"This book is a resource educators will want to keep on their desktop. If you are considering implementing mindfulness into your classroom or wish to encourage self-awareness, this book is definitely the place to start. Although it is written for the educational setting, don't be surprised if the benefits extend beyond the school day."
-Nancy Ashworth, special educator for thirty years
"Powered By Me is a wonderful book for educators at all levels! Sherianna's gentle coaching voice shines through every page! She offers poignant stories and helpful exercises to support, encourage and empower her readers."
-Sharon Hartley, retired principal
An essential guidebook to mindful teaching methods that will renew teachers, empower students and build communities.
Imagine an educational environment where teachers and students can mutually thrive. Does power reside in the tool or in the individual wielding the tool? Is self-awareness the key to student progress? How might empowered teachers benefit students? These questions ignited the vision of Powered by ME,® a perceptual shift that modifies any teaching tool into a power tool. Every single strategy in this book is mutually beneficial. Teachers and students receive the boundless benefits of resiliency, balance, and strength. The best part is you and your students already have everything you need to begin. This book allows you to deepen your toolbox with practices that come from within.
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Read an Excerpt
Powered by Me for Educators Pre-K to 12The True Force behind all Classroom Strategies, Higher Teaching Potential, and Student Progress
By Sherianna Boyle
Balboa PressCopyright © 2012 Sherianna Boyle Powered by ME
All right reserved.
Chapter OneManifesting Your Teaching
How you see yourself has a tremendous impact on how you teach your students. If you see yourself as free, then examples of freedom will unfold in front of you. These include taking risks, opening to new ways of learning, offering ideas, problem solving, working beyond expectations, respecting individual differences, working independently, sharing openly, and getting along better with others. Witnessing these reflections naturally alters your teaching. However, you cannot witness what you don't see. If you are free, you no longer need to cope or survive the experiences of your day. You become less encumbered by what you are working toward, what is expected of you, and what you are attempting to prevent. This is replaced by a growing interest in what is happening inside you in the exact moment. The present moment is your greatest treasure. The more energy you generate, the less likely you are to resist, or control what is happening around you. This energy is different from the energy you use to teach or complete tasks. It originates from inside and is expanded through focus and awareness. To begin this journey, you must see yourself as already free, and with that freedom springs honor, truth, effectiveness, and a deeper connection to your love of teaching.
Are You Repeating or Teaching?
The energy you choose to invest in is the energy that will most likely be repeated. If your thoughts are colored with deficiency the energy generated from those thoughts is likely to be repeated. For example, imagine thinking I don't get paid enough for what I do. This thought generates energy, which contributes to your belief system. If you think this thought over and over, you may start to believe that your worth is based on how much money you make. Accordingly, an administrator (who gets paid more money) is worth more than a teacher. This kind of belief system erodes self-esteem and contributes to the development of cultural myths.
Without awareness, the energy of your belief system may imitate itself at some point in your day. Could the disappointment of your paycheck be related to the disappointment you feel about a student's work? The power of the subconscious mind has been studied by psychologists and scientists extensively throughout history. In your mind, you are teaching. However, in your subconscious mind, you may also be reiterating your inner thoughts and beliefs. Chris Howard, author and co-founder of The Academy of Wealth and Achievement, states, "Perception is projection." This means how you handle situations in your day is highly connected to the experiences of your inner atmosphere.
The process of cultivating freedom lies within your own self-awareness. This book leads you through the process from the viewpoint of working in an educational setting. Trust the process. Trust that your interest in this book is enough. Allow the energy generated from your interest to lead the way. Along the way, you may encounter speed bumps. A speed bump is a feeling or sense that encourages you to pause while you are reading, perhaps to digest the material. Each speed bump is there for a reason. Try not to rush through them, as the speed bumps are linked to moving through potential roadblocks. Roadblocks are feelings that are held back or pushed away; speed bumps, however, are your awareness of the roadblocks. Moving through roadblocks is deeply powerful. Moving through your roadblocks in an educational community is transformational.
This chapter begins with recognizing possible roadblocks. Recognizing your roadblocks is essential for setting up the foundation you are about to embark upon (chapter 2). Please do not skip ahead. That is a prime example of leaping over a roadblock. By doing so, you may undermine the power of process.
