As many of you know, I read a daily reflection by Robin Sharma. A few weeks ago, the entry was this: “Saying that you don’t have time to improve your thoughts and your life is like saying you don’t have time to stop for gas because you are too busy driving. Eventually it will catch up with you.”
The same could be said for teaching. Teaching has certainly changed over the last few decades. Our students come to us with much different experience and background knowledge than in the past. The pendulum has swung towards constructivism. Technology has changed the way we approach both teaching and learning. Will Richardson has been quoted as saying, “If you’re comfortable with education today you’re not paying attention.”
If we continue to move forward thinking we can teach as we did previously, we’re missing the point. We must always take the time to improve our thoughts and our practice. My favourite ways are to learn from others: I read, dialogue and visit other classrooms. In the words of Stephen Covey, I sharpen the saw.
What do you do to improve your thoughts and your practice? How do you sharpen your saw each day?
…don’t forget to stop for gas…
I love my job. There is never a dull moment in an elementary school. Whether it be the need for yet another ice pack, the mystery of a missing shoe, separation anxiety, a bloody nose or a stuck zipper… the days are certainly never dull.
Last week, a little one told me she was going to take something to “the lost and fountain.” Another skipped her way back to her desk with an imagined rope and a wide grin, no audience intended. And still another caught me ‘running’ in the hall and asked, “what’s the hurry?” Good question. As I was reading with a group of grade three students the other day, one of them said, “Let’s make a deal.” She proceeded to say that if the group made ‘no mistakes’ – and it didn’t count as a mistake if they helped each other – they could use the white boards and I would challenge them with difficult words. “Deal.” A teacher’s dream, actually.
When I consider what I learned in university, nothing could have prepared me for those unanticipated moments. And to be honest, it is those moments that give flavour to my day.
Yes, I do love my job.
Many years ago I went to the Body Worlds exhibit. You know the one: human bodies on display preserved through a process called plastination. The overwhelming feeling I had visiting this exhibit was one of awe.
How is it that we function each and every day? Our bodies are a miraculous mass of cells working together seemingly inexplicably. It struck me as nothing short of extraordinary that we function everyday as we do given the complexity of our bodies and brains.
I recently read the book My Stroke of Insight by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. Dr. Taylor, a brain scientist, experienced a massive stroke in 1996. In the book she chronicles her experience including the stroke itself and her eight-year recovery. She was forced to relearn all of the things she had once learned as a toddler and young child.
Again I was struck with a sense of awe.
The human body’s capability to learn, relearn, adapt to our environment, process external stimuli, understand our spacial world, generate meaning from a string of symbols… all seem incredible feats. These capabilities exist in most of us, most of the time, without our even thinking about them.
I marvel at the learning that goes on each day with our students. Given the complexity of the human brain it is no surprise that we have students who find learning difficult. It can be a puzzle to determine precisely what the difficulty might be. We may never fully understand the science behind their learning difficulties, but we can certainly uncover strategies to help all students learn.
I cannot even begin to imagine all that is at work right now in my brain as I type these words!
This week, along with many of you, I heard David Wells speak. He made me laugh and he made me cry. His physical comedy, timing and poignancy struck a chord.
“Don’t miss the point.”
What is it in your life that you don’t want to miss?
Your children or grandchildren as they discover and explore their world? An unfulfilled dream? The stories told and retold by your parents or grandparents? The honesty of our students? Relationships with siblings, fondly considered friends? The creative energy of colleagues? The friendships of those who inspire, encourage or make you laugh? The thrilling possibilities of a new work day? The quiet moments with the one you love most?
Whatever it is, don’t miss the point.