Life Class, Oprah, and eMINTS-Part 2

There was high energy in the theater!  Music, cheering, everyone was buzzing.  Then the community building began.  Oprah’s audience producer came on stage.  She encouraged the audience to say hello to the people you were sitting by and to start having fun!  I met a nice person named Carol who was there by herself!  There was a great big group hug and the audience was all one with Oprah!

The evening contained so many “Ah-Ha” moments that connect with the Community of Learners component of the eMINTS Intructional Model.

Ah-Ha #1-

Wow the audience producer developed the community and energy in the room from the moment we walked through the door!  There was music, dancing, and discussion.  How might we do this in a classroom day after day?  One of my favorite quotes from the night came for guest Iyanla Vanzant, “You are responsible for the energy in the room.”  As teachers, we are ultimately in charge of the energy in our classrooms.  As the end of the year sneaks up on us and testing is lurking right around the corner, I want to stay mindful of this quote. I have to choose my attitude and the impact it has on the children in my room.  If the students sense I am stressed, tired, worried, that will rub off on them.   If students feel loved, cared about, and excitement for learning it will rub off on them.  To maintain a positive classroom community, I must maintain a positive vibe towards all my students even as end of the year craziness begins!


Ah-Ha #2-

Our kids need to know we are proud of them and we love them unconditionally.  During the show Iyanla Vanzant worked with a man named “Steve” who was suffering from an addiction.  The root of the problem was the man did not have a male father-figure growing up.  Iyanla did an exercise where she told the man his father would be proud of him and his mother loved him unconditionally.  She also called two men up on stage from the audience.  One man stood back to back with the man.  This represent to “Steve” he had someone to lean on.  The other man told “Steve” he was proud of him.  I started thinking about so many of our young students who come to school from homes where the idea of someone being proud of them may not be reinforced.  What would it feel like to never know someone was proud of me?  I began to wonder what might be some possible community-building activities to reinforce the concept that we are proud of our classmates and we can lean on one another.  Morning Meeting is one activity where this message could be reinforced.  I wonder what the impact would be if twice a week we took morning meeting time to share specifically why we are proud of each other.  I am proud of you “Andrew” for being peaceful on the playground.  I am proud of you “Sophia” for completing your homework this week.  Along with morning meeting classroom teachers plan trust building activities with students.  Trust building activities would help students learn they have someone to lean on.

Ah-Ha #3-

Students’ behavior is a way of them acting on their PAIN (Pay Attention Inward Now).  When students act out, they are doing so to express some type of pain.  If I help students discover how they are feeling, it will help them deal with their behaviors.  Throughout the show, Iyanla Vanzant focused on people using I language as they told the story of their pain.  For example when she interviewed a convict via Skype the convict described how she felt by saying, “You feel embarrassed, you are reminded of what you did everyday.”  Iyanla had the convict change the language to “I feel embarrassed.  I’m reminded of what I did everyday.”  This helps the person in PAIN own their feelings.  Taking the time to listen to students who are acting out and helping them determine the emotion driving their behavior will help them deal with and create a vision for what they want to do in the future.  It is through owning these feelings and developing a vision that we start to heal our PAIN and work to making our selves better people.   Paraphrasing students when they tell their side of the story, labeling their emotion, and giving them a goal for the future can help them from being stuck in a funk to moving on and being productive member of the classroom community.

Ah-Ha #4 and then some…

Don’t become hypnotized by your story.  It seems that all teachers have a story, a certain parent, a specific student, an administrator that challenged them as a professional.  Don’t let the “story” hypnotize you and become your identity.  What did you learn from your experience that you might apply to future situations?  Take your story, state the truth as facts, and leave the emotion behind.  The anger, the baggage you don’t need in your life.

Surround yourself with people who share.  A great quote from last night was “You need to be around people who make deposits and not just withdraws.”  As you work with teams and committees, give and take.  We all need deposits in education! We also need to be willing to share and let others withdraw ideas.  How might this analogy be used with students when working in cooperative groups?

And my final favorite thought…

“You can’t get what you want if you don’t know what you want.”  So what do you want your classroom community to look like as you wrap up the school year?  How might you be the catalyst for creating a collaborative and peaceful environment?

My experience at Oprah was amazing!  I had no idea the message of this fun evening would impact my life and my teaching.  The lessons Oprah is teaching on her LifeClass show are life lessons!   This experience and these lessons will stay with me for a long time!

Carmen Marty is an eMINTS Instructional Specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

#Life Class #OWN #Oprah