Know your stuff, then…

…do what feels right.

My practice distilled into one sentence, a sweet mélange of head and heart.

Illustration of Hearts and Brains, Pixel & Light Design. Click for source.

Illustration of Hearts and Brains, Pixel & Light Design. Click for source.

This past week it’s been repeating like a mantra behind all of the activity – know your stuff, do what feels right.

Stuff, of course, bears a lot of weight. Stuff can consist of curriculum, management, theory, school culture, student background, and more.

What feels right is where the teacher becomes artist. This year I regained my own trust in the do what feels right category. I spent much of my year looking to others for approval and recognition as it was my first year in this position and I really wanted to a) do a good job (as defined by others, I learned) and b) keep the position. Only in April did I realize this, that I wasn’t doing what felt right enough of the time.

Big lesson I learned this year. From my kids, from my colleagues.

Have I mentioned lately that I wouldn’t change my job for anything?

Know your stuff, do what feels right.

I just happened to find a blog post, written in a much more scholarly manner! on the same topic by Penny Ryder, Unity of the Head and Heart.

What’s my lesson? (look right through me.)

hello teacher tell me what’s my lesson? look right through me, look right through me. Roland Orzabal/Tears for Fears, 1982

So my brother-in-law makes these videos of my niece and nephew, which I do appreciate since they live in Ohio of all places (that might have come out sounding wrong). The last one he sent had this beautiful piano music as its soundtrack – when I asked, he answered that it might be Michael Andrews, in an intro to a remake of Mad World by Tears for Fears.

So I youtubed it and, indeed, that’s it. Beautiful song.

I’ve listened to it a few times since I received the latest twins video last week, and only tonight did my mind make its way around these lines – hello teacher tell me what’s my lesson? look right through me, look right through me.

In my last post we reflected on the human qualities teachers – we – bring to our classrooms. One of the strongest just might be the ability to both do and not do what this line is asking.

G-d forbid, as teachers, we look through our students. Imagine being invisible? I’ve known how that feels. Like I don’t exist. That’s the part not to do.

image found here, on the pbase gallery of backtothestart.

At the same time, when a student arrives in my classroom she is implicitly asking for her lesson.

She is asking me for her lesson.

And if I look right through her, past her language, her colour, her attitude wrought from years of learned helplessness and strong wall making and straight to her, I just may be able to find the lesson she’s asking for.

Maybe.

image found here, by accident, at a Physics blog by teacher Dean Baird. I’ve bookmarked it.

That’s the part to do. That maybe I wrote about? That is where my heart leads me.