26 November 2014

Feelings first

Day 21 of Te@chThought's Attitude of Gratitude Blogging Challenge

List a book you are thankful to have read and how it has inspired you to be better at what you do.

Choosing just one book for someone who looks forward to summers only to be able to devour books I can't get to because I'm so busy during the school year.  I have read many teaching journals that I am grateful for like The Language Educator published by ACTFL because they help keep me current and are an invaluable resource for ideas.  I have read many Italian novels that have inspired me to bring them into the classroom in some way- whether it be to read the whole novel together or to read only pieces.  I have read Harry Potter and some other really entertaining and not-so-appropriate-for-work books.  While I do like to be transported to different worlds as a source of escape and just for fun, I find that I prefer non-fiction.  

A few summers ago, I was on this kick of wanting to know everything about knowing everything and how we remember and memorize and become a super-intelligent superhuman.  I read The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs, Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer and Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet to name a few.  While none of these apply readily to my day-to-day duties as a teacher, I do believe that they have opened my eyes to accepting people for who they are.  I will admit that this is not always an easy task but I do find it easier to do when it comes to my students.  I was particularly struck by how Daniel Tammet as an autistic man taught himself to have appropriate reactions to things that people would say so they would not feel bad even though he completely lacked the emotion. I thought to myself, wow, if he could do that, maybe we could all take a cue and try to take into account more others' feelings more than our own at times.  Another thing that I gained from this book was an insider's view of a disorder that many don't understand.  

Throughout my 15 years as an educator, I have come across many types of students and I hope that I have always been compassionate and understanding and made them feel comfortable in my classroom but this was something I wasn't prepared for. Only time and experience could make me a better teacher in all aspects.  I do believe that this book gave me a new-found appreciation for what some students might be going through, even if they didn't have autism.  It made me stop and think about their feelings first before I reacted or judged. 

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