Transitions and New Beginnings

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Life has been full of changes this past year and a half, and I don’t just mean because of the pandemic.  I stopped teaching at the end of April 2020 because I became a mom for the first time.  I dove headfirst into motherhood, enjoying every minute with my daughter, and taking the moment as a time to enjoy her without balancing teaching full-time too.

I spent the past school year finding classes to do with her and finishing my Masters degree.  The world still wasn’t quite normal (virtual classes had their pros and cons) and was able to connect with other moms virtually.  I loved being with my daughter and watching her explore and discover the world.  However, at times, I felt like I should be doing something else since I worked hard to get where I was professionally.  I decided to finish my Masters Degree and then reevaluate my choices and potentially find something part time.

A friend told me about The Teacher Career Coach Podcast, and I’ve enjoyed listening to episodes to learn what careers others have pursued who have left education.  I also took their quiz to see what career options exist that I could potentially transfer my skills.  So far, I’ve pursued side projects rather than purchasing their course, but I know it is an option in the future. 

After a lot of reflection I decided I missed teaching, but wanted something less demanding than teaching full time in a typical school setting.  In September, I began 3 new pursuits (and it was a little overwhelming beginning them all at the same time, which is why I’m delayed writing a blog post!).  I began teaching Sunday School and have a sweet class of 2nd graders.  This is one of my favorite age groups, and it’s reminded me how much I’ve missed it after having conversations with a baby and toddler for the past year!  I also began tutoring, which again, gives me the opportunity to teach, create resources, and connect with and support families in a 1:1 setting.

For my last pursuit, I am excited to begin teaching kids yoga classes.  I have been thinking about this option for awhile as a way to combine my love of yoga and teaching kids, I just needed to find time to finish some training.  I was finally able to complete a basic overall training, learning songs and poses great for toddlers and kids as well as some follow up courses about yoga for babies and toddlers, family yoga, Jewish yoga, and storytime yoga.  There are a lot of other interesting courses available, but I have to remember to space them out.  It’s important I get comfortable with one program first before getting certified in many different areas.

I’ve begun teaching small classes in my backyard while the weather is still nice enough to be outside.  I’m open to teaching pods at others’ houses, but have to remember to start small with this new venture.  So far my classes have been small in size, but again, I have to remember I need to start somewhere.  Many people are excited for me and interested in classes; I’ve met and interacted with many new people already.  It’s a new feeling for me to put myself out there and market and advertise, but I am learning a lot.  Currently, I’m trying to figure out what to do as the weather gets colder so I can continue safely offering classes and teaching yoga!

I’m proud of my reflections and to see where I go from here.  I hope you’ll follow along on my journey with me!

Yoga: Letting Go and Trying Something New

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Last week, I went to yoga expecting my normal class.  To my surprise, class was cancelled due to an arm balance and inversion workshop.  Since I was there, I decided to go for it, with a little hesitation.  I’ve gained strength doing yoga, but still struggle with balances and being comfortable being upside down.  As I walked into the crowded room, I assumed I’d be the only one who couldn’t do a headstand.

Luckily, the workshop started off slowly with warmups and more basic postures.  I decided to give everything a try because what did I have to lose?!  As the workshop continued and the instructor demonstrated inversions and more advanced positions, I realized others were giving the same looks of bewilderment and I was not alone in beginning inversions.  Everyone gave her best effort, with some falling and laughter along the way.

By the end of the workshop, I had done a pike headstand independently, and a full headstand and handstand with someone spotting me.  I’m capable of doing it, I just need to figure out where my body should be independently to balance.  I was proud of my efforts.

As a new school is about to begin, I think of bringing this same mindset to my new role.  As a special education teacher, I’ll be working with a variety of students at different ability levels.  They will need to learn new skills and be supported along the way.  They will be given modifications, not to make things easier, but to help them be successful at their level.  As time goes on, they will be given challenges as well.  This will allow them to grow, learn, and build self-confidence.  Then, hopefully, they will feel balanced and proud of their efforts as well.

Lessons from Yoga

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In the past year, I’ve become an avid yoga enthusiast.  I only practice 1-2 times per week, but when I get in that zone, it is a true destresser.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to clear my mind, but after class I always feel so much better.  And if my mind begins to wander, I lose my focus and fall out of poses!  I’ve also used the breathing techniques to help me calm down in daily life events.  As I’ve increased my practice, I’ve also realized lessons from yoga that can be applied to daily life and the classroom.  Below outlines lessons we can bring into our daily lives.

  • Yoga is differentiated-everyone has different abilities and is at different stages of their practice and that is okay.  There are different options with the poses that the instructor shares, and you get the choice of how far to go based on your flexibility and level.  There are tools to use, such as a block or strap for additional support so you can try a more advanced option.  Also, you are focused on yourself rather than comparing to others around yourself.  Yes, I do look around, in awe of people who can do crazy balances, and know I am not there yet.  And that is okay.
  • Throughout yoga, you are focused on yourself and your breath.  You use this breath to help you push through poses.  Any other thoughts are pushed to the wayside.  Throughout the class, you take moments to return to your breath to regain focus or slow down after a difficult sequence or pose.  If you struggled, this is a chance to regain neutral ground and keep going.  This is why yoga is seen as a stress relief and confidence booster.
  • At the beginning of each class, an intention is set.  Sometimes the instructor gives you a suggestion, sometimes you create your own.  Usually these are a word or a phrase, the reason you decided to come to class that day.  Imagine if everyone woke up and set an attention to try their best, listen to themselves, appreciate the world, or be awesome everyday!
  • Yoga is about growth.  Each class you can push yourself further or try something new.  Over time, you gain strength and can notice the difference.  Then you can set new goals.  There are poses I am doing now that I didn’t think were possible for my body to do; one day I decided to try and succeeded!  It was such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and helped my confidence grow.  The worst thing that happens, is you fall out of a pose; then you try again.  I watch others who have succeeded and have something to aspire to as I gain more strength.  Also, the instructors are very supportive-they offer feedback throughout class and are willing to help and assist if you want.
  • At the end of class, time is spent to relax and recover; often, everyone breathes together as a community.  In her closing remarks, the instructor says to leave what happened on the mat.  Throughout class she also says to listen to your body-some days you may be capable of doing more than others, but what is important is you came to class and gave effort.  Everyone worked their hardest and deserves the chance to revel and take in that moment.

As I continue my practice and build strength, I hope to also bring these lessons into other moments of my life.