This morning as I began my usual routine of letting my coffee grow cold as I busied myself with chores in the kitchen, I thought to myself, why is it that we privilege the plan rather than the moment? Now if that sounds a bit confusing, let me explain. In relation to my coffee, the context is this: I would actually like to sit down and spend a few minutes in quiet contemplation as I drink my coffee (while it is still hot). But more often than not, I feel forced to think ahead about what needs to be done in the kitchen and proceed to do that, while the five-minute opportunity to have my coffee quietly escapes. What is it that keeps me from simply focusing on the moment, enjoying what presents itself to me (the coffee) instead of jumping ahead thinking of what needs to be done for the day and wondering if I am going to get it done? The answer, clearly, lies in my own attitude. I am unable to live in the moment, to focus on what is at hand and give it my full attention.
This seems to have something to do with our attitude in the classroom as well. We walk into our class with a lesson plan in hand and a strategy in mind. As we begin interacting with students, we focus on the learning outcomes and objectives we have so carefully outlined, nudging children to stay within those lines (much like we urge them to colour within the outline). Now and then, a stray hand shoots up to pull us outside our well-laid structure and we work hard to push it back in place, making sure it does not cause us to waver too much and break it down completely.
But what if we allow ourselves to engage completely in the moment? What if we allow those questions and doubts to unravel our plan and take over the classroom? This is not to suggest that plans have no place at all. Of course they do, but can we think about them as dotted lines rather than bold ones? Can we allow ourselves the flexibility and the depth of engagement in the moment that could lead to a different, more meaningful, learning experience?
The articles in this issue of Teacher Plus suggest some ways in which we could begin to do this. Try it for yourself. It just might work.
Tomorrow, I’m going to sit down and enjoy the moment – and drink my coffee while it’s still hot.