​Welcome to THE ZEN TEACHER PROFILE. Here, experienced teachers respond to questions that explore their use of Zen-inspired techniques and concepts in their day-to-day classroom experience.

If you would like to participate in THE ZEN TEACHER PROFILE, please feel free to let me know by using the contact form on the website, which can be found here, or emailing me at teachingzen@gmail.com.  I offer you twenty-two questions and you choose the ones (limit 3) you’d like to answer.
 How do you stay “centered” I the midst of the storm?
I’m a firm believer in the statement that “Our focus determines our reality”. As an elementary principal, things can get pretty hectic at times and there are many distractions that can keep us from being focused. However, if we keep our focus at all times on what’s most important – our students – then everything else will fall in place. Steven Covey talks about putting in the “Big Rocks” first. For me, the big rocks are my students and building and maintaining caring, trusting relationships.
What role does gratitude play in your school experience?
Gratitude is essential in the school setting. As a principal, I need to model gratitude for my staff and in turn they model it for the students. I keep a gratitude journal to help keep the process of expressing gratitude intentional. When we are expressing gratitude, it helps keep our outlook positive and with a positive attitude, we can accomplish anything!
What role do rituals play in your school experience?
Rituals are important to me both in and out of school. I believe that consistency can be a powerful tool in establishing a positive classroom and school environment. We have a ritual of starting each week at school with a “Celebrate Monday” assembly, where we focus on a positive theme, share a video or song that demonstrates the theme, and then pledge to start our week on a positive note. We also have rituals like morning pledge led by students, sharing out of books that students are reading during our morning announcements, and monthly celebrations of students for character education. Having rituals like exercise, family time, and reading time are important as well and something we promote with all our families. TZT

Jonathon Wennstrom is an elementary principal in southeast Michigan. He started his educational journey in 1995 as an elementary teacher and is just as excited about education as the day he started! He is active on Twitter and can be found at @jon_wennstrom and also writes a weekly blog at sparkoflearning.blogspot.com