Does Anybody Have a Map?

Does+Anybody+Have+a+Map%3F

FLICKR4JAZZ

As I was driving home from another amazing ICTE Annual Fall Conference, I was reflecting on my weekend and my first few years of teaching. As per my usual, this reflection took place against the backdrop of Iowa interstate roads and Broadway showtunes blasting out of my car stereo. This year I found myself belting to the beautiful lyrics from the musical Dear Evan Hansen, specifically the song “Anybody Have a Map?,” the opening song sung by two mothers trying navigate the bumpy roads of parenthood. While this song is certainly catchy, I found myself consistantly repeating the song for reasons beyond that of your typical earworm. I played it at least 8 times before reaching Omaha, and again another 10 throughout the next few days.

Now for those of you who don’t know me, I am not a parent. Therefore, I initially found myself confused as to why this song about parenting spoke so directly to me. Singing the refrain yet again I paid closer attention to what exactly the words were saying:

“Does anybody have a map? Anybody maybe happen to know how the hell to do this? I don’t know if you can tell, but this is me just pretending to know. So, where’s the map? I need a clue, ‘cause the scary truth is: I’m flying blind, and I’m making this up as I go.”

Somewhere between the 137 miles between Stoney Creek and my apartment, it clicked. The emotions and sense of confusion, if not even desperation, speak directly to how I can feel about my teaching. Even though these emotions aren’t the regular reaction to teaching, I would be remiss to say that there haven’t been moments in my young career where I haven’t felt lost and clueless as to what I’m doing. I often find myself wishing for a proverbial roadmap to direct me on the exact steps to being that ideal, life-changing, Pinterest-perfect teacher.

But what does this musical motif have to do with the ICTE Annual Fall Conference, you may ask? Everything.

Teaching, as a profession, is a very collaborative endeavor, and I find myself in the semi-unique position of being the only English/Language Arts teacher at my school. Due to this, I have worked throughout my short time as a teacher to expand my professional circle; ICTE has been integral to that process. Every year I attend the Fall Conference, and I am awed and inspired by the knowledge, experience, dedication, and just plain passion I see surrounding me. Here in what has come to be an almost sacred space, I get to talk with English teachers about things outside of the bubble of my building. I get to learn about best practices and innovative ideas; I get to return to my English nerd roots and join in endless conversations about books, theories, and the struggles of teaching writing. It’s liberating. It’s humbling. It revitalizes me and reignites that passion that can be so often dimmed by the infinite limitations, regulations, scheduling changes, and demands of a regular school week.

There were even a few points this year where I felt like I was the one leading a discussion or giving advice to new teachers. I felt like I had a valid voice and could contribute to the conversation instead of just constantly taking from those around me. It was a powerful feeling.

On the flip side of these highs, there comes a point in any conference, where I feel at a loss and inadequate. Here are all of these amazing teachers doing fantastic things in their classrooms. And what have I accomplished?? There were moments where I wanted to tell people to ignore my advice because, “I’m flying blind, and I’m making it up as I go.” While I know it isn’t true, it is at these moments where I feel as if I’m an English teacher fraud; I’m only playing at being a good teacher. As I gain experience and confidence in my own teaching, these moments occur less and less frequently.

But sometimes they still sneak up on me. It is in these moments where I find myself desperately searching for that road map. It feels like maybe, if someone can point the way, I can be like these great teachers, too. It was in pondering this idea of a map, that it dawned on me. That’s exactly what ICTE is, and exactly what their Fall Conference provides. Did I get a printout of a beautifully detailed road map upon check-in? No. Instead, I gained something even more valuable: a guide—or rather a large pack of guides. Is there a perfect map that will lead me to be a perfect teacher? No. But there is the amazing ICTE community that welcomes me back every year to refresh my passion and give me new ideas. It is this this sense of kinship and collaboration that will keep me coming back every year.

Thank you ICTE for the wonderful community you have welcomed me into. I can’t express my gratitude and appreciation enough.

Maureen Snook teaches Middle School English/Language Arts at Holy Name School in Omaha, Nebraska. She is in her third year of teaching and is also working on obtaining her Masters in Educational Leadership through Creighton University. She is currently working her way back through the Harry Potter series while simultaneously trying to explore new genres.

Citation

Pasek, Benj, and Justin Paul. “Anybody Have a Map?.” Dear Evan Hansen: Original Broadway Cast Recording. 2017.