Lately I’ve been enjoying rising in the dark, listening to the whistling teakettle and the humming wood stove, and writing stories. Did you know the Native Americans reserved many stories to share only in wintertime, when wind whipped outside wigwams and snow froze tiptoeing foootsteps?
Grandmother Moon’s tears turned white last night and an inch or two of new snow covers our cars. We’re both off to work early today, and tonight Grandfather Snow’s threatening an all-out November fit with several inches of his wrath. Why are the heavens fighting? A Native American elder might keep the kids entertaining for hours explaining the god’s drama.
My drama? Thank you for asking.
As many of you know, I’ve been given the *esteemed* honor of teaching our K-6th graders Spanish while their regular teacher, Senora Maki, visits a certain desert land where neighbors may actually greet her with, “Buenos dias! Que tal?”
coerced begged-requested to teach the kids at our tiny school while Senora enjoyed cactus out her back window. (Senora is a good friend of mine, who actually often reads this blog, thereby endearing herself to me evermore.) Actually, I inadvertently volunteered for the position.
“Hey, I could teach espanol!” I blabbed, neveryoumind that five years had passed since the last spoken sentence of Spanish and everyone knows I can’t remember nada.
Senora Maki and the other senora-teachers grasped at this resolution of our missing teacher syndrome just before I changed my mind.
“No, never mind,” said I, coming to my senses, “that was a stupid idea. Let’s just forget about it.”
“You’ll do fine,” they all insisted firmly.
I’m usually very adept at saying “no”. I said no six times to all the senoras. It was a mistake! I didn’t mean to volunteer! They smiled patiently while Senora Maki promised lesson plans even though Kathy kept stuttering no-n0-no to no avail.
Kathy imagines herself a writer, but not a teacher. Would disaster strike? Would the children run roughshod across her? How could she, por gracias, instruct nine students between age five and 12?
The first lesson occurred in October. The last lesson shall be December 5th and Senora Maki you had better be home before the following Thursday!
Gentle reader, try to imagine teaching Spanish–or anything–to a class with such an age span. The Kindergarteners still possess a desire to wander, to sharpen their lapices. The First and Second grade attention span yet develops. The Third and Fourth graders grasp the public education system while the Fifth and Sixth Graders have the potential to barter in the markets of Mexico.
Yet how does a teacher orchestrate it all? How can one inspire the elders, guiding them to their potential, while keeping the Kindergarteners in their seats?
I have no idea.
However, yesterday their substitute teacher learned the biggest lesson of all.
My daughter waxed enthusiastically about a TED talk by Amy Cuddy she’d recently watched. Eight million viewers have watched it already, so this is probably old news to you.
It’s called: “Fake it until you become it” and, ohmygoodness, I recommend each of you watch the twenty minute video and try a small experiment before your next potentially stressful Spanish class or job interview.
Her premise? We all know of the mind-body connection. Our mind affects our body, right? But did you also know that our body can equally affect our mind?
She recommends a two-minute “power posture” which actually raises our testosterone (whatcha think of that, senoritas and senoras?) and lowers our cortisone (stress). Folks who engage in this powerful body language actually perform much better than those who teach Spanish or talk to their landlord with insecure body language.
I power-postured for two minutes before departing the house yesterday afternoon.
YES! I felt awesome! I could parachute out of an airplane!
Power-postured again for two minutes at the school before teaching.
YES! Those kids would LEARN ESPANOL! No more fussing and fretting! No more defeat at the mercy of babes!
I taught for an hour. Who knows if the kids learned more or less than the previous times, but darn it, the power pose seemed to work for me. I felt more relaxed and comfortable in the classroom than before. The kids responded better. Nervousness did not even show her insecure face.
Of course, you may imagine this the placebo effect. Kathy was, once again, brainwashed into relaxing.
And this may be true! If it’s the placebo effect, how wonderful! Please watch the video, try the experiment and let me know how it works for you. How about flexing the power posture pose for two minutes before writing your next blog or visiting your doctor or balancing your checkbook?