Mostly we think of aging as decline and deterioration. With mysterious pains in my neck recently, I can attest to that.
But when it comes to teaching, I’m at the top of my game. I’m noticing three things:
1) I’m enjoying the kids more than ever. The way the 2ndgraders are improvising their way through our first drafts of the Jack and the Beanstalk play, their enthusiastic—and often good—suggestions, their funny versions of their characters, their sheer delight in bringing a story to life.
2) I’m more impatient than ever with side-conversations, kids not attending, kids doing things silly on purpose. Not in an angry way, but in a firm and clear way—“life is too short for you not to take full advantage of this opportunity I’m giving you. If you can convince me your side conversation is more relevant, interesting and important than what I’m saying at the moment, do so. Otherwise stop. Now.”
3) I’m more purposeful about praise and blessing, both publicly and privately noting when someone leaps over the bar and sometimes clearing it by a few feet. Letting them know I saw it and it impressed me and they should know that whatever they did is worth noticing and worth working on further.
All of this makes teaching so much more rewarding, satisfying and pleasurable than it has been. And since it has been rewarding, satisfying and pleasurable from Day One, that’s saying a lot. It also is tedious and difficult work. Sometimes a stroll on a moonlit beach or a romp through a field or drifting lazily down a river, but mostly a slowly ascending mountain climb, with stops to enjoy the view. Each new vista reveals more of the big picture of who human beings are and what they can accomplish and both are so much greater and hopeful than any lie-filled State of the Union depicts.
These my bread-crumbs strewn on the path for anyone to follow. Attend to your work, do it well with a constant eye as to how to do it better and new vistas will open up.
Even if your neck hurts.