When We Stop Fighting It

August 29, 2016 at 7:14 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I know I’ve said it before but I really love experiential learning. It can really open up pathways to some interesting, meaningful and important reflections and connections. Last week’s program days were definitely no different. One activity in particular, plus the group reflection that followed, dug deep into a theme that resonated with us all. It related to what happens when we stop fighting ‘it’?

“I’ll choose honesty over perfection every single time.” – Unknown

The game used is a high energy one. Plenty of movement. Plenty of engagement. Plenty of fun. But more importantly than all that it always seems to bring out a message or messages that we really need to hear or focus in on at that point within the program. Life’s funny like that isn’t it. Do we in our everyday though take the time to really listen in, to process and subsequently learn from (compassionately choose differently next time) the teachable moments that occur?

“What you deny or ignore, you delay. What you accept and face, you conquer.” – Robert Tew

The participants comments came streaming in. Most of them were connecting to not fighting to hold onto or push against what ‘is’ in the game. Some related to not doing this (fighting ‘it’) at all, while others spoke about not doing it for too long during the game. By not fighting ‘it’ seemed to be where the feeling of fun was being experienced. It seemed to be why the participants wanted to keep playing. It seemed to help foster the reciprocal support required when the inevitable ups and downs occurred. It also seemed to be that each individuals acceptance of what ‘is’ (the wholeness of the experience – navigating the ups and downs together) was rippling throughout the group. You could feel it!

“Resilience is very different than being numb. Resilience means you experience, you feel, you fail, you hurt. You fall. But, you keep going.” – Yasmin Mogahed

These initial responses opened up so many more questions, connections and thoughts. That’s the point isn’t it? It has made me consider how do we most effectively stay open to, engage with, remain empowered within, learn and grow from, and subsequently inspire others within the range of complexities we face? What do you think?

“Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things.” – Thomas Merton

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Diversity of Needs

August 22, 2016 at 7:22 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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We as humans are definitely not robots or clones. It’s why our program experiences and the ongoing communication that follows fosters exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically. This purposeful mission flows from our deep belief in the potential of each individual. Any cohort of participants that we work with obviously is going to contain a diversity of needs. This is something that we really value. We want to meet each of the students (individually and collectively) where they are. Then from this place strive to engage, challenge and inspire, so we can most effectively and holistically support their learning and leadership journey.

“Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.” —  Author Unknown

A few weeks ago a Year 3 teacher wrote on their feedback form, ‘Children actively engaged throughout. Special needs students catered to expertly’. Then last week we received from a Year 4 teacher, ‘Cameron is a gifted teacher who inspires all those around him to be better people. The children had a marvellous experience’. These examples of the feedback we receive give us a chance to be reminded of some of the amazing students we have the privilege to support. Each participant has an important, valuable and authentic contribution to add within a program day. Each participant also shows us, and all those around them during the day, that we all have a diversity of needs, gifts and talents, that we are all in this together and we are all capable of making a difference in our own and others lives.

“We are all different, which is great because we are all unique. Without diversity life would be very boring.” — Catherine Pulsifer

First to come to mind as I reflect is one of the children from the program day referred to by the Year 3 teacher above. A boy, who through being positively supported by his teacher, me as the facilitator and his peers, thrived within the program experience. As I observed where he started the day (inside the hall but behind a wall on some stairs with the teacher beside him), to where he transitioned to (his curiosity leading him to begin to engage with me, the space and other students from a chair now in the program area), to where he ended up as the day progressed (fully engaged and contributing within the program), left I and the teacher involved feeling completely energised. It really is a privilege to be given a glimpse into the complexities that make up a students journey of potential. I’m always left feeling grateful, humbled and inspired.

“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.” — Max de Pree

Next to come to mind is a boy from the program day described above by the Year 4 teacher. It had similarities but also differences to the one described in the last paragraph. The main difference being his expressing to me the journey that the experience provided for him. As we neared the end of the half day program he explained that he was hesitant in the beginning, enjoyed different parts from then on and now wished he could keep working with me for the full day. I sincerely thanked him for everything that he’d brought to the group (in particular some insightful language choices during our final reflection), enthusiastically explained that we’d have the chance to work together again next year when he was in Year 4, as well as the opportunity of full day programs the following two years when he is Year 5 and 6. I look forward to again being left feeling grateful, humbled and inspired by his, as well as each of his peers, thoughts, words and actions in the coming years.

“For success, attitude is equally as important as ability.” – Walter Scott

Lastly is a boy who completely and utterly floored me with his important, valuable and authentic contribution to a program last week. This boy has profound hearing and language challenges but that diversity of needs definitely did not have any bearing on his attitude or involvement throughout. Whilst completing one of my favourite design and make challenges he kept enthusiastically showing and explaining to me what he and his partner were doing (because of his hearing and language challenges I wasn’t able to verbally comprehend but I could definitely feel it and conceptually comprehend). Then what absolutely left me feeling grateful, humbled and inspired was when his hand shot up during our group reflection afterwards. He confidently rose from his seated position and with such passion shared his thoughts (again because of his hearing and language challenges I and the group wasn’t able to verbally comprehend but I and the group could definitely feel it and conceptually comprehend). What a gift it is to be surrounded by such diverse, unique and authentic individuals each and every program day!

“A lot of different flowers make a bouquet.” — Muslim saying

Choose Your Own Adventure

August 15, 2016 at 7:18 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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These past few weeks have been filled with great conversations. With a good friend being back from the UK for a short visit, along with catch ups with a variety of other long term friends, there have been plenty of opportunities to listen, share and reflect. A common theme has been adventures, past, present and still to be navigated (personally and professionally for us all). Amongst all of this has been a deep sense of gratitude for having been able to choose, and keep choosing, within the unfolding adventures as they show up.

