It's important to know that even if you don't think of yourself as a particularly reflective person, or someone who naturally puts your thinking on display, it doesn't mean that it's not within you. I know, because I remember a time when I didn't think about myself that way either. It was as if I was so busy doing the stuff of teaching that I didn't have time to be thoughtful and reflective.
I kept my kids busy too. If you'd have peeked into my room back then, you'd have probably thought all was well. You'd have seen children doing lots and lots of stuff. (Isn't it amazing how much alike my students and I were?) But had you looked more closely at what children were doing, you might have wondered what this busyness was really all about.
And now I wonder, could it be that I kept myself and my kids so busy because I didn't really know what else we should or could be doing? Was I avoiding an inconvenient truth of my own?
Looking back, I'd say the answer is yes. Being busy kept me from confronting what I was afraid to admit all along — I knew there was more to teaching but I didn't know what it was. I had the best of intentions. I wanted to be a good teacher. But I was looking outside myself for all the answers. I didn't know that most of the answers were inside me all along. And I'm hoping you know that they're inside you, too.
But when we're always rushing around, looking ahead to what's coming up next, we don't have the time, the inclination or the mind set to put our thinking on display. We may not even allow ourselves the luxury of being curious, thoughtful and reflective.
But what if we taught ourselves to slow down? What if we gave ourselves permission to think less about covering the curriculum and more about uncovering it? And what might happen if we challenged ourselves to listen for and come to know that voice inside us that's only a faint whisper to us now? What if we began to lead a wide-awake life and shared our dispositions for thinking with the children in our charge?
What might happen if we did? Maybe our children would begin to lead wide-awake, thoughtful and reflective lives themselves. Now I know in order to be the kind of teacher whose "disposition for thinking is always on display", I have to be present.
When I'm teaching, I can't be thinking ahead about the emergency faculty meeting after school, stopping at the cleaners on the way home or running down the checklist of things I need for an upcoming science experiment.
I can't be looking at the clock every few minutes thinking about what's next. I have to be actively engaged in what's happening now, at this precise moment.
Something to try . . .
Want to get started? Go get your notebook and start to carry it around with you. Put it in your backpack or purse or pocket. Make a conscious effort to slow down and think about the things you see and hear. When you find yourself wondering about something, jot down a quick note or question.
Do it for a week. In just that short amount of time, you'll find yourself more curious, more thoughtful, more reflective about the world and your place in it.
See? It's not that hard. Isn't it amazing what's inside us when we give ourselves time to listen?
Consider this from Maureen Barbieri . . .
"Things that may never be an actual part of our teaching are parts of us and thus affect everything we touch. Who we are is woven into how we behave, how we approach colleagues, how we envision our work, our world, and our future together. We need to take the time, no matter how hectic our days become, to stare out at the sea or to sit quietly in the yard or up on the rooftop and ask ourselves what it is we care about and how honestly we share our lives and passions with one another and our students. New methods of instruction will continue to evolve in direct proportion to who we are, and how much of that we are willing to bring to our teaching."
How much of YOU are you willing to bring to your teaching?