I have been thinking deeply about the term “embodied pedagogy,” or teaching the whole self.  bell hooks writes that in our society, we have learned to fragment the mind from the heart and spirit – respecting it above all else.  However, when we teach through the heart, and view our students not just as minds, but as people, we find the compassion we need to be teachers as agents of change.

It starts with looking within ourselves as whole people, too.  Teachers walk a fine line, and on our journey, we learn to be self-critical – becoming hyper aware of how our actions affect the lives of others.  Once we gain this critical eye upon ourselves, we tend to become our own worse critics.  However, like what we do for our students, we must (to borrow a phrase from April) be gentle on ourselves and each other, and recognize that even the smallest transformative changes in our thinking is progress.  Those little changes add up throughout the school year, and these motivate us as teachers.

Compassion starts with compassion for ourselves, especially when we look and judge our inner beings too harshly.  The process of transformation isn’t easy, and it happens over time – perhaps even over the course of many years.  For me, I did not become the teacher I envisioned myself being until nearly the end of my third year of teaching.  Even now, after my ninth year of teaching, and second year of the doctoral program, my teaching practices have radically shifted again.  Becoming an agent of change starts with changing ourselves, and it is a cyclical process the ebbs and flows naturally.

Once we learn to be self-critical, we must echo what we have learned and pass this teaching to our students – helping them gain their own self-critical eyes as well.  Teaching through the heart recognizes that not only are our students are human, but so are we.