Below I have identified possible roadblocks as power myths and power suckers. Power myths are beliefs and perceptions that are learned. Power suckers are actions, reactions, and habitual responses that may occur passively or actively. Passive responses typically take place in your head in the form of self-talk. Active responses are what you choose to do with those thoughts. Everyone has power myths or power sucker experiences. It does not matter where or why they exist. What matters is how they are maintained. When myths and suckers are left unspoken, and are never truly allowed to rise to a conscious level, you may feel held back or inhibited from being able to function from your highest potential.
As you review each myth, notice how you feel and if you can resonate in any way. Listen to yourself as you read each myth either out loud or silently. Notice your tone of voice, speed, and any thoughts that come up. Each myth is followed by an illustration of truth. The purpose is to show you how to see each myth in another way.
Power Myth: I have no choice
Truth: You always have a choice.
Power Myth: Being in your power means you are very laid back and never get angry.
Truth: Being in your power means you are real. You have real feelings. However, your feelings do not define you, your values, competence, or your belief system.
Power Myth: Your students' progress reflects your power as a teacher.
Truth: Your true power is not based on outcome of others but in the way you chose to see the process.
Power Myth: There is only one way to teach and one way to learn.
Truth: Appreciating learning styles create capable students and teachers.
Power Myth: Assessments allow you to see where your students are weak and where you are failing.
Truth: Assessments serve as tools for knowledge, communication, and setting goals.
Power Myth: I know I am powerful if I am popular.
Truth: Teaching is not a popularity contest. Worth based on numbers is only an illusion of power. Feedback from others is simply an opinion.
Power Myth: You are what you do.
Truth: It is not about what you do but who you are.
Power Myth: When everyone is happy, then I can be happy.
Truth: Happiness is a feeling, becoming your own source of inspiration is a mindset.
Power Myth: If I had more time, I could do better.
Truth: Time is a roadblock that leads to the power sucker doubting one's abilities.
Power Myth: Power is the ability to survive all situations.
Truth: Power is the ability to move through all situations.
Treat power myths as a community journal. Write down your myths and consider opening up a dialogue of myths amongst your colleagues. You may want to temporarily hang up a blank poster board with two columns in the teacher's room. On one side have individuals anonymously state their myths and on the other side have them state their truth. Writing myths and replacing them with truths loosens the grip they hold over you. Community journals are a way to share courage and wisdom. Individuals who may not be ready, or who are unable to truly see the undercurrent of myths, may witness them more easily through others.
Your greatest power sucker is when you think too much and your thoughts are predominately stressful. Thinking and stress are the catalyst of many power suckers, a few of which I have listed below. Being able to distinguish power sucker thoughts from thoughts that boost your awareness not only saves you time and energy, but offers you more time and energy. If you really stop and notice the amount of time devoted to thinking, rethinking, or even dwelling on certain thoughts, it explains why you may feel squeezed for time. Recognizing power suckers is a way to cut the time you spend on them in half maybe more. Here is an example. Imagine you had to make a decision about whether to reschedule a field trip. Typically you may spend time being indecisive about the weather, student reactions, scheduling difficulties, parental complaints, transportation, etc. Now, knowing that over-thinking is a power sucker you may choose to reschedule the field trip, notify the people that need to know, and then move on. No dwelling, no second guessing just a clear response to what needs to be done at that moment. One of the greatest pieces of advice I ever received when I was struggling over whether to accept another job, was to make my decision and not look back. Second guessing steps over your inner voice causing you to hang on to the past. Watch for the moments when your mind drifts back or launches forward. This book shows you how training yourself to be in the moment offers you energy, peace, trust in yourself, and yes, time.
Below are illustrations of feelings and behaviors that may lead into power suckers: talking, gossip, and doubt. As you explore them you may notice how one power sucker breeds another. For example, stress breeds thinking and too much thinking may lead to gossip. I must confess, my first few drafts of power suckers were a fairly comprehensive list. It wasn't until I finished the last chapter that I realized I had sucked the process away from you. By giving you the answers (which are my opinions based on my personal experiences) I was removing you from the process of liberating yourself from myths and suckers. The examples below illustrate how suckers work in partnership with myths. As always feel free to add to this list on your own or amongst others. Included are Try This! practices that will help you with the liberation process.
