Oftentimes when we are working with others our own ideals and beliefs get in the way. What I mean by that is we may think that our way is the best way, and it is, for us. But we are not doing things for us. We are teachers who are there to empower our students to learn what works best for them. It is important that we do not force on them what works best for us. It is hard to let go of some of this control. Again I will use my son as an example, mainly because I am learning a lot from him and I am also learning, the hard way sometimes, that not everything needs to be done my way. Drake is required to help out with the chores in the house. As I have said before, I am a perfectionist and this does not limit itself to just school. One of his jobs is to clean one of the bathrooms in the house. I taught him the ways I expect the bathroom to be cleaned. We did it together a few times and then I left him to it when I felt he was ready for the task. He started on the job and what seemed like hours later, he finally said he was done. There was water everywhere, the dirty cloth was still in the room, the sink and tub were still filled with water, but man did he do a great job. He did everything he knew was needed-the sink and counter were clean. The tub shined and the toilet was no longer covered in urine. Every time I went in to check on him I was frustrated-he was not doing the cleaning in the same order I had taught him, his cloth was too wet- but in the end, he was able to complete the task in a way that worked for him and although there was some tweaking that was in order, he had done a great job.
Kristin Souers indicates in this chapter the power of communication. Our words and our tone are everything when talking with others. She gives us six steps to help us communicate more effectively with people when there is a crisis or a conflict. I am sure that had I used these six steps in the situation above maybe our tempers would not have risen and I could have given my son the love and admiration he deserved at the time.
Listen-actually listen to what the other person has to say
Reassure- let the person know that they and their feelings are important
Validate- let the person know that what they are feeling is acknowledged as their truth and experience. Remember that this is about them and not about us so do not feel attacked-these are simply their feelings and experiences
Respond- explain in your own words what has happened based on what that person has just told you
Repair-recognizing that the other person was hurt in some way and apologizing in earnest will go a long way in maintaining a relationship
Resolution- come to terms with what happened and take steps to not repeat the same situation in the future
If we focus on the other person in the situation rather than ourselves we can better see from their perspective. In doing so we can be more successful in our interactions with them in the future. Remember, as Souers says “you are doing the best you can with what you have in the moment.”
Have you ever followed a similar plan when communicating with someone during a heated or emotional disagreement? If not do you think it would have changed anything?
Are there situations in which you have demanded someone to do things your way? How did they turn out? What could have happened if you had let them do it in their own way?
Such good advice! Shut Your Mouth- I need to heed this more often 🙂 Often times we escalate the problems just by talking, even if we are talking in a calm tone of voice.
“Just Breathe” is a phrase I have seen many times over that past few years. It is a phrase told to people who are grieving, to help them through difficult times. We tell it to people frequently when they are melting down. We may even tell it to ourselves when we have to deal with people who are dis-regulated, as a reminder to say calm ourselves. Our bodies and brains require oxygen to allow our systems to work properly. We know that when we are melting down or “flipping our lids” our brains are not working to their full capacity. Simply taking a few deep breaths can help get our brains back on track and thinking once again.
Pete’s Practice brings us on a journey to determine our triggers within a classroom/school setting. He also makes the comment that there triggers are going to present themselves and we shouldn’t be surprised that they are happening. What we should do is spend time preparing for them so that when the time comes, we are able to deal with them effectively and in a calm manner that does not escalate the situation further.
What inner peace activities do you do to help you when the time comes to respond to an escalated situation?
For me, simply exercising regularly is very helpful. It helps me get the tension out of my body and allows me to be flooded with oxygen and energy. Maybe following the breathing activity outlined by Kristin at least three times a week would help as well. Maybe it would center my thoughts and emotions better so that I can come to a trigger and have a better chance of making it through to the other side with all involved unscathed.
My Goal from this chapter- complete the breathing activity on Monday, Wednesday and Friday after karate or the boys are in bed. Write about how this makes you feel after 1 week, 2 weeks, etc. Try this for a month and continue if you find it has helped.
Could you write yourself a goal to help you better respond in frustrating situations?
Remaining Grounded Amid Chaos. Now that is a very difficult thing to do for me. I seem to feed off the negative energy and get sucked right in. This is very evident if you have ever seen me deal with my oldest son, something that I am not very proud of. How will I stay out of that “tornado” of negative? Well, the author has some ideas to help us stay focused on the task, stay grounded in the truth and not get sucked in. We need to regulate our own emotions-stay in our “upstairs” brain- creating a calm environment for ourselves within this terrible situation. I guess you could say we need to be the eye of the hurricane- while everything is being cast aside and thrown about by the dis-regulation of the student or other person with whom we are working, we need to be that calm spot, where we are not allowing the winds and the rain to take us in and force us down the negative spiral out of control. During this storm, it is our job to encourage that student or person to join us in the eye of the storm. To come back to a regulated self, a place where they can think clearly once again.
