This blog can support your mindful teaching practice!

In the opening line of the text Issues & Alternatives in Educational Philosophy, George Knight observes that “Mindlessness is the most pertinent and accurate criticism of American Education.” One of the reasons I like this description is that it can be interpreted from so many different points of view and all of them feel pretty accurate in my experience.

What I am hoping to explore together in this blog space is what individual teachers can do–actually really do–to help fight mindlessness in their own teaching practice. I hope to focus on our practice, because that’s what, at the end of the day, each one of us can control. I contend that if we nurture and sustain our own mindfulness as educators, this has the greatest potential to change the learning experiences of our students and maybe the practice of our colleagues, and even the work within our schools. I hope that others of you who are also interested in investigating these ideas will join us here, contribute, comment and share your practices with us.

Please check back often and feel free to comment and add your thoughts, experiences and resources.

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Author: sdreyerleon

Susan Dreyer Leon is the director of the Experienced Educators Program at Antioch University New England. For information about our programs, including our wonderful Educating for Sustainability M.Ed. program, please visit http://www.antiochne.edu/ed/exed/default.cfm?nav=1. Susan is also involved with the new Mindfulness for Educators Certificate program, which is a three way collaboration between the Center for Mindful Inquiry, Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and the Antioch Center for School Renewal. For more information , visit the CMI website at http://www.mindfulinquiry.org/

2 thoughts on “This blog can support your mindful teaching practice!”

  1. In my teaching practice here in Honduras there is much that is not within my control…the political upheavals that left us out of school for three days on government imposed curfew, a staff and administration with little or no teacher education and a “chapter a week” curriculum mind-set to name just a few. I was delegated the most “difficult” students at the 5th grade level.

    I find I must reflect on my teaching practices not only at the end of the day, but sometimes from moment to moment. Rather than focusing on the negative aspects, I have deliberately chosen to put my energy into the postitive. Many of my challenging students are highly intelligent. They are natural leaders and teachers among their peers. My restless wanderers are good with their hands and demonstrating things to others. The student who is never prepared for class is coming to the board to do problems and turning in class work because of high expectations I continue to set for him and daily encouragement. We laugh often. We are learning to forgive each other too. The black and white “English only” rule during class has disappeared behind closed doors and Spanish is used to explain difficult concepts to students. This is a bilingual school after all. I continually attempt to build community in the classroom where none has been present before. Awareness of poverty is a theme soon to be presented to this group of financially comfortable students in a private school setting. Just a few miles down the road families live in corrugated metal shacks in contrast to beautiful, Spanish style homes.

    I have met with “mindlessness” here among some teachers. Those who see the obstacles as overwhelming or the students as a group of rude, rich kids. It is like an infectious disease and I don’t wish to contract it. So everyday I have to approach teaching with purpose and a positive, flexible attitude. My students are amazing! They are not a problem to be dealt with, but a force to be reckoned with instead. While it’s true that I must shift gears more rapidly with this group, we are definitely going somewhere! They are the future of their country. I hope they will continue to keep me on my toes. I can bend with the wind or break. I choose to bend.

  2. Diane, thanks for sharing this perspective. There are a lot of great reminders here for me: being flexible, not getting into the mindset that the students are “a problem,” building community in your classroom to allow people to bring their real selves to their education. Positive energy is so important and sustaining it takes such a gentle way with ourselves and others. Thanks for giving us this window in your classroom!

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