I’ve been thinking about flow lately. Why? I keep trying meditation but I can’t sit still long enough and counting my breathing is boring.
Flow is another way to describe being in the zone. I’ve been reading a bunch of articles about it and how some people reach flow at work, in a sport, in a hobby. My favorite hobby, working in the local parks, has me in the zone for hours every weekend.
So, does flow happen for a teacher?
These past few weeks, I have had several students say things like, “Man, class went fast today!” Maybe they zoned out thinking about playing sports or a computer game after school, but I don’t think so. I was observing them, at least a little, before they made this comment. They were engaged and focused on meaningful, interesting work.
And so was I. I can stand up in front of the whole class and lecture all period. Haven’t done it in a decade or so, but I can do it. No flow there. No, I’ve been finding flow in one-on-one writing conferences. Sound ridiculous? What can be so interesting in talking to a bunch of 13 year-olds about their research papers? A great deal.
You enter the mind and thinking process of a young adolescent and you’re in for a mind bending ride through a maze of endless twists and turns with each one is different from the last. I try to set a timer for 3 minutes per student; that things goes off and I’m still listening , still thinking, still flowing. You haven’t experienced an exercise in pure concentration until you listen to a thirteen year old explain to you how what they have created is a logical, sequential argument. And that is just the beginning. Then I get to help; I get to ask questions; I get to send them off powerful in their knowledge that they created something, something all their own.
That’s like knowing how to hit a 90 mile an hour fastball. That’s like being able to return an Andy Murray serve.
Pure flow. Pure “in the zone.”