Reading minds…

9 03 2011

One of the prompts for this week’s blogging asks whether I would read minds if I could.

As an educator, one of the things I struggle with is maintaining relevance in my classes. I try to teach with humour and an understanding of the needs of my students, but I will be the first to admit that I am not always successful: my classes sometimes flop because the connections I’m making are not clear, the discussions we’re having are not challenging or engaging for my students, or, simply, that I had not planned every detail that I could have done before teaching the lesson. After one of those classes, I come away metaphorically “facepalming” myself out of frustration and ineptitude – why didn’t I do it this way? How did I not remember that that wasn’t something that helped last time? When should I have said what I said just now? What amount of time should I have allocated to that particular task? What would have been a more effective foundation task, back-up plan or extension activity?

In short, to answer the question that was the prompt, I don’t think I’d want to be able to read minds on those kinds of days. Being able to always know what my students are thinking about me, as professionally enriching as that may be, might have the ability to shatter the last vestiges of my self-esteem. For that, I use Google Docs for a survey which shows me what my students think of me so I can make changes.

I may have taught for 5 years now, going on for my 6th, but I still feel like I am doing a terrible job sometimes. Not all the time, mind. But the times when I feel like I’ve not taught anything the students can use later are the times I seriously question my choice of career.

And then a student takes a candid picture of me in class where I look like this, and I remember again what it is about this job that I love so much.

But when the rubber hits the road, I want to know how my students are relating to, and thinking about my classes; that’s why I work so hard at making my classroom open, and make myself available. I do take suggestions seriously, and like I wrote on my under-construction Wikispace, I am always looking for ways to improve the way I teach. This is an area of my life that is very clear to me.

Everything else, on the other hand…

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on distance

12 08 2007
lately, i’ve been thinking a lot about distance, which is why i’ve been writing about it. i’ve also been collecting those bouncy rubber balls which cost nothing more than a buck, but that’s neither here nor there, is it?but there’s been a lot of new distance which hadn’t been there before, in particular between the people who, suddenly, seem like strangers to each other. this is many more times painful than the people who have never spoken to one another, but perhaps not. what matters is that the pain is worse simply because the knowledge is there that things could be different. in “green mile,” one of the rightfully-accused prisoners becomes willing to promise and do anything at all to get a cup of ice-cold cola. he doesn’t know that the cola has been ‘fiddled with,’ all he knows is that it’s cold and sweet, the perfect thing for such a blistering, hot day. if he’d never had it before, he wouldn’t be yearning for it, panting for it, thirsting for it.

i’ve heard people say that what we don’t know won’t hurt us, and while it’s unethical in most contexts this saying is used in, it’s also quite true.

(after all, cliches and other, similar, kinds of sayings did not come about from being fictional.)

surely if the closeness hadn’t formed in the first place, the loss of it would not be as painful?

i read recently that we were made to be in community with one another, and that is why we have a desire to live near other people, in spite of what we may say or pretend to feel. we were also, i believe now, made to be in community with our Maker. that is why at first, we do not know what we lack, and when we do find out, it is with the sudden realisation that something fundamental has been missing all along: the perfection and the beauty of the confusing, exhilarating maze that is life. and when the missing element that is elemental in all aspects is in place, things start to make sense, and relationships and connections that had been far from comprehension will become closer than ever imagined.

so if God is brought back into this distanced bond, maybe it will stop hurting.