Angeles Arrien, a cultural anthropologist and writer, talks about different ways of engaging with the world.  She breaks them down in two four categories, the ways of the Warrior, Healer, Visionary, and Teacher.  I’ve come to see them all as elements of what a teacher must be and do in these times.

Arrien describes the way of the Warrior as showing up and choosing to be present.  This means a great deal more than showing up for class and more than getting up on time and “punching in” at school.  It means bringing your full presence to those students there with you.  It sometimes means leaving personal issues behind and sometimes it means bringing them in to the classroom with you if it serves the purpose of learning.

The way of the Healer asks us to pay attention to what has heart and meaning.  By this is meant listening carefully and watching thoughtfully.  It means to find out what is important to these fellow beings with you in that classroom.  What has heart and meaning for our students will also have energy and we are asked to tune in to and pay attention to that.

The way of the Visionary reminds us to tell the truth without blame or judgment. This includes giving honest feedback to your students, your fellow teachers and to administrators.  Say what you see and what you observe going on.  Share your thoughts and ideas and reactions so that change might result.  At the same time we are asked to avoid sitting in judgment of these other people for what they can or cannot do.  This is hard to do.

The way of the Teacher is to be open to outcomes and not attached to outcomes. Teach bringing out your best, give what you can but don’t assume that your students are going to learn what you teach or will do with their learning what you think they might.  We need to remain open to the possibility, indeed the probability, that our students will take their learning and go with it far beyond our own imaginations and knowledge.  This is as it should be.