THE STRINGS IN OUR HANDS:
a message for my community of teachers
I am not old, but I have lived many teacher lives. Professionally, I could easily sum up the experience for others. The first time I went to Guatemala was to teach, the second was to learn, and the third was to learn to teach. Yet privately, I returned from ten years of development work as an educator in Guatemala question a profession driven by “love” and happily ever afters told via romanticized, missionistic stories that are more harmful than helpful. Ultimately, I was caught between others’ definitions of others and of myself as a white, female role in a feminized profession. Uneasy, I returned to the U.S. uncertain of next steps, but knowing that the once assumed important knowledges which had justified my decision to enter the education profession needed a reexamination. In my fractured fairy tale, I needed to define “teacher” for myself. In Guatemala, I had spent many hours watching women work on their backstrap looms and I could not shake the image from my head, the strings in my hands. I envisioned myself picking up and dropping strings. Learning to weave became my pivotal moment that framed my teaching as a learner and began my first real conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion, marginalized histories, the NEED for own voices and the actions my community of teachers can take to be accomplices in creating those spaces.
Strings in our Hands is the story I want to exist that I cannot find that includes the power dynamics around knowledge, the positionality and intersectionality of identities in the stories that get to be told, and visibility of the system which by design was not made for all.
I traveled far to find a conversation I should have had up close provided up close in conversations with other educators. It was those strings cascading on the loom that began to untie the knots driving my own teacher persona and teaching choices. Bilingual classroom teacher, Peace Corps volunteer, Nonprofit staffer, all teacher identities woven together and finding their voice through a personal investigation of my own teaching and learning process through weaving.
I am actively writing, submitting, querying and learning about the publishing industry and seek to increase this knowledge both to utilize in my own writing and also to actively support youth do the same. A key aspect of my blog is to read and recommend diverse books. Please explore those titles, and I am always looking for recommendations!
There’s such a lot of different Anne’s in me. I sometimes think that is why I am such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.
--Anne of Green Gables