New School Chronicles: The Discourse of Teaching

At some point in Ph.D. school, I was in a class about discourse. My professor explained about one type of discourse in particular (and the exact title eludes me now, ugh) that one could be in a situation and learn the discourse, but, eventually, the truth would out. One might attempt to internalize the patterns of speech, of nonverbal communication that accompanied that speech, etc., but one day, that same person would find him/herself in a situation that required them to know the nuances of that discourse. Not knowing those finite details–which people who had grown up with because they had created the discourse–the “imposter” would be detected. Thus, one could swim in those waters but the possibility existed that they would one day be found out. I think that’s accurate–I’ve somehow lost all my notes, but these theories bubble up at the weirdest moments.

I bring that up because that’s what teaching in the suburbs felt like. I was out of step when I first began, but through careful observation, reflection and patience, I learned the discourse of teaching in a suburban school: how to talk about practice, how to lead discussions, how to do things differently than what I knew from an urban environment, essentially.

However, I never quite felt comfortable with that discourse. It never felt quite right, quite…me. I missed my more familiar discourse.

Now, in a different environment, I think the discourse is more appropriate to what I want, but now, there is nuance. So, while the discourse of this new place is familiar, I have opportunities to inflect that new knowledge from the suburbs.

I’m creating a hybrid discourse. This creation is both exhilarating and scary–but what I’ve realized about this process is that I’m not afraid to try it anymore. I used to be, so scared that I was going to mess up, not do something right…fraught with stress and tension.

Now, though, I’m much less hesitant to at least “dip my oar” into the waters and paddle. How interesting, too, it is to brush by familiar touchstones and carve out new ones within my practice, and to invite others to do the same.

There’s room for all, here, and because this is a hybrid discourse, I’m hoping to alleviate the fear that there’s a “right” way and a “wrong” way to do it.

We just gotta do it.

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