Watching the fall leaves taking flight and scattering across the streets of my New England village today helped me understand something about myself – that I’d like to teach more like blustering leaves than a steady machine. I loved seeing the spirited movements of the leaves in today’s winds, as though they were full of honest and spontaneous get-up-and-go and were simply expressing their instinctive leafyness. I know they’re just dead leaves drifting around in a purposeless way, but they brought an important truth to mind about my work with students – that throwing aside carefulness occasionally and just moving freely through lessons like leaves on the streets would tell the students that their teacher takes looseness and spontaneity seriously. I don’t want the students to see a machine called a teacher in the front of the room, faking it as a bona fide person and being merely a mechanism that moves through lessons like a lifeless apparatus. Of course, I do have to have detailed plans prepared for each class, but there have to be times, too, when the plans are put aside in favor of a little liberty and even foolishness for a few minutes. There’s something reassuring about a teacher taking off his formality for a time and treating himself and his students to some short-term fun. It seems, once again, that the teacher is one of us, simply a person sharing, with pleasure, the honest-to-goodness spirit of his life.
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