Week 3: Chapters 5-8 Reading Blog: Practicing Freedom
This week’s readings, especially chapter 5-“Leading From Any Chair”, just happened to coincide with training teachers. I thought it was interesting enough that I posed the question as an opener for participants: “Where do you lead from?” I received interesting responses-the most frequent response was that when utilizing the LCD projector teachers tended to stay tied to the front by the desk as a separate entity away from their students. What I found more interesting is that all teachers felt irritation at being tied to their desks instead of in the midst of student activity. I asked them if they had considered not teaching from the desk, but having students use the computer to project, so that you are free to move around and interact with students. Most of them seemed like the question was an epiphany. I thought, given the information in chapter 5, that sometimes even when we don’t realize it, we tend to lead from the chair at the front of the room completely isolated from our students, and not even realize the impact on the classroom environment we are having.
Personally, I realized early on that the projectors mounted from the ceilings, although a great tool, was also going to create a problem, so I saved and purchased my own lcd projector to allow me to move about the room and allow students to lead the learning within the classroom. This way, I am the conductor-I don’t have to make a sound, but I am silently leading the room by allowing students to experience the greatness. Knowledge isn’t something that we should keep and just give to those that might be worthy, but opening the doors for all to gain that knowledge-it doesn’t mean that we will become obsolete or not needed. For example, recently our band director couldn’t attend a performance-I have no idea how to conduct or lead a band-no idea. Before the performance started, I asked the band, what do I do? They told me to make eye contact and point when certain instruments were to be emphasized. Of course, I had no idea when this was to occur, so I followed them. I stood in front, but they are the ones that led me through the performances. Could they have managed this feat alone and independent of me? Yes, they could have, but instead they passed their knowledge to me-with me, together-shouldn’t this be what our classrooms look like? We led together and not through isolation. I am not better than any of my students. Did our band director become obsolete because I stood awkwardly in his place-absolutely not. He is still needed because he is the one that taught them how to lead me.
I try to not take myself seriously; I try to laugh at errors and at moments when I completely humiliate myself, others do laugh with me, but the most interesting thing occurs each time (and there are a lot of these moments), I learn something and so do those that are with me at that moment. You see in these moments I am relying on my “central self” and not my calculating self. I don’t see these moments as road blocks that will equate to my demise, and one shouldn’t have this perception. Each time I make a mistake, others see that I am fallible, that I am not perfect, and that not being perfect is okay-and well, actually fun. The engagement created in the classroom from those silly errors, create an environment where we are all together, imperfectly.
While reading, a light bulb went off. I have attended what I consider completely total useless teacher trainings. Those kinds of trainings that occur last minute, in the most inopportune moments, right when I am in the midst of a really good lesson, and I am jerked from the class to attend the snore fest that I see as nothing more than a waste of my time. Yikes-I can be one of those people that see the negativity in the situation and only think the entire time about how negative it is. This is definitely an area that needs improvement. I noticed that at this recent training where I was training educators, there were 2 in the room that spent the entire week seeing what should be happening on their campuses and in their district-I wonder how much of the amazing strategies they missed out because of their focus–I wonder how many amazing strategies over the course of my teaching career that I have missed out on because I focused solely on what should be instead of what is. I need to participate completely in all ventures. What I have learned is that I may gain something beneficial through the eyes of a passionate learner instead of a disgruntled educator. What freedom can be gained when we are not chained by our own negative perceptions?