Without a doubt, being mindful, in any respect, is hard. Some Most days I am on autopilot. I just do what needs to get done so I can move on. Having mindfulness feels like it requires time. Time to be aware. Time to rethink the way you make your decision or reconsider the way you laid out your syllabus. The thought of using all of this time is daunting; so mindfulness is often let go and mindlessness ensues, because it seems easier, faster, and if it “works” why fix it. With this attitude, you are sure to do a disservice to your students. When Deel says she thought teaching was just something you did to pay the bills while you did research, I was like, yea…that explains a lot about my undergrad experience.
After reading Deel’s Finding My Teaching Voice I see how important is to not only be mindful of your students, but of yourself. As a teacher, you want to encourage your students take pride in their individuality be themselves in all forms. So why should a teacher expect any less from themselves. Deel proves that understanding yourself and shining a light on your natural qualities will only improve your teaching abilities and experience. If you can be mindful of those traits and aspects that make you who you are, then who you are as a teacher will naturally start to flow and make sense. In turn, you will be more confident, comfortable, excited about teaching. Deel also talk about the freedom from doubting yourself as a teacher also allows you to focus more on improving the needs of students based on their individuality. She says:
They don’t enter my classroom with identical backgrounds and thy won’t leave it with identical understating, no matter what I do. In my individual interactions with students, I focus more on improving their understanding and I spend less time worrying if I’ve made the same particular statement to all the students in the class.
I think without the act of mindfulness, she would have never some to this thought. This moment of understanding the context of her classroom by seeing her students as individuals, she was able to create an inclusive setting. With mindfulness, we see inclusion from a personal perspective instead of just a box to check. Deel also encourages the exploration of new ways of teaching as one’s voice will inevitable change. Not only your voice changes, but the student’s as well. The definition the article Mindful Learning uses – “A flexible state in which we are actively engage in the present…” – is a nice a way to think about teaching and learning. If both teachers/students became more open to new ways of teaching/learning, then maybe we could mitigate barriers that limit our perspectives of ourselves and those who educate. Being open to change, having awareness of multiple perspectives, and being aligned with the present allows for a more mindful relationship with yourself and your students. I will try much harder to allow myself to stop so that I can be more aware of the present. I am reminded of someone’s post from the Online Teaching and Learning blogs, where they mentioned that with all of this “at-our-finger-tips” technology, it leaves our brains with these open shelves, cognitively speaking. Maybe we can start filling those shelves with mindfulness and get the best of both worlds 😊