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Live in the Moment

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by Thérèse McNamara

An interesting discussion emerged in the course of our staff meeting yesterday.  Although I cannot recall what precipitated the talk, the gist of the conversation related to a recognition that we teachers are all of us caring moms, dads, siblings, and/or children (of senior parents) who lead full, and sometimes challenging lives outside of our school, and that, at times, the events from our personal lives come together to elicit anxieties, fatigue, sorrow, or other strong emotions.

 How do we manage these emotional challenges and yet go on to give our best effort towards guiding and supporting students each day?  We acknowledge that our students should not be made to feel the burden of our potentially negative affects (in the same way that our families should not feel the impact of a difficult day at school).  How can we draw a line between our two worlds?

The answer may lie in separating or distinguishing not between worlds, but rather, between individual moments. Live in the moment.

Living in the moment, or mindfulness is a simple concept, but some may find it initially difficult to apply. With repeated practice, one learns to become aware of what is going on as it occurs, focusing on immediate thoughts and actions. The practice allows you to block out all other worries, and to just think about what requires your attention within a distinct period of time: now.

Take a deep breath.  Engage in the present.   Be mindful of what  is being asked of you. If a student looks to you, asking, “How do I read this word?” respond to him/her with all of your attention. Keep eyes, ears and thoughts focused on a thought-full reply.

 

 What practices do you turn to when you find your worlds begin to seep into each other?

 

Thérèse McNamara is a school administrator, special education resource teacher and mother. In her 30+ years as an educator, she has worked as a classroom teacher, computer/curriculum consultant, and education officer. She holds a Masters of Education degree with a focus on Literacy and has taught additional qualification courses for 3 universities. She has reviewed and written a number of professional learning resources and supports the application of evidence-based, best practices to support all students.

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  • http://adunsiger.com Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca)

    Therese, this is a great post, and often something that I’ve thought about in the past as well. When I find my two worlds colliding, I often think about the FISH philosophy that I learned about early on in my teaching career. One of the tenets of Fishing is to “be there” for the students. It’s like your idea of “living in the moment.” This means that when a student is asking me a question, or I’m working with a group of students, I’m not thinking about what’s happening at home, or the last email I read, or what I need to do later in the day. It also means that I’m honest with students. If something else is taking my attention, I tell the students that I can’t “be there” for them at the time, and I arrange another time to sit down and help them. I may also suggest a student that can work with them to help them solve their problem. This works well for both of us, and is a simple way to ensure that I always try to “live in the moment.”

    Aviva

    • Janet Lee

      Love this thought, Aviva! Sometimes teaching is so busy that we hardly take a deep breath. When a student needs our attention, it matters so much that we take the time to value them and give our full attention. Maybe we are the only ones who are doing that in their lives. What a great way to model compassion and caring.

  • http://bigideasineducation.wordpress.com Deborah McCallum

    I appreciate your post, and your quest to identify that fine balance between the professional and personal aspects of our lives. I think that this balance is something that we all must negotiate on an ongoing basis, and be fully aware of. I think that this awareness and mindfulness is also very important with regards to our students as well. How we incorporate these concepts into our teaching practice in the classroom, could impact learning and success greatly! The more aware they are allowed to be of themselves, what they are learning, and what they are ready to learn, the more successful they can be!
    Thank you!

  • http://bigideasineducation.wordpress.com Deborah McCallum

    Hi Therese,
    I appreciate your post, and your quest to identify that fine balance between the professional and personal aspects of our lives. I think that this balance is something that we all must negotiate on an ongoing basis, and be fully aware of. I think that this awareness and mindfulness is also very important with regards to our students as well. How we incorporate these concepts into our teaching practice in the classroom, could impact learning and success greatly! The more aware they are allowed to be of themselves, what they are learning, and what they are ready to learn, the more successful they can be!
    Thank you again for your post!

    • Janet Lee

      I agree, Deborah! We can be excellent role models for students as they look to us to see models of balance. Teaching is a reciprocal process and we can best meet this challenge when we have balance in our lives. I think administrators can set the tone for balance in a school. When I have had the pleasure of working with a balanced administrator, I have been better at my job!