Just Be There

There’s more than the usual amount of sturm and drang in the edu-universe these days. As I mentioned last time, the EduSuperBabble is pretty overwhelming. The energy reminds me of that moment that all teachers know, when you’re standing in the hallway just before the first punch is thrown. That split second when you realize that two kids have exhausted their capacity for words, no matter how vitriolic, and that someone is going to take a swing any moment if someone (read: the grownup) doesn’t move between them, diffuse the situation, and help them get a little space.

It’s not just kids, either. We’ve all been in that faculty/ board/ committee/ leadership meeting. The one where things got a little too hot, a little too personal. Where someone said something that just couldn’t be taken back. Where the decision was made that damaged the community beyond immediate repair. Where we looked at each other, just before the pivotal moment and thought “Someone needs to do something. Someone needs to stop this.”

This is a fairly big day for us here at ANE- or at least in my little corner of ANE. After a couple of years of planning, we’re launching a certificate program on Mindfulness for Educators in partnership with the Center for Mindful Inquiry and the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.

The jump from hallway fisticuffs to Buddhism may seem like a leap but hang with me- I’ll get there.

If you’ve been that teacher, in that moment when the whole world shrinks to just two people and an urgent, slow-motion moment, you know what it is to be fully present in a single moment- the essence of mindfulness. It doesn’t just happen in the moments before violence, but that’s the place that many of us first experience it (adrenaline and fear can be wicked powerful focusing agents). You many have found yourself fully present under happier circumstances- in an intense, one-on-one discussion with a kid; during a chemistry experiment- everyone holding their collective breath, waiting to see if you were going to blow up the building; during story time, the whole class focused together on how the hero would save the day; or watching together as the butterflies crawled out of their cocoons, unfurled their wings and prepared to fly. Being present- really present, without distractions or fear or worry- happens accidentally sometimes.

What an amazing gift it would be if we could collectively, intentionally step back from the EduSuperBabble- the frantic worry over tests, the hyperbole and the rhetoric over what it means to “raise standards” and “reform” and “be accountable” and just. be. there. With the kids. In every single moment.

Maybe that’s when real change will begin.

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One response to “Just Be There

  1. excuse me if I am bitter, but the idea that “people” not babble about half truths (the government is going to take my 401K to help pay off the debt) is a truth because someone posted it on an internet blog. Raising standards, working together for the good of the community, accountability – that really mean something, other than making my agenda look good, drives me crazy. Too many of us (myself included) talk but don’t walk! Maybe time for me to go to the mountain! I have waited a long time for change and it just seems that we get the same stuff just under a different label.

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