When I am booked for a day of substitute teaching, I start my day with this view: the sun rising over the River Philip where it meets the Northumberland Strait.
I have a particular practice for my drive to school: I do it in silence. I listen to the 7:30 local news as I'm pulling out of my driveway, then I turn off the radio. No more news, no chatting, no music. Not even classical.
I tried classical, it was lovely, but I prefer the silence.
I need the silence.
Whether I'm doing the 15 minute drive or the 30 minute one, this time of silence -- and eye-boggling beauty -- centers me for the day. It calms me and allows me to speak kindly to myself (especially necessary if my brain has given me a 3 a.m. blast of negativity and doubt and worry). I tell myself I am a good teacher, I am capable and intuitive, and trust my instincts. I remind myself teaching is meant to serve the students; this work is not about me, about my insecurities and regrets, but about being the best teacher and mentor and cheerleader these students deserve. Even if I feel I have failed to become the teacher I should have been twenty-five, even fifteen years ago, I am not failing them when I bring my enthusiasm and creative and good nature into the classroom, when I meet them where they are in that moment on that day.
And it works. By the time I arrive at school, I embody the words and I carry the power of the silence into the school.
One of the greatest problems of the modern world is our lack of silence. We are bombarded all the time with sounds and images -- noise for our ears and eyes, for our minds and spirits -- and we don't get the chance to think our own thoughts, hear our own voice.
We don't give ourselves time in silence anymore. We are afraid of what we will discover, what we will hear, what truth we will face. It happens -- I've been shocked and upset by what surfaces in the silence as I walk or drive. But it's necessary -- the silence AND the truth. We can't keep rolling down our road without knowing who is driving and why we are going in that direction.
I told this to the Grades P-1-2's the other day, that we need to take breaks from our computer games, that we can't hear our own voice if we don't find silence every so often, that we need to hear our own thoughts and our own ideas rather than listening to everyone else's all the time.
I attempted to plant a seed of knowledge, self-knowledge, in them.
I do this, in my substitute teaching -- toss little seeds of hard-earned wisdom to them. I get a day, one chance, and all I can hope is my seeds fall on a couple of fertile hearts and minds.