My plan for this blog was a simple one. I wanted to write about the evolution of my feelings about this week’s announced September shows but I cannot do it right now. Don’t worry. I will. Right now, though, I need to focus on how I got on a different path than I had expected. It sort of reminds me of the track, This Is How a Road Gets Made, in which Simon discusses how a new path is formed. While first glance, he might be talking about literally that but he could also be referencing something more metaphorical. I wonder if he knows which it is. Did he then when it came out?
Did the members of Duran Duran know when they ended taking the unexpected path, one that led them in a very different direction than they might have otherwise? Let me give you an example. When John decided to stop attending art school in order to focus on making music, did he know then that this would change his future forever? Of course, not every decision is that dramatic or changes one’s life in an instant but sometimes those little moments build up to make some changes without a real conscious effort to do so. For the band, those could be something like Roger playing drums using pots and pans as a little kid or John and Nick attending their first concert. Did those moments set them down a path?
Why am I wondering this? Why now? I think I’m starting to recognize some of those little moments in my life have actually built up to alter my life in a way that I wouldn’t have thought possible fifteen years ago. Did I know that this little moments would matter so much? My answer is a simple, “Heck no.” Yet, now, I cannot imagine what the alternative would be.
What are those little moments? What have they brought me to? I look around and realize that I have found my voice. I don’t obviously mean that in the literal sense. I can speak and do speak. No, I’m talking about something more, something meaningful. I speak up and out about what matters to me. now When I was younger, I always wanted to be that person, the person who is fearless and strong in her convictions. This strength would not aggression or closed-mindedness but one that gets the necessary sentiment out.
So, how did I get here? The first step is an easy one. I got involved in my first political campaign. I finally decided to do more than just talk but tried to get something done. This was in the winter of 2008, during the primary when I chose to not only vote for President Obama but to work for him. Throughout that campaign, I wasn’t sure if I *should* be doing this. I worried. Would people walk away from me? What if they didn’t feel as I did? Would they judge me or think less of me? Throughout that spring, I grew stronger in my convictions. Then, you know what happened to me that really helped? I went to see Duran Duran play in Chicago in May of 2008. In the encore, John came out on stage wearing an Obama shirt. Somehow, that made me hold my head a little higher and gave me some courage to keep going. Of course, John later went on to do a couple of videos supporting him.
Despite having experienced a victory, I figured that it was a one time only thing. I had teaching to do after all. But then, this started. Yes, this. The blog began. Initially, I took baby steps in what I talked about, avoiding controversial things for the most part and certainly not talking about myself. Who the hell would want to read about my life? Yet, I discovered that I cannot separate different parts of me. I cannot just be fan Amanda and I cannot just be teacher. No, they are both a part of me. Then, as I got braver in my topics and experienced…well…push-back, at times. I realized then that I could take more criticism than I thought I could. I never liked it. I still don’t and would still love to avoid it. That said, it is something that made me stronger.
Then, of course, the Wisconsin teacher protests hit in 2011 raising the bar both in terms of importance but also in intensity. Something happens to your ability to speak your mind when you are out protesting in frigid temperatures for hours on end or spending the night inside the Capitol in order to occupy it with your political allies. In the midst of that protest, I had to fight for my right to take a mini-leave from work in order to go see some shows. Refusing to give in worked, at least on a personal note. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for teachers as a whole here. At that point, though, I had realized that people might attack me no matter what I say and do so I might as well work for what and who I believe in.
More campaigns followed, my participation growing steadily along the way until I ran my own campaign this past spring. I could not and would not sit back and be silent anymore. In that case, I let my work behind the scenes represent my ideas and feelings. This brings me to now. In the past month, I have found myself using my voice in a number of different settings. At times, it is within the work setting, taking charge with a group. At other times, it is about my work. I am a teacher. I have been my entire adult life. It has never been an easy profession on a number of different levels. One of the hardest aspects of my job is that so many people think they know what it is like to be a teacher. After all, most people have been in classrooms. Yet, unless you have actually done it, you don’t really know. One of my first jobs out of college was to work at a Sylvan Learning Center, teaching reading, writing, etc. I thought it gave me teaching experience. As soon as I got my first classroom, I realized how wrong I was. It was so different!
On top of that, leaders within the profession can make the job easier/better or the opposite. This school year has proven to be an extremely difficult one. In fact, it has left a lot of teachers and students really hurting. I could not stay silent. In the past month or so, I have found myself in communication with a number of different reporters who are trying to tell the story about life in my school district. It is a risk to be open, to share, but I learned to use my voice so I did. After all, it could lead to positive changes in the future and how can that be wrong?