Thursday, August 21, 2008

Teaching with Fire

Fire by Judy Sorum Brown

What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
A fire
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

I start my blog this evening with this poem. I first read this poem during a Courage To Teach retreat and it had such an impact on my life that I make certain to revisit it as often as possible. When I read this for the first time, I was working on my Master's Degree and National Board Certification. I also served on several committees in my school and district. I had three sons living at home and a husband of three years. I was encouraged to do Courage to Teach by a wonderful that I have come to truly love. I wasn't sure I could put one more thing on my plate and she assured me that this was the only time in the year that I was going to take to nourish my soul. She was right. I had so many logs on my fire that I was truly going to burn out. This poem made me look at the spaces. From time to time, I need to think about those spaces and make certain my logs have room to breathe. This summer I chose to not take any classes because I knew I wouldn't have enough space. A few years ago that wouldn't have been my priority. This year I am going back to school feeling rested and recharged. I still have a lot of logs on my fire, but since I have been taking care of myself, I see that fire only getting brighter.

Courage To Teach truly changed my life. I am bonded to my cohort and have support like no other. I find peace when I reflect and get in touch with my inner teacher. It is an experience that I wish more teachers would have the opportunity to have.

The final part of the poem mentions that the fire knows how it wants to burn. I have a plan for my next five years, but I keep my mind open to how the fire wants to burn. My path has changed since I first became a teacher and it may change again. I must follow where the fire takes me. I wish for all teachers to take care when laying their logs this year!

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