Some people recently have expressed concern over my insatiable thirst for knowledge when it comes to raising you, my little peanut. And what I am again, so grateful for, is how your Dad understands me. He gets it. He gets me. And he doesn’t worry. That is a huge gift. Huge.
So what am I doing? I am researching. I am educating myself. I am preparing a lesson plan. I am learning my lines.
When I was a dancer I studied tap, ballet, jazz, contemporary jazz, and modern so I could be the most versatile dancer I could be. I knew that all techniques supported each other in some way.
When I was an actress, I memorized my lines by rote so that when I walked out on stage or in front of a camera, I could forget them entirely and respond to my environment in the moment. I studied Meisner, Method, Diana Castle, and Improv so I could take what worked for me and leave the rest.
When I began running The Young Storytellers Foundation’s program I began teaching myself everything I could about teaching. I became a certified teaching artist through the Music Center and learned techniques for backwards mapping lesson plans, aligning to state standards, and classroom management. I became a facilitator of Council, a dialogical practice, and a Spolin Game Master. All so I could take what worked best of each modality and create the most dynamic interactive innovative approach to creative writing that I could.
Now when I train my head mentors in our curriculum, what I stress most is fluidity, not rigidity, in the classroom. Meaning, know your shit when you walk in the door, have your tools laid out for you, know what that days lesson plan is by heart, and then be prepared to throw it all out of the window based on what the children bring before you.
And even in Alcoholics Anonymous- I read everything I can about it, from a ton of different perspectives. I have worked with many sponsors and I listen to different people talk about their experience with the program. I am not and never have been content with one point of view.
So- what I am doing in regards to taking on this next, and what I believe to be, most important job of my entire life, raising you, little Pony, is gathering information. I am in the research phase, and it may seem maniac, but it’s not. It’s just instinctive. If I am drawn to a certain principle and method of applying that principle that speaks to my heart, I am going to learn everything about it. And what inevitably happens is connections are made to other theories and methodologies, so I follow the trails, seeing where it guides me, noticing the similarities and discrepancies, and taking note of it all. I am building a giant parenting collage. I will learn as much as I can and then when you come into the world, like the dance steps I have rehearsed a thousand times, the lines I have memorized, or the lesson plan I created, I will forget it all, look at you, and respond to you in the moment. The only difference is that I will have a giant tool belt on. Now, whether I use any of those tools remains to be seen. But having them is what is important to me. I know this from studying classroom management. Each child is different, no one can prepare a teacher for what any little human being might bring to the classroom, but if I have a solid tool belt on, I know I have options when dealing with what is before me. And what I think my gift is, is taking a few different tools and creating entire new ones on the spot.
I know there are people out there who are totally comfortable and fine with totally just ‘winging’ it. I knew those actors, and some did really well. But that is not and never will be me. I improvise with information, I don’t wing it with nothing. That is just me, and always will be.
Even when I was a bartender at an alehouse in my early 20’s, I learned everything there was to know about brewing beer. I became an expert. And I don’t regret it. I regret the 20 pounds I gained at the time from drinking all the beer, but I never regret learning.
I love learning.
It’s good for my brain.
It keeps me on my toes.