Friday, May 21, 2010

Widened Awareness

I should place this reminder front and center on my desk in my classroom: “EXPAND YOUR AWARENESS!” It’s become clear to me over the years that almost every problem I have encountered as a teacher has been caused by my own unimaginative, unadventurous, small-minded view of what’s happening. Because I often see things through the zoom instead of the wide-angle lens, my classroom sometimes seems like a slim and restricted place, and my students like painfully imperfect learners with considerably more shortcomings than strengths. When I have this myopic view of things, I seem to be operating in an educational world made up, essentially, of undersized and inflexible perimeters. In this kind of classroom universe, everything is tight and tense, which is why I wish I had that sign as a reminder. I need to say to myself, “Open your eyes! The universe is limitless! Look up and out!” When I see limitations all around me, it’s because I choose to see them. I could just as easily use the wide-angle lens to expand my awareness and see nothing but stretching horizons – nothing but kids who can throw their thoughts far beyond the farthest boundary lines, and a teacher who needs to learn to let the world be as widespread as it really is. In this kind of measureless classroom world, no thoughts would be unusable and no achievements would be out of the question. This kind of widened awareness would make a classroom what this universe is – a boundless place for truly unrestrained learning.

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