Tag Archives: Teaching

going it alone (with others)

26 Aug

budapest metro

 

Without enough alone,

my tongue forms senseless words,

my body moves without purpose.

Going deep is a solitary thing.

Aloneness is  guarded at my gate –

Hours of no thing

I sew into my pocket by hand.

I would gulp you silence in a chalice –

I would lick you from the floor.

Beyond the richter swings of my own voice

I know how to read an empty chart.

 

i bless this semester’s eyeballs that window soul to me

I smile at elbows that protract upon desks –

propping up sleepy heads.

This is my promise to myself and you – I

sit alone so that we can gather

and do the work

and the work beneath the work.

I will still so I can move

I will quiet so I can make noise.

I will open my eyes so I can listen –

and in between our meetings

I will drink my fill of emptiness

so I can be full for you.

 

 

“Until you learn to inhabit your aloneness, the lonely distraction and noise of society will seduce you into false belonging, with which you will only become empty and weary. When you face your aloneness, something begins to happen. Gradually, the sense of bleakness changes into a sense of true belonging. This is a slow and open-ended transition but it is utterly vital in order to come into rhythm with your own individuality. In a sense this is the endless task of finding your true home within your life. It is not narcissistic, for as soon as you rest in the house of your own heart, doors and windows begin to open outwards to the world. No longer on the run from your aloneness, your connections with others become real and creative. You no longer need to covertly scrape affirmation from others or from projects outside yourself. This is slow work; it takes years to bring your mind home.”
~ John O’Donohue

 

who is the teacher and who is the student?

2 May

Poetry Anthologies at the end of my Writing About Literature class blow me away every semester.

This is not a post about me as a teacher.  I am humbled by a job that feels like it never reaches my ideals, but  I am learning most moments by showing up.  I do do that.  I show up.  And many show up with me.  And then we see what happens.

When we get to the last unit of the class –  I get to share the stuff I love.   The assignment (borrowed from my colleague who is so generous as to share his good ideas) to create their own poetry anthologies  allows the students to embrace what speaks to them – and express sides of themselves often tucked away.  Not a one disappoints!  No project has ever come in that did not tickle my soul  in some way.  I’ll shut up and just post an assortment from this semester.

poetry1

My photography does not do them justice.  From hand-sewn, to hand -painted, to painstakingly handwritten in fountain pen – even the most asleep students seem to come to life when asked to express themselves.

poetry2

dreams out of the paper bag

silence anthology

The Silence anthology was printed on to cloth; the poems were arranged from the most words to the least – so that the pages made no sound when being turned and the words tapered off into… silence.

Sometimes the students are apologetic when they present their works in front of the class for they cannot see their own unique beauty. They do not know how wonderful their creations are.

If you find yourself stuck in a rut without any creative juices – I’ve found a source for you – don’t know their prices, though… 🙂

 

 

Judgement Day

25 Mar

angry teacher

The part of my job that I find myself resisting the most is grading.  I have to judge the writing of others and assign a numeric value to this judgement.  Truth is, I pretty much know the grade within a few focused minutes, intuitively, and then I have to spend 10 or 20 more minutes figuring out how I know this and how I can be helpful with my comments.

I never see the online students face to face, and I found myself down right ruthless with my grading there.  I expected many students to drop after the first essay, but  guess what?  They held on tighter and worked harder for my approval.  Ah ha!  They responded to tough judgement by trying harder, while my face to face classes know I am open-faced accepting of them, and they flounder and disappear, often.  Interesting.

All sorts of people inhabit seats in a community college:

I had two students one semester who were in different sections, but so similar.  Neither of them ever turned in a single piece of writing to me.  We often discussed what they were going to write, but not one assignment came in.  But they were delightful to have in class.   They often found small portions of the whole lesson fascinating and  got the discussion off on a tangent.  They were pleasant, non-stressed and engaged with the material, though tangentially, and attended every day.

I have others who profess desperation to pass but never show up.  I don’t have an opinion about any of them.  When they show up at my podium, i love to look in their eyes.  I take away their guilt.  Guilt doesn’t help.   I offer the same to passing and failing;  my attention.

The numbers judge, but not me, and the numbers are actually out of my control.  The grading is a separate process far removed from the real work that is taking place between souls who are getting together, writing words, talking about ideas, joking, researching, pulling our hair out…BEing in space together for a time.

I used to think it was part of my job to judge.  That was a stressful and unnatural role for me. Judging others is a powerful force in our construct…another thing sold that is totally unnecessary. Students often come in with hands on their hips stances about all sorts of things, and I relish when I uncover this same positioning in myself so I can clear it on out!

Every path has value; every life is an expression of the divine; the more I come to life in this way, the more loveliness I see in every person and in every moment.

And yes, I am writing this right now instead of grading papers; not judging myself on that either 🙂

Quote

If you could look inside the Heart….

13 Feb

If you could look inside the Heart of any and every single human being, you would fall in love with them completely.
If you see the inside as it really Is and not as your mind projects it to be, you would be so purely in love with the whole thing.

~ Mooji

mooji2

Today, my students read in front of the classroom the stories they had written.  My favorite days of the semester are when they lead the class.  I observe myself as being the listener and recognize that often I have to soften my belly and release my projections to hear, really hear.

They humble me – they silence me.

Often, they apologize for what they perceive of as “not good.”  And I do not know how to show them what I see through my view, not good and bad, but beautiful – each one – bringing eyes, ears, lips, dialect, walk, courage, stories.

The Nicaraguan student’s first meeting with his wife to be, the deathbed scene with a father, the father’s tale of his 3 year old son saving fallen flowers from his rake,  near deaths, broken hearts, sexual identity discoveries, chance encounters…

It is not appropriate for the teacher to say she loves them – she holds her tongue – but not her heart.

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