Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Roof in the Sun", oil on canvas board, by Mike Rooney

Teaching Journal
Day 93, Wednesday, February 11

"The art of living is neither careless drifting nor fearful clinging to the past. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive."
--Alan Watts

Teachers often remind students to "pay attention", but I started wondering this morning whether I might need to do a little more of that myself. Perhaps I need to be more alert and attentive during class, just as I ask my students to be. Maybe I need to "sit up, lean forward, nod, and track the speaker", as I often remind my students to do. The word "mindful" could be relevant here, a word that suggests total attention to the moment at hand -- something, I'm afraid, that is sometimes missing from my teaching. My students are occasionally off in "dreamland" during my classes, and -- in a way -- perhaps I am too. While a group of living, thinking, feeling children are sitting in front of me, I'm sometimes far away from them in my mind, thinking rapid-fire thoughts about my lesson plans and how best to implement them. Sometimes (I hate to admit this) it's as if the students aren't even there, and I'm just sailing through my lesson, more for the sake of getting through it efficiently than of actually affecting the lives of my students. That may be an exaggeration and a bit too harsh, but there's enough truth in it to give me food for thought. The last thing I want to be is a mindless teacher going through robotic motions in a totally perfunctory way. I want to be, above all, a vigilant teacher, one who appreciates fully each little occurrence in the classroom. Perhaps I need to say to myself more often, "Mr. Salsich, please pay attention."

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