I am a fan of Food Network Star – a competition reality show whose contestants have to demonstrate both onscreen appeal and cooking expertise in order to win their own television show.  I like reality shows that show people with talent, making and creating as I watch.  On last week’s episode of Food Network Star, one of the judge’s comments deeply touched my teacher self.

The contestants had to present their food to a panel of stand-up comics – not the easiest room to impress.  After one contestant nailed it, one of the judges, Bob Tuschman, said “You were so clearly happy to be there that the room instantly relaxed and opened up to you.”  For the rest of the evening I kept thinking about that statement and holding it up to my world – the college classroom.

When our work is done with love – love of what we do and with whom we do it – that statement fits a classroom as well as a TV studio.  We can stand in front of a class of skeptical college students, open ourselves to act with love toward each soul in that room, and stand in a place where the room will “instantly relax and open up” to us.  It is not easy and it is not always even possible (depending on how much you and the students have pissed each other off recently) but what a glorious goal!  Let us be brave.  When we choose to stand in a place of love and honesty as we teach, we will relax and open up to our students and they will be much more likely to relax and open up to us and to learning.  I will meet you there.

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