Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Loving Teaching!

I just love teaching! Last week’s session with teachers and teacher candidates from various universities in Canada and the United States reinforced my passion! During the week we gathered 20 people together to learn about the Tribes process and to figure out how it can work in the classrooms of each of the teachers represented in the room. Everyone left feeling ready and confident!

I realized it is not what happens during the workshop that makes such a big difference, but what happens in the weeks and months following. Making connections with each other and inviting teachers to rely on the relationships they develop is the real long-term benefit that is created. It’s what happens once we leave that makes these 3 days special. It is during that reflection period that I want to be available to help my students work through questions, experiment with strategies, and reflect on their practises.

Each situation is different. Each of us faces our own challenges. “What about that one child in my class who just doesn’t want to participate?’ “How can I deal with a Principal who really doesn’t understand what I’m doing?” “My students can be so challenging sometimes.” “What do I say to parents who want to know why their kids are ‘playing’ all day?”

We are meant to be together in this world. I am realizing more and more that successful people are those that seek out help and support from those around them. Productive and growing business organizations are those who work cooperatively and tackle problems and challenging decisions as a group. Collaborative skills strengthen as we practise coming together. And, as is the case with everything we do, the more we practise the better we get at it.

I like the way the members of our group consulted with each other. Many group members exchanged phone numbers. I heard plans being made. They insisted on sharing all of their email addresses. I made promises to follow up. I invited requests for on-going help. They suggest a follow up workshop. And for the first time, I consider the idea.

I am lucky. Many of my students do stay in touch. I am able to support them as they seek out volunteer positions, grapple with challenging course loads and relentless demands from administrators. I can help them deal with the disappointment of not getting a teaching job immediately and coach them through processes where they temporarily settle for informal teaching roles until positions become more numerous.

And I benefit from being with these students. I am inspired each time I gather a group of prospective teachers together. They are so excited to learn and I become so inspired too. They help me realize how much I like work, and even though there are so many other things in this world I want to do, teaching them is definitely one of my biggest joys. And they too, help me transition from one practise to another as I continue with opportunities to work, create and affect some sort of change in our world. Thank you teachers!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Thoughts in Sedona

We are very mindful of our homeward bound destination. The Red Rocks of Sedona welcome us again and absorb us into their energy. I am beckoned into the rocks and find daily solace in the warmth and embrace that they provide. I am confused. I feel untethered and loose. I am on my way home and I’m not sure what that means. There are changes ahead for me. I reflect.

This morning I made myself a mind map to help me make sense of the changes in my life. In my mind map of the “Important Things in My Life,” teaching represents a major bubble. As I go deeper in to what that means, I ask myself, “What do I want to teach?” Words like simplicity, getting along, learning how to learn, love of learning, reflection, back to basics, and new teachers are ideas that present themselves when I let my brain dump. As my life changes, I am faced with decisions that are serious and consequential. And the things that become important to me are simple and basic.

Being a great teacher is hard work. So is it challenging to be a good person. The kind of teacher I chose to be and the ways I chose to model what I teach is the most critical. It is not the what that becomes important. That we can get from books. Teaching is about the how.

I realize that the next few weeks will bring me closer to my practise of being a good teacher. My first workshop will take place almost immediately upon my return. I feel a sense of rhythm and joy as I embrace, once again, a group of teachers who might be inspired to recognize and appreciate their own potential. I truly believe that, together, we can make this world an even better place!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Prayer Anywhere

As I sit in the back row of the Jewish Community Centre of Sedona, the vibrant and clear voice of the female Rabbi reminds me of why I keep coming back to synagogue each Shabbat morning. “Look outside these windows and connect with God through your prayer.” She invites us.

The sculpted red rocks of Sedona are in front of me. The Torah is unravelled in preparation for reading. I feel totally embraced by this community as we enter the sanctuary. Rabbi, Alicia Megal makes direct eye contact with me and smiles. “Who are you?” she asks later. I feel like we’ve met before. So does she.

It is the introduction to the Shacharit Service; the service that welcomes the day and invites a new light to shine each morning. “Recognize the newness of each day. Through the presence of the Ner Tamid we are reminded of the blessing of light and the illumination of each of our existences and the achievement of new ideas.”

I realize that I am actually in search of sanctity within.

Finding synagogues on Shabbat morning during travel has been a rewarding challenge. It is a great respite from our constant movement. It is a sanctuary to welcome my prayers and allow me to share my gratitude for what I have, where I am, and all of those who share it with me.

I feel blessed to have the gift of prayer as part of my world. It gives me the chance to take myself away from myself and appreciate…truly appreciate this world. I imagine being successful at helping others find that gift too, and introduce them to realize that things aren’t so bad after all. There is always something good going on in our world. Sometimes we just have to go a little further, or perhaps in a different direction, to find it.