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Understand Your Power

Understand your power and influence.

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Teachers, coaches, and leaders understand your power and influence so that you can build the skills within your students, clients, and direct reports. In the first part of my teaching career, I did not truly understand or appreciate the power and influence I had over my students. Statements and comments I made to my students were taken as the honest truth and solid facts. Sure, I had to make things fun and engaging to keep their interest but what I said mattered and counted. My students were influenced by my words by the simple fact that I was their teacher. I held the most power in the room. It was up to me to set the tone for the classroom, help students feel safe and welcomed, and build a sense of belonging. When those basic needs were disrupted, I was the person with the power and ability to respond and make changes to bring our community back to safety and belonging.

The Power of Reflection

Reflection is a powerful tool.

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Reflection is a powerful tool. It is the bridge between practice and growth and can lead to transformational change. Most of us live through our days barely stopping to think. I have discovered that I can practice endlessly at my craft to improve. Practice alone does not lead to transformative growth. Reflection serves as the bridge between practice and growth, not transactional growth but transformative growth.

Throughout my 30s and 40s, I functioned much like a robot going through the motions of work, taking care of kids, and then doing it all over the same watch day. Sometimes, I would not even remember the drive to work or home. I just knew I got there safely. 

I worked hard and practiced my craft daily but was going through the motions. I grew as an educator and became better at my job.

Slow Down and Do More

Slow down and do more.

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Slow down and do more. You might think these two things don’t belong together. How do you work slower and do more? Would that work? I think so! 

As a younger parent working full time, I felt like I had to be rushing around all the time. I was often trying to do more than one thing at a time. Of course, now we all know there is no such thing as multitasking. Rather, you are just switching from one task to another and ultimately not doing any of it very well or faster. 

The first time I practiced mindfulness, I was trying to focus on one task with all my senses. I decided to focus on scrambling my eggs in the morning before work. I used all my senses and scrambled the eggs. Normally, I would try to check emails, make lunch, or something else on my to-do list while I made breakfast.

Standing Steady Between Praise or Blame

“When we find our center and our balance in the midst of these opposites…. we can find our ease and our freedom in the midst of these changing winds.”-Gayathri Narayanan

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What does standing steady between praise and blame mean to you? How do you respond to praise and blame? Do you crave and seek out praise? Do you resist, ignore, or avoid blame? As an educator and a school leader, I was told to develop a ‘thick skin’ or ‘armor’ when blame and negative comments came my way. Alternatively, I was told to soak in all the praise when it came my way. I was not standing steady between praise and blame. I was being pulled from one end to another, placing my value and worth on other people’s opinions. I have realized that may not be the way to go and there are other options.

From Stillness to Clarity

Stillness can lead to clarity.

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Stillness can lead to clarity. My yoga teacher mentioned stillness and clarity as he encouraged us to hold a pose. The more I thought about this idea, I realized that you can reach stillness in many ways, actually being physically still is just one of them. 

I often think of my best ideas or solutions, when my mind is still but maybe not my body. Stillness can be interpreted in many ways. I recently saw a funny advertisement for a mattress where a person wakes up from a good night’s rest and exclaims, “I know where my passport is!” I don’t know if a good mattress or one night’s sleep can bring you this much clarity but I have experienced moments of clarity when I feel stillness. 

Be still. Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity

Lao Tzu

I define stillness as more than being physically still.

Pay Attention to Failure

What is failure telling you?

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What if we pay attention to failure, really think about what it is trying to teach us, and make future decisions based on our past failures? We can approach failure in many ways. We can decide to ignore our failures and move along. We can feel shame about them and not address them. There are so many ways to deal with failure. We could think about each failure and wonder what it can teach us. What is a failure trying to tell you? As my yoga teacher would say…Falling out of a position is an invitation to try again. That is how I am trying to embrace failure nowadays. Failure is an invitation to get back in and learn from it.

When I was just out of college, I moved to New York City and started my job search. I went on job interview after interview in the NYC publishing world.

Rob Heavner

I began working with Pri in the Spring of 2023 as I navigated a transition from longtime teacher to full-time school administrator. At that time, I was having challenges managing my time efficiently and striking the balance between building long-term systems and solving day-to-day problems. I felt inefficient, ineffective, and a little lost when I reached out to Pri. I am so thankful that I did. Pri has completely changed the way I approach my work, my time, and my relationships with all the various stakeholders in an educational setting. Her coaching has brought the best out of me, and we have worked to create a path that is unique to my strengths and gifts as an educator. Pri is an amazing listener, and she seems to know what I am feeling before I do! Since working with Pri, I feel infinitely more grounded and I know I am prepared for the everyday rigors of my job.

Be a Human with a Human

I first heard this phrase when attending the ten-day intensive part of my executive coaching certification through Berkeley. “Be a human with a human.” noted one of the faculty coaches before they launched us into one of our first practicums where we coached a stranger in front of each other and received feedback. I was so nervous and was at the beginning of this journey, not feeling like I had the skills as yet to do a great job. A lot of self-doubt was creeping into my mind until I heard this phrase. Being a human with a human seemed doable to me. It was a reality that felt approachable, comfortable, and true. After all, we are just two human beings talking to each other. 

I saw the true expression of this phrase in a brilliant movie. Recently, I had the privilege to watch an early screening of Ava Duvernay’s new film, Origin, about the author Isabel Wilkerson’s journey to writing her book Caste while coping with personal loss.

Composting Your Thoughts

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Do you ever feel like your mind is buzzing with thought after thought? This happens to me often. I used to think it would help to get rid of or suppress the thoughts, then I could be mindful and focused. I was wrong! That did not work! I recently learned about composting thoughts as a strategy to deal with the sometimes constant unhelpful rumination in my mind.

First, I notice when I am having a stream of thoughts. Then, as my meditation teacher taught me, I visualize each thought as a green bean in a colander. As each thought comes up, I take a green bean out of the colander and sort it. Helpful thoughts, crisp and firm beans, go in the bowl and unhelpful thoughts, mushy and discolored, go in the compost bucket.

At first, I thought I was throwing out the unhelpful thoughts but then I thought about how compost turns into nutrient-rich soil, eventually.

Creating a Culture of Belonging

I recently had the opportunity to attend a conference on Creating a Culture of Belonging in my role as a community trustee of The Presidio Hill School in San Francisco. I was excited to be invited as a member of the PHS cohort to attend this very important conference hosted by San Francisco Friends School and Pollyanna. Being a trustee at a school whose mission and vision I believe in as well as whose leader,  Lisa Jeli, is one I believe in is an honor and a privilege. The day was filled with learning, opportunity, moments of heartache, and moments of hope, all met with listening to understand and curiosity. 

Jamil Zaki, author of The War for Kindness, Building Empathy in a Fractured World and an associate professor of psychology at Stanford University was the keynote speaker. He spoke of many critical things related to empathy.