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The Ecological Heart of Teaching

Radical Tales of Refuge and Renewal for Classrooms and Communities


Edited By Jackie Seidel and David W. Jardine

The Ecological Heart of Teaching is a collection of writings by teachers about their life in classrooms. Reflecting over three years of collective work, it illustrates how teachers, parents, and students can avoid some of the distractions and panic endemic to many schools, allowing them to focus thoughtfully on rigorous, beautiful work. It draws on ecological thinking, Buddhism, and hermeneutics to provide deeper, richer, and more abundant sources for teaching, thinking, and practice, and shows how these three lineages provide keys to decode the current malaise that surrounds schooling. The book will be valuable to beginning and experienced teachers and administrators, as well as to parents and anyone involved in stepping away from the exhausting industrial images and ideas that have turned schooling into an ecological and intellectual disaster. For those interested in interpretive research and life-writing, the book provides a wide array of examples; it is a valuable resource for undergraduate classes in curriculum and teaching, as well as graduate research methods courses interested in new forms of thinking and writing.
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Chapter Thirty-Four: Dear New Teacher


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Dear New Teacher


You have stepped into the breach. There’s no turning back now. All those years of school, the two university degrees, the ups and downs of your practicums; all these experiences have led you to this point. No amount of preparation is going to steel you for those feelings niggling at you somewhere in the recesses of your mind: Can I do this? Am I prepared? What if it all goes wrong? Will I have to dream it up all over again?

You will be pulled in directions that you are going to have to learn how to navigate: How to compromise your personal beliefs for the good of your nascent practice, how to satisfy the leviathan of “the system,” how to negotiate your professional relationships. I could go on, but you already know these things. You may not know the specifics, but you sense that there may be choppy waters ahead.

There are really only two things that I think you need to consider as a new teacher: authenticity and discovering what is worthwhile. Be warned. Authenticity is powerful, as you will be exposing your weaknesses, biases and personal shortcomings. The glorious beauty is that your students will respond to your authenticity. They will feel a deep personal connection to you, and your (Gk.) nous, your soul as a teacher. They are the reason you are reading this...

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