Talking is one way to convey and teach information. However, speaking unconsciously may drain you of valuable energy, reinforcing the power myth: There is only one way to teach and one way to learn. Learning to transform your speech into conscious communication builds self-awareness, comprehension, and rapport with your students. When talking evolves into lecturing, over-explaining, or continuously repeating the same things, it is similar to having a slow leak in a tire. The tire still may work, however, over time it will become less reliable. Have you ever witnessed someone speaking to students who appear to be distracted or disinterested in what the teacher has to say? Unconscious speech is something that grows out of habit or in reaction to stress.
In Chapter Two you will revisit speech from a building block perspective. The purpose of this section is to show you how your uses of speech maybe a power sucker. Remember power suckers slowly suck you out of the present moment, disconnecting you from your mind, body, and spirit (roadblock). When this happens you may say things out of reactivity. Once in reactive mode your potential to read and respond to your students is spared at the expense of your own energy. Recognizing the difference between reactive speech and conscious speech is like lifting the shade on a window. It sheds light, allowing you to see situations and relationships with your students clearly while feeding you the benefits of consciousness.
The process of developing conscious speech includes a look at how talking may be draining you or diminishing your effectiveness. When it comes to personal development there is no end or limitation, everyone can benefit from a look at their own speech. Below are characteristics that clarify the difference between the two. As you read through them notice how conscious speech is more rooted in the present moment. Conscious speech allows you to have a deeper experience with yourself and others. It stems from having a solid foundation (chapter 2). Unconscious speech stems more from the notion of getting it done.
» Speaking quickly or attempting to provide a lot of information in a short period of time.
» Rushing explanations, questions, or comments.
» Using the same tone, volume, or pitch of voice.
» Repeating the same words or explaining things the same way each time (e.g. always starting with, "Boys and girls ..."
» As you speak you are aware of your body and breath. For example, you may notice your feet standing on the floor or the location of your breath in your chest.
» You are able to scan the room and read the body language, and facial expressions of your students (without judgment).
» You vary your voice tone. For example you may consciously lower your voice to encourage a calming atmosphere.
» You intentionally pause between words or sentences allowing a moment for the material to sink in, or an opportunity for questions and comments.
» Your directions are clear and concise.
» You ask open ended questions.
» You watch your assumptions or pay attention to the facts opposed to mind reading.
Ask open ended questions. Open ended questions invite presence and connection into the process, often sparking insight and dialogue. They help you get to know who your students are.
If you had all the time you wanted what would you create?
How are you prepared for the next steps?
What is your plan?
Where are you in the process?
What strategies work best for you?
How did you prepare in your head for this assignment?
What are your thoughts?
How do you feel?
What do you notice about?
What do you think?
Tell me about your picture.
Tell me one thing I might not know about you.
What is your passion?
If you had a wish what would it be?
Gossip works hand in hand with the myth I know I am powerful if I am popular. It is a learned behavior that may be reinforced through media, family, peers, and community. It is a way people compare themselves to others and cope with pressure.
If gossip is strong in the school environment it is a pretty good indication that anxiety levels are high. Gossip promotes perfection, paranoid behavior, tension and low self-esteem all of which easily lead to miscommunication. Conversely, less gossip indicates that people are paying more attention to how they connect to themselves and others. Partnership, creativity, and team work all thrive in environments based on connection.
Below is an outline of a four step process for working through the roadblocks of gossip. You can apply this process to any roadblock (myth or sucker). Notice how speed bumps are an opportunity for consciousness.
1. Speed bumps are your inner brake pedal. Think about the way you go over a speed bump. Typically, you take the time to slow down and feel the motion of the bump. Treat gossip the same way pause and feel the motion of gossip. Pay attention to how it impacts you inside. Does it elevate your heart rate, creating tension, or do you feel an electrical charge from it? Just notice. Now notice the motion outside of you. Notice the body language of others, colors in the room, shadows etc.
