This first week back at school I had the opportunity of sharing the Education for Life program with my colleagues. It gave me the opportunity of reflecting on what I have learned from EFL so far this school year. Having to tell others about it made me think deeply about the difference in my teaching since my exposure to this program.
When I started using EFL back in September I told our school principal what I was attempting to do in my classroom. He, in turn, asked me to share it with the staff. At our first staff meeting of 2013 I gave a short presentation about this new approach. I also wanted to inform them of the upcoming free talk by Nitai Deranja that is happening in a couple of weeks on January 26 in Palo Alto. If you live in the San Francisco bay area I highly recommend going to this event!
As I looked back at what I had done so far this school year I noticed that I had been using EFL in my classroom on the four distinct levels that made sense to me.
- I’m constantly checking to see if what I’m doing is experiential. Are the students learning through their own experience? In planning my lessons I try to make sure that what they experience allows them to use all the ‘tools of maturity’: physical, feeling, will, intellect. This allows everyone to learn through their dominant tool.
- Now more than ever I focus on the positive, I follow the joy. I notice when the students are the most engaged, enthusiastic, interested. I’ve learned that one of the things that points us to our highest potential is our passion or our level of engagement and joy in a subject. This includes, me, the teacher!
- I’ve also been basing my teaching on expansiveness. There is a way to measure an individual’s expansiveness by using what EFL calls Progressive Development or a person’s Specific Gravity. With the model of Specific Gravity I can gauge the level of energy behind a student’s actions, this gives me clues as to how to motivate and teach that student. I learned that other words for energy in this context might be “consciousness or intention”.
- Of course this is all student centered or a better phrase is “child oriented”. In other words, the student is more important than the curriculum. I cannot just throw the curriculum at them. As the teacher, I need to constantly discern my students’ abilities and what is appropriate and expansive for each of them to bring them to a higher level.