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December 4, 2018

Team Nickel—Always Learning

Perhaps it is because the Mind in the Making course that I just finished co-facilitating with my friend Johnette Cappadona was our first, but since we bade farewell to our group last night, I’ve felt kind of warm and gooey inside. Although it was much more work than I had imagined, I am so sorry that our time with this new circle of friends, of learning partners, has drawn to a close.

Not everyone on our original class roster could be there for all four 4-hour sessions, but by the time we settled on our steady eight, we began to bond and share with generosity and candor.

We had three early-childhood teachers, several non-teaching professional women, a grandmother, a therapist, a foster care professional, and a sports-loving dad. Their obvious commitment to jump extraordinary hurdles of time, schedules, and energy was awe-inspiring.

Our group warmed up to each other as we journeyed module by module through the seven essential life skills of Mind in the Making. Johnette and I took turns leading each module and shared the science as we had been trained to do. I noticed that our styles differed. Johnette was able to prompt the facilitated learning with her own amazing stories about raising her son in a brilliant way. I had to learn more on questions and drawing out the stories of others.

Being new to this, I questioned my ability to facilitate the learning as smoothly as our trainer, Erin Ramsey, had. The material is still new and in the beginning, I feared that I sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher. I was wondering if I was crazy to have taken this on. But with each crazy exercise that made us laugh while discovering new perspectives, I could see the learning take place.

“I just want the answer!” was one response to a refusal to give further instructions for the newspaper hat exercise. This became a theme that shed light on being patient and letting children find answers themselves.

One participant confessed to her Type A personality’s need to control, organize, and keep to schedule created frustration for herself and her children, “I can’t do it for them. I can’t make them.”

There were so many helpful ideas shared that further connected the science to the boots-on-the-ground challenges of parenting and teaching. We should have kept a running list!

As important as all of this was, I think the magic was within the group itself. Their own ideas prompted by the science, videos, and exercises were golden, and there was immediate recognition for the power of the support they all could give each other.

As we stood in a circle at the end of the last module and read the hopes and dreams, each envisioned spreading the word of Mind in the Making to the entire community so that everyone could have a chance to change the world in these small, but BIG, ways.

Why might I feel warm and gooey inside after that? Well, it was just so beautiful. I thank Mind in the Making, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, and The Patterson Foundation for the opportunity to play my role in this gigantic effort.

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