Tuesday, April 06, 2010

If You Believe the Hype, You Gotta Believe the Tripe

If you've read my writings regularly here, one thing you'll know is that I advise teachers to have a life outside school. It's very, very important to care for your body and soul beyond the classroom, as teaching takes a toll on both. One way to force yourself to do it is to make a financial commitment to a hobby, sport, or similar, which I did recently as I re-upped with my yoga studio.

Following my renewed commitment to oming a couple of times a week, I took a class with one of my favorite teachers, who is very relaxed and funny and doesn't take herself too seriously. As we concluded our practice, she said, "Now you may feel tempted to judge yourself here. You may feel like, wow, I did this awesome session. Or you may be berating yourself for not being able to reach certain poses the way you think you should. Resist those urges. Remember, if you believe the hype, you gotta believe the tripe."

And I thought that that was a wonderful little piece of wisdom, and very relatable to our work as teachers. It made me think of this excellent piece at GothamSchools today, which deals a great deal with hype and tripe. At our very best as teachers, we still need to be tentative and somewhat humble, remembering the practice that works like gangbusters today in our individual classrooms may not work tomorrow in someone else's, or next year with completely different students. We have to be responsive.

And, at the same time, when things don't go so well, it's not so bad to develop a tiny little shrug about it. This isn't like not caring about our practice or about our students. It's really just the flip side of the tentativeness and humility I mentioned before; it's being patient and kind enough with ourselves and with the children to just try again tomorrow.

And if you're worried that one trying lesson, or day, or whole week is going to ruin a child forever, well, may I be bold enough to suggest that children are more forgiving, or maybe just more forgetful, than adults tend to give them credit for? I'll never call my master's program totally useless, if only for the fact that I picked up this little gem from one of my professors: "They learn," she said. "Sometimes because of us and sometimes in spite of us, they learn."

I'm feeling philosophical as spring break wraps up, I guess. So, as you go back to work on Wednesday, don't believe the hype. Or the tripe.

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