Put on your teaching cloak

This is the second ‘sip’ in a regular feature Over a cuppa: prompts to reflect on learning and teaching reblogged from my institutional learning and teaching blog. Once a week during Session 1 and Session 2 I will publish a short post (250 to 300 words) which prompts you to reflect on your learning and teaching during the time it takes to make and drink a cuppa. Original artwork by Fidel Fernando.

At the start of a new session, consider how you ready yourself to teach.

The experience of lockdown challenged (and continues to challenge) the separation between work and home. The rituals and routines that allow us to begin and end the work day became slippery, and our personal spaces were revealed as we met online from home.

A psychologist shared with a me a strategy for signalling a boundary between work and home (even if they are the same place): put on your work cloak. And, when you have finished work, take it off again. This is an embodied movement: you shrug your shoulders and loosen the weight that has gathered there.

It may take practice. Until you can shrug your ‘teaching cloak’ on and off easily, here are three slightly longer warm-up activities that academics use to prepare for teaching. These are particularly helpful for those who find teaching anxiety-inducing.

Count down while you are walking. Every day Narelle Lemon pauses for five breaths: notice 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you feel, 2 things you smell, 1 thing you taste. She does this on a daily walk, the countdown varies and she posts a photograph on Twitter. Read more about her mindful walking as an act of self-care.

Listen to a guided meditation. Kimine Mayuzumi shares a five minute audio recording that “will help you be calm, compassionate, wisely responsive, curious and motivated not only to teach but also to learn” on her blog Being Lazy and Slowing Down.

I am excited about the topic the class will discuss.
 I welcome the positive energy.
 I am not an imposter.
 And I belong.
 I am not perfect.
 But I am enough.
 I see the students as full people with complex needs.
 I set compassion in the space.
 I acknowledge my privilege and power to teach.

Take your reflection into the classroom. The name of this series ‘Over a cuppa’ is a nod to the work of Marina Harvey and colleagues. One of the tools they use with students as a reminder of their creativity is called ‘Imagine a teacup’. Here is a six-minute video of Kath McLachlan guiding this reflection for learning activity.

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