Posts Tagged ‘college students’

The “C” in the MASCC stands for compassion.  Every student wants a teacher who has compassion for them.  Many of our students live in homes that are filled with lack, limitation, anger, and fear.  So when they step into your classroom they want to feel safe, cared for, loved, listened to, and understood.subtle-sound-book-cover-picture

Maurine Stuart’s description of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara in her book The Subtle Sound (1996) is a great description of every good teacher that I know.

The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, who appears in the Heart Sutra, is the bodhisattva of compassion and wisdom, and is often depicted as having one thousand hands and one thousand eyes; one thousand eyes to see the thousands of needs, and one thousand hands to help. Some depictions have eleven faces as well, to symbolize seeing in all directions simultaneously (p. 87).[1]

Every once in a while you’ll hear a student say, “Does she have eyes in the back of her head?” As a teacher I know that it is important for the students to think that you have “eyes” in the back of your head.  What the students really want to know is that the teacher has compassion for them and will give them the support, the kind words, the extension on their homework, and more when they need it. They want to know that we care about them and their success not only in the classroom but in life.  We know that the situation in some of their homes makes it difficult to study and learn.

In one of my developmental English classes I discovered that one of my best students was homeless.  How did I discover that?  She was always the first one in class and so one morning I complimented her on it. She shared with me that she had to take an early bus in order to get to class on time because she was coming from the homeless shelter for teens all the way across town.  When I heard that I gave her space to share her story and for the balance of the term I gave her what support I could.

Unless we have compassion for our students many are likely to drop out of high school or college.  Unless we perfect that compassion we may be adding to the pain and suffering that they live with on a daily basis.  And don’t think just because they live in a fancy house in a fancy neighborhood that life is a bowl of cherries!  Suffering comes in all shapes and sizes and incomes.

Be like the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara with your thousand eyes and hands ready to help!

Let me know how it goes!


[1] Stuart, M. and Chayat, R.S. (1996). Subtle Sound the Zen Teachings of Maurine Stuart. Boston, MA: Shambhala.


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Contemplative engagement with a text. Fantastic piece to help you and your students engage with your writing, their writing, and the writing of others. I Hope you’ll check it out and share it with your students, faculty, and anyone else you think will enjoy reading it.  In gassho, Shokai

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Today is the day I’ve decided to write my first blog post for Kaplan University Writing Guide and like all writers I am a little nervous about the whole thing.  Will it be good enough?  Is the grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure correct?  I wonder if the other faculty members will like my writing or if they think that it is boring or simplistic or uninteresting.  Wow!  While all of these thoughts are running around in my head how can I write?  I can’t!

So what are my options?  I can just choose not to write.  I can chicken out and send an e-mail to Lisa saying I am too busy and have to forgo the opportunity.  Or I could just take a few minutes and do what I do each morning before I start my day—meditate and calm my mind and my body, and find that quiet place within me.

Mindfulness is a wonderful practice that I have used in my classes for 20 years.  Before we begin class or the assignment we take 60 seconds to get relaxed, centered, and simply breathe.  Yes breathe!  My students have learned how to focus their attention on the seminar, or the class, or the assignment they are working on in just 60 seconds.  You have 60 seconds don’t you?

The directions are below.

1. Get comfortable in your chair or wherever you are sitting.

2. Since we hold a lot of tension in our hands let’s give them a good shake. Now place them comfortably in your lap, or on your desk, or wherever they would be most comfortable.

3.  You can do this exercise with your eyes open or closed.  I like mine closed because I am a visual learner and I get distracted by what I am seeing.  So I close my eyes, but you can leave yours open with good results as well.

4.  Next, begin by taking 3 deep breaths, but not so deep that they make you cough.  Count one on the in breath and 2 on the out breath.  Do that slowly 3 times.

5.  Finally, take a minute to think about how you feel.  Is your mind calm?  How does your body feel?  Has the tension gone out of your muscles? Have your shoulders dropped away from your ears? Has your mind calmed down and cleared?  If so, you are ready to being the writing process.

Okay–take  60 seconds and try it out!

When the mind is filled with rambling thoughts, fears, and questions it cannot be creative, focused, or fruitful.  So begin each writing period like this and if you lose your focus in the middle of the writing process stop and do the exercise again.  It will only take 60 seconds out of your writing period and it will give you many minutes of clarity and creativity to use toward a paper that will get you exactly what you desire—a great grade from your professor!

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