If Only Life was Always Nice and Tidy

It is rare to get on a train in Tokyo in the middle of the day and see a totally empty car. When this happened, I of course had to get out my camera and capture it. It got me to think about how shiny and clean everything was before people started coming in and messing everything up. From this, my mind ran off thinking about how life is not always nice and tidy. I also reflected on how we may fail to enjoy our orderly lives until confusion steps in.

Since life is not always nice and tidy, how do we pivot and handle things when everything gets ruffled?The flexible mind that is agile and thinks critically, is able to adjust and churn out ideas to problem solve and make the best of such situations.

As a teacher in these times, I have to embody this mindset and think of how to motivate students as I engage with them online and face-to-face. We are doing this hybrid style of lessons and this in between state can be mentally taxing for us teachers and students. This is our second foray into this and it often feels messy. I, however, think about different ways to make the experience meaningful because the show is going on. One pro is that it allows for more inquiry based learning on the students’ side which empowers them over time. With this in mind, I have them conduct research using different avenues. I help them learn how to check multiple sources and choose reliable information. In addition, they can learn how to manage their time by setting up meeting with peers, to plan their presentations and share more meaningfully in discussions.

I now know that I need to approach teaching online differently than I do face-to-face classes. Much of this means changing how I view my role in the classroom space and being more flexible. I teach high schoolers and my students have enough scaffolding now to go off and prepare to lead classes. This means that I can assign them tasks and they can work at home, instead of me feeling the pressure to always have video meetings with them. These meetings can be brief, where I explain a task at the start of the class and check in with them again towards the end.

Life as a teacher is not always nice and tidy. We are helping students to be open-minded individuals, who are agile thinkers, so we have to model this. I remind myself of this in these times where snap decisions are made to go from online learning to face-to-face classes or a combination of the two. My focus is on how to help my students grow in this process and bring some normalcy to their lives. I am very much an active learning even as I teach others. This is a great perk of being a teacher.

Life isn’t always nice and tidy, which would probably be boring and cause us to be less than our best selves. In these times, when life may feel discombobulating, how can you make the best of it to grow and be a better you?

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