I’m continuing to work on not being a ‘blurter’ in class – not always speaking my thoughts as soon as they rise to the surface. Strangely, it’s one of my disconcerting habits that’s been hardest to break. For the first three decades of my teaching career, I was the best of the blurters. I taught in a freewheeling way, shooting from the hip in a hit-and-miss manner. My words took wing as fast as my thoughts took shape. In a way, I was an out-of-control teacher, a cowboy riding the range of English teaching, and I let my mouth go pretty much wherever it wanted. It’s been a hard habit to break, but gradually I seem to be gaining control over my impetuous voice. It’s important to me, because good teaching, I think, is mostly about discipline, self-control, and – most of all – selflessness. A teacher who blurts is a teacher who thinks too much of himself – thinks his words are way more important than they are. The truth is that my words are only minuscule parts of the immeasurable process called teaching and learning, and I’m trying to put my ‘self’ farther in the background in order to let the other educational forces do their noteworthy work. I’m tightening the reins on my words. I now speak more slowly, more softly, and much less often. Socrates suggested that a good teacher speaks only when a student asks a question, and perhaps that’s the kind of teaching I’m aiming for. The more I move toward silence, the more my students might feel inspired to speak. Maybe a mostly hushed and listening teacher in Room 2 isn’t too far away.
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