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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Time and our relationship with it

So this morning in a quiet moment, I reflected on an email sent by a former student. The student had attended an alternative, sustainable live-in high school. They grew their own food, caught rain water, used grey water for dish washing, structures were constructed from recycled tires, etc. About two years ago, I told him about sustain-slo and that he should participate in it. He was a freshmen then.

The email that I was thinking about came last month. I had updated him on the status of sustain, asking if he wanted to help. The first line of his email went something like, "I am so stoked that sustain is happening . . ." In that moment, I reflected on us two years ago. Sustain, in its form, at that time, had much work to be done. For me, I simply wanted it to start. In hindsight, sustain had a form lacking lines of clarity around what it might look like. Too many questions were unanswerable. Too much vagueness, except for a simple desire for it to happen for the students and for me (yes, I will label that selfish).

Reflecting on what has happened over that time, I realize how unready I was for sustain to begin last year. I recognize the commitment that faculty have made to add clarity to the project. I am grateful that answers to questions don't simply sound like an answer with a question intonation. I am thoughtful about the vagueness we must talk through so that the first two weeks and the last two weeks have a richness and a fullness and a rigor that I desire from sustain for myself and the students and the other faculty members. In these last few quarters, I have taken small risks in the classroom to test out ideas that might work for sustain. Prior to that, I wasn't willing to "give up" my lecture time for fear of the student not learning the material.

In reflection, I am thankful about the time given to me to try something new with my students. I don't know how I would feel if I tried out new teaching/learning modalities with sustain students without receiving feedback first. My fear would be that I caused a calamity or learning failure. That makes me feel incompetent.


  1. nina, thanks for this. it is interesting to look back at our path, isn't it? how great to be doing this together.

  2. Thanks Nina. I agree the small steps we have all taken will help us when we actually have sustain students. I often look forward to all that needs to be done, and I am happy for this reminder to look back at where we have come from.