Remember to Play

A week or so ago I did a huge dietary detox cutting out all the common food allergens as a way to hit the reset button on my immune system that has recently battled multiple cases of strep throat. I more than survived the week and have even kept a few of the changes that I discovered last week, one very notable one being caffeine. That’s right friends, my daily cup of coffee routine is no more. Weekends only- for real. Most of you will be surprised to know that I have in fact NOT turned into a zombie. Quite the opposite in fact. Since the last couple days of my official detox, I have been bouncing off the walls with energy. De-caffeinated energy. I didn’t think it was possible.

I have multiple hypotheses for possible causes of this newfound energy: it could be the detox, or my deliberate effort to get a sound night’s sleep every day of the week, a somewhat regular yoga practice, or my new obsession with bike riding. Also, next week will be my two month-a-versary of moving to St. Louis and starting my fellowship at Metro. In all of my moving around of the last year and a half, I’ve found that the two month mark is when I finally start to relax and settle into a new place. Moving is so much more than just unpacking my belongings in a new space. The real comfort comes from letting my guard down. It’s a release of tension I didn’t know was there. And it feels fantastic. I wake up not only feeling ready to take on the day, but excited about the millions of learning opportunities that are waiting for me out there in the world.

I can feel this difference in my teaching. By relaxing, I’m giving myself permission to PLAY. This fun, playful energy is at the heart of who I am as a teaching artist and as a person, but often I don’t let that come to the surface right away. Now that I’ve found my footing, I feel like my true self again. Achieving that in a school setting is no small feat, and it can amount to a lot of pressure. But now that I’ve let myself relax and tapped into this seemingly bottomless well of energy, there’s a clear difference in my interactions with students and co-teachers. I am having more fun, and fun is contagious!

Your energy sets the tone for the class. If you’re not having fun, then your students aren’t having fun. Remember to play.

I’ve been actively fueling some of this energy into my blogging efforts, which is great news for ArtSmart readers! I’ve posed some questions to my network of teaching artists, who have submitted some pretty fabulous material that I’m excited to organize and share with you very soon. Get excited!

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