The February chapter in The Happiness Project is titled “Remember Love” and focuses on the author’s marriage. I applaud her for being able to admit to her shortcomings and describe her interactions (fights, nagging, etc.) but I don’t consider Appetite for Instruction to be an appropriate venue for that.
The chapter’s main topics are:
– Quit nagging.
– Don’t expect praise or appreciation.
– Fight right.
– No dumping.
– Give proofs of love.
Though this chapter’s original focus is about marriage, I think a lot can be applied to teaching. In particular: reframing situations rather than reacting in anger, being student-centered rather than teacher-centered, and aiming to empathize and understand (more on this later).
My goals for this month:
1) Spend two hours a week with my fiance away from electronics: taking walks, doing puzzles, or knitting while he puts together LEGO creations. Though this is marriage-focused, I think it’s important to share because of how it relates to work/life balance in teaching. My friend Janet (a fellow teacher) suggested this to me a while ago. If you’re in the same room as your significant other but focused on your work, that doesn’t count as quality time. A little extra investment in quality time pays huge dividends in the classroom, because a happy teacher will teach happily. Classroom management suffers when implemented by a cranky teacher.
2) Give up expecting people to change (within reason) to lessen anger and resentment, and create a more loving atmosphere (inspired by the last line of the chapter). We can’t force our students to conform to what we have envisioned in our heads. It can be easy to plan a lesson and then become frustrated when the students don’t get it right away. I used to have rigid standards and ideals in my head about where my students *should* be and then get irritated when they weren’t right where I expected them to be. Getting more organized via January THP has helped me make room for being more patient, and I think that more focus in February will help me even more.
However, a recent fitness class experience illustrated to me that sometimes the best intentions may miss the mark on students’ ability levels. I went to a yoga class where the “peak poses” were revolved bird of paradise, bound triangle, and side crow. The first two had some scaffolding so that even the most inflexible yogis could make an attempt at them by using a yoga strap. However, on the first attempt at side crow, 95% of the 70-person class could not get into the pose. Having never even achieved regular crow, I felt like the side crow prep was success enough for me. However, the instructor commented on the class not making it into the pose and that she “felt like a bad yoga teacher.” She then demonstrated the pose in the middle of the room and gave some more cues to address common mistakes in alignment or positioning. I appreciated that she adjusted the instruction instead of being disappointed in us.
Looking forward to a more loving atmosphere in February!