I could probably start every blog entry from now on with the following sentence, but I’m choosing to use it now: This phase of TMS is blowing my mind.
When I was in grad school, I often found myself awake at 3 am; scribbling notes and project inspirations on big sheets of butcher paper, arching lines of Sharpie between the ideas to create mind-maps. Something similar has happened this week. I don’t have butcher paper, but my biggest sketchbook is filled with connections between my students’ strengths, interests, and dreams – and my own.
It’s fascinating to me how much each class has its own personality. With all four classes, I have covered myself in chalk dust illustrating the same camera diagrams, and with all four I have perfected my comic timing by repeatedly acting out + storyboarding a tale about my pup Thisbe. But each class has moved forward differently; giving new answers to the same old questions and drawing unique conclusions from identical statements. It’s exciting to see this happen naturally. It’s also exciting to discover each class’s idiosyncrasies and link them to thoughts in my own life. I believe teachers and collaborators are most successful when they work from what they know, and so I am committed to the mutual discovery of these connections with my students.
I see connections between student ideas and Hyderabad activists, organizations, and artists I have met. I envision collaborations between my 8th class at Railway and former students in a Baltimore, Maryland middle school. I watch themes emerge from a discussion of why girls should make media that were present in my thesis work. I can’t wait to see how these relationships will enrich our TMS projects, and how TMS projects will then enrich a multitude of different media communities.
But first, a qualifier: while it is valuable to me to strengthen these connections, it is far more essential that these students remain the creative producers of their own stories. And so, on these four Ships O’ Learning, I am careful not to let my creative experience and enthusiasm turn me from crew member to Captain.
I am sometimes, perhaps, a light-house beacon who keeps our ship from wreckage, or a friendly mermaid who guides it in a beautiful direction; but I am not the one with her hand on the ship’s wheel. I do not yet know for which coordinates we are headed, only that I shall discover them alongside my first mates.