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What Does It Mean to Teach Sustainably

Do you ever feel like you're working too hard?? Giving more than you receive? Or running to keep from going backwards? I don’t think you're alone.

by Andrew Holmes, 18th December 2021

Lots of us who work holding space for others need to pay attention to our own health and well-being so we don’t do too much, and feel burnt out.

Last year the ICMTA changed part of its mission statement to read “To support and challenge our members to develop and deliver their teaching… in sustainable ways.” I wonder, what would that look like for you?

Recently a group of us have been meeting to talk about our environmental impact as teachers, and what we could do to reduce it. (We’ll be sharing some practical suggestions in a future newsletter...)

And we realised that there’s a connection between how we sustain and nourish ourselves and our work, and how we all relate to the planet around us. Our personal ecology is both a mirror and a part of the global ecology.

So what might it mean to become more sustainable as a teacher? Both for ourselves and for the Earth that we live on?
(We don’t have definitive answers... But this is what emerged from our conversations...)

The enquiry is useful and good in itself. The answers emerge from our roots and our values, from our sense of integrity.

The questions we might ask ourselves are:

  • What do I need to live?
  • How do I keep myself in balance?
  • And what is my role in the wider community?
Actions will grow out of letting these reflections land in us.

We might need to build new structures around our work. Go to different places, work with different people, change the rhythm or pattern of our showing up. Why settle for simply sustainable? - why not be regenerative as well! We are all being called by the pandemic and the climate emergency to imagine shifts in the way we live and work. Maybe there are profound changes to be made that will help create a different culture?

Whatever actions we decide to take, big or small, this is a collective endeavour. As a community of teachers we inspire and support each other. And whatever we do as individuals creates a ripple effect - through our students and communities, encouraging them too to play their part.

In the end, maybe we need to re-imagine what success looks like... What might a successful movement teacher do, in their community, and for the world?

Do let us know, if you have any ideas!

(originally published in December 2021 newsletter)

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