On Sunday, I had an idea for a way that students in my class could write reflectively. To be honest, I don't remember the details of the idea (the new school year is approaching fast, and I've been having lots of ideas about stuff like this). However, I vividly remember the thoughts that came next. Almost immediately, I thought "what's going to make a kid keep up with doing this, if it doesn't immediately strike them as useful? How will I be able to make sure it's getting done? If I'm not able to keep track of it, or even to keep doing it, after I start, will it make all my expectations seem less stable and more prone to being abandoned?"
Now, this litany of doubts often follows the arrival of a new teaching idea in my head. All the doubts and concerns are reasonable, but they aren't particularly useful at that moment. Until Sunday, however, I hadn't given them must thought.
But on Sunday I was thinking about school during a "restorative yoga" class - which is an hour of lying down in various positions and listening to extremely gentle music. And in this context, I realized that when my new idea got all these questions fired at it, my neck and shoulders actually tensed up. It didn't feel conducive either to developing new ideas, or indeed having a healthy back.
So I thought about the voice, and realized I could picture it - it looked like Principal Snyder, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think this is partly because Snyder thinks of teenagers entirely as potential threats to order, who will take any opportunity to game the system. And it's partly because he's constantly tense, and has a notably annoying voice. So I'm trying to take note when my Principal Snyder voice kicks in, and not let it take over my thinking.
I'll finish this with two lines, this one from Snyder's first episode:
And this exchange with school librarian Rupert Giles:
Kids today need discipline. That's an unpopular word these days - discipline. I know Principal Flutie would have said, "Kids need understanding. Kids are human beings." That's the kind of wooly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten.
Snyder: The first day back. It always gets me. One day the campus is completely bare. Empty. The next, there are children everywhere. Like locusts. Crawling around, mindlessly bent on feeding and mating. Destroying everything in sight in their relentless, pointless desire to exist.
Giles: Have you ever considered, given your abhorrence of children, school's principal was not, perhaps, your true vocation?
Snyder: Somebody's got to keep an eye on them.