Airplanes are a great place to get caught up on my summer reading. I just finished reading The Zen Teacher: Creating FOCUS, SIMPLICITY, and TRANQUILITY in the Classroom by Dan Tricarico.
May I be honest with you? When I first saw this book, I copped an attitude and made the decision I was not going to read it. I had judged the book by its title. I didn’t want any religion thrown at me so I thought to myself, no way, not doing it, not reading this one.
Well, then it happened. I had the honor of listening to Dave Burgess at a conference in Minneapolis last February, and when it was all said and done…Dave gives me this book as a gift. I can’t turn down a gift…that is just plain rude.
I didn’t say a word about not wanting to read it. Somehow he just knew. Dave said to me, “Wendy, this book has nothing to do with religion.” How did he know I was thinking that? I think it’s because of his ability to do magic? Sneaky guy. 🙂
Oh, I am so glad I listened to Dave. The book was excelente! I highly recommend The Zen Teacher to all educators everywhere, young and old, novice and seasoned. There is a golden nugget (or several nuggets) in there somewhere for all of you!
As I journeyed through the book, those clean white pages magically turned green…not with envy, but with highlights. Please allow me to share with you a few of the golden nuggets that I discovered:
Page 2 – 3: Toiling Together. Great words. That is what I love most about my career in teaching…toiling together with my students. Assisting, coaching, encouraging, guiding, and walking side-by-side with them to reach their goal of securing that first teaching position. There is no career as fulfilling to our souls than this one. Agree wholeheartedly, Dan!
Page 22: Be awake. Be mindful of your students. Pay attention to detail. Listen to what those kids have to say. Adults CAN learn from kids. If you don’t believe me, check out this TED talk and let Adora convince you otherwise.
Sometimes my best ideas come from my students. And we all know that we teachers beg, borrow and tweak. No shame in that.
Page 23: Unplug for a day. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat…all time-devouring vultures if we let them be. Right now I am on a 30-day Facebook Fast. I’m on Day 14 and so far so good. Find a day, a week, a month to let go of your devices. Read Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd or If You Give a Mouse an iPhone by Ann Droyd, and after the giggles subside, have some conversations with your students about the importance of taking a break from those things that distract us.
Page 42: Be grateful! Say thanks and say it often. When I went into the airport bathroom last week, the cleaning lady happened to be in there. We made eye contact and I graciously said “thanks for all you do for us.” She responded with a beautiful smile and softly replied “thanks for noticing.” We really do all smile in the same language. 🙂 Her smile was worth the two seconds that it took to express my gratitude. We blessed each other.
Page 43: Speaking of being grateful, let’s record our gratitude. Written gratitude sentences are a wonderful way to keep track of all the blessings in our lives. I will be stealing this idea for my classroom, for my presentations, and for my personal life. Thank you God, for people who keep public restrooms clean. I am grateful for Dan for writing this dynamic, idea-filled book.
Fast-forward to Page 123 (I can’t give it all away…you MUST buy the book. Plus…I don’t want to get in trouble). The statement “A warrior in constant battle is a tired warrior” found on page 123 made me think of our minds. Our battles are not always in the physical realm. Battles are sometimes in our mind. That is a tough one to wrestle with. It can be exhausting. Where the mind goes, the man follows. Check yourself. Do you have a severe case of “stinkin’ thinkin?” Change your mindset and put down that sword.
The Zen Teacher is a fabulous book that focuses on taking care of YOU. In this country where “one nation under stress” seems to be the norm, Dan Tricarico will help you escape from some of those stressors and help you to find balance in your life because YOU matter!
Happy reading!! 🙂