Perseverance & Diligence Spiral
Basket weaving is one of the oldest crafts around the globe. Once the materials are prepared, weavers start in the centre, creating a spiral pattern, weaving over and under spokes, working outward until the base of the basket is done. Stakes are added for the sides, made by rhythmical weaving, pattern-making, and moving in circles that build on each other. Some weavers use intricate patterns that take days of hard work.
This paper contains excerpts summarizing my arts-informed Master’s thesis, autoethnographic reflections in the form of lyric, collage, and personal narrative exploring an inner, emotional journey to regaining strength and rediscovering passion after a period of teacher burn-out.
The Jar as Metaphor: The Heart of My Learning
The role of the Canadian educator has expanded to supporting the whole student. From fear of violence in schools to increased awareness of mental health issues to data-driven school improvement plans, educators in Canada face many stresses. It has become common for educators to experience “burn-out,” to become cynical, or to feel overwhelmed by the pressure to be more than an expert in a given field. Today in education we are often supporting students in navigating the human experience.
To build resiliency, educators need to come out of isolation and build communities of trust. We need to be able to acknowledge and express our inner landscapes: the thoughts and feelings beneath the surface of responding to every day routines, events, and duties. For me, metaphor became a way of accessing and expressing what I learned in my early years of teaching.
For this inquiry, jars symbolized the collected stories and emotions of my inner life as a young teacher. By preserving memory and capturing experience in metaphorical jars, I discovered that a teacher can hold a moment up to the light for a closer look through the jar’s transparent walls.
Jars can be used for preserving or collecting or storing or capturing. We purchase things in jars. We give things away in jars. From holding delicacies to treasures to waste to hardware, glass jars have lingered in homes and garages and schools and workplaces since the mid-1800s.
It’s my first year of undergrad.
I’m resisting writing a paper for Psychology 101, easily distracted by the warmth of spring, craving to get outside to feel the sun on my face. The last thing I want to do is sit in my dorm room and write about psychology. When I run out of diet soda and chocolate and friends who will support me in avoiding my paper, I close the door, sit in my chair, and stare at my computer screen.
Is writing every day the best thing to do?
When I studied English Literature at Trent University I told my Irish Drama professor that I wrote in a journal.
For many years I went away for a week each summer on a writing retreat with friends. Those were special days filled with writing, naps, and in-depth discussions about plot, character, and story. Each day we aimed to write twelve pages before lunch. At first it was hard. Sometimes I’d cheat and start writing a day or two early so I could keep up with the pace. By mid-week I was fully immersed in writing, in expression, in freefalling into a story and seeing where it lead. In the summertime I crave intense arts experiences.
It can all be too much. Too much information. Too much violence. Too much unrest. Too much I can’t do to help. The information age is blessed with greater access to knowledge, but there is a responsibility that comes from knowing. This is what adulthood is about: knowing more. But it is also about doing more, gaining experience. We can use our knowledge, take responsibility and grow, OR play in the sandbox, ignore the bell, and stay out for a recess just a little while longer.