Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Softness is an important quality in my work as a middle school teacher. Obviously the word has many negative connotations (weakness, indecision, uncertainty, etc), but its positive aspects are useful to me as I carry out my classroom responsibilities. For instance, the word suggests a willingness to yield readily to pressure or weight, a trait I find helpful when it comes to appreciating and respecting the students’ comments and suggestions. I come to class with my own set of beliefs and goals, but I’m always ready to yield, if it seems appropriate, to new ideas offered by the students. If the pressure of their good thoughts builds to a point where their accuracy seems undeniable, I try to be ready to softly and bravely acquiesce. Far from being a sign of weakness in a teacher, I believe it’s a sign of inner clout and authority. It’s a valiant teacher who is prepared to capitulate to a strong and true idea. The word ‘softness’ also suggests a classroom atmosphere that is neither loud, harsh, nor irritating – the kind of ambiance I’m entirely committed to maintaining. The ‘real world’ may be callous and chaotic, but Room 2 in my school is a different kind of world entirely. In English class we treat each other with gentleness instead of severity, with consideration instead of insensitivity. If the outside world is a school of hard knocks, my classroom, I’m pleased to say, is one of soft acceptance and enthusiastic acknowledgment.

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