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

Posts tagged ‘teachers’

Push the PAUSE Button

Mercury in retrograde, full moon, racing from one thing to the next…does it ever end?

Today I woke up a little later than usual and of course this put me behind the eight ball-so to speak- throughout the day. I felt like I was running from one thing to the next and as if life was a blur. Of course anything that could go wrong, went wrong, because isn’t that just how it goes?

I went into my classroom and tried to get ready for my 1st graders to come through the doors. I always like to make sure that when they walk through the door, they see a smile and not a rushing, crazy idiot!  Today, that was a challenge though.

I tried to print morning work and there was an issue with the printer. Next I tried to get online for a backup plan, but that didn’t work either. I rushed to find a solution and came up with something just in time, but the day was already spinning out of control.

After the kids came in and started on morning work I remembered that I had to do lovely progress monitoring. I pulled the iPod out of my drawer and had technical difficulties with that too. After wasting at least 30 minutes trying to get technology to work with me so that I could get the ‘data’ teachers are expected to report, I finally got things rolling, but it was clear that my energy needed a shift.

I progress monitored 6 students (tested them…oh I LOVE those tests) and then we were off to lunch. I was definitely on edge with the kids and that’s so NOT fair to them!

Every day after lunch and recess my kids have ‘Mindful Time’. This is a time that I dedicate solely to ‘quieting our minds’ (you can read about this in my book Ignite the Light)

Some days we lay our yoga mats on the ground and go to our ‘Happy Place,’ other days we do power yoga or color mandalas. I usually take this 10-15 minutes to breathe and release some tension or get ready for the next hour with the kids (ironically, I am not always mindful during mindful time). But today- TODAY was a day when Mindful Time really made the difference for me.

The kids came into the classroom and parked themselves on the community rug for instructions. I instructed them to use mandala’s to quiet their minds and then walked to my desk to ‘catch up’. Fortunately, I caught myself and decided that I too needed to practice mindfulness.

I announced to the kids that I was going to color a mandala today as well. I chose one, pulled out my crayons (that was really awesome-I love the smell of crayons) and began to color my mandala from the inside out. As I colored I shared some thoughts with the kids. They were so happy to have me join in as well and so intrigued by my coloring and choice of colors. I smiled to myself because of their excitement.

Time was up. I began to pack my crayons away and began counting down for the kids to do the same. When the kids came to the rug again for instructions something was different…I was different. My energy was now re-balanced and even though things were still ‘ticking’ me off throughout the afternoon with technology and testing, the edge was now gone!

mandala

This made me realize that we all need to push that pause button throughout the day. I literally sat and colored (yes, I colored with crayons) for about 10 minutes and suddenly life didn’t seem so tough after all.

Mindfulness doesn’t have to happen at the same time every day and it doesn’t have to happen in a certain way. Mindfulness just needs to happen. And the only way for us to be mindful is to sometimes hit the PAUSE button.

Try it. 10-15 minutes (even 5 minutes) in the middle of your stressful day can totally make all the difference in the world. Go ahead, pull out a box of crayons-I dare you!

Lots of Love & Tons of Light,

Vicki

PS Come visit me on my page and sign up for my newsletter so we can stay connected. I LOVE to hear from you!  www.vickisavini.com 

 

We Bonded Like Nobody’s Business Today

Today was the third full day of school for my first graders and it certainly was a memorable one…

The beginning of a school year can be very tiring–not only for the teachers–but more important, for the kids. There are lots of rules and practices to learn and it’s difficult to get back into a routine after a few months off from school.

I could definitely tell by mid-afternoon that my kids needed a break, so right around 2 pm I told them it was snack time.

I normally play soft therapeutic music in the background throughout the day to set a peaceful climate in the classroom for learning, but during snack time it looked like they needed a little Disco, so I popped in a CD of classic Disco music to lighten up the day.

disco

The kids came alive and one little boy excitedly asked, “Mrs. Savini, are we going to play freeze dance?”

I turned to him, smiled and then replied, “What a terrific idea!”

