Guiding our children to shine their inner LIGHT by being our absolute best!

Posts tagged ‘educators’

That Made My Heart Smile

Every Wednesday morning, my first graders circle up on the perimeter of our colorful rug to do their ‘mirror work.’

Mirror work is a critical component of learning to love yourself and I make sure that we are all focused on this activity at least once a week. We have a mirror in a frame and we gently pass the mirror around the circle to each person in the classroom, including myself and a TA in the classroom. The goal is to look in the mirror and give the person staring back at you a genuine compliment. I tell the kids that I don’t want them to compliment the clothes that they wear or  the ‘things’ upon their bodies that were bought for them. Instead, I want them to look into their own eyes and give themselves a compliment or reassurance that they are awesome. I do this because I want them to know that they are amazing just as they are and instead of searching for approval outside of themselves, they ultimately learn to approve of themselves from within (priceless).

You go through your every day life and you just never know what sticks and whether or not you are truly making a difference. As a teacher, I often wonder how much my students actually absorb from academic curriculum and more important-my 7 Essentials curriculum.

However, yesterday I was pleasantly surprised during our mirror work time.

You see, aside from ‘mirror work’ on Wednesday mornings, my students also choose a daily affirmation each morning and I also incorporate the 7 Essentials into my daily routine with them.

Yesterday, a child came up to choose an affirmation randomly from our deck of affirmation cards (www.magnificentcreations.com) and the affirmation that was chosen for the day was, “I am unique.”

As usual, I asked the kids to tell me what they thought the word meant and here are some of their responses;

1) “It means you are perfect just the way you are.”

2) “It means you are special.”

3) “Unique means you are one of a kind.”

cat

Upon hearing some of those definitions my heart began to smile and then I asked them to circle up for their mirror work and more than half of the class looked in the mirror and used one of those definitions while speaking to the person in the mirror-themselves.

My heart smiled BIG!

There’s nothing more rewarding as a teacher than to see your pupils standing in their own light and radiating. It’s nice to know that my students DO listen-at least to the good stuff! 🙂

Lots of Love & Tons of Light,

Vicki

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What Children Are Really Communicating

sad girl

Photo By: http://photography.ivanmcclellan.com/

Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion. ~Buddha

When babies cry everyone rushes to reveal what’s wrong and alleviate their stress.  It’s somewhat of an instinct in our culture. We understand that the only way that baby can communicate a need to us; be it hunger, a necessary diaper change, fatigue or discomfort is to cry out. No one wants to hear a baby cry, so we respond quickly. Unfortunately, as a child begins to grow and learns the language, we assume that they know how to communicate their needs effectively, yet do they?

As an elementary teacher I have come to know that even though children have more vocabulary words when they enter school, they still do not know how to communicate their needs. Often, children cry out to get their meet needs, but all we see is defiance instead of their plea for help.

Bella is an adorable 1st grader who entered my classroom in September. I remember getting her kindergarten card and noting that she could be a handful at times. I put the card in my filing cabinet at the start of the year because I like to get to know my kids from my own perspective without previous judgments.

I call all of my students the week before school begins to get them excited about school (that’s just how I roll). We then have a ‘Welcome Back Picnic’ at our school to meet the parents and children in a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

When I met Bella and her mom at the picnic, I noticed that Bella appeared to be ‘running the show.’ Her mom and I talked for a bit and she shared that Bella’s dad died when she was only eight months old and it was just the two of them still to this day. It was easy to see that mom was compensating for the loss.

Within the first month of school, I could certainly see why Bella had earned this reputation of being a handful. She could be a bit silly and somewhat defiant at times, however she knew the rules of our classroom and understood what kind of behavior was expected, so she did well with me.

Right after the December break things started to change. Bella was getting herself into trouble in several of her classes (art, music & gym). She was not listening to directions and defying the teachers when they asked her not to do something. She was also talking back to adults in the building and getting herself into trouble at her before and after school program.

Her mom and I talked on the phone to create a plan of action. I suggested a behavior plan to help her but asked mom to promise to follow through at home for this to be effective.  The plan worked for a few days, but Bella just didn’t seem to care about making good choices.

