Saturday, June 25, 2011

Engagement in Teaching

It is a rainy morning punctuating a beautiful but extremely busy week. In a short conversation with Monique who is doing some thinking and writing about what is left from arts integration projects after the project is over.
Our conversation turned to thinking about different responses by different teachers and the conditions under which these responses emerge.

One factor that we did not explicitly discuss was teacher engagement. For me we, as teachers, are not fully accepting a practice until we let that practice "fill" us. That is we enact it with students fully embracing and participating in the practice. This is even more important when integrating the arts, since the arts are meant to be displayed, shared, and audienced (not sure this is a word...).

If we stay reserved while playing a song, drawing, dancing, making a movie- our students will feel our reservation and will limit their own participation, viewing full engagement as "childish". Maybe the term I am looking for is JOY (parallels the notion of ">FLOW). If you find joy in integrating the arts and your students can feel your joy, they will buy into it, fully particpate, and learn what it means to really enjoy what you do.

Now I do not mean that finding JOY in a practice shold stop you in any way from being critical after the fact, evaluating what worked and what didn't and improving a practice. This JOY/FLOW is ot always there because to reach it we must have expertise, practice and confidence. But when we reach it the results and the JOY can fill us with a strong sense of efficacy and empowerment.

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