I laid the ground rules about ‘safe dancing’ and let my fingers walk on the CD player for the music to begin.  The first song was Gloria Gaynor’s classic song, “I Will Survive.” 

The kids were hysterical to watch and their laughter was infectious.

A few songs later and we were all dancing around the room to ‘Le Freak.’ We were all bonding in a beautiful way that you simply don’t get from just the regular grind in the classroom. 

Just as I reached to pause the music for the freeze in our ‘Freeze Dance’ I notice a flicker of a light and the fire alarm went off!

The kids quickly followed procedure that we practiced the day before and headed to the door with our music still rocking on in the background.

We went outside smiling from ear to ear and waited to be called back into the building as patiently as we could.

As we walked into our building we could hear our music blaring from our classroom because the fire alarm was no longer sounding off. The kids looked at one another and then at me and we all chuckled.

My heart smiled because there was a hint of pride beaming from all of my lil’ 1st graders as they turned the corner and danced into our classroom.

They were proud that our room was rockin’ out and I was proud because they were one!

The truth is that our education system has a great deal of pressure right now, but we must always remember that we all learn best when we feel safe, accepted and loved for exactly who we are.

Today, my kids were Disco dancers, tomorrow, who knows…

Lots of Love & Tons of Light,

Vicki

The Oreo Cookie Theory

oreo

The end of the school year is quickly approaching and many believe that the kids are ‘acting up’ because they are done with school and ready for summer vacation. I have a different perspective on this…

As soon as June 1st hits (sometimes earlier) the kids suddenly appear to have forgotten the rules and have no motivation to work. They also seem to be fighting with one another more than ever and disputing the tiniest issues that didn’t seem to matter just a few weeks ago.

Ten years ago I saw this happening in my classroom to my sweet, loving, well trained 2nd graders and I was baffled because this group of kids was truly like a family. They were loving to one another and worked well cooperatively so when this ‘change’ occurred–literally overnight–I had no idea what was happening.

I reinstated the rules, tried to make learning as fun as I possibly could and focused on projects that would hold their attention, yet they were still constantly arguing with one another. Then The Oreo Cookie Theory came to be…

The kids just came in from recess and there were several requests for a ‘Community Meeting‘.

*A Community Meeting is something that we hold in my classroom when we have a problem or concern that we need to solve as a group.

We went to the ‘Meeting Place Rug’ and sat in a circle. They were all familiar with the rules; if you didn’t see it with your own eyes or hear it with your own ears you were not to judge, but instead listen mindfully. One child raised their hand to use an I Statement regarding their frustration. Then another and yet another. I sat back and wondered what was going on with these kids. They were literally like a family. We were all so close and we always worked out our differences together but lately it was a nightmare after every recess.

As I listened to the kids venting their feelings I myself was feeling helpless because I wanted them to enjoy our last few weeks together instead of nitpicking at one another. I interrupted the conversation and explained that perhaps we were all just ready for a break because it was a long year and we were excited for the summer. The kids kind of shook their heads and then there was an uncomfortable silence in the room.

Oh I got it then. The kids heard me say the words, “Let’s enjoy our last few weeks together instead of fighting” and the flood gates opened.

Several of the kids had tears in their eyes, as did I, as we all realized we were bracing ourselves for our end. Yes, we were excited about Summer, but we were also sad to leave one another.

At the time I worked in a school that was a primary center. We hosted grades K-2 and then the kids went to two separate schools across town from one another for grades 3-5 depending on where they lived.

The kids began to speak about their sadness of leaving and how scary it was that things were going to change. I did my best to reassure them that they would love 3rd grade and would all see each other again in 6th grade, but then one child raised her hand and the ‘Oreo Cookie Theory’ was born.

She looked right at me with tears in her eyes and spoke with a soft and broken voice. She said, “Well, Ms. Scalzo (that was my name back then) it’s sad that we are leaving and going to 3rd grade but you don’t really know why.” Of course I inquired and she responded, “It’s kind of like we are an Oreo Cookie. We are each the chocolate cookie ends. One cookie goes one way and the other cookie goes the other way.” I literally began to hold my breath to hold back the tears and then she said, “The worst part is that you are the fluffy stuff in the middle and we’re never gonna see you again.”

