Create Space…and Time

So the thing is, I always find myself at a loss when someone perceives something I’ve done or said as racist or from their own inherent bias. I try, as a high school teacher especially, to make sure that I am always seeing things from as many angles and sides as I possibly can. Now I will never assume to be able to see things from a different color, that is not even possible. I do know when you come into my classroom though that you will be treated equally to everyone else.

With that said, when I have to send an email home based on an observed behavior (say sleeping in class), which was preceded by a statement regarding the class (I won’t be taking the AP Exam), and the work for the day was taking notes on how to best write an essay for the exam, it is not based on race, it is based on observation. When I have had conversations with you that don’t match what you know about your child, that doesn’t mean I am perceiving them by their color, but again on actual obsversation of their behavior in my classroom.

So when the reply is all about race, and how concerned you are about how I see your child, I promise, I am doing the best I can to make sure that all of our interactions are based around what I am observing in the classroom. I am not making any sort of judgements based on the race of your child. I have all cultures, races, and ethnicities through my room. I have been teaching for over 20 years, yours is not the first child to go through my classroom. Everything I say is based on what I am seeing, have heard from your child, or have witnessed as they go through their day.

So now I am finding I have to create space within myself to deal with this issue that feels like a personal attack. I also have to create an even safer space then I already have in my classroom, although I am not sure how to do that. I took the time to write an apology, to explain that the email was sent on observation, that you were not the only parent to get a similar email, and that at no time was this based on your student’s race, and in fact express how very saddened I am that this was your perception. I can only hope you are willing to see what I am saying.

In addition though I have to create space within my heart, and my new found sadness that you feel this from me, to not let it drown me, to make sure that I know where I was coming from, and to make sure that I do not take upon me that which is not mine to own. I also have to take the time to breathe. To recenter, reground, and remember who I am, and why I am here. In 20+ years this is not the first time, nor will it be the last, especially as the climate is ever changing around people. However, it will always throw me for a loop, and leave me ready to cry. I try so hard, and work daily at making sure all of my students know they are loved, along with pushing them hard.

Create space within yourself, within your emotions, within your environment to be able to deal with the unepxected. Then create the time to be able to process and deal with what was just thrown at you.

End of the month reflection…

So, here we are, at the end of January. I am at a conference tomorrow and am not sure how much time I will have or if I will have any time to get a blog post up, so I am reflecting and writing today.

It was a great month, a tough month, a look at yourself month, a begin again and then again month. In short, it was a typical January. The good thing about Januarys is that they are followed by Februarys. The shortest month of the year, the best month to keep going, because it is easier to see the end of the month, to set goals and not feel like the end is forever away.

Also, it has some interesting things associated with it. It is National Black History Month, the Valentine’s Day Massacre, Valentine’s Day, Groundhog Day, President’s Day, several Presidential birthdays…There are so many things going on in February and I just listed a few of them. For such a short month it is packed full of things.

January though, it holds one of my favorite days. National Compliment Day is in January. It is a day when it is acceptable, and in fact encouraged to give compliments out through the day. I was lucky enough to help the Student Government students at my school organize an entire week around this day. It felt great, it felt promising, and while it didn’t fail miserably, I know it was not quite what we were expecting.

Part of my reflection revolves around some questions in Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Planner. Questions that tie right into why National Compliment Day didn’t go as well as we expected. One of those is “Someone I could surprise with a note, gift, or sign of appreciate is…” How often do we really reflect on this, or follow through with it? I am one of those rare people that often send out little messages, or float through an office on campus and hand out hugs. I know though, that this is not the norm. So asking people, high school students especially, to actually write a nice note about someone that they will receive, can be daunting to them. We don’t require them to be nice on a daily basis, or to think outside of themselves to what might make someone else smile through the day.

The other question is “Something that could have helped me feel more connected to others today would have been…” This again leads right into the idea that we don’t connect personally with others on a regular basis. Not only does Brendon’s planner make me think about and follow through on these daily, but it has helped me to see that we don’t require it of others. My students would rather plug in, work online, and barely deal with each other if I let them get away with it. I however require that they turn their phones in at the beginning of the period and interact not only with each other, but with me as well.

This interaction though, it isn’t always genuine. I don’t actually make them answer the same questions I’m answer, although it might be a good idea. In fact, I think that I will start making this a part of their daily thought process in February. How are they deliberately, genuinely making others feel good, and how could they have actually made better connections on their own.

Just typing out this reflection has already made me a better person, a better teacher, a learner, and a doer. I didn’t even touch on my own personal fails, of which there were plenty. I am choosing not to dwell on what I didn’t do, but rather how I can better accomplish what I need to continue doing.

Drop me a comment and let me know how your January went. Have you reflected yet?

What’s Your Mindset?

As a teacher we have recently been hearing the catchphrase “growth mindset”. We are integrating training or rather recognition or a growth mindset versus a limiting mindset into our Freshman Seminar courses, and all teachers are supposed to view all of their students with a growth mindset and encourage those who are sleeping through class or talking back, to reevaluate how they view things so that they can learn to develop this “growth mindset”. But really, what is it? We can research and read definitions, and do practice lessons to take back to the classroom, but what does that really mean for us? And beyond us, what does it mean for the students? Or if you aren’t a teacher by day, what would that mean to you?

I am working on making myself better. Maybe you noticed that from all of the blog posts prior to this one. I am learning to be a life coach (something I discovered today I already do a lot of), and I am reading Brendon Burchard’s book High Performance Habits. I was in the process of perusing the first chapter before I took to it with a highlighter and colored pens, and discovered part of the catchphrase, right there. “The mindset you choose to adopt” is the number one bullet point on the malleable things that effect our performance and our ability to change and improve.

