Category Archives: teaching

Are you overwhelmed by finals?

Argh!! The finals are coming! Are you prepared? Watch this video to learn the first very simple step in preparing for finals. For more tips on studying or questions about academic coaching feel free to leave a question in the comments below or contact me!

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How do I know if I’m STUCK?

Do you find yourself ready to get started and then every five minutes checking your phone? Changing your music playlist? or my go-to…opening and closing the refrigerator door? Watch this video about being stuck…and getting unstuck!

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The Big “Why?”

It’s here…or almost here…SCHOOL! What’s the answer to your Big WHY?

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To Be A Teacher

“Are you ready to fly solo?” the text read. “Kristen went into early labor so you’re on your own tomorrow!” On a Tuesday in late October I entered Humanities Left at 8am with some knowledge of myths needing to be completed.  I was taking over for the 6th grade teacher out on maternity leave. Thinking that time was on our side Kristen and I had met the previous Friday going over the classroom routines and then  planned for a week together where I would shadow Kristen and then gradually be released into the world of humanities.

Well, babies have their own timing and Kristen was in Labor and I was standing alone in front of a bunch of sixth graders. What, I wondered, would  a three month stint back in the classroom bring? Stomach flipping anxiety? Fun? Would I be able to let go of the classroom at the end of the day or keep my experiences tied into who I was as a person, my self-worth included?

What I found , during that three month stint, finally was a growing sensation that  I could finally be myself. Certainly there were rough stints.

One day was especially hard. After a week of teaching, tutoring, and babysitting I burst through the doors of my house practically in tears. “What’s wrong?” asked Swami Ramananda. . As I recalled the daily digest and also expressed frustration at myself for feeling a need for control, he said, “Hmm..can you notice your behavior without responding to it?”

What was it about the classroom then that I felt I had to control others’ behavior? I watched myself one day as I got into a futile argument with a student over paper. Hmm. Would the result of the argument help the objectives of the assignment? Or just prove to this ego that I am the teacher and therefore in “control.” If the argument didn’t go my way then what? Was I not in control?

Taking Ramananda’s advice, I began to watch my behavior. Were there times, when altough I might not agree with a student’s decision, I could let it go? And what happened if I did? As I stepped back, the classroom became it’s own entity in which I was a part but not in charge of.Students come to me for help, and I started to only interfere if I felt that a student needed to be guided back on track to reach the objectives of the class.

More and more I let the class become truly about the students and I as an ally to guide them along.  One student in particular if not given specific directions would spend the class gazing at the ceiling or tying his shoe. One day I asked him, “What is it that you need from me to help you feel successful?” The shift from having all the answers to a collaboration with the students  shifted the space dramatically.

I will also say that this was a class that allowed for an easy collaboration. The classroom so varies on the personalities that it brings. It’s not always the case that I, or any teacher can so easily step back and let the classroom be as it is.

Children reveal our greatest vulnerabilities. Child professionals and parents have an especially big sensitivity button that when pushed can spill tears, rage, blame, love, hugs, and praise sometimes all in one blubbery sentence! It is easy to put one’s exbrokennpectations of self-worth, and measures of success and failures on that of a child as they have an easy way of exposing adults for whom they really are. Inside we feel a great sense of pride when these children experience a certain measure of success and a bout of dissapointment when they don’t measure up to one’s expectations.

When a child appears resistant or shows a lack of understanding it is easy to jump into fix-it mode. With what could appear as stalled movements forward fix-it mode can turn into desperation which can spew blame, dissapointment,frustration, and sadness by the adults around him or her.Is it possible that while we are applying all of our knowledge to those that need it,we can also just be by their side and let them know that they are not broken, but loved just as  they are?

Connection and empathy are  often the most empowering gestures that we can give and receive. The ablity to sit with a student and be with him or her exactly where he or she is in struggle or success is a practice. As authors Michael I. Bennet and Sarah Bennet express in their book F*ck Feelings, “It’s the loving parents of self-hating kids who are genuinely the most amazing, specialest, snowflake parents of all.” In the acceptance of that self-hating child or whatever stage they are in, allowing him/her to  just being perfect in their imperfections we are also showing ourselves that same acceptance which, at the end of the day, may (or may not) help us take a step forward.

 

 

So Hum

Arriving back in Mexico has been a whirlwind of (goodness!) and busyness. After sobbing the night I left Northern California and a 2 am departure, it was an incredible blessing to be met at the airport by a good friend who took me to another good friend’s house where I had the fortune to stay for a couple of nights before leaving for a weekend at the beach. Not a bad return to Mexico at all.

I have been busy with work and training, both of which, I can say have been quite a pleasure. I spent much of summer  sitting on the porch of my kind guests’ beautiful house tree-gazing. Sometimes thinking, “Hmm…am I doing enough? Should I…and then I would continue to to tree-gaze sometimes thinking about the should I’s, sometimes napping, and much of the time really just staring. That tranquility somehow transferred to this crazy busy city and school year life and although my days are filled from before dawn until eight or nine o’clock all of it is a pleasure and filled with experiences that I enjoy.

Upon arriving to Mexico, my friend recommended a 21 day free online meditation sponsored by Oprah and Deepak Choprah. To ease myself back and to give myself some structured meditation I signed up for it. One meditation, in particular stuck with me: “So hum.” So-I am hum-all that there is. I am all that there is, or Deepak Choprah’s interpretation: “I am enough.”  Just being in all that I am doing all the time, through stress and happiness, work and home, has been a high priority and a challenge. In fact, I think I only surround myself with people that seem to just be so naturally because I find it so much easier to accept that within myself when others can accept it for themselves.

In working with children, their parents and other teachers (all of us an incredible bunch, and  our control and sensitivity buttons ready to be pushed at a simple, small miscommunication’s notice) I find “just being” to be at the utmost importance as it allows me to connect, listen, and empathize; essential pieces to this line of work.  And so when it came time to prepare for Back-to-School Night I found myself in a total complete panic. I wasn’t worried about what the parents would think of me (for once), but I wanted the parents to feel that they could be completely who they were and leave feeling safe, warm, and happy. Thankful to a friend whose third time  offer of YOU CAN COME OVER AND I WILL HELP YOU I finally accepted, we created the most, ME presentation EVER. And I think it had the desired effect. Here are two fun examples:

I had an activity planned in which parents take three M&M’s, and answer questions based on the color of the M&M’s with their table members. As parents were coming in, the M&M’s were already on the table. I looked over at one table and all of the M&M’s were gone.  Making light of the situation, I walked over to refill their plate and  joked that of course they could eventually eat the M&M’s but it was for an activity.Well, apparently that table didn’t hear me because I looked over and the M&M’s were gone again!! My control button buzzed like crazy,  but also so did a complete sense of  hilarity.  It was just ridiculously funny (kind of laughing at myself for caring so much too)! And of course, when I introduced the activity the M&M eater was very sweetly embarrassed (I didn’t say anything, he just realized).

 Another very funny moment was when the Spanish teacher was giving her presentation, a mom came up to me and I said, “Oh thanks so much for coming! And she said…”Oh no..I’m not leaving. I just got my period. Do you have anything??” Total transparency and randomness…and I LOVED it.

And here I am. I came down with a mild cold on Thursday, enough to  keep me from  training today and perhaps tomorrow. The should I’s are running through my head like mad. So Hum.

May you always feel like you are enough. Because you are.