The Heart of Teaching

Growing up, I was raised with the expression, “it’s a long way from your heart.”  It was my parents’ way of saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. With two parents as health care professionals, it was difficult to get attention for anything that wasn’t going to make you bleed out on the floor. Gruesome as this may sound, I am grateful for the grit, resilience, and determination that this approach has helped me take in my life. It was a fall down, pick yourself up, and dust yourself off approach to failure. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

What I find interesting as I take time to reflect today, is that being raised with an “it’s a long way from your heart” approach led me to a career that’s all heart.  Each day I try to understand the heart of the issues with my students; I aim to gain a greater understanding of the reasons why people do what they do, and I respond in my actions with my own heart.  My heart is in this teaching role. It’s there, equally matched with my head and my desire to learn. But it’s my heart that guides me every day. When I’m hurting or struggling, or trying to find a better way, I remind myself to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.


4 thoughts on “The Heart of Teaching

  1. Although I was not raised by healthcare professionals, my mom always used to say “doesn’t look like you are going to die” as her way of sticking a band-aid on something and sending us back outside. I really am grateful, like you, for the resilience it has given me. This job is certainly the best one, but it does have days that require resiliency and it always requires growth. I don’t think I could do either if I didn’t grow up in a family where my parents encouraged us to be who we wanted to be despite what is popular, and taught me to not worry (excessively) about the little things.

  2. Thanks @swelbourn – what you’ve said really resonates with me as I make my way through Brene Brown’s latest book “Dare to Lead”. We need more heart and more application of heart when we lead, be it with students, peers, colleagues and/or parents.

    Stay tuned for a book review on Dare to Lead – if you haven’t come across it yet, check it out. Totally worth it!

    1. Thanks so much, Garth! You mentioned Brene Brown at the first F2F so I was eager to learn more about her. When I watched her Ted Talks – especially “Listening to Shame” there were moments of revelation for me. It brought me clarity and I felt like she was speaking directly to me. When I read your post I was on my way to my parents on Christmas Eve. Brene’s book was wrapped and in the car, but for my husband as a stocking stuffer. I have now “shamelessly” read it before him and loved every page.
      I really enjoyed reading your Book Review. In particular,

      …acknowledge and reward great questions and instances of “I don’t know, but I’d like to find out” as daring leadership behaviours. The big shift here is from wanting to ‘be right’ to wanting to ‘get it right’. (pg. 92)

      If you think that this sounds a lot like ’embracing ambiguity’, you’d be right! This is why I believe that her work belongs in the conversation about educational change – the skills we need to enact it, and the skills we need to integrate into the learning as being part of the learning itself.

      The Cohort21 experience and the advice of @lmcbeth have encouraged me to take this approach in my classes. Let’s ask big questions and seek the answers. Not knowing the outcome before the “end” of the lesson is an amazing place to begin the learning!

Comments are closed.