What was your moment of epiphany?

Epiphany…

What does it mean to you?

I think it’s that “aha” moment you have when something just makes sense.

The dictionary puts it as: 

“a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something”

My latest big “aha” moment was during a class about BreakoutEDU, I attended last week.  This was a two-day class that was jam-packed with different breakouts and ideas about how to create and run them.  The first day was all about the traditional format of Breakouts whereas the second day was all about the digital form.

So my “aha’ happens on the first day of class.

Fairly quickly, we are told we will work on a 1st grade Breakout as a whole class.  It had both positive and negative sides to doing this as a whole class. After reflecting and discussing some other options, we are told we are going to do another one.  This time, we will be in small groups. 

We get to work.  Our first task is solved quite quickly.  My friend and I had done a digital version (if you want to know about mine, check it out) previous to the class, unlike our peers and so it started out a bit easier for us.

However, as always, things got a little more difficult along the way.  That’s when differences of opinion came in.  I am used to that:) There is always someone who disagrees in these situations. The solution?  Let them work it out how they wish.  No need to argue.

I was thinking…no big deal.  People will try different possibilities and either have to go back to drawing board for new ideas or they get lucky and solve it with their first suggestion.

Wow, did I miss something! 

When everyone got done and we got into our small group for reflection, one participant accused me of stifling her idea by disagreeing with it.  She said that I made her feel as though her idea wasn’t worth pursuing simply because I shook my head in disagreement.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I have my own children and I know that peer pressure is a real thing.  However, I thought…did she just stop herself from trying, because I disagreed with her?

She went on to say that if it hadn’t been for another participant telling her to try it anyway, she wouldn’t have.  She even said I intimidated her.

Let just say…I was shocked!  I couldn’t understand why she let my opinion (someone she didn’t even know) affect her ability to make an effort.

My response to her was I didn’t even know there was a problem.  I had expressed my thought of how to solve the problem, she disagreed, it looked like she was going to try it her way and I had moved on to help someone else solve a different part of the puzzle.  I figured…let her try it.  If it works, great! If it doesn’t, we try another idea. I had no idea she had had that much of a struggle.

Epiphany…here we go. 

One, I looked at it from the viewpoint of myself.  I have had a lot of people tell me I intimidate them.  I don’t personally understand it…I am 5’2″ and don’t really see myself that way.  However, over the years, it got to the point that I stifled who I was, just to avoid making people feel intimidated.  Finally, through the help of a friend, I realized, I was just hurting myself and my self-worth.

I became a true me again.  I’m not perfect.  I tell it like it is, which may come across as being forward but I don’t want to play games with people and I certainly don’t want to be passive-agressive.

This experience made me realize that the reaction this individual had, had nothing to do with me and everything to do with how she saw herself.  I finally realized that I hadn’t been intimidating, meaning I hadn’t purposely gone out of my way to put someone down or make them feel inferior.  Instead, I had just shown confidence in who I am.  The realization that I was really okay and not hurting people on purpose was a huge thing for me.  I knew now why some people had felt that way.  They didn’t have the same sense of confidence.

Two, I looked at it from her viewpoint.  I knew I could empathize with her.  I knew I didn’t understand where she was coming from but I could feel for her.  I could feel her frustration.  I could even feel her doubts since we have all had them.

This made me think of some of my students.  I could see many that would react the same way.  Why hadn’t they?  I think it has come down to my persistence in getting to know them personally so they feel comfortable around me sharing their ideas.  It also is about getting them to understand that if I shake my head, it may not have anything to do with what they said, did or the situation at all.  I may have just gotten into my head a little too much, and am shaking my head at my own inane thought.  They come to realize that if I am making a stern or frustrated expression it is rarely because of them.

It also made me realize that if we had had even just a moment to get to know each other, this incident might not have played out the same way.  It shows how much we need to communicate and get to know each other before working with each other.

Wow, NOW…I call that an epiphany!

Let me know what epiphanies you have had!

 

Empowerment…the key to understanding

Today, I took another day off.  No…another window didn’t break.

Unfortunately, it was stress of another kind.

At first, I didn’t want to take time off.

After all, we have a concert next week!

Although the majority of the choreography has been taught and just needs the refinement, I still didn’t want to stay home.

So I waited.  

And waited.

And waited.  

Finally, I realized I wasn’t going to be any good to my students with the frame of mind I was in and it didn’t look like it was going to get any better.  The stress I was experiencing was building because I was trying to figure out how to go teach 30 minutes away from my home and still be at home when the window guy was going to be there, coupled with the added stress of a family situation that seemed to be constantly compounding was too much to handle.

Yet, I didn’t see as though anything would come of me staying home.

Boy was I wrong. 

I got some very needed rest.  It took quite a while for me to get to sleep last night but I finally slept soundly.  I still woke up at the same time but I was able to read for a bit, talk to my children and get in a quick nap.

I was able to work side by side with my daughter going through different rooms to see what items we could get rid of this Saturday.

When we were beginning to wane.  I took a quick break and sat down at my computer for a moment.

A neighbor had messaged me asking if I needed any help.

I don’t know about you but I am TERRIBLE at letting others help me! But it truly humbling to have someone know you need help without being asked.

I was raised to be self-sufficient even if I didn’t feel like it.

This time, something within me told me to take the help.

WOW!  What a powerhouse my friend is.  She helped us so much.  I was able to go through things quietly making correct decisions while she packed items that had already been decided upon.  It was simply amazing.  We got through almost three rooms in less than two hours!  I told you she was a powerhouse!

What’s the point of this?

The point for me was…I was schooled today on empowerment.  

As a teacher, I work in my mind constantly trying to come up with additional ways to help my students become empowered.  I teach and release responsibility so they can “show what they know” in their own way, in their own time.

Today, my friend taught me what it was to help someone in a way that truly empowered another.

Today, I feel stronger, more confident, more motivated and I feel as though I could help someone else in the same way thus proving what I learned today.

I can only hope I use what I learned today, effectively in my classroom.  I know my students would gain so much from the experience.