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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 Fifty-Three: Thoughts on Being Neither Finished nor Unfinished


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Thoughts ON Being Neither Finished NOR Unfinished


Dear New Teacher,

As you turn out your classroom lights today, you may smile a little about some good moments of your day. That brief smile is complicated, so often followed by the heavy weight of discouragement that all teachers feel from time to time, moment to moment, and year to year. My best advice? Embrace that feeling. That feeling, that weight, that discouragement, is a part of teaching. It warrants a moment of recognition; as David Jardine has called it, a moment of “Ah. There it is.” Where is that overwhelming feeling coming from? The panic that accompanies the lump in your throat when you open another e-mail from an upset parent, or the quickening in your pulse when you look at the pages of Program of Study outcomes and worry that you haven’t covered enough, and that time is running out? Who is scripting the voice in your head that is whispering that you’re not cut out for this? Reminding you of your every misstep, keeping you up at night with guilt over the kids you just didn’t get to again today. That little voice has so many examples to choose from on a daily basis. There are so many ways to go wrong, and to disappoint yourself, and everyone else, as a teacher.

Many of the complaints will revolve around not...

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