Understanding Content, Waking Up
Just before the first day of class each school year, I create my intentions for the year. It’s a bulleted list of 3-5 intentions. It’s strange, though, because I typically don’t look at them again for the rest of the year, yet at any moment I can tell you what they are.
One of my intentions is that students master course content; that’s our most obvious and measurable job as teachers. I enjoy the structuring of lessons and challenges in a way that guides students to build an understanding. Deriving equations and creatively solving problems - these are pieces in the puzzle of student learning that I find deeply satisfying to facilitate. And each lesson I teach is a lesson for me too, greater depths of understanding for even some of the seemingly most basic science concepts.
My other intentions, for myself and my students, tend to go something like this:
Foster curiosity and appreciation for the universe and its creatures
Develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and others
Get in touch with our passions and what we care about
Grow in our ability to experience ease, enjoyment, and fulfillment
All of these objectives are the challenge I was born to grapple with. I’ve grappled with them for years for myself, and the lessons deepen with each moment of conscious notice and each modicum of insight. And, these goals are tougher to measure.
When I consciously interact with students, I am aware of a few things:
There is no where I need to “get” my students to.
My students are as whole and perfect as they’ll ever need to be, and so am I. Mostly, we just need to awaken to it.
The relationship between us is a sacred dance.
Though each of my students has always been and will forever be deserving of attention and love, it’s still the most generous gift I can give them. When an advisee comes by my desk, or a student hangs around after class to chat longer, there’s nothing more important to me in that moment than engaging with that human.
As I reflected on the draft of this post this morning, I wondered how it fit into the recent themes of my writing the past couple weeks. The suggested two steps to simplify and deepen our relationships, from Where Relationships Exist, connect the dots pretty well:
Create an intention for the interaction, perhaps something you’d like to bring to the person you’re with, and then communicate from that place.
Get curious about the person actually there in front of you.
We can harness the power and creativity of Thought by setting an intention, either long-term or short-term, and we honor and more authentically connect with others by paying attention to who we're actually engaging with.
A relationship is the engagement between beings, and that engagement can be fun, healing, powerful, and sacred. It's through this engagement, this dance with our students, that we can support them and ourselves to master course content and wake up to greater depths of experience.
Thanks so much for reading. ❤️
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