Back To School Advice – Let Go

It’s a quiet Sunday morning and I’ve spent the weekend so far both working on a new project and during that process, thinking hard and deep about “doing it well”.

I put “doing it well” in quotes because this is primary, our presence day in and day out, our attitude, our self, the “how” is always more important than the “what”.  I call it “self – grace” and we teachers need to nurture it more in our acts and being, in our teaching. It’s not what we cover or even what we/students discover – it’s how we do it and how we “be” that matters.


I’ve always pushed myself to be in a place where I can “play”.  By play, I don’t mean have fun or even that overused and trite word “engaged”. No. I mean it more in the sense of being in a state of flow, in a place where the outcome is not known and the side roads and detours are much traveled. My wife thinks I’m crazy, spending hours locked away in my office – but I’m happy there in my thoughts, in a garden of ideas and possibilities and making these a reality.  And at bottom, all school, all education, all life itself is about this – happiness.

Too often, we teachers help students too much, we control too much of what may or may not go on in the classroom, we provide the answers too soon, we intervene, and so on …..  Happiness is not a lesson objective.  Let’s learn to let go and let students have a go, really have a go.  If we do so, they’ll be happier.

I define play in school as “pointed curiosity”.  A teachers job is to set the big scene, provide the field and then to let students out there to explore, to probe, to find their own path to the other side – not any one path but a path found with a sense of grace and being.  Nurture that in a student and as a teacher, you’re a winner.

Myself, I want to do something that brings beauty into the world. I think we can bring that into our classrooms also. It’s a principle that I’m reminding myself of this beautiful Sunday morning. Keep directing yourself to be in that state of play, of grace, where your spirit and your actions are aligned.

Go out there and do in that spirit. If you do, the year will be one you’ll never forget.

Oh and by the way – never “try”, it’s the trying that gets in the way …..


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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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4 Responses

  1. Camelia Radulescu says:

    David, you got the essence of teaching. Driving to school with a smile on your face because you picture in your mind your students’ possible reactions/responses to a new topic or project is priceless. I wish administrators would understand the emotional needs of their students and allocate more freedom in class to teachers.

  2. K R Lakshminarayanan says:

    I see passion, commitment, honesty. Just a thought: Teachers need to be aware that some students learn more by listening than doing, some others don’t participate not because they don’t want to but because it’s not in their nature. This has to be a constant because otherwise they may be disappointed at lack of participation or interest on the part of the learner and may in their overenthusiam push them learners and thus be the cause of injury to the students.

  3. ddeubel says:

    Yes KR, very important point. I also don’t see this emphasized enough in teacher training and pre-service programs. So often new teachers teach to those students who “seem” interested but not recognizing that most students will be interested, they just don’t show it as we’d expect as teachers untrained in these finer details of learning and especially 2nd language acquisition.

    A lot of good teaching evolves, grows when we are active in challenging and often suppressing our basic instincts and cultural preconceptions as teachers.

  4. K R Lakshminarayanan says:

    always happy to share a thought or two, David. Good of you to have made it a point to appreciate it. Thanks.

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