Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lessons, Novels, and Life - When Planning Goes Wrong

I'm a fairly good teacher.  I am not, nor will I ever be, Teacher of the Year material... I don't think I even WANT to be that.  I know I am a writer first, a teacher second.  But one thing teaching, writing, and being a wife and mom have in common is my bete noir... planning.

I am not a good planner.  When, once upon a time, a professor made all us teachers-in-training take a learning styles inventory that classified us as concrete or abstract, sequential or random... well, I was one of two people who turned up as abstract sequential.  The professor didn't know what the hell to make of us - his words, not mine - but my colleague and I looked at each other, raised our eyebrows, and then told him, "Give us specific instructions for what you want, then get the heck out of our way."*

When it comes to my lessons, I am easily overwhelmed looking at the big picture.  Without a published curriculum for my writing classes, I struggle to follow the lead of my teammates, who all seem to understand perfectly well what they are doing all the time.  I yearn to teach a curriculum that has a textbook, through which I can proceed in order, supplementing and diverting as my students' needs dictate.  As it stands, I need to teach grammar, composition, editing, and revising without a textbook, without a scope and sequence, and without concise resources I can print off or photocopy easily.  There's a wide range of books out there - but I simply don't have time to read them all.

When it comes to my novel, I have an internal compass.  I don't need to plan things out on paper - I know where things should go, and when I try to set things down in writing (often to try to show my students How It's Done), I get frustrated beyond belief.  Happily, so long as I can carve out time to write, I can generally make the most of what's in my head and the draft becomes the long-term plan.  I guess this is what happens when you're able to follow your heart - you Just Know, and planning - if it's done at all - is done for your own clarification, not as a necessary precursor to the actual heart's work.

And my life.  Oh, god, my life.  I need a plan.  I need to get a schedule going, as I know that I'm not spending anywhere near enough time with my husband and son as I should be, as I want to be, but with the myriad of other things tugging at me - and refusing to give up my writing - it's becoming a morass.  But planning requires time, and to find the time, I need to plan for it...

I. HATE. PLANNING!!!!!  I wish it wasn't so bloody necessary to success!

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