Thursday, October 08, 2009


Driving along one of the picturesque roads in my part of the country today, I noticed some autumn leaves sailing along in the blustery wind, and I began wondering if I could teach like that. I sensed an appealing kind of insouciance and liberty as I watched the leaves toss and tumble in the air. They were going wherever the wind took them. If I could imagine the leaves as people with feelings, they would be people of the most relaxed and carefree type – people who know that resisting harmless forces is a wasteful and hopeless pursuit. I wonder if I could teach like that. I wonder if I could relax my guard more often, loosen up a little, stop trying to control every millisecond of class time, drift a little with whatever wind of learning is currently blowing in the classroom. I come to class each day with a comprehensive and detailed lesson plan, which is certainly important, but I wonder if it sometimes acts like a cumbersome anchor that keeps me from letting the students sail with the power of whatever we’re discussing or doing. I’m always thinking about the next step in the lesson plan, when perhaps I should be paying closer attention to the gust of ideas that’s just now swirling among the students. Maybe my lesson plans, ironically enough, keep the class and me tied to the dock instead of sailing on the open waters of learning. Leaves aren’t teachers, of course. Leaves have no choice but to follow the wayward winds, whereas, I, as a teacher of teenagers, must make many choices each day. I guess I hope I can occasionally choose to raise anchor in English class and catch the good wind passing by, come what may.

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