I meet up with Javi the Hippie after an exhausting week of teaching self-contained eighth grade. I’m raw and anxious and filled with self-doubt. My summer plans are slowly breaking and I can’t see the beauty in front of me, because I am obsessing about what how far behind I am in my imaginary Timeline of How to Be a Bad-ass Teacher.
“Teaching self-contained was nothing like I thought it would be,” Javi the Hippie tells me.
“What did you expect?” I ask, taking a long guzzle from my hefeweizen.
“I imagined it would be 24/7 social justice. I thought I’d be raising up a group of social activists who would transform the community. And then I’m teaching them fractions and reading strategies.”
“So you abandoned it?”
“I didn’t abandon it, I just expanded it. I had this Utopian view of what it would be and within the first quarter, it shattered. But it was replaced by a real Utopia. We started out as a group and turned into a community and then a tribe and then a family.”
“A family? Really?”
“Yeah, we were a family trying to think through life together. Sometimes it was service, sometimes fractions, sometimes conflict resolution. I had said I believed in a whole education and yet I defined it in very nervous terms of service learning or constructivism or some other type of philosophy. But at the end of the year, we were just a family trying to learn how to live well.”