Like the rest of the media, this blog will now turn its attention to the “crisis” in public education. Just kidding. This year I have had some deeply inspiring experiences in public schools that have lead me to think very seriously about my own experiences as a public school student and also what it would be like to be a public school teacher. Since then I have been on the lookout for books about teaching and also maybe a sign from a higher power saying “Why don’t you take the teaching exams already?”
This book is a practical guide for classroom teachers with sections on how to incorporate mindfulness techniques into your teaching day for yourself and also how to train your students in similar techniques to increase their ability to focus and manage stress. The techniques were familiar to me from my reading on zen and shambhala buddhist mindfulness techniques although Shoeberlein scrupulously avoids any discussion of religion. What was new and very useful was the practical application of these techniques in the work day.
For example, if you check your email first thing in the morning and then your class arrives you cannot help but feel distracted and somewhat irritated with your class. And they notice that. I am plagued by my desire to multitask and fit in a little peek at my email first thing in the morning and that does mean that anyone coming into my office at that time feels as though they are intruding and I get irritated at both the email and the patron. This morning, knowing I had a class at 9:30, I chose to do relaxing simple preparation for my program instead of squeezing in a few minutes online. What a difference this made in my stress level and the kind of welcome I could give the kids and parents. Recommended for “anyone who teaches anything” and is looking to give more meaning to their work and reduce tension and overwhelming feelings.