I am documenting my 2022-23 school year through photography. Each day, I take a photograph and include it in a weekly post here on my blog. The goal is to create a compilation of photos that tells the story of my year and challenges me to go beyond the written word. This is the 0th post in the series.
Last spring, I visited the Bronx Museum. It’s a stone’s throw away from where I live, but I’d never been. While strolling around their Bronx Calling exhibit, I saw two paintings by artist and NYC public school art teacher Clare Kambhu. Interestingly, as a teacher herself, some of Kambhu’s art centers on classroom furniture. The two paintings I saw at the museum were classroom chairs (here and here, I think). While simple, it blew my mind how she turned a mundane, everyday classroom object into a creative focal point. I’d looked at these types of chairs for over 16 years, but Kambhu somehow made me see them differently that day. I was fascinated.
At that moment, I couldn’t help but look inward. I thought about my own creative output and how all of what happens here on my blog involves writing. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing as a form of personal expression and reflection, but that day at the museum, surrounded by so much creative genius, and by Kambhu’s chairs, I had a surge of inspiration to try something new. Why not blog through a different medium?
Thus, this school year I’m trying something new. I’m still going to write my standard posts, but I’m also going to tap into my inner artist to help my blog reach for more. I can’t paint to save my life, so, despite Kambhu’s inspiration, I won’t be picking up a paintbrush anytime soon. But I do have a hidden passion that I’ve decided will help me reflect on my school year: photography.
I’ve long found that photographs have a unique way of defying time. They suspend a moment — and a perspective — forever. I appreciate photography because of its unique ability to take our noisy, busy world and hold it still. The right photos often help me see something I’ve never seen before. This year, I hope the same will happen to my teaching.
So here’s how it’s going to work. I will use my phone to take one photograph each school day, give it a caption, and post it here on my blog. The photos will be unedited, posted weekly, and organized by month. In addition to simply bottling up my 17th year of teaching, the goal of this series is to create a compilation of photos that will tell the story of my year in a way that I never have before. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. This series, then, will be a thousand words a day.
In recent years, I’ve taken to using serial blog posts to help me document my school year. These posts help me process what happens during the year, see how it’s all connected, and give me something to look forward to. Every day in the classroom overflows with tiny moments that come and go. Some are funny, others are frustrating. Most don’t get remembered. This year, I hope that photography can challenge me to hold onto these moments a little longer and see them (literally) in a new light.