On a Friday afternoon (likely around a full moon) Bella’s plea for help became apparent. She got in trouble from the moment she entered the school. She needed a great deal of redirection from me and found herself in trouble everywhere she went that day. At lunchtime I got a phone call from the cafeteria asking if she was with me because she took it upon herself to leave the cafeteria without permission. This put several staff members in a state of panic.

I walked down the hall and found her. We sat down and talked about her choices and how this was not safe. She apologized sweetly and assured me it wouldn’t happen again. The children returned to the room and she asked to go to the bathroom. Five minutes later she was brought to me by another teacher who caught her fooling around in the bathroom.

I was outraged and caught up in the moment. I called her mom and asked her to meet me for an impromptu conference with Bella right after school. My intent was to make an impact on her by having an immediate meeting with mom because she appeared to have no remorse. She was talking the talk by saying how sorry she was, but not choosing to walk the walk and something needed to be done.

A few hours later mom arrived at the school with tears in her eyes. She expressed her disappointment and shared concern that she was failing as a mother. She told me that she was terrified that Bella did not have a bond with her because she suffered from post partum after giving birth and felt that this was all her fault. Bella was often in charge because she was afraid to give her consequences for fear that she would hate her. I reassured her that we would work through this together and come up with a plan.

When we entered the room, Bella ran up to her mom with a huge smile and jumped into her arms. This, of course made her mother cry even more. She was most upset that her daughter didn’t have any remorse for her actions.

While we were having the meeting, Bella sat there stone faced with a smirk at times answering our questions like a trained professional. Her mom asked her why we were having the meeting and she answered stoically, “We are having this meeting because I’m not making good choices. I’m sorry Mommy.”

I watched her and quickly noticed that she was not present. I looked into her eyes and said, “Bella, thank you for telling us what you know we want to hear, but what I’d really like to know is how you feel.” I referred to my children’s book, “The Light Inside of Me” because we use this frequently in our classroom to describe how we are feeling. I asked her if she felt that the light inside was bright or dim. She of course said it was dim.

I looked at her with loving eyes and said, “Bella, would you please put your hands on your heart and close your eyes because I’d like to talk about your feelings.” She complied without hesitation. I then asked her to use an ‘I Statement’ to tell us why her light was dim.

She took a few minutes with her eyes closed then opened them and looked right at me. Her whole demeanor was different. She was softer, gentler, and certainly in the present moment. She began to talk and tenderly said, “Well Mrs. Savini, my light is dim because I feel sad. I feel sad because sometimes I wish my life was different. I wish that one of my friends could live with me and my mom because I get lonely. I feel lonely Mrs. Savini and that makes me really sad.”

I gave her a big hug and told her that we would work this out together. Her smile lit up the room as her light within was beaming.

Bella was crying out just like an infant. Sure at six, children have words to express their feelings, but it’s difficult to do that when you are not sure of your truth. By asking Bella to place her hands on her heart and feel her feelings, she felt safe and was able to truly express her discomfort.

Our intent that day was to teach her a lesson, but the true lesson was in being compassionate instead of judgmental. By opening our hearts to her plea for help we gave her the opportunity to express what was really bothering her.  Bella and her mom made some simple changes at home and she has been a totally different kid from that time…her best self!

Our children are a mirror for whatever we are experiencing in life. We think we hide it well, but we don’t because they are not rationalizing our reactions in their heads. Instead, they are feeling the energy we are projecting. Bella wasn’t looking to break the rules or get in trouble. Instead, she was communicating a need that was born from her emotional pain.  Today and every day take a step back when your children are ‘acting out’ and really observe the situation. Treat them like infants and go to the core of their issue to solve the problem. Instead of judging their behavior and reacting with fear, take the time to respond by understanding what they are really communicating.

The Power of the Present

hereandnow

Hello everyone!

I am sorry that it has been so long since my last post.  It seems like life sped up for a bit and I got stuck in my head instead of my heart!  So, here I am today with a raging headache and feeling inspired to write…who knew?

I am one of those people who believes that when your physical body is manifesting ailments, it simply means that you are not listening to your body and so it turns up the volume a bit so that you will take care of yourself.

