Zen Teaching: Create Focus and Simplicity
Reviewed by Laura Von Staden
In The Zen Teacher Dan Tricarico takes us through steps to help us move from our frazzled, overwhelmed existence as teachers, to simplify and focus on the moment, thus creating more tranquility in our lives and allowing us to free our creativity and be better teachers.
He also gives us ways to help establish this “Zen” environment in our classrooms – but of course to do that, we must first be a “Zen Teacher.”
The book is divided into 3 main sections: Zen; Meditation and Mindfulness; and Space, Stillness, and Self-Care. Each chapter is short and followed by a Zen Teacher Assignment, making this a quick read with steps to be implemented immediately.
In addition, several chapters have steps to follow to get us started and moving down the path to the desired place (Zen). Tricarico breaks each section into multiple subsections, all building on each other. He provides great quotes and compelling arguments before showing us the way.
A timely read for many of us
I originally read this book a few months ago, when my life was on crazy. I got what Tricarico was saying and was giving thought to how I might try to implement some of the steps, but life was just too hectic. I was, as Tricarico would say, part of the living dead, powering through life racing from one thing to another and wasting the gift of life and the beauty around me.
My lack of Self-Care led to a place that Tricarico warns us about. My physical ailments have kept me not only from being the best me that I can be and giving to others, but nearly from even being able to get through my day.
I have come to learn that I truly need a little Zen in my life. Hopefully you won’t have to go down the path I did to figure that out. I am working on catching up on all that has been left undone the past few months, and I re-read this book as part of that. I have begun to value and appreciate every day that I am given – part of the Zen teacher perspective. I am much less stressed and feel much more ready to tackle this most important job of teaching and to enjoy the journey and the life that I have.
I think most great teachers are similar to me: we give everything, without taking care of ourselves or paying attention to the moments that we have in our lives and with our students. I would recommend that you read this book and then come back to it when you are stressed and overwhelmed. It could save you from becoming burned out and could help you find both your place in the world and tranquility in your choice of professions.
Dr. Laura Von Staden is a Middle School Special Education Lead Teacher in Tampa, Florida. She serves on numerous committees both at her school and within her district and works closely with the local university where she is a Professional Practice Partner and a master mentor. Dr. Von Staden also facilitates both online and face-to-face Professional Development for her school district.