I have given many professional developments in my over 20 years in education, but this ‘bunch’ of willing learners was absolutely special in the best of sense.
This Colorado group of paraprofessionals and a handful of teachers was an outstanding caring and creative mix with enormous hearts in the perfect place. Why were they so mind-blowingly impressive?
You can read the details how and why this training happened in my previous blog “Impactful Benefits from Movement Method for Paraprofessionals”.
When I first proposed the training for educators in our building, I had four highly committed people who were interested and wanted to learn more about Movement Method and how it could help in the classroom. They had seen how it changed my classroom environment and student behavior and achievement and wanted a change as well.
With the interest from just a few, I jumped through all the hoops getting the training approved by the district, and to my surprise when I finally opened it up for registration, I received 18 people who were willing to give up two days of their weekend and the so desperately expected beginning of Spring Break to join the training. They were not getting paid for their time, they were not getting overtime- but for the first time the district was willing to actually pay for their training seeing the importance and impact this training would have.
Entering the room, the energy was 100% positive; everybody wanted to be there, wanted to learn, wanted to be the best for their students and children that they possibly could be. With that energy, the results were amazing. In two days we had a tribe, a team, that was supportive of each other, that inspired each other, that trusted each other.
We started with an icebreaker where participants interviewed each other for ‘crazy’ jobs like “Why would you be the perfect street sweeper; Why would you get the princess job?”- while getting to know each other, this encouraged communication in a safe, humorous and silly way, supported creativity and laughter which is always a good start for a training. People were walking around the room meeting each other in a safe and fun environment- no risk or failure.
The energy rose when we went outside in the warm inviting sunshine, being critically observed by some kiddos from school who could not believe their eyes seeing teachers silly in the field playing freeze tag giggling and almost falling over with laughter- many of them not having played games in many many years. Faces loosened up, smiles became brighter and wider, connections were not forced but naturally started to developed. Freeze tag is a great supportive team game, where the tagger switches, but the rest really helps each other to stay free. A lot of BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) was produced for sure and the ideal brain preparation for learning and communication!
The participants soaked up the science, had great follow up questions and intensely reviewed and internatized the information, commenting that this made so much more sense than kiddos just being defiant and that it opened their eyes to the suffering that goes on in students that get trapped in the vicious cycle. It was amazing how this little bit of background knowledge opened minds to better understanding and the aim to remove suffering we might unintentionally cause because of not knowing better.
Their interest, their smiles, their energy really was refreshing and so so encouraging. I was actually making an impact with material that was very well put together and thought through. Movement Method is easily applied, and our innovation time where we worked through issues and thought though ideas how we could develop action plans to use what we have learned was highly productive. I am seeing impactful effects in my daily school observations and listen to success stories on a frequent basis.
The most interesting and maybe difficult part to teach for me is always the self- compassion piece- absolutely necessary, but certainly for us Westerners not the most comfortable to address. This group took it to an entire new level. The trust we build over the two days was so deep that we shared some of the moments we could have been more self-compassionate and some were very very personal and needed a lot of processing time and mindful compassion.
We took our time and worked through them. It made us a closer knit team. It also made us realize that every day we work with human beings, we hardly ever realize what their emotional backpacks carry that day. It made us aware and much more mindful of what people might go through or why they might act the way they do.
Having the awareness in the back of our minds can make us better human beings. Often colleagues and students have things going on that we do not necessarily know about but instead of reacting and assuming, it is good to be mindful and compassionate when we can. Most people need it.
My favorite was probably the diaper shake session in a dimly lit quiet gym, on soft mats, with people we trusted. It was a very quiet relaxing setting while avoiding a windy restless outdoor setting for this training. The diaper shake (or pelvic rocking) is now being used with kids around the school with huge success. We have avoided and calmed tantrums and meltdowns with tears of happiness producing affects. This is a powerful tool and can create relaxation and happiness with people who need to relax their psoas muscle to go for that neuroplasticity, allowing oxytocin to be produced and for the central nervous system to balance and not overfire.
We ended with potty humor games which made everybody burst out in laughter and giggle their way through the end of the day, falling of chairs while fighting for the win during musical chairs made us find our inner child that is always there, just suppressed by too much responsibility and time constraints but the most powerful tool to build those true honest relationships with the clients we serve.