As a teacher I have spent more than several of my 46 years in one sort of struggle or another – the struggle to understand a novel, the struggle to set down a decent lesson plan, the struggle to understand my students’ minds and hearts, the struggle simply to survive those occasional tiresome days that try any teacher’s soul. Lately, though, I’ve been bringing the surrender flag to school and unfurling it in front of myself now and then. I’m giving up struggling. I’m setting down my combat tools, putting aside my weapons of warfare. I’ll still be an attentive and faithful teacher, but I’ll be attentive in a more temperate way, and faithful like flowing rivers are faithful, with a peaceful kind of pushiness. Rivers, I have always realized, do not struggle. With rocks in their way, they simply slide around them and move along, and when trees topple, the waters open wide and say “welcome”. Rivers are powerful in a soft but persevering way, and that’s what I’m aiming for in the classroom. I guess I’m trading struggling for flowing, and I have a feeling my students will follow along with more willingness than when I was a classroom warrior.
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