Instead of focusing on self, [Diana Degarmo] focused on the beauty of the audience and the whole event. And I allowed myself to do the same thing. I never let that leave me. I would start with that. I would start with loving my students. And it’s striking how much my teaching has changed in five years, as a result of that. It’s basically about shifting from getting people to love you to you loving them.
It is paralyzing for me to think how Dan Meyer circa 2003, student teacher, would have endured a discussion facilitated by Dan Meyer circa 2009, aspiring mentor teacher, on the lifestyle of a teacher. That kid wanted as close to an eight-hour work-day as he could manage. He wanted strictly amicable relationships with his students, neither enamored of nor enraged by any. The mailman doesn’t let the mail get him down, he told himself then.
I can’t bring myself to walk all of that back. I still wish I worked less. At that point, though, I saw a happy life as a zero-sum of work and play, where professional investment came at the expense of the personal. It made me mostly miserable on the job and also, regrettably, a non-presence to my students.
The problem is, these aren’t differences in methods or pedagogy. These are differences in personality and lifestyle and it took me three years to start to move away from such a compartmentalized view of work and play. I don’t know if it’s possible to expedite that process for another teacher, or how, but I suppose that’s the fun I have to look forward to in graduate school.