Saturday, September 10, 2011

Teaching Is a Business of the Heart

NOTE: I included this segment in my weekly staff email update for this past week. Writer Parker Palmer has so much to say about the importance of taking care of the inside as we go about the business of being educators. I hope readers will find these words helpful.

Celebrated author of the book The Courage to Teach once wrote:

"We became teachers of the heart, animated by a passion for some subject and for helping people to learn. But many of us lose heart as the years of teaching go by. How can we take heart in teaching once more, so we can do what good teachers always do---give our heart to our students? The courage to teach is the courage to keep one's heart open in those very moments when the heart is asked to hold more than it is able, so that teacher and students and subject can be woven into the fabric of community  that learning, and living, require."

There is not a one of us standing in our classrooms today who did not become teachers for the two reasons Parker Palmer describes. We became teachers either out of love for a subject or a love to help others find the joy of learning. In the busyness of the birth of this new school year, it is so easy to get caught up in events and incidents that drive our days that we forget the true inner passion inside ourselves that made us teachers. Palmer repeatedly admonishes us to look back inward to recapture the spirit of what we do. He tells us that teaching is one of those callings that can't become just a job, it involves body, mind and soul. When we stand authentically in front of our students, we are teaching with all of ourselves. We are, as Palmer says, "Giving our hearts to our students," and that's why it truly takes courage to teach.

In the coming year, I challenge all of us, including myself. As Palmer suggests, let's reconnect with who we are, teachers. That is an inseparable part of our identity, because it is our passion. We must reclaim the relationship we have with the teacher within us, and with integrity build relationships and open our hearts to our students. That is the courage to teach and we all have that.

Thank you everyone for your tireless efforts in the beginning weeks of this school year to tackle the most important reason why we are hear, our kids. Through countless examples every day, you demonstrate to me that you have the "main thing" in focus and as a priority.

For an inspiring read about teaching, check out Parker Palmer's "The Heart of a Teacher: Identity and Integrity in Teaching" at this web address: 

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