What it takes to BE as a teacher

It has been a whirl wind since I stepped back into the classroom. I thought it had been 3 weeks since I started teaching again when I looked at the calendar today and realized it had been 6. Let me first just say that teaching is an incredibly intense career. People who enter teaching are […]

Kazuaki Tanahashi has exhibited his Zen calligraphy world-wide. His striking yet subtle calligraphic creations are grounded in his experience of Zen teaching. He writes, “To me the essence of the brush creative process is mindfulness…the brush helps you to cultivate a meditative state of mind.’

It has been a whirl wind since I stepped back into the classroom. I thought it had been 3 weeks since I started teaching again when I looked at the calendar today and realized it had been 6. Let me first just say that teaching is an incredibly intense career. People who enter teaching are not doing it because it is easy. Being an administrator was much easier than being a teacher. Now that I am both, I barely have time shuffle papers much less care about who is turning in their lesson plans on time (I am). I have been struggling to get up to speed. I spent about 20 hours this weekend getting paper work and filing done that had not been done in a long time. In the meantime, there is one thing that I have noticed about teaching. What it takes to BE as a teacher.

  • I have to be right in my head before I get to school. I do this through getting up a little earlier than I really need to, deciding on a song to listen to on the way to work, and having a decent lesson plan.
  • I have to be prepared to be inspired by my students. Today we taped lincoln logs to the feet of 6 inch tall posable community helper dolls to make stilt walkers like we saw at the circus. Tomorrow we will hopefully write a story about them.
  • I have to be present in the moment. I am always less likely to get frustrated with a lack of student attention if I am fully present. The flip side of this is…
  • Engaging students is challenging but ultimately my responsibility. If I do need to use a consequence in class I need to be matter of fact about it which requires me to …. be present in the moment 😉

When I was acting as only an administrator I can’t think of a time when I needed to get my head totally right before I sat at my desk. I can’t think of a time when I needed to be inspired by the teachers I was supervising. Even if I was, which I was, what would I do with that inspiration. I never really had to be present in the moment at all unless I was working through an emotionally charged issue with a teacher. The challenge inBEing a teacher is to be reflective, knowledgeable, insightful, even keeled, engaging, and creative all at the same.

I think this is the disconnect between those who judge teaching and those who teach. Unless you have ever had to BE a teacher in the most Zen way, you can’t really know the expertise that teachers have. It is not the type of expertise where I know more than you do about something. It is the expertise of being something moment by moment.

PS Thanks @TheJLV

Image: http://www.wesleyan.edu/mansfield/exhibitions/exhibition-items/past/kazbrushwork.html

Miracle of Moment by Kazuaki Tanahashi

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