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Finding third space when you teach

In Getting Messy: A Guide to Taking Risks and Opening the Imagination for Teachers, Trainers, Coaches and Mentors, teaching is viewed as a "creative process" -- we learn as we go along. By approaching teaching as an ongoing inquiry... in which we're learners with our students, we’re able to stay renewed, recharged and inspired. And if we can be learners when we teach, then there must be something bigger than us—what I call a “third thing”—that is actually doing the teaching. Burn-out, fear, anxiety and terror happen when the weight of the situation is all on our shoulders—when we feel we must be perfect, have all the answers, be “in control.” But when we find and access the third thing, we have space we can breathe into. We're operating from our hearts and the highest parts of ourselves, rather than our egos and linear minds.

Being a teacher in the traditional sense presents us with an automatic polarity. On one side of the polarity is the teacher, a person who is expected to have professional expertise and "managerial control." On the other side of the polarity are the learners, who seemingly have come as empty vessels, waiting to be filled by our infinite wisdom. Despite the wisdom and expertise that we hold, this dichotomy of teacher-student automatically presents a friction, a tension, however we wish to soothe it over. But when we find third space as teachers, we bridge the dichotomy between teacher and student, and the process of teaching and learning finds its highest form. Beauty, grace, and inspiration are now present in the room. We are participating in the mystery. After all, it does say somewhere in the Bible that when “two or more are present, there I am in your midst.” I don’t consider myself to be a religious person, but I have always taught with this in mind. There is a third thing that is present when I teach, and that third thing is where the beauty of teaching and learning lie. I'll let you read Getting Messy to learn more.

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