I was sitting in my living room chair yesterday enjoying a piece of toast and honey. As I was taking my time eating it I realized how important it is that we enjoy life. Lately, I have been stressed and worried about being ready for next fall. There is so much that I have to learn before I step into that classroom and in some ways I feel like I will not have it all down. I have been through such an evolution this Spring and so much has changed, even in the month of May. I keep pouring over Ben’s ideas and visualizing myself next fall
As I was sitting there taking in each morsel of sweetness, I realized how important it is that I take the time to enjoy life. This is what refreshes me and gives me perspective. It is part of what makes me who I am, as I think about the wonderful things that this life has to offer. There is a fine line between dedication and obsession. Dedication is when a person puts forth a reasonable effort in light of their potential. Dedication allows a person to be a person and take in their surroundings. Obsession is when a certain topic is all a person thinks about. Obsession is when a person has blinders on and doesn’t see the life around them. Both dedication and obsession can lead to greatness, but if I had to pick one, I think I would choose dedication.
As I was sitting in my chair, I heard a little voice say, “Hey, Thomas, relax on this whole thing. I know you are a particular person, but you need to realize that you will not be a master next fall when you start. Hey, guess what. That is totally okay that you will not be perfect. These things just take time. You need to let go of it and just relax and enjoy.”
After this little talk, I had so much peace about learning the method. I realized that part of learning the method is letting go. I have to let go of all those things that were pounded into me and just relax. When I do this this leaves so much more room for acquisition to occur.
Obviously Ben Slavic has been an influence on my teaching, so if I mention him a lot one reason is because he is my first frame of reference. The only real TPRS teacher I have actually seen. And actually, a very insightful person. When I think about Ben relaxing, I see him enjoying his bike or thinking about some finer part of life. Yes, he is dedicated to SLA, but there is so much to life that he also enjoys. When I think about him walking into the school, he is carrying a coffee mug with tea, not coffee. Just strolling with his hair still wet, maybe he has a book in his hand or his lunch. He is totally not stressed out about the day, in fact he doesn’t have to be. Each class comes alive on its own. He doesn’t have to be stressed about the class because if the class is boring it is because of the students. He has learned to let go.
I think in this process of relaxation and letting go we really learn what the method can do. But more than the method we really learn what the kids can do when they are activated in their own learning. TPRS has constructivist learning written all over it, especially one-word storytelling. It is through relaxing and enjoying life that I can really give myself to my students and interact with them.