tinker with text
Literacy-Based Maker Education
I started teaching in September 1983 and my retirement date is December 2022. I’ve worked full-time, have completed a graduate diploma and a Masters degree, taught numerous workshops and courses, and served in various capacities during this time.
I don’t want to be one of those people who coast till retirement or remind everyone weekly when their retirement date is. However, I’ve had an epiphany of sorts lately. It’s this - what the difference between work versus job? It’s not a unique thought but it has given me a new focus and insights. Here’s what I mean.
Our job is what we do for the pay check. We are expected to perform certain tasks to the best of our ability, to upgrade our skills, to put in a certain amount of time and show up on time, and to behave in a professional manner.
But our work can be both in and outside of the job. Our work in the world might be to make it a happier or more peaceful place. It might be to advocate for a cause. It could be to raise children who will become valued, contributing members of your community. Our true work feeds our soul and aligns with our goals and values.
I have three years (give or take) left in my job and now, more than ever, I see the importance of keeping my focus on my work rather than the job. I don’t look at 2022 as the finish line but rather as 2019-2022 as a time of transition - a metamorphosis, a becoming. I ask myself what I will do to design a work life that sustains me emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and professionally and will create opportunities beyond that date.
I’m not concerned anymore about test scores, trying to impress anyone, or fitting in. My focus is on getting others (kids, teachers, family, friends, the community) excited about reading and writing. It might be by sharing poems regularly, giving away books, starting book clubs even if there is a low turn-out; and reading passages aloud and laughing, crying, or being amazed by the beauty and power of words. I intend to encourage others to write a blog or a speech, make time to give feedback to fellow writers, learn more about the craft and develop writing stamina, and use my writing skills to persuade, enlighten, or give pause to reflect.
In my Masters studies, I learned about poetic inquiry and tried to incorporate this in my thesis. Then, during my defense, I was asked by a professor if I lived poetically. I must confess that at the time I didn’t know what he meant and kind of faked an answer.
I’ve pondered that ever since and have finally come to an understanding of living poetically and what it means for my life and my work, especially in these next few years. For me, to live poetically is to:
This blog post is not so much about tinkering with text as tinkering with meaning and tinkering with the elements that make up a satisfying life and our work in the world.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?”
~ Mary Oliver
Vicki Den Ouden is an Elementary Reading Intervention Teacher from BC, Canada. She loves to dream, learn, teach, and create.