Of late, I have been getting these terrible headaches that knock me for a loop and make it difficult to focus.  I almost always feel dizzy when they are present and I feel quite sick to my stomach.  Well, a doctor might say quite a few things about this.  Perhaps it’s a sinus thing or dehydration from not drinking enough water.  Of course, it could be stress or a reaction of some sort from allergies.  Instead of seeing the medical doctor today, I went to my chiropractor, Dr. Nancy Cappiello (that’s my usual route when I’m out of balance).

With a throbbing headache and worry in my eyes I asked her to ‘fix me’ and tell me what I could do to better support my body.  She looked at me with a smile and said, “Are you taking your D3?  You know that D3 supports your immune system?” My response, “Um, well, I have the bottle on the kitchen counter, but no, I haven’t taken it in a good month or so.”  My chiropractor continues, “What about exercise? How much exercise have you been doing?”  At this point she just got a grunt from me because I haven’t exercised in such a long time that I am embarrassed to answer this.  Finally she says, “Stress? Got any of that Vick?”  Um, hello, yes, I am a wife, mother, teacher, business owner, life coach, author (who is currently in the middle of writing a 70,000 word book) head of a gazillion committees at school, organizing a HUGE Christmas extravaganza for the kids at my house on Christmas Eve morning, and the list goes on.  Yeah, I’d say I’ve got some stress!

She stretched my neck out with this amazing cranial thing she does and I left feeling a little bit better.  As I was driving home I felt the tears well up in my eyes and all I wanted to do was go home and snuggle in a blankie.

You see, this morning, I woke up with this terrible headache and I was in slow motion from the get go.  I arrived at my classroom later than usual and just couldn’t get my butt in gear.  I wasn’t fully prepared for my kids as they were walking through the door.  The stress level builds.  I check my email and there are a million things I need to respond to or take some type of action on.  The kids are saying good morning and coming to my desk to ask questions or tell me a story, but I couldn’t even turn to look directly at them because I had to finish the email in front of me.  I continue with my day and my head begins to really throb.  The slightest thing that the kids do now really sets me off.  A tiny little interruption, a tap on my shoulder (the ones who can reach) or following me around the classroom.  My responses to them were a bit curt and totally unlike who I truly am with them and who I always want them to see.  I realize this and try to slow down a bit so I don’t take it out on my innocent little bystanders.  Then they are off to specials, lunch and recess, yet I feel so bad that I wasn’t my best self with them.

I was tearing up as I was driving home because I was replaying this whole morning over and over in my head and realizing that the main issue was that I was not present in the moment.  I started the day behind the eight ball and just couldn’t get ahead of the game.  If I only took the time to center myself before the kids walked in the door and let go of all of the thoughts and worries that were crashing through my brain.

When I arrived home from the chiropractor, I took my earrings and hot mama boots off to lay on the couch with the dog.  I closed my eyes and asked for guidance.  A few hours later, I woke up and reached for my iPhone so that I could look up what headaches mean in Louise Hay’s book, Heal Your Body.  I looked up headaches and what did I see?

headache

Well, that certainly explains it for me!  I asked for guidance and I got it.  Yes, my headache is actually here.  It was throbbing immensely and making me feel sick to my stomach. However, once I was able to realize that I was causing this headache because I was not taking care of myself and most importantly, not in the present moment, I was able to shift my belief and the headache is alleviated.

There is great power in the present moment.  If I was present, I wouldn’t have been carrying my thoughts, insecurities and worries deep inside of me.  If I was present, I wouldn’t have caused myself to have this very unpleasant headache.  Most importantly, if I was present, my students would have felt the love that they normally feel from me when they walk into the room.  I hope that they will forgive my grumpiness today.  I am human.  I’ve learned my lesson; I will take my D3, reignite my yoga practice and drink lots of water. I set the intent to be present in the moment from this day forward. Want to join me?

Five quick steps to getting yourself into the present moment: (Take Five)

1) Sit in a comfortable position.

2) Close your eyes.

3) Breathe deeply, in through your nose and slowly release that breath out through your mouth.

4) Repeat several times just listening to your breath and feeling your breath until you feel your heart rate slow and the mind ease up.

5) Recite this mantra, “I am fully present in this moment and all is well.”

If you start to get ahead of yourself again or you find your thoughts shifting to worry and fear, take 5 once again!

