I might have a little problem staying still. And by that I mean, I sometimes feel that my self-worth is tied to how much I can squeeze into one day or one week....or maybe even one lifetime.
One of the best memories I have of my sweet mother who passed away in 2005 was the fact that she could sit still in her backyard or in her sun room that overlooked the backyard and simply be. I always envied that skill, and I do believe it is a skill that for many of us must be honed.
But I love Psalms 46:10, either in verse form or in song form, "Be still and know that I am God." I love it maybe because a dear friend, surrogate Mama, and spiritual advisor often reminded me of the importance of doing this.
After traveling by air to several jobs this summer, I was asked to travel to Northeast Arizona a few weeks ago for a teaching job on a Saturday. It was in a very rural area of Arizona, and I could have flown for three hours then driven for three hours, but I instead opted to drive from Tucson for five hours.
While some would look at this mission as a fate worse than death, I was so excited to have time to myself. I was able to talk on the phone (oh wait, this was supposed to be time by myself), catch up on talk radio (how is that time by myself going?), and just be (oh yes, there it is). :)
The fact remains that, in our crazy busy lives, we might just need to take a bit of time to go off the grid in whatever way possible---just so we can get recharged. In other words, I can likely be a better person around other people if I can get some much-needed time alone. Time alone allows us to be introspective, recharge our batteries, reflect on our lives and current state of affairs, and just be.
Just for today, perhaps it is possible to take a bit of time to "Be still and know...."
I was teaching a workshop to teachers last week on a Navajo reservation, on a Saturday. The group was filled with teachers who were thirsting for knowledge about good teaching practices, despite the fact that they had some really great ideas of their own about what good teaching looks like and sounds like.
We began again after lunch with my asking the group to read about, then talk about, then ultimately depict "engagement". Many of them had indicated that they believed good teaching encompassed engagement, but we all agreed the word engagement was easier said than defined or "done".
As each group worked on their depiction, I walked around checking to see if they needed anything. One trio bent over their poster, feverishly applying what one of my colleagues calls "butts up learning" (all bent over the poster, adding ideas, not sitting down). One had clearly just posed a good idea, because the other two were saying, "yes, yes...and let's...." in enthusiastic agreement.
I soon saw what the first one's idea was---they began drawing a picture of a group of three hikers being "guided" through the forest by a taller version, well-equipped with hiking gear the three novice hikers didn't possess.
As I continued to watch the poster take shape, I continued to be more and more impressed with the talk emanating from the group.
I heard statements like:
"A teacher is like a guide, leading the less knowledgeable hikers through the forest."
"Good teachers don't tell students everything. They let them explore at their own pace, with maps and guidebooks to use as they need."
Their final picture showed the novice hikers exploring the hiking trail under the watch of the experienced guide, and I thought to myself, "What a perfect analogy to a true engaging learning process."
What does it mean to you to engage learners in the learning?
Just for today, perhaps we can examine the word in terms of what we want it to look like when it is totally successful in the classroom.
Check out the blog I wrote for Corwin Press that just came out. Also, my new book "Building Trust in Teacher Evaluations" comes out tomorrow. http://corwin-connect.com/2014/09/start-school-year-trust-communication/ Happy Communicating!