Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Own Transformation as a Teacher

I have always been a very different kind of teacher. During my early days teaching EFL (English as a foreign language) back in 1993 in Israel, I aimed to observe my students more, indulged in listening to their conversations, and participated in their learning experiences as I sat next to them.

I was following a heart felt approach to teaching as a way to straddle the hurdles of American and Israeli cultural differences of my own identity even if I didn't know I was doing the right thing.

I had come to the conclusion, that I didn't need to think and feel like an Israeli to survive and thrive in the cultural classroom, but just be myself. This approach led me to try and listen more, but I always had to fight the urge to react no matter how difficult the cultural clash. I'll never forget how, one homeroom teacher had brought in a suspended student who had caused havoc and disrupted other students and whose parents claimed that because he was on retalin, needed a second chance. (more like the fifth chance) I had been in those situations before, but because I didn't respond with "chutzpah," my linguistic efforts thwarted.

There I was, dripping with sweat. The homeroom teacher had literally flung the child in the classroom, the child looked bewildered and looked at me, then at the homeroom teacher, and finally shrugged his shoulders and ran to greet his friends while I looked on in silent horror. It was a confusing moment on many levels and much of it was culturally and emotionally grounded. I was filled with frustration. I felt like a doormat.

That silent voice of years past.

Fast forward to the year 2012. 2012! I now no longer teach Israeli students. I live in Pittsburgh and teach adult ESL students at two universities since I arrived in 2007.

Every time a new semester begins (like today), I tell my students that we share this cultural classroom together. But today, I told them what it was like to feel "voiceless." To live and learn a new language in another country. This eases them tremendously - I can tell by their body language and eye contact. This is my first time I'm sharing the word "voiceless" in the cultural ESL classroom. I don't know if they immediately get the point, but I am sure glad I've allowed myself to share on this level. I feel naked, but nobody brushes me aside. All eyes are on me. And the funny part is - they continue to listen. This heals me.

Since I've arrived in Pittsburgh, I can't seem to get the concept of being a "voiceless" teacher, teaching "voiceless" students out of my head. I watch the "Freedom Fighters" movie and I fall in love with how a band of students are transformed through the power of personal story writing.

In the summer of 2011, after signing a contract to write a book on teacher collaboration for English language learners for Pearson, I felt the divine calling to sign up for Christine Kloser's "Transformational Author Anthology Pebbles Program" - it would be my opportunity to write about my journey and how I came full circle. It was the perfect gift to my soul. Talk about rock sliding collision of forces and energies!

I had just began the process with "Pebbles" chapter for the anthology (May 2012).

You just can't imagine the surge of energy I have felt since starting the "Get Your Book Done" program for modeling every step of the process for writing my book, Giving a Voice to the Voiceless every single time I sit down to write.

If you're interested in learning about the Get Your Book Done program, click here.

The writing is just so effortless. I have never felt this kind of transformative power before as a writer. WOW!

And yet, on days when I feel voiceless, or "emotionally trapped," on those lonely days where there is no "ground," I constantly need to remember that I'm on a path towards recognizing just how powerful I can be using the tool of self-discovery for personal story writing to help move closer to the light as I acquire a more insider experience and away from the feelings of an outsider.

But the most transformational process as an author for me, began during the writing process. I discovered, through meditation, that I was able to visualize a whole new path waiting for me and step and claim my higher powers, which I never knew existed. I saw myself healing others as I wrote the section, "Transforming your personal world of darkness." THERE WAS A WHOLE NEW PATH JUST WAITING FOR ME!

I connected to my reader when I wrote the section "connecting to your own personally diverse voice." I am drawn to diversity, of all forms, shapes and sizes - all have unique voices and those who have lived abroad for any period of time, are extensively "poetic."

When we share our experiences with others either in the "ether" or face to face, we bear witness to a very powerful thing. And when we are able to write about the transformational process, that is us, sharing our Dharma, our purpose emerge for the highest level of good.

I never thought I'd get this far. I'm a different kind of teacher. Yes - it's the new 2012 me. I guess I haven't abandoned the Teacher's Diversity Coach over at I'm just playing with "diversity" from a different angle.

For more updates on the giving the "Voice to the Voiceless" movement and book and how you can get involved, please join my facebook fan page.

And just out of curiosity - Do you know any teachers (or anybody else) who underwent a transformation process? Please share your comments and thoughts. I'd love to know. Let's dialogue about this great shift in consciousness for 2012 as THE transformational year for YOU.

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