Team Sizzle met from 6:00p–8:00p every week for eight weeks. With three parents and a full preschool staff on board, we embarked on a journey of adjustment and readjustment every week. As each gathering brought with it not only a limited timeframe for sharing the science of Mind in the Making it also brought along the fruits of the current day, be they good or bad, happy or sad, stressed and closed-off or being just plain wild and silly. In the beginning, what seemed to be a lesson in patience and diplomacy evolved over time into a legacy of open communication, compassion, and respect.
Initially, it seemed that resistance was high in this group, as most of the participants had been working with young children and their parents all day and for a very long time. As seasoned and tightly bonded colleagues, their wisdom and experience could easily foster a sense of being looked at or through vs. being heard. The feeling was that we were attempting to share information with folks who could run circles around us. They knew this, and so did we, and yet as trained facilitators, we put our full trust in the magic that is ‘Sharing the Science of Mind in the Making.’
Mind in the Making (MITM) did not disappoint. The 7 Essential Life Skills known as the Executive Functions highlighted in Ellen Galinsky’s work are offered as evidence-based, necessary life skills for a reason. Simply put, they do their job, regardless of the audience. One evening, in particular, brought everything full-circle as one of our participants let down her wall and unexpectedly (and with some gentle encouragement) shared an experience about herself.
As a teacher at the preschool, she bravely shared that she hates change. She literally cannot stand it and wants everything to stay the same, in its rightful place, regardless of changing external circumstances. She also divulged that she loves children, has wholly devoted her life to them because she cares so much and feels they need to have unchanging structures in their life that they can count on, starting with her and her classroom. Her passion for providing this to all children was palpable. Meanwhile, she also shared that she had been encountering new and unexplainable behavior issues amongst the children in her care over the last few years. They couldn’t seem to relax or calm down, and nothing she knew to do seemed to work anymore. Finally, she prayed about it and consequently had a dream that told her she needed to reorganize her entire classroom and change/rearrange everything.
This was so “out of her wheelhouse” and not something she was comfortable with at all. In fact, her teaching partner, who was by her side as she shared this, noted that she had suggested this several times, but her co-teacher was unwilling to go in that direction. These two teachers supported one another fully, and it showed in the dialogue between them throughout our time together.
As a result of our MITM curriculum and trust development discussions, she took herself and us by surprise and shared that she and her co-teaching partner actually overhauled and transformed the entire organization of their classroom just a few weeks before the start of our MITM cohort. She said it was because she could not turn away from what she experienced in her dream and had to look inside and transform her own fear.
When we gently probed and asked her if she felt comfortable sharing with us how it has worked out, she replied, “It has been unbelievable. I don’t even know how to explain it. Everything single thing seems to have changed for the better. The children have responded extremely well, and so have we.”
We gently applauded her for having the courage to grow and evolve with the needs of her children and for caring enough to acknowledge and understand her own fears first through facilitated learning.