(taken from "The Vigilante Poets Of Selwyn Academy" by Kate Hattemer)
The main character Ethan references the above quote by poet Ezra Pound who, at the end of his long and controversial life, looked back on his work - his legacy - and notes this regret.
The sentiment resonated. It is how I felt about the past year. A nagging sense of falling short kept overshadowing all that had been achieved. There had, of course, been many achievements. Those success stories paled though, against the glaring spotlight of "I should have...I need to... Why didn't I...".
And I know this line of thinking is a teacher trap. Perfectionism rears up to distort and taint high expectations. I kept repeating the "yet, not yet" mantra to hold the darkness off but....
It is "these days of gloaming" that Thomas Newkirk describes so vividly in his wonderful "Holding on To Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones". It is these periods that makes you question everything that you do. I recognized that moment Mr. Newkirk writes about when he observed a classroom and noticed two boys playing in the sandbox and totally ignoring the teaching that was going on. He says that he "was so grateful, so relieved, to see those boys—who could care less about writing—in the sandbox. This, after all, was a world I knew and could live in." (p.169). I knew that feeling.
That is the imperfect world I know. I am so grateful for Tom Newkirk for acknowledging the silences of teaching and writing about the language for difficulty.
In Hattemer's novel (which I would recommend), Ethan takes the Pound statement as a battle cry. He challenges himself and others to do better because they should. In Newkirk's book, he advises teachers to embrace and celebrate the many small moments that occur. It is these small moments that will create the needed light. By living within the small moments and staying with them, I think I will do better.