2. Listen to the gossip in your head. Are you comparing yourself or situations to each other? If you find yourself judging, state the word, energy to yourself and feel the motion of judgment. Keep it light. Talk out loud to your speed bumps. Say "thank you, speed bump, for bringing me back to the moment." If the word energy does not help you shift, Dr. Zoe Marae recommends calling it a word that discourages you from judging yourself such as: broccoli. She states, what you call it does not matter, you noticing your thoughts does.
3. Experience the energy of the roadblock (gossip). Experiencing the energy of a roadblock is like taking a shower. When you are in the shower you are most likely feeling the temperature of the water, water pressure, and sensations on your skin. This will make more sense to you once you read chapter two and three.
4. Notice when you apply the above steps the amount or frequency of gossip around you dissipates. Again this process may be applied to any roadblock.
Jane met with a regular lunch group for almost the entire year. The group met at the same time daily in the same classroom. Very often what seemed an innocent gathering turned into a circle of complaining and sarcasm. Individuals that walked by would often hear the group laughing and looking over their shoulders' to see if anyone was coming. Most individuals outside of the group ignored what was happening. However, the dynamics from the group seemed to contribute to an atmosphere of distrust and separation from others.
When Jane applied the four step process to her lunch gatherings she received much insight about herself, including the mistaking of gossip as connection. Through awareness of her inner brake pedal (speed bump) Jane was able to connect with others through what was happening inside of her rather than through gossip. This awareness allowed Jane to view her students in a new light. When gossip occurred in the classroom Jane no longer ignored it or lectured her students about it. Instead she chose to teach her students about the value of their own speed bumps.
Teachers Room. Consider eating in environment where individuals are encouraged to be mindful of what they say. Be open to having conversations with individuals you may not typically interact with.
Pay attention to the time of day, location, and topics that generate gossip. Ask yourself, how can I maintain my integrity during those times? Author Amy Ahlers suggests you let people know you are doing a "gossip cleanse." She suggests replacing gossip with good talk, for example words of inspiration or positive statements. She also reminds people to include all gossip in this practice (even the gossip about celebrities).
When myths such as: If I had more time I could do better and I have no choice, permeate the atmosphere the shadows of stress and doubt surface. I choose doubt to focus on because it depletes the soul, meaning it disconnects you from connecting to your source of strength. The truth is, as you learn in Chapters Two and Chapter Three you always have a choice when it comes to your sensory system. You decide how and in what way you would like to focus your senses. Your students also have a choice. Your job is not only to present choices but to step out of the way once choices are made (unless of course the choice may cause harm). The example below illustrates the sucker of doubt. Notice how the prevention specialist chose to step out of the way rather than try to fix or make the teacher feel better. See how this led to greater insight on the teacher's part.
Prevention specialist, Cindy Horgan remembers volunteering in a classroom to support an activity Celebrating Fall. The teacher asked if Cindy would lead the project. Cindy chose to make an apple pie with the preschool class. The classroom watched while Cindy gathered the materials and directed the project. During the process Cindy could sense that her less structured teaching style put the teacher on edge. The teacher stood with her arms crossed, interacting with the students only when she thought they were misbehaving or not paying attention. The final product looked like a hodge podge quilt of crust.
The teacher later confided in Cindy about her personal struggle with the process. Not only was it difficult to let go, but in that moment she found herself doubting her own abilities. Cindy's ability to move at ease reflected the teacher's own feelings of unease. Her initial reaction was to try to stop the unease (doubt) by controlling the behavior of her students.
Excerpted from Powered by Me for Educators Pre-K to 12 by Sherianna Boyle Copyright © 2012 by Sherianna Boyle Powered by ME. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
About the Author....................xv
Introduction Powered by Me....................xvii
Chapter 1 Manifesting Your Teaching....................1
Chapter 2 Expanding into the Guide Role....................23
Chapter 3 Emotions: Your Inner Guide....................51
Chapter 4 Modifications for Observations....................73
Chapter 5 Dissecting the Onion of Behavior....................91
Chapter 6 Temperament....................125
Chapter 7 Power Tools....................139
Chapter 8 The Empowered Teacher....................173