2. Personal Care and Patience
The spirit, the energy, the focus that you bring to the classroom, must be a caring one about the kids. Your presence should indicate that you are there every day teaching because you care about them. Every day you are delivering quality stuff, not just messing around and using up time. Every day you are trying to be relevant and trying to work with them. That message goes a long way because they see you care. They see you want to be there. They see you want to teach something. Therefore before you get to any of your other methods of teaching, they will pay close attention to your own behavior. If you can come into the classroom detached from your own emotions and your own problems, then they see that you are right there. They will feel a kind of happiness, an energy about your life. Then what you say from that point on, they will be interested in listening to because you seem to be pretty well integrated. Because you seem kind of interesting, you have a sense of humor, and you have other qualities, there are things about you they will want to emulate. Why would they want to emulate you? Everything you say, every action, every emotion you bring into the classroom, everything you do displays this wholesome quality of life. Therefore, they can accept you and what you say.
A good beginning alone is not enough. You also need consistency and constancy in teaching virtue. This is also true for everything you teach. That requires a lot of personal practice and patience. Before you can teach, you have to have a personal practice because you have to bring consistency to the classroom which requires being well integrated within your own self.
If you want to be successful in your teaching, all the methods have to be adapted to the real situation. This requires a lot of interaction with your students. Also, teaching anything about virtue should be taught positively, not negatively. It is not "thou shall not lie" because that implies law and authority. Let us talk within the context of the Five Precepts, because Buddhist precepts are solid and easy to work with. We may start with honesty. The question to be explored is, why should we be honest? To put it in a positive frame: I would discuss that telling the truth is being truthful. Introduce the virtue of honesty as telling the truth. The next question is, why would you want to tell the truth? Then you have to elaborate. This topic of telling the truth, as well as the topics of all the Five Precepts, gets into everything about life. You ask them: "Why would we tell the truth? You ask why would we not tell the truth? In what situations would we not tell the truth? Would we not to tell the truth so as to avoid the repercussions? Why do we want to avoid them? Well, it usually involves something else that you should have avoided doing. It turns out to be very complicated psychologically, because before you lie or do not tell the truth, you already had something to avoid. You had already done something that you knew you shouldn't have done. So why did you do that? You have to work back. Well, it was because... Then it starts to unravel. Once it all starts to unravel, it turns out that telling the truth is easy as long as you haven't done something that you want to avoid admitting. The question goes on like that. Every time you tell a lie, several things happen. Number one, when you don't tell the truth, you are hiding something from yourself, so you never can know yourself. Lying is not just directed at other people, but to yourself as well. If you lie to yourself, you never really know yourself. So this is a psychological issue that you could spend a lot of time on—that is, how to know yourself by being truthful and how, by lying, you don't know yourself. In this way, you could spend time discussing how lying is something you do to yourself.
To be continued