I'm sitting in an empty living room (that is, empty of people... besides myself, obviously.), chowing down on homemade avocado shake (whatever it's called), in my school-work clothes (whatever it is that student-teachers wear), exhausted after a day of high school classes, college classes, and talking on the phone with my mom about her college and high school daughters.
Last night, I walked into the living room to find David laying on the couch watching the Giants game on T.V. I'm trying to find a place to include one particular detail in that sentence, but I can't find room for it, so I'll just add it on here: David is in a sleeping bag.
Me: (Laughing) "Why are you in a sleeping bag?"
David: "[something something something] ... I just bought a sleeping bag, ice cream, and beer. It's like I'm preparing for the best sleepover ever."
Me: "Did you really have sleepovers as a kid?"
Me: "What do dudes even do at sleepovers?"
David: [without missing a beat] "Have pillow fights in our underwear."
Me: "Oh, ok, so just like us girls."
More on perfection... I'm agirl who loves music, but fears picking up the guitar because I know the chords won't come out perfectly. I loved (emphasis on past tense) playing basketball, but stopped because I wasn't as good as I wanted to be. In fact, I loved being active, but don't take up sports because I can't hang with the best, can't compete with the best, and can't be the best. I dropped math and science when I got to college because it was my first time not being a straight-A student. I won't open my mouth to speak unless I'm sufficiently sure that the words I'm about to speak are precise and accurate.
Now, I'm learning to teach in a way that will encourage my students to struggle and make mistakes. I'm learning how to get students to acknowledge areas of struggle and be O.K. with the fact that they aren't getting it right the first time around. I'm learning how to encourage students to take risks, how to pick themselves up when they fall, how to help them learn from their falls, and -- most importantly -- I'm learning to let go.
I guess it's like teaching a kid how to ride a bike. Say your goal is to make sure that they stay on the bike: you can either hold onto the handlebars and run along side them for the rest of their life because after all, for as long as you hold on, by God, they will not fall; or you can just let go. Let 'em try. Let 'em fall, they'll get back up. Let 'em fall multiple times. Eventually, they'll learn... and they won't need you anymore.
It's like I've gotten used to this idea that a truth is more important than finding that truth. That the objective is more important than the learning process that takes place to meet the objective. My tendency is I'm quick to correct someone... including myself. See that sentence right there -- the one that came right before this one. That one. I went back and deleted what I had typed, thought for a second for a better way to say it (you know, in a way that makes sense on paper even though it makes sense if I were saying it out loud), and then I stopped myself from correcting myself. "My tendency is I'm quick to correct someone... including myself". Does that phrase make any sense grammatically? No, not really... It's not perfect. But it's what I want to say. Maybe I'll get better one day at phrasing my words. Or maybe I'll just get better at getting out what is in my brain because I let myself make grammatical mistakes.
This blog is my laboratory, in a sense. I get to combine words in ways that I'm too self-conscious to do in person, in real life. I can spell words however I want. I can even make up words.
Damn, this blog-as-a-lab thing is kinda cool.
Most importantly, I can say the things that I'm too afraid to say in real life because I'm not sure if I've got things perfectly correct.
Why would you be afraid to say things in real life? you may ask.
Well, I just never want to be wrong. I never want to make mistakes. I won't open my mouth to speak unless I'm sufficiently sure that the words I'm about to speak are precise and accurate.
So what are some of the things that I want to say?
I want to say... that it's very strange being at Mills College and Albany High. I'm surrounded my more White folks than I've ever seen at one place at one time in my life. I don't say this because I don't want to sound racist/trite/oversensitive/"brown and angry". But for reals, I've just literally never been in this situation before, and I'm trying to find ways to navigate about this new terrain. I thiiiiiiink that there's this one other Filipino in our program of 60+ students. I'm not sure how she identifies. In these new places, I'm very aware of the fact that I confuse people because I look Asian-ish-sorta-kinda. I'm reminded that in a large group where there aren't too many black-haired folks to begin with, it's very easy to quickly classify me as "Asian" because there aren't many black-haired non-Filipino students to contrast me with. I get so self-conscious that my home English starts peeping out, and because my home English peeps out, I get self-conscious, so I try to accommodate to all these feelings by not letting myself speak at all. That way, I figure, I won't make any mistakes.
Which keeps me from learning.
But at least I won't make any mistakes.
It's just that... I don't want my feelings to be wrong. I don't want to be wrong by feeling different about something than the rest of the class. But I've got to realize that of course I'll feel differently, I'm the only Filipino there!
Lastly, and most importantly... I need to get out there and make some mistakes. I've been very hands-off in my student teaching placement because I want the first thing -- and the second, third, and down to the very last thing -- I do to be perfect. It's like I keep creeping up to the end of the diving board and staring at the water, the distance I have to go, calculate the angle and speed that I want to carry out this dive, wait for the wind to blow just right -- but I have to just do it and not be perfect and take the leap, take the plunge, take the fall...
I need to let go.