Kristin Souers reminds us that we need to acknowledge our triggers and learn to manage them in healthy ways. My trigger is my son requiring me to tell him the same thing over and over again before he follows through, and even then I have to use my yelling voice. Now that I know this is a trigger, how can I manage it in a healthy way. I know that my son needs that time to transition between tasks. It might be helpful for him to have a timer that gives him a gentle reminder to move over to the next activity. Even still, using this as a potential strategy, I know that I am still going to have to acknowledge how I am feeling about the situation and get myself in check before proceeding further with my boy. I also know that I need to give myself permission to make mistakes along the way, as I am a work-in-progress as a parent and parenting, along with teaching, is very hard. The one thing I do know, is that I do not want to be contributing to my child’s ACEs by creating an environment of hate and discontent daily for him.
What are your triggers in the classroom or in life in general?
How might you keep yourself calm when one of these triggers presents? How will you stay in your upstairs brain?
This month the topic is the brain. Teaching students about the brain and how it grows is very interesting for them. I did a similar lesson with my Grade 5 class last year and they wanted to know more and more about the brain. I like the models of the brain that you would get out of these lessons. I wish that we would have done something like that-Next time for sure!
I also have a couple of videos that I used to show how the brain develops hardwired pathways with practice.
These are just a couple of the little videos we watched. The video on neuroplasticity was very interesting for the students. We discussed times when we needed to practice a lot to see improvements. A lot of sports activities came out, but also things like math facts, songs etc. were also brought up. Throughout the year, it is important to remind the students that they are continuing to grow their brains through the repetition and practice of different activities.
One thing I never thought to teach the kids was about metacognition-the act of thinking about how we think. The revised curriculum plays very well into teaching about metacognition. There are some great activity ideas on pages 69 and 70 to grow a student’s understanding of how they think in different situations. The other area this chapter talks about is giving your brain stimulating breaks or doing “brain-boosting” activities. There are some ideas of these on page 71. One type of brain break that we used in our class was www.gonoodle.com. As a class we logged 481 active minutes on GoNoodle, and I was only part time in the classroom. We had some favourite activities like “Strike a Pose” and “Run the Red Carpet”. Some of my more athletic students really enjoyed the sports events in the Go With The Pro category and when someone was feeling a little cheeky we would end up doing the Maxerena or the Chicken Dance with Maximo. These little breaks were very good for all the students and they helped after long activities where their brains we being taxed.
What are your thoughts on teaching students in Kindergarten through high school about their brains? Are these activities lined out in this chapter adaptable for every grade level? Will you use them or come up with a different plan?
Do you have any good brain break activities that you’d be able to share with the group?
P.S. I came across a song while traveling this summer that I thought was very applicable to the Growth Mindset. The song is “Anything” by Hedley. I think it speaks very clearly to the fact that you can do anything if you want it and work for it. Plus, I just liked the song 🙂
Educators are givers. Isn’t this the truth! Giving, giving, then giving some more. No is not often a word in our vocabularies- at least not in mine. We give of ourselves and our time until there is not much left to give- then what happens? Personal health issues, mental health issues, breakdowns? For me, it is always burnout that ends up with me losing control of myself to the point where I cannot deal with anything-even the smallest thing and I turn into an ogre :(. Not what one needs when dealing with anyone, let alone a child dealing with trauma!
Self Care is apparently not a luxury, but a necessity. It allows us to remain in a head space that will allow us to support our students in an appropriate way. The author alludes to having cement shoes- shoes that encompass our personal mission statements. In answering the questions on page 50 I have come up with my own personal mission statement- my cement shoes. “Every student will be welcome into my classroom, where I will make it my mission to help them with any problem they may come across- personal, educational, emotional, spiritual- giving them the strategies they need to succeed and progress.”
In order to support my students in this way, I need to first take care of myself. How do I do this? Well I have to admit that I am not great at this but I am working on it. My biggest form of self-care is exercise, usually karate. It is crazy how much exercise lifts away the stresses of the day! Kind of melts it like it does the fat you burn when you’ve had a big workout. I definitely need to work on this one though. I am not great in the area of self-care and could stand to improve. My goal is to work out at least 5 times a week. I know that this is possible as I have done it in the past, I just need to get into the routine again.
What is your personal mission statement?
Do you have any special self-care routines that you use?