Sunday, September 23, 2012

Second (or third) cup: so...?


So, where is this going? Well, I think all of this memory and story is connected to my growing conviction about teaching:

I walk into the classroom as well-prepared as I know how to be. I am ready. Of course, the syllabus and the calendar have been completed for over a month. I've read the texts, even reviewed them in anticipation of the day's purpose. My PowerPoint is prepared and the technology is reasonable ready. I have my questions and ideas and illustrations and stories in mind (even on a page of notes). I am prepared to perform (and, yes, I do think teaching is a performance art).

Then, I walk into the classroom; the lights go up (or down); the students (also, by the way, performers--they are not the audience) are there and, some more and some less, ready.

Then, something else happens.

Something amazing:

• the art of teaching is the art of jazz: improvisation. I know that our syllabi contain a caveat that is designed on some level to protect the teacher from accusations that the teacher did not cover the syllabus. I think, however, that it might also be because "The best laid schemes of mice and men [and teachers] / Go often awry...." And that is likely a good thing; at least for me, more often than not, a very good thing.

• the art of teaching is the art of the lectionary: improvisation. We pay attention to the text, bring ourselves to the text, stage the conversation; the conversation among the texts and our conversation with the texts; stories commenting on each other and our lives commenting on the stories and the stories commenting on our lives. Story on story on story. Often something wonderful—and unexpected—happens. Something new. Like jazz.

I tend to say the Spirit shows up and, then, who knows what will happen?

So, like a jazz musician and a good preacher and a good story teller, the teacher shows up, pays attention, and the rest, well, the rest is like a stellar jazz ensemble, story time around the camp fire, coffee at TaborSpace or Bipartisan or Starbucks at Gresham Station or RainOrShine. The planned and the unplanned.

The hallmark of the community of truth is not psychological intimacy or political civility or pragmatic accountability, though it does not exclude these virtues. This model of community reaches deeper, into ontology and epistemology—into assumptions about the nature of reality and how we know it—on which all education is built. The hallmark of the community of truth is in its claim that reality is a web of communal relationships, and we can know reality only by being in community with it (Parker J. Palmer. (1998). The Courage to Teach, exploring the inner landscape of a teacher's life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. p. 95).

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