So now I am thinking, how do I take this idea, merge it with something I already know too much about, and create a way to make them work for me. And then I realized something else, my mindset was instantly one of a growth and inquisitive nature. I knew a little about this in general, a lot about it in education, and now I wanted to work on how to move it into my new outlook on life, how to apply it to my own growth and attitude about what I am doing.

My changes are not just in learning, but in how I approach my home and keeping it organized and clean, and how I get the outside tasks done for those things I am responsible for, and how to nurture my spirit all within this new mindset, not just of growth but of love, of responsibility, of not being broken but rather on a different path.

What’s your mindset? Do you need help shifting it? What do you do if you find yourself not where you want to be? Feel free to drop me a message!

There is always someone who has your back…

even if it is the energy surrounding you. You are never alone, even though you may feel like it. Situations arise and often we feel that there is no one who will support us through it, but the fact is, we don’t need someone to support us through it. If we just work hard through it, put good energy out about it (whether an outcome, or getting out of, or a gentle goodbye), we will find ourselves on the other side of it without needing anyone else.

Now that isn’t to say having someone else there would be nice. We all know that does not always happen though. The emotions and energy we feel when someone is there however, are things we can draw on for ourselves when we feel alone. That sense of support, companionship, trust, relief that there is someone who can help us…those are all things that can come from within, from the energy around us, and from our own wants and desires.

I am about to embark on some new adventures that I hope bring me to a place of peace, financial freedom, and travel ability. Right now I teach High School…that does not lend itself to any of those. This is the first time I have actually put it out there. I haven’t said anything to anyone as I begin taking classes and learning some new things, and I am working through my Brendon Burchard #hpxlife and the new planner that I just received. With these tools in my life I am hoping to find the energy, the dedication, and the intention to be the best me, with better goals.

Even if I find myself not being able to accomplish it all, I know that the learning I am going to be doing will benefit me where I am at. No matter what I win, I move forward, and I become a better me. This is all I can ask for, moving forward to a better me; the rest will fall into place around me as it is supposed to.

Today’s The Universe has Your Back card: The Universe Has MY Back

Intention: Trust that is will work the way it should

Personal Reflection: “Feeling alone/exposed is something we’ve all felt at some point. Not always, but vulnerable, attacked, or just left to face life with no help. This is a reminder that you are never truly alone. There is a greater energy, a greater being around us who, who always has us covered. Trusting that we are where we need to be when we need to be there is important. So is being open, receptive and willing to listen to what is being offered. The Universe has my back, it is time to grow, to shine, to be the best me, and let the rest go by the wayside.”

Seekers Need to Choose

As a mentor you learn that your guidance comes by helping your seekers on their path with your experience. You can’t force them onto your path. You might give them things that you’ve found helpful and useful, but they have to walk the path they are on.

As teachers we try to force kids to learn what we have been told to teach them. They don’t get to choose what they want to learn. We say here read this, learn this and be on our path of learning. We don’t say what would you like to learn and how can I make sure you get the necessary skills.

The problem is what we try to force them to learn can be uninteresting and disengaging to them. Occasionally  we hit a gold mine and they are all right there, and then for that brief glimmer you can see it…the learning, the engagement, the joy. It warms your heart, and then the next moment all that is gone.

Today I asked my kids if they could study anything what would it be? History of gangs, being a nurse, animation, professional …(insert sport).  So now I have a starting point, somewhere to connect Martin Luther King, Jr. to what they want to learn. A place where what I need to teach, meets them on their path.

Like those I mentor in Wicca and at Sacred Mists, teaching is a passion. When I lose my kids and I lose myself because of disconnect I come back to what I know best and who I am. So looking at my students as seekers changes how I approach them. Yesterday was a challenge. Today was a beginning.

What Is Your Role?

“The seeker sets the goals in response to their own needs, their own inner calls.  Mentors provide the perspective of long experience and study, help seekers understand obstacles, and make suggestions for further progress.”  ~ Judy Harrow, Spiritual Mentoring: A Pagan’s Guide

When reading this originally it resonated so deeply that I immediately highlighted it and wrote notes on all the people in my life I wanted to send it to.  I even sent it off to the Principal of a new type of school, as he doesn’t have teachers, only mentors.  It resonated with his vision, with my own beliefs, with those of so many people in education that I know, that is made my worlds meld.

This book is required reading for one of my lessons at Sacred Mists.  I am working on my 3rd degree Priestess course and my own personal callings have now been completely melded.  I am going to be saving money to start school online (as I mentioned when I began the blog) to be a pagan spiritual counselor and teacher.  I cannot even begin to describe the contentment in my soul when I began reading this book.

As a teacher/mentor I am always a seeker.  I think that is one of the most important things to know about those who have a calling for this life.  We never stop learning, about ourselves, others, things that interest us.  In addition, we want to share the knowledge we have and the experience we have gained.  We have a knack for it, and we look for those we feel we could help.  The nice thing about that is the energy we put out often draws in those who need us the most.

As I am reading this book, I am not even opening my lesson.  I don’t know what questions will be asked of me, or what I am supposed to be answering.  I don’t feel the need because this book resonates within my soul, within my energy and completes me in a way that I never expected.  I know the answers will simply be there when I need them.  The knowledge is now attained and I don’t need to worry.

I am also looking at my teaching for this year.  Am I truly doing what I am being called to do?  Am I applying this the way the students need?  The answer is no.  Not with my younger classes.  I can see what they need, but they can’t.  It makes it difficult when they don’t know what they need.  I am doing my best, and I am going to be looking at things with new eyes as I continue through the book, and even read it a second time.  How can I apply these to where I am and the students I come into contact with daily.

I need to view them as seekers, even if they don’t really know what they are seeking.