Thursday, April 02, 2009

"Lamplight", oil on canvas board, by Mike Rooney

Teaching Journal
Day 116, Thursday, April 2, 2009

In the midst of teaching a lesson that seems doomed to failure, it’s comforting to realize that countless other events occurring at the same time are destined for nothing but success. While I was wondering this morning why a 9th grade English class seemed to be going nowhere, the blood inside my body was going everywhere it needed to go, and doing it with total effortlessness and efficiency. While my lesson appeared to be falling flat on its face, the oxygen in the room was fluidly and perfectly flowing into my scholars’ lungs, and rain was falling among the trees outside with absolute accuracy. Despite the obvious malfunction of my teaching strategies, all was flawless in the rotating of the planet and the spinning of the stars. The universe was taking faultless care of itself, even if I seemed to be a dreary dud as a teacher.

It is, indeed, an encouraging thought.

* * * * *

I made what I consider to be a serious mistake last night in my college class – the kind of mistake I thought I had put behind me forever. I called on one of the students, and before he had spoken two sentences, I interrupted him in a discourteous fashion and made a negative comment about what he had said. Instead of allowing him to develop and finish his thought, I rudely closed the door on him in order to make my own point. Instead of listening and then responding to his statement, I immediately shut my mind down and simply reacted to it. It was the kind of immature, brash behavior that I abhor in a teacher, and I’m appalled to think that I engaged in it. I acted like a rookie teacher instead of one with decades of experience, and I’m justifiably beating myself up about it. I don’t intend to let it happen again anytime soon.

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