Thursday, October 11, 2007

Martin Johnson Heade (1819�1904)

Approaching Thunder Storm, 1859


Day 24, October 10, 2007

Today I realized how much fun teaching can be when I relax and focus on what I'm doing right now, and just do it as thoroughly and attentively as possible. It sounds simple, but for me, being totally alert to what's happening in the present moment is a ceaseless struggle. When I'm teaching, I often seem to be focused on the future -- not on what I'm doing now but on what I will be doing next, and next after that, and so on. I'm always much too aware of time – of the clock inexorably ticking, of the minutes passing while I hurry to keep pace. Today I guess I forgot about the clock, and three cheers for me for accomplishing that feat. For a good part of my classes, I lived in the present moment, just taking pleasure in what was unfolding right now. This is the only sane way to teach, and to live. The simple but astounding fact is that the present moment is all that ever exists, so the reasonable way to operate would be to relax and enjoy that moment. On this good day in the classroom, I managed to do that.

* * * * *

At study hall I noticed two boys sprawled in the big, soft chairs with books. They seemed totally relaxed and absorbed as they read. I noticed, as I drew closer, that they were reading fat books of probably 500 pages or more, and I recalled seeing them with similar books quite often this year. I interrupted them for a few moments to chat about the books, and then I went back to my work and they dove back into their reading. For a few moments, though, I thought about this – about how immersed they were in their reading, about the fact that my giving them a few minutes to read silently at the start of English class might have contributed to their involvement with these books, about the possibility that many other students may be enjoying the pastime of leisurely reading because I promote it in class. It gave me a feeling of encouragement, a feeling that perhaps those few minutes of reading quietly in class are more beneficial than I had realized.

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