When are we teaching at our best? And why not?

The challenging question offered to me this week is what do I do when I am at my best (Thanks Lorraine!). As I considered what best means and looks like in my personal and professional life, I also got to pondering what does being at my best look like when teaching…

Cat leaping upward

Leap! by Mikelemmon Flickr. Used with Creative Common’s license with identification

My best is when I  shouting with joy about the topic, bursting with curiousity as to what my students already know, dashing to keep up with their online explorations, and dancing when the conversation among them flows so naturally and forcefully it is like a spring river tracing new course.  

As part of this morning’s discussion the ideas of flow and reckless/freedom arose. Also the question of what holds us back?

The short answer for me is fear…fear of being judged as foolish or insane* (* term used with all the societal implications and stereotypes carefully weigh and judged appropriate) – a hit to competence; fear of being pushed socially and professionally aside – a hit to sense of belonging.

But in this fear I also harshly judge others. I judge my collegial relationship with them to be too fragile, I judge their appreciation of good teaching as too narrow, and I judge them incapable of valuing and recognizing good teaching.

Yet, there is still a risk…do I leap up and take enthusiastic flight into online, active, student-directed pedagogy or stay grounded in the known traditional approach.

And if I leap, will you critique? Will you celebrate? Will you leap too?

(…and if I post a cat picture will you forgive me? for the leaping or perhaps the cat picture)

3 thoughts on “When are we teaching at our best? And why not?

  1. Heather M. Ross

    As someone whom you have helped leap, I can only watch your leaps with nothing but respect. If as teachers we always “played it safe” we would never grow and the learning experience for our students might be uninspiring and less worthy of the time and energy we expect them to put into their learning. We expect students to “leap” so, of course, we must as well.

  2. Judy Chan

    I teach best when students accept my invitation to dance and leap with me; when we mutually prepare to step on each other and fell together and have a good laugh when that happens; and when each of us can decide on how to celebrate what we learned and how we learned.


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