I recently met a young teacher who is currently teaching English to Vietnamese students in Hanoi.
We were sitting having a drink on the shores of Westlake and talking about our jobs. She told me about her recent experience with her students while teaching them about fables. They had found them very interesting – perhaps because Vietnamese culture is so full of moral tales and they could connect with them personally and conceptually. She had planned for them to write their own fables once they had developed their own “toolkits” for the features of a fable and, it turned out, they were hoping she would ask them to. In fact, they told her what she wanted them to do for their homework. She had been reading their work the day we met and she was clearly excited about what they had produced. She was experiencing what I am going to call the “teaching tingles” – her body language and a spark in her eyes gave it away!
It made me think about all those times that I have told people about something my students and I have done and that wonderful tingling sensation I get as my emotional connection with them and with my job becomes tangible. These are the moments that we should aim to have as often as possible, taking steps to make our teaching and learning culture create the conditions for students to do wonderful things whenever they can.
It is energizing to be around teachers who want to talk about their students’ potential, possibilities and achievements – those teachers who are excited about the things that can be done. In this type of environment, people come up with great ideas and fresh, innovative approaches.
If it makes us feel this way, imagine how it makes our students feel. Perhaps their answer to that age-old question “what did you do at school today?” will change from “nothing” to… well, who knows what they will say!
What recently gave you the “teaching tingles”?
Sam and I have been talking a lot about purpose and the importance of asking “why?” lately. It has been a cross fire of dialogue full of candor and the weight of realness about it – really connected to our own life and lifestyle. We have noticed in our students and colleagues that when we ask “why” it can be very difficult to respond. People find it quite threatening and something they try to avoid at all costs. When we ask “why” it demands people to think and reveal more substance in being able to reason, justify and explain themselves with more intensity.
Our discussions have naturally led us down our own path of asking what is our purpose? What is it that we want to do? What we have discovered is that we believe we are on the edge of producing something bigger. Something possibly beyond our own comprehension.
We are inspired and envious of the people out there who have the guts to walk away from the safety of their jobs and their guaranteed monthly income to do something that they value and believe in. Something that fulfills them with pure purpose. Following and listening to their inner instinct to be truly daring, and having it pay off.
We too are seeking satisfaction and happiness in the development of our abilities and the relationship between our character and the factors that drive our purpose. This is what we value in the way we teach, and hope we affect change in the wake of our thinking and approaches to student learning.
We believe that we have a message worth sharing and have started to turn time and space back on ourselves to launch into the next phase.
How many of us are truly fulfilled in a way that the classroom, school and greater community reflect the place they want to live and the people they want to be surrounded by? Is it even possible to achieve such a place? Yes – we think so.
What is holding us back from stop playing it safe, and putting into practice what we try to instill and inspire in students and teachers?
Fear? Insecurity? The Unknown? Change?
Yes, to all those four things.
For now, we plan on lifting things off the ground (beyond blogging and offering PD) with some exciting news. It is time to seek fulfillment inside of us.
For those of you who are part of this community, now would be a good opportunity to share that we plan on writing our first book, of a 3 book series, about our philosophy. We are also in the process of developing an Accreditation (simple and invigorated version) style guide where schools can quantify and evaluate against our 7 time space principles for effective schools by asking three fundamental questions.
To make this all happen we need to make the time and space in our busy, over-worked lives to draw on all our experiences, skills and knowledge to take this next step.
We sincerely hope you share this journey with us. This might be the missing piece that we need to put the vision into something more tangible.