Last week I talked about healing in terms of learning new skills, and how you should adjust your healing to your own preferred learning styles. But now consider that you are not just the student, but the teacher too. Are you a kind, nurturing teacher, or do you have an inner Miss Trunchbull?
Miss Honey & Miss Trunchbull
In Roald Dahl’s 1988 book Matilda, he describes the teachers Miss Honey and Miss Trunchbull who are both a major influence on Matilda’s life. Miss Honey is a kind and compassionate teacher. She has a traumatic past that has taught her compassion. And she draws from this compassion to ease the pain for her students. She tries to make learning fun and appropriate to her students’ abilities. In short, Miss Honey is everything you would want a teacher to be. Miss Trunchbull, on the other hand, is everything you do not want in a teacher. I mean, she throws children out of the window for eating licorice during class, which is extreme to say the least. She is mean, abusive, and impatient.
Be honest. What kind of teacher are you to yourself?
Are you patient and compassionate? Or are you harsh and impatient? I think more often than not we are the latter. And that being the case, it does not improve our ability to learn.
It is time to get a bit of teacher training done so you can tame your inner Miss Trunchbull.
Lesson one in teacher training is building rapport—or establishing a positive learning environment in the classroom. The teacher training manual I used at university says the following:
“While personality is impossible to prescribe, for a class to learn effectively you must be able to inspire confidence in your students. You must know when to be firm and directive, and when to be unobtrusive and leave the students alone. In other words, you need to subtly alter your role according to the activity without going to the extremes of dominating a class or leaving it unsure of what to do.”
(Teacher Practice Handbook by Roger Gower, Diane Phillips & Steve Walters. Edition 1995, page 8)
Even if you are only a teacher to yourself, it is important that you are not always too strict or always too lenient. It may seem strange, but it is important to find the right ways to motivate yourself to learn and heal in a balanced way.
In practice, this might look like giving yourself space to make mistakes, and try again; maybe you need to show yourself some tenderness and patience. Or in another context, you may need to give yourself a little kick in the butt to push yourself through to the other side of what you’re facing. It is a delicate balance, and will shift from day to day or from trigger to trigger because what works in one situation may not work in another.
As any teacher knows, you have to speak to the parents of your students with some regularity in order to streamline their child’s progress. At these meetings they can discuss all the aspects of the child’s education; their success, their struggles, and the strategies that could be employed to help them with the latter.
So if we take a cue from the above, we see that taking a moment to reflect on our healing journey is a good habit to have. So often we take 1000 steps towards being a happier, healthier self. But because they are all small steps we do not realize quite how for we have come. We focus on the road ahead, the mistakes we are still making, or on the skills we are yet to master. And because of this we forget to celebrate our considerable successes. Just because you haven’t lost weight, doesn’t mean your shouldn’t get credit for setting better personal boundaries. Just because it took you a week to figure out that someone was gaslighting you, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate the fact that it took you a week to pick up on it—rather than a year. Which was how long it took last time you found yourself being mistreated by someone.
I have a few ways in which I do my self teacher-parent conferences. Sometimes I am just by myself, and I write about the things I noticed in the last few months. Other times I talk to my partner or my best friends. That way they can share with me the changes they have noticed, and I can ask for their feedback on my healing. It can be a little daunting, and you have to trust the other person totally, but it can be very rewarding.
Assessments And Scoring
Lucky you, healing doesn’t require standardized testing! In fact, I highly recommend you never ever give yourself an assessment or even a score.
What I do hope you will do, though, is cover yourself in gold stars for every victory you achieve. Maybe your gold stars are not actual stickers, but rather rewards in self-care. Give yourself gifts, indulge in your favorite foods, go for a trip to the museum, or do something else that you particularly enjoy.
In Why Celebrating Your Success is Important it says that “remembering where I am coming from is so important. It makes me feel so proud of myself. It shows my strength, and allows me to meet new challenges head on. It gives me trust that the future will be okay, and that takes a lot of anxiety out of my day.”
By acknowledging your progress and celebrating your achievements you will keep your learning-and-healing battery charged.
Let Your Teachers Inspire You
Take a trip down memory lane. Think about the teachers in your life who really motivated and inspired you. What about their teaching made them so effective? Was it their storytelling? Their uncanny ability to notice when you were having a rough time? Their forgiving nature when it came to failed assignments? Or perhaps you had some teacher who really brought out the worst in you because of their horrible way of testing you, or the boring and repetitive nature of their teaching?
How can your memories of your favorite and least favorite teachers help you become a better teacher for yourself?
As you discover your own preferred learning styles and teaching styles, you are getting yourself ready to become the most effective student of healing you can be!