Monday, April 06, 2009

"Color Study for Savannah Cafe", oil on canvas by Kay Crain

Teaching Journal
Day 118, Monday, April 6, 2009

One of the Teacher’s Assistants today was especially impressive. (These are scholars who help me with some parts of the lesson.) He spoke with a quiet dignity that is rare even among seasoned adult teachers. His voice was soft yet strong, and I didn’t notice any instances of nervousness or hesitancy. There was calmness in his words, and assurance, and utter poise. It was inspiring to watch him work. It was especially notable that he complimented almost every scholar who spoke. He said, “Thanks, Lily” or “Good answer, Zoe” or “Nice job” – not in a fake way, but with a tone of genuine appreciation. In a strange way, his performance as an assistant was inspiring to me. I’ve been in a classroom for 40+ years, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be stirred by the distinguished work of a young apprentice. I’m crossing my fingers that this boy is destined for a classroom of his own some time in the future.
. . . . .
I was tempted to interrupt one of the TA’s today, but fortunately I resisted it and kept my mouth shut. I guess that’s one of the lessons I’ve taken most to heart over my many years of teaching – that what a teacher doesn’t say is just as important as what he does say. We teachers often over-emphasize the importance of our lessons and lectures, forgetting that our silence can be just as illuminating as our speech. I have always tried to fill up class time with as many helpful words as possible, but I’m now trying to balance all those thousands of words with the quiet weight of my own unassuming stillness.

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