There is a soft, muted “click” as the camera shutter gently works, capturing another image. The soft feel of a fresh snowfall on a winter’s day and it’s – on film? No – captured by a CCD, ready for more playing, more development in Photoshop. After saving for many months I finally took delivery of my new Pentax digital SLR and its special lens – shooting good pictures is possible once again. As I stand here up to my knees in freshly fallen soft snow waiting for the morning sun to find its way into my small part of the world I am again reminded of how magic our work can be.
Magic – the perfect word to describe the creating and sharing of images, sounds, animations, videos – everything that we do every day, with our students, with other teachers, with each other. In these moments all of the politics and narrow minded restrictions are removed. All of the negative comments from some disparaging voice at the back of the room disappear. A look of intense interest glows in someone’s eyes as they start to “see” all of the possibilities ahead. And I am reignited by the act of making pictures – by the act of making magic.
There was a Greek philosopher who maintained that teachers, to be effective, must actually do, as well as teach. I like that approach – it means that there is a greater chance that the magic will find its way into a classroom because there is no equivalent to actually doing. Looking around the forest where I am shooting I see the fresh tracks of a rabbit moving into the bush. Can I find that wandering bunny? More to the point, can I find and shoot that rabbit? As I follow the tracks I am led into a grove of trees and the sun suddenly lights up the snow and there is a warmth now that needs to be captured. The shadows and the sparkling light are dancing in front of me – it’s time to make pictures. And you’re going to convince me that you can learn this by reading a book? No – that’s simply never going to happen. The magic of being in the forest, washed over by that morning sun – that is a teachable moment that only personal experience can generate. That personal involvement is part of the magic.
We have a new year ahead of us. So far it’s looking a lot better than the one I, for example, have left behind. Too many challenges, not enough accomplishments – it’s time to turn that one around. Its time to find the magic – wherever that magic may live in each of our lives. Its starting well – the fellow at our local high end camera shop was talking to me about my camera (heart stopping moment when he told me they were completely sold out – I found one in a small city many miles from here – thank heavens for that) – and then he saw the Adobe Ed Leaders name on the front and asked if I would like to teach Photoshop Elements to their customers. Turns out they have a small classroom set up in their basement complete with digital projector and seating for about 25. Many of their customers have requested demonstrations and classes as well as an explanation of why Photoshop should be their software of choice. No problem, I said, I’d love to do it – and suddenly a whole new opportunity is opened in front of me. That is part of the magic, too. New opportunities, old skills and old passions reignited, creation and sharing actively pursued – yes, these are all part of the magic of what we do. It’s going to be a good year.
May you too, find your version of The Magic. May it warm you and drive you and may it find its way, every day, into your classroom.