“The only question in life is whether or not you are going to answer a hearty ‘YES!’ to your adventure.” — Joseph Campbell

I am always reminded of the Winston Churchill quote, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” when chatting about our individual and shared journeys of exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically. Just like some of my favourite Choose Your Own Adventure stories growing up, we have all been presented with a variety of choices (both big and small) that have brought us to this point. There are definitely differences within various aspects of my own and the friends journeys I’ve referred to above. But what gave each of us the greatest joy within these recent conversations was not that certain choices were right or wrong, rather that each individual was being true to themselves.

“Keep trying. Stay humble, Trust your instincts. Most importantly, act. When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” — Yogi Berra

What advice would you give yourself or others about Choosing Your Own Adventure when you consider the Yogi Berra quote above? Why is remembering that we do have choices important as we navigate our individual and shared journeys of potential? Who are you grateful for sharing support, advice and inspiration with on your adventures?

 “To live will be an awfully big adventure.” – Peter Pan

Looking Beyond The Label

August 8, 2016 at 6:03 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I love chatting to the teachers throughout a day as their students participate in an experience. It is always an opportunity to hear about and share stories, beliefs, passions and teachable moments that have occurred in their classrooms/school communities or during the program. So many of the teachers who we support comment that they notice different aspects to their students throughout the day as they can take a step back and become a unobstructed observer. One conversation last week reminded me why this piece of the ‘learning journey’ puzzle is so important. Looking beyond the label reminds us of the authentic potential, contribution and connection that each of us brings to the table.

“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for…” – Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

One of the teachers came up beside me towards the end of the first session, telling me excitedly about a few of the students she’d been observing so far. She told me about their past histories, which involved suspensions, disengagement, etc. She commented how much joy she was getting from seeing how involved they were, how they were interacting with their peers and the way other students were leveraging their ideas and talents in the games, challenges and activities. She described how much she loved any opportunity to see the students in a different light. That awareness that this teacher brings into the many roles that she plays as an educator creates important ripples for each of the individuals in her spheres of influence. If as we navigate our journeys of potential we have advocates who look beyond the self or other appointed labels it can assist us as we explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically.

“We are by nature observers, and thereby learners. This is our permanent state.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It can be so easy to fall into labelling or feeling labelled within different areas of our lives. It’s one of the things I love most while working with individuals and groups. I have the opportunity to create a space and time where what’s happened before doesn’t have to define who we or others believe we are in this moment, or determine what happens throughout the program or from now on. Experiential learning is such a powerful vehicle to use in this process. When we’re involved in the physical process of learning (doing, then reflecting on experience), its transfer into various areas of our lives becomes much more seamless. The week before I got to chat to another inspiring teacher who we’ve been supporting over the past few years. Her feedback below reminded me of the purposeful way we seek to engage, challenge and inspire the students we have the pleasure of working with.

“I constantly see the students treated with respect and with positivity. I love how the learning intent is clear. I love the brain breaks. I love the varied pedagogy.” – Year 5 Teacher

What labels (for self, others or the world around us) will you choose to look beyond this week as you explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically?

Whole School Approach

August 1, 2016 at 7:20 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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This week sees us feeling excited, grateful and inspired as we embrace a new opportunity. A few months ago I took a phone call from one of our amazing client schools enquiring about a whole school approach to complement the Stage 3 leadership program we delivered for them last year. Our I’m Choosing Kind™: Stage 2 Connection and Mindfulness Program was launched in 2015 with the aim of further supporting our client schools in this way. What a privilege it is to be working with students from Years 3 – 6 in a variety of our client schools each year. Now with this phone call we were being presented with the opportunity to explore how we could engage, challenge and inspire Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 students as well. This week it becomes a reality.

“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: one is roots, the other is wings.” – Hodding Carter

This morning saw us opening up the week of program days with an enthusiastic group of Kindergarten and Support Unit (Years 1 -4) students. What an amazing cohort of children to work with. What fun it was to deliver our I’ll Give It A Go: Early Stage 1 Social and Emotional Growth and Development Program for the very first time. We truly believe that life is an incredible journey; full of adventures and opportunities to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically. So when we as individuals and groups foster and continue to develop a mindset for stretching and growth, it can really assist us within our life long learning journeys. Games, activities and challenges were used as we focussed in on building an attitude of I CAN, a belief in YOU CAN, and inspiring WE CAN. The smiles, curiosity and experimentation that I witnessed reminded me why it is such a privilege to work within Primary Schools.

“You can’t pick out the pieces you like and leave the rest. Being part of the whole thing, that’s the blessing” – Natalie Babbitt from Tuck Everlasting

The second of our new programs will come on Wednesday. We can’t wait to deliver the Pieces of the Puzzle: Stage 1 Social and Emotional Growth and Development Program for the first time as well. Integrated into that experience will be our belief that every puzzle piece is important, needed and to be celebrated when we consider that they are all used to bring out the whole picture. As we engage with life from a place of wonder, we see pathways to change, growth and potential opening up. We look forward to then continuing to support the students and teachers who take part in each of the programs this week through our ongoing communication. Each term we send through to our client schools a themed Challenge and Newsletter. This forms part of our commitment to meaningful action beyond each program experience.

“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” – B. B. King

We love sharing our vision of ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’ with our client schools through our program days and ongoing communication. What an amazing week this will be! I wonder what new thoughts, words and actions will ripple from the inspiring students who we will have the pleasure of supporting?

 

 

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