Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Zen Teacher

I'm only 2/3 of the way through The Zen Teacher, and I had to write about it.

First let me confess - I didn't think I needed this book.
And I don't buy books willy-nilly.
This one was donated by either DBC Inc. - or the author himself - to an edcamp I attended (and donated Shift This to as well) at Concorida University, in Wisconsin last month.
I was the lucky recipient!
Then it sat on my shelf.
Like I said, I didn't think I needed it.
Then I left my young adult novel at school over this Thanksgiving break, so...

So... what do I think?

I think, if you are frustrated on a day-to-day basis, you need to read this book.
If you are bogged down with work on the weekends, you need to read this book.
If that one student is still getting under your skin, you need to read this book.
If your mental health - or physical health - is declining, you need to read this book.

The first section is titled "Zen." I feel as if I've been slowly figuring out what he's talking about in this section for the last couple of years. This is my best school year yet. It's due to the group of students I have, but it's also due to my mindset going into school. It's due to the baggage I stopped carrying, and it's also due to the times I can stop and soak up the craziness that school can become. I could wallow in the "if only I'd have gotten this book five years ago" mindset, but I'm learning how not to. This first section of the book is what I feel I am doing this year that's different from past years. I love that I can now put a name to the myriad things I've been doing in order to get glimpses of this sense of Zen.

The second section is titled "Meditation and Mindfulness." I've been practicing more of these ideas this year, as well. Breathe... or walk... and notice.

The third section is titled "Space, Stillness, and Self-Care." Although I like to purge once in awhile, this section got me to put the book down and declutter other parts of my life. There was a new app I'd just uploaded yesterday. Today, I re-evaluated it after reading one of the chapters, and now it's gone. Good riddance - I'm already relieved it's absent from my life. I also figured out something I'll be sharing with everyone in 2019 - how to give away some of my books that are taking up space now that I've read them.

I still have to finish this gem.
I'll take my time with it.
I'll be excited to loan it out to at least one teacher at my school.
Thank you, Dan Tricarico, for the words you shared that I'll remind myself of again and again.

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