forces with two other wonderfully motivated teachers last year excited to make a difference and change how things were done. Sure, we did some cool things, but this year, I've lost all of my drive and motivation. Why? Do I care less about the environment or making a change? Gosh, I would hope not. It's part of my long-term trend, my self-climate.

Part of the cyclical bigger picture here is that I simply cannot sustain the levels of excitement and motivation that I have up front for long periods of time. It takes energy, and I don't have any alternative fuels at this point (wow, did I really just type that?). I am gravely concerned that I've approached teaching with this same abandon -- can I sustain my motivation, passion, and excitement the way I have for over a year now in the long-term? History would support pretty bad odds.

So what to do with this? If I look at my 5-month forecast, where do I see myself at the end of this school year? I cannot resign myself to this cycle of petering-out excitement. How does this make a difference in students' lives, or mine, for that matter? I also cannot accept that, well, gosh, maybe teaching's just not for me because it hasn't worked out. If I'm honest, I might be a great sprinter, but I'm a horrible marathon runner. I need to find a healthy balance between more areas of my life rather than pouring my all into one area, then moving on. Truth is, teaching doesn't work that way. Moving on is simply not an option. It's time for some self-climate change.

About Me

For the record, I'm a second year middle school science teacher in Oregon. I love what I do. So much so that my wife has to remind me that it's the weekend. Healthy or not, teaching and learning science has a dynamic place in my life. I came into teaching as a second career as an engineering expatriot. I much prefer working with people than with widgets. My focus now is on teaching young people to think like scientists; cultivating scientific thinking through inquiry and engagement; being real and sharing my own experiences as a scientist. Who knows, I might actually be making a difference!

A Blog is Born

"Knit together in it's mother's womb..." Well, not exactly. I've tried putting this off for over a year and a half now, but, dang it, I can't escape. It's now a professional compulsion. I need a place to reflect on my practice. To get ideas out and begin developing them. To humbly share with perhaps only a reader base of one. Inspired by blogs I've read for months, here's my own fingerprint in the blogosphere. If you decide to join, and I hope you do, bring your machete to hack your way out of the thickets of my musings.