Last month I wrote about being the best teacher you can be today, and an even better one tomorrow. Today I highlight two books that can help you as a teacher, but not in the ways you might expect. These two books will help you cope with the stresses of the teaching profession and teach you skills to thrive,not merely survive. We know not all teachers last beyond the first year. Many more quit teaching after the seventh year. I can tell you honestly that I have thought about what it would be like to work in another profession and I am sure you have, too. What if I could go to a job and then leave and not have to think about it until the next morning? Teachers have a hard time leaving their work at work. Even when you don’t physically take something home with you, your mind is certainly thinking about the next day’s lesson. You have mentally noted the number of copies you need made, who was absent for yesterday’s quiz, what IEP you have at the end of the week, the faculty meeting on Wednesday, grades due in a week, make up scores to be entered, the SST on Tuesday, your formal evaluation lesson in two weeks, the club photo slips that need to be passed out, the letters of rec due in January. All this is swirling around your mind at any given moment. It reminds me of a book my children love called Five Minutes Peace by Jill Murphy. In the book a mother elephant seeks five minutes peace from her children. They follow her from the kitchen up the stairs and into the bathroom. All she seeks is solace in a solo bath, but all the children come parading in one by one until they all end up in the bath with her!
Sound familiar? On any given school night thoughts of school (and papers needing grading!) chase me around, invading my personal time and space. Teachers are always surrounded by these noisy little annoyances that just won’t seem to let up. They even follow us right into our own sanctuaries. What is a teacher to do?
We want peace in the present, but our profession forces us to live in the future. The two books I highlight for you were designed to provide ways to care for the teacher’s mind and soul so that you can have five (or more!) minutes peace. I have read both books so let me know if you would like to borrow them! Below are the blurbs from the books…
The Zen Teacher: Creating Focus, Simplicity, and Tranquility in the Classroom by Dan Tricarico
You can thrive in the classroom. All it takes are a few moments of peace and a little focus. If you’re like many teachers, your day is busy, demanding, even chaotic. But just because you live in a fast-paced, always-on world, doesn’t mean your life has to feel rushed and crazy. In The Zen Teacher, educator, blogger, and speaker Dan Tricarico provides practical, easy-to-use techniques to help teachers slow down and create a sense of focus, simplicity, and tranquility in the classroom – and in life. As a teacher, you have incredible power to influence, even improve, the future. By being at your best – unrushed and fully focused – you ensure that every interaction with your students is beneficial, for them and for you. If you’re new to the concept of Zen, don’t worry. In this introductory guide, Dan Tricarico explains what it means to develop a Zen practice – something that has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with your ability ability to thrive in the classroom. The Zen Teacher will help you: Maximize your performance while lowering your stress. Transform your classroom and experience a better quality of life. Focus on things that really matter and let go of things you can’t control. Find time to take care of yourself, so you can be at your best!
Check out Dan’s website and follow him on Twitter! @thezenteacher
Keeping the Peace: Mindfulness and Public Service by Thich Nhat Hanh
Keeping the Peace speaks to all of us who work in difficult, people-oriented jobs and shows us how to turn environments that are often filled with anger, stress, and frustration into islands of peace. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh creates a revolutionary definition of public service that includes all of us. He challenges us to transform the way we think about our work and offers eleven key practices to strengthen our mindfulness and joy.
Based on a retreat for civil servants, Keeping the Peace is the first book of its kind to demonstrate the usefulness of mindfulness practices for law enforcement officers, social workers, teachers, and others in people-helping professions.
With empathy and humor, Thich Nhat Hanh demonstrates the need for public service professionals to cultivate their own inner peace in order to help others. In clear and simple prose, he offers a path for how we can reduce violence in ourselves, our workplace, and ultimately, in our world.
I have also just found that Thich Nhat Hahn has co-authored another book titled, Happy Teachers Change the World. I ordered it (thanks, Amazon!) and will report back once it is finished. OR you could join me…Who is up for a book club?
What have you read that has helped with ways to cope with the stresses of teaching? What techniques do you have that help you to be more grounded in the present and more relaxed at work? Share the book titles so I can check them out…OR you could always guest blog for me and share with the whole staff!