Editor’s Note: Leigh Michalojko is a Mind in the Making facilitator and a Reading Recovery Teacher at Wilkinson Elementary School.
As my co-facilitator and I stood in front of our very first cohort to facilitate the incredible research of Mind in the Making, I knew that it was going to be special. The training is unlike any other professional development in which I have partaken. We faced our diverse assembly of educators, parents, and professionals; then the magic of Mind in the Making began.
Mind in the Making unlocks the key to years of brain-based research, making it practical and applicable for participants. Promoting the seven essential life skills, and linking these skills to executive functioning skills, provided the basis for the training. Participants learned how to promote these skills within themselves and encourage the children in their lives. This process is of the utmost importance when you think about what children need to thrive and become productive members of the community. However, it all begins with the participants, and how they can promote these life skills within themselves before they think about promoting them in children. The facilitative nature of the course allows for the participants to form a bond. This bond provides a safe atmosphere for sharing and deliberating under very diverse perspectives. Since goal setting was a major component of this process (executive function skills are always goal-driven), there were so many reflective “aha” moments among our cohort. For example, one educator remarked that she never knew she inhibited a certain personality trait until she started reflecting on her goals. Another participant shared that she changed the way she approached a situation because she paused to consider the other person’s perspective.
As a facilitator, the training provided me with such a better understanding of my own actions. I was elated to see it had the same effect on our cohort. Only after gaining a full understanding of how these skills work in your own life can one better foster them in the children who will be the future of our society.
As a Reading Recovery teacher in a Title 1 school, I cannot stress enough the importance of the work being done by the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. They are closing the educational gap that affects so many children with powerful initiatives that should reach every community. Mind in the Making has influenced the way that I approach teaching and education. I am hopeful for the future as change is happening with every cohort and every participant.