Sunday, April 17, 2011


"Butterfly Pansies", oil, by Nancy Medina
The other day, my teaching was transformed when I simply decided to sit in a different place in the classroom. No, it wasn’t exactly a resurrection type of transformation – I’m sure my face wasn’t shining with any exclusive kind of wisdom at the end of the class – but nevertheless, it was a rather startling experience for me. Just by sitting in a new spot at the opposite side of the classroom, I was able to see my work in a fresh and surprising light. I somehow seemed closer to the kids, able to more clearly sense what they were thinking, able to see a little better the separate lights they each were shining on the subject we were discussing. At the end of the period, when the students had left, I lingered a little over this odd, accidental discovery. Why is it, I wondered, that I didn’t think of making this move months ago? What led me to let go, on this particular day, of a well-established routine and thus find a new and apparently liberating way to teach? And how many other transformations are waiting to happen when I make the next slight shift in my usual routine? They say a butterfly flapping its wings on one side of the world changes things forever on the other side, so maybe switching chairs was a butterfly for me. Just by sitting a few feet away from my customary seat, I seemed to become a new and maybe better teacher, the way wings moving so slightly can make changes many miles away. I wonder what wings will shift things for me tomorrow.

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