“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke
My name is KM Hadley, and I teach high school English in a “small-ish” city in middle America. I never intended to be a teacher, but I have been a writer as long as I can remember. My journey into teaching was a colorful one: I found myself “trying on” new places and people until I found where I fit. I’m not sure I’ll ever completely fit anywhere, but I was surprised to find a comfortable and joyful place at the front of a classroom talking to teenagers.
I am by no means a veteran teacher; although, I do feel like some of my teaching experiences have felt like a war zone. I’ve made it through a bit more than a lustrum in the classroom, and through the exhaustion and defeat I’ve also found joy and triumph. Teaching is a beautiful experience—one that I feel blessed to have lived—yet I’m not sure what the future holds for either myself or for education.
A wise man once told me that everyone has been to school in some form or another, so everyone feels like an expert in education. Every person I’ve talked to can recount some experience from their school days which left them scratching their head, blocking out the hurt, or recollecting the positive difference one educator made in their life. These memories are the foundations on which many people build their futures. Naturally, every person has an opinion on what will make the classroom, teachers, students, education “better”… whatever their definition of “better” may be.
I don’t claim to have any answers, and I pride myself on telling my students and my own children that I am a life-long learner. A goal of mine is to keep growing and changing and learning and to model that wonderment with those I come into contact with. Like the Rilke quote above, I’m learning to love the questions and have faith that my asking of them will, at some point, reveal some answers.
It’s been a journey to get here. Self-doubt and career changes, new friends and becoming a wife and mother, successes and struggles… Now as a middle-aged woman seeking the security of stability yet craving the challenge of new adventures, I’ve decided to start sharing my experiences and thinking with a wider audience.
There aren’t many things in our world today that are black and white. The world is filled with not only areas of gray but areas with vibrant colors and textures. To live fully includes walking the world with a mind open to growth and experiences. The human experience is one of making mistakes, changing our minds, and being able to laugh or cry at ourselves. My goal as a teacher, and also as a writer, is to remind my students and myself that it’s ok to be human and make mistakes, and we must allow others to be human as well.
The landscape of education is a tricky place to maneuver. In the few years I have been a part of this landscape, I’ve learned to survive and attempt to avoid the landmines, hopeful to also miss the sniper fire and other debauchery I may encounter. Each experience takes its toll and affects not only my teaching life but also my family and personal life.
I know I am not the only educator that feels this way.
My writing is an attempt to simply share my experiences, not point fingers or place blame. Yes, things can be done much better. No, I don’t have the magic answer to fix it. What I do know is that I will continue to question and live along into the answers and serve my students in the best way I know how.
I’m looking for a way to make that happen.