At that point we were all crying and then, of course, hugging.

I am proud to say that those 2nd graders are graduating from High School this year and I can’t wait to attend their graduation. I have thought of them often as the years have past and I especially think of them every June when my kids show the same signs of separation anxiety.

If you are a teacher or a parent and you’ve noticed a change in your child in the past few weeks that may be a bit frustrating please consider this ‘Oreo Theory’ and give them a break.

Instead of getting angry or annoyed with their behavior, give them lots of extra love because now you know that although they are excited about a new beginning and sunshine, they are also sad about an ending.

Be gentle. Be understanding. Be loving.

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.

 

You ARE Important

Don’t you just love hearing the words, “You are important?” Take a moment to say them out loud…

I AM Important

It’s like the sweet taste of nectar for a bee…it’s heaven for a human being here on Earth…

I am important is by far, the most empowering phrase a child can hear, know, feel and believe.

This week (and many weeks this summer), I am running a camp to build self-esteem in young children with my partner, Stephanie Liberty.  We strive to teach kids to believe in themselves, speak their truth, and understand that we are all connected.  Each year, we learn something new by running these camps and we hear that kids and parents love our camps too! (We LOVE that)

Every year, a theme seems to naturally arise… The running theme this week is,

You are important.”  

A few days ago, we were talking with the girls about feelings and the importance of feeling your feelings, one child said, “Sometimes, adults tell us we don’t feel what we feel though.”  Ouch!  Just hearing those words made me cringe.  When was the last time your child, or a child you care for said, “I’m scared or I feel sad…” and you responded with, “Oh, you’re alright.

The truth is, we often do unintentionally ignore their pleas to share their feelings.  Especially, if we are busy in that moment when they are desperately trying to tell us their very important story…

 How many times have we told our children, “Just a minute hun, I just need to finish this up,” and then before you know it, an hour has passed.  How often, as teachers, have we had children come up to us in the morning or after lunch (or any random time of day) and start to share a story they just can’t keep in?  Several, for me.  If I think back far enough, I can remember this happening to me as a kid too!  It’s hard to remember the actual incidence or what I was talking about at those moments, but I can remember the pain of feeling invisible or unimportant like it’s happening right now in this moment, and I bet you can too.

Now, I know we certainly cannot always stop everything that we are doing and listen to EVERY story that our kids have to share, but maybe we could inventory how often we are stopping and looking right at them and totally focusing on them while they share what is important to them?

Likely, not enough.  I am guilty of this myself.  However, running this camp this week has truly opened my eyes.  Maybe, we can make a little pledge to each other, that we will…

Never again tell a child that their feelings are not real.  

Never again will we say, “Oh you’re fine.”  Instead, we will take a moment to ask them about their feelings and help them to deal with those feelings in a healthy way so they know just how important they are.

Today, while teaching the girls how to use an “I Statement” to discuss their feelings, it became apparent to me that when children feel unheard, they not only feel invisible, but they feel totally unimportant, and that makes me sad to even write.

This has made me take a step back and analyze my interactions with my students, my son, and come to think of it, every one I come in contact with!

No-one likes to feel invisible.  No-one deserves to be over looked.  We don’t necessarily set out to do this, but when we get caught up in ‘doing‘ too much, we lose sight of who we ‘are‘ (Hint: we are Human Beings, not human doings).

Take a moment now to close your eyes and imagine how good it feels when you feel seen and heard.  How amazing it is to feel important.  Then, when you open your eyes, open your eyes to a new perspective and make it your goal to make every person you come in contact with, just for today, feel important, especially your kids!

Ya never know…you just might like it so much that you keep this practice up daily.

By the way, thanks for reading this…

You ARE important to me!

Lots of Love,

Vicki

Check out my upcoming classes on the 7 Essentials for Creating Strong Foundations in Children & Adults