Monday, January 30, 2012


     Like a good driver, a good teacher must stay both alert and relaxed. When driving on an icy road, I have to be sharp-eyed for especially slippery sections of the road, but I also have to be unruffled  enough at the wheel to steer the car with deftness and suppleness. I have to stay both tense and loose. I must be resolute and steadfast, watching every inch of the way ahead, but I must also be free-flowing and,flexible. I sometimes picture a good driver on a bad road as having furrowed brows (the alertness) but also a slight and sincere smile (the relaxation). He’s working hard but somehow finding genuine pleasure in the work. I picture a teacher in a similar way. Certainly I have to be alert to every shade and tone during class. I need to have fifty eyes instead of just two, and a few dozen ears wouldn’t hurt. Thousands of mental and verbal events happen in each class, and I need to be aware of all of them. However, I must always balance my watchfulness with an equal amount of lightness and easing up. Teaching teenagers the essentials of fine writing and serious literature often resembles traversing a frozen mountain in a car, and while I’m ever on the alert, I also need to be relaxed enough to move the class along the zigzag road that’s always created when free-thinking, restive adolescents come together to discuss the art of speaking from the heart in written words. I need to ‘drive’ the class with the coolest kind of awareness, with an attentiveness that feels like dancing.

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