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 attempt to “Be in the Moment” as you teach?

Teaching to the whole child and creating a learning environment that supports students’ social, emotional, mental and academic well-being has always been extremely important to me. Building relationships and making connections is the foundation for instruction to take place. In order to accomplish this effectively, I have to be 100% present when I am working with students. My focus and attention is on my instruction and our learning. Time is not spent at my desk, doing paperwork or other tasks that take my indicate they are not my top priority.

What role does reflection play in your classroom experience?

My 7th grade Language and Literature class students have a reflection section in their writing notebooks this year. I have found it to be beneficial for many reasons. It allows me the opportunity to model how I reflect on different areas of my life. It also provides them the chance to reflect on their lives, whether it be social, academic, home, etc. Reflections are sometimes in response to content based prompts or more general. They might stem from a shared class experience or allow students to reflect on personal experiences.

How do you stay “centered” in the midst of the storm?

As I have gotten older, I have learned through experiences that I cannot control how others choose to respond to a situation. I only have control over my own actions, words, and feelings. I choose to limit the amount of negativity and chaos as much as possible in my life. Surrounding myself with positive people and attitudes have an incredible uplifting impact on my own mindset. TZT

Teresa Gross is currently a Middle School Literacy Teacher in New York State. Over the past 15 years she has had the pleasure of working as both a speech therapist and reading teacher for children ranging from ages 2-21 years. Her experience includes home and preschool based therapy, elementary, middle and high school settings.