Lots of Love & Tons of Light,

Vicki

Childhood is Too Precious to Ignore

 

There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.  ~Graham Greene, The Power and The Glory

Childhood is a short period in our lives that begins at birth and ends at puberty.  According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, it is defined as; 1) the state or period of being a child. 2) the early period in the development of something.

Birth to puberty is not a very long time and yet it seems as though the span of childhood is diminishing right before our eyes.  Has anyone else noticed that children are not allowed or encouraged to be children in today’s society?

For some reason, we spend most of our time; ‘racing to the top’, expecting children to be mini-adults, and constantly doing this thing called life, instead of living life.

As a teacher and advocate for children I am appalled when I hear people say, “Well, there’s nothing we can do about it.”

I question what is happening in our educational system when we are spending more time documenting our teaching than actually empowering and teaching our children.  I wonder just how terrific technology is when I walk into a restaurant, and see every person in the family on some type of electronic device.  I shudder when I notice that seven is the new nine during childhood and yet people are still saying, “There’s nothing we can do about it.”

We complain that children don’t pay attention in schools.  We say that there is a terrible break down in the family, and we throw the word bully around like it’s a new catch phrase, but what are we doing to change these things?  We need to do something about it.  It’s not a nicety, it’s a necessity.

Looking at the current life span, you might conclude that childhood is somewhat insignificant in the whole scheme of things, because, let’s face it, it’s brief.  However, the truth is, childhood is the most critical time period of our entire lives.

When are we going to wake up and realize that we are pushing the most precious time of our lives right out the door?

I started teaching fourteen years ago.  I knew, even then, that I was different.  I had a holistic perspective on teaching where I believed that we should embrace childhood in the midst of educating, enlightening and empowering children.  I always felt that in order to be successful academically, you had to make a true connection with the children in front of you.  I strongly believe that you cannot teach the mind of a child, until you touch their heart.  I have spent fourteen years in the public education system teaching children to believe in themselves, speak their truth and LOVE learning.

Now, we are racing to the top and banging on the door of total catastrophe.  If we thought we had a bullying issue in America before this new plan in education came down the pike, we better buckle up because when you make a child feel inadequate, you bring out their fears and anger raises its ugly head!

A few weeks ago I was putting my 7 year old to bed.  We had just finished reading a story and he turned to me and said, “Mom, it’s just not fair. I don’t get it. I’m only in 1st grade and all we do is work, work, and more work.  We never even get to play!”  I looked into his eyes and took a deep breath.  I too teach 1st grade and I try my best to keep the fun alive, but it’s getting damn hard, even for me.  When my son spoke those words, I understood more deeply than he even realized that something BIG was going on here.  I realized that this is another dent in childhood.  I totally understood that we were trying to force our children to become human doings, instead of human beings at a very young age.

Of course! That’s exactly what’s going on because if we are human doings ourselves that’s exactly what we teach our children.

You know you’re a human doing when…

  • You have lists of things to do every day
  • You can’t even seem to put a thought together by the middle of the day because you’re already overloaded
  • You are constantly focused on what you have to get done
  • You forget simple things like brushing your teeth
  • You look at the clock and realize that it’s already bedtime
  • You look at your children and they are grown and you wonder where the hell the time went

Is this what we really want for ourselves? Is this what we really want for our children?

Childhood should be a time when we gain a strong foundation so that we can navigate the waters of life successfully.  If we continue to diminish childhood by expecting our children to act like mini-adults and do more, more, more, we are certainly headed for disaster.

Let children be children.  Children have a beautiful curiosity that is totally natural.  Why not tap into that to educate them?  And what is education anyways?  Instead of teaching children what we want them to know or what we think they should know, maybe we should we teach them how to think for themselves and speak their own truth?

If you asked me, I would say that childhood should be extended instead of diminished.  I’m really not sure why everyone wants to grow up so quickly.  What exactly are we running to?

I’m going back to being a kid and I suggest if you have children, teach children or care about children, you should tap into that energy too.

Childhood is too precious to ignore.  If it’s true that ‘there is always one moment in childhood that opens the door and let’s the future in,’ then let’s give the future some hope…

Teach children to believe in themselves, speak their truth, and above all BE.