Closing a loop

I had one of those weird days the universe likes to throw at me once in a while to make sure I know who's in charge.

For the past week at school we've been anticipating a three-day visit by teaching & learning expert Andrew T. Watson (it's a common enough name), including a half-day today so we staff could spend the afternoon on professional development and some special sessions on study habits for students Thursday and Friday. Mostly in my head I had been framing this as "OK, CPD, how will I have to rearrange Math 9's unit if we're missing two classes in a row, etc. etc. etc."

Mr. Watson arrived today and was speaking with the head & deputy head, Peter & Ben, as I came down to the cafeteria for lunch. As I passed there was a twinge of memory--something about the voice, you know how I am with faces--so I had to stop and unfortunately to stare as well. "Do I know you?" I asked.

"Are you Edmund Schluessel?" he replied. (Yes. It was in fact on my name badge. Not the point.)

I had not seen Andrew Watson in 22 years. He was an English teacher at my high school, and the assistant coach of the As Schools Match Wits team which I was on. He left Loomis after my 2nd year and, apparently, went on to become a published expert in educational psychology. His website is here.

His three-hour session on working memory & teaching strategies was deeply engaging and he is still the same ebullient, engaging teacher I knew in 1995. It was very good to see him again and I'm looking forward to his meeting my 8th & 9th grade classes over the next few days.

In fact -- I am proud for Mr. Watson to meet them. In 1993 I was not just shy, I was wracked by social anxiety and had difficulty talking to people. I was just barely starting to come out of that shell in the early years of high school. This short-circuiting of the timeline, this connection of two distant points, is providing a wonderful opportunity to reflect -- whenever I consider my in-class persona & teaching strategies I always end up coming back to remembering how I was taught. It's also giving me a (let's be honest, an ego-growing) moment to reflect on my own personal growth. I feel like I am doing something good and doing it well.

Of course the contrast is not much of a challenge to feel good about. Anyone who believes their life reached its peak during high school is not living much of a life, nonetheless, there is a sense of affirmation: the whole "be yourself" plan they tell you to follow when you're at an age when you don't have a clue who you're trying to be (of course Dead Poets Society was a popular film at my high school) has paid off despite itself.

Edmund Schluessel

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