Bring Yourself to Your Classroom

Back when I was involved with the Ministry of Natural Resources Critical Incident Stress Peer Support Team, I was fortunate to spend time with Dr. Martin Rappeport.  At the time, he gave me some career changing advice about teaching.  He told me to stop trying to be so many different things in the classroom, and just be myself.  He said I had many things to share with my students, and I should do just that.  “Bring yourself to your students.  Be genuine.  Bring all the gifts that you have and value your life experiences as worth sharing with your students”.

Colleen chats with  author Jeff Kinney through Skype with local elementary students*.

One of the key things about being a great teacher is to go out and have those life experiences – to learn constantly and to reflect on your learning, and to be willing to talk about and share that learning with others.

As teachers, we can also learn much from other disciplines.  While pounding out my long run this morning, I listened to Simon Gowan on the TriSwimCoach podcast.  He talked about how important frame of mind is when considering athletic performance.

One of the lessons we can learn from training is understanding how the way we are thinking affects our physiology and our performance.  For example, if we are out for a long run and we are thinking about how hard it is and how tough it is, then it is difficult to put one foot after the other.

But instead, we could be thinking about things like how fortunate we are to be healthy enough to run. If we are out running in a beautiful place we might think, “Wow, I wouldn’t see this if I wasn’t out running today”.  Having that enhanced mental state improves our performance and makes it so much easier to do the training work.

Run in beautiful places!

So when schools are places of hope; when schools are places where kids are in a mental state of excitement and enjoyment of learning, shouldn’t this make learning so much easier?

We can take what we learn from other places in our lives – our many other pursuits – and apply it so that we can be the best teacher we can be, and give kids the best learning environment we can possibly give to them.

*Photo courtesy of Invision for Skype/AP.  Read more about Skyping in the classrom here:

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