Simona Baciu – author of The Teacher Within and founder of Transylvania College, shares with us her past experiences.
As a high school teacher who started up with a small kindergarten, she managed to build an education system, write a book and create an international program that helps teachers from around the world to keep their motivation and enthusiasm alive.
In her speech held at the Inspiro conference in Bucharest she invites us to reflect upon which stage of our development each of us is at the moment: a whole that looks for it’s missing piece or a piece that builds up its whole.
Challenge 100 The Teacher Within
Challenge 100 The Teacher Within is an international reading challenge, a movement toward self-care and well-being.The main goal of the Challenge is to create communities of people willing to share ideas and best practices for self-development and a better impact on the lives of others.
The readers spend 5 minutes a day for 100 days reading The Teacher Within, practicing meditation, concentration and breathing techniques, while observing the benefits of self-awareness and actions taken with resilience, integrity and authenticity.
The Challenge started in Romania and the United States of America – homes of the two authors, Simona and Susan, and extended around the world, when teachers and teaching professionals from over ten countries joined in. The first community encompasses 100 people from: Romania, USA, Portugal, Czech Republic, Poland, South Africa, Hong Kong, China, Kenya, Belgium, and Germany. They all share the idea that a life lived with kindness, compassion and respect leads to meaningful connections, fulfilment and well-being.
This weekend, Transylvania College hosted the 18th National RATE Conference – English for 21st Century Skills. During this conference CET – The Cluj English Teachers Association raised awareness of the importance of the 3L’s: Learning, Life, and Literacy skills the students need to develop in the 21st century. The conference was attended by over 450 participants from Romania and from all over the world.
I had the honor to be invited as a speaker at this event, where I presented the workshop: The Teacher Within – A Mindful Approach to Teaching in the 21st Century. Since I had an exciting and memorable experience receiving a great feedback, I thought it would be great to share a part of my presentation here:
Five years ago I was questioning myself how I could support teachers in our school. I was wondering, what makes them be good teachers. I realized that sometimes you have everything you need: facilities, materials, equipment; but who is the teacher in front of the class? Who is the person that enters every day in the classroom, trying to influence and inspire the students? That’s when I started to work writing on a book, entitled The Teacher Within – A MINDFUL APPROACH TO TEACHING IN THE 21ST CENTURY, together with an American specialist in education, Susan Shapiro.
The “Teacher Within” is a personal journey of fulfillment that can help teachers make a difference in their life and the lives of those with whom they interact every day: students, family, and community. It is about living a mindful life that leads toward wellbeing and fulfillment. A transformation that helps them recognize that everything they do influence the students, every thought they think affects them and it ultimately affects who they will become. Who a teacher is within is what the students will experience in the classroom.
What are the main personality treats of a good teacher?
In my experience, a good teacher is mindful and resilient.
If you are resilient, you have a vision. You do everything to bounce back to safety and continue your path ahead. You treat others with kindness and forgiveness and you manage to let go of the burdens of your past. You see challenges, not problems and you find your positive self-talk. You create a positive learning environment with courage and commitment. You are not a victim and you have the mindset of resilience.
I would like to discuss more and reflect on a few of these personality traits until Christmas:
Imagine that your problems are a deep ocean with the tide pulling you down, and you feel as if you are drowning. Then all of a sudden someone drops the lifebuoy to save you. Now it’s your choice to grab it and bounce back to safety, getting your life back, or drown in the ocean consumed by all of your problems. The difference in the two scenarios is resilience. Your mind is your power to bounce back to life in difficult situations.
Your first job is to be aware of your thoughts and reactions when a problem occurs. Recognize them and do not panic. Breathing and meditation can help relax your brain and get the power to bounce back.
Challenges can occur daily in your teaching career: Think about situations that might happen and let you down if you don’t have the strength to bounce back.
Letting go of the past:
We all come with baggage; past experiences that haunt us over and over again. The contents of our baggage are different though. Some get heavier and heavier as the time passes and harder to carry. Even if you try a different way to carry it, moving from one hand to the other or putting it on your back, it’s still there to go on with it. The moment arrives when you have to say stop; you put it down and get rid of the excess weight. This is a moment of awareness when you look into your baggage and realize that you carry so many useless burdens with you for so many years.
Resilience means that you have the power within you to let go of the past and forgive yourself and others. It serves you no longer, especially when it is heavy and not supportive of you. This doesn’t mean it is an easy path.
Forgiveness is the key if you truly want to release your baggage.
Challenges, not problems:
Our mind is constricted by the words we use. One of the words that stop us from being creative and looking for possibilities is the word “problem”. Problem is a restrictive word that sets up limits. It has a negative connotation used when something goes wrong. The word problem drives us to excuses and blame that take our energy and enthusiasm. A switch of the mindset comes when we change the word problem with the word “challenge”. The situation will no longer be a “problem”, but a challenge to overcome, something that breaks barriers and limits, opening up opportunities.
A resilient teacher is challenged by situations. This is focusing on the positive aspects in spite of adversity.
With the hope that I have awakened your interest, follow me for new episodes in which I will detail new personality traits of a resilient teacher,
The lesson for today in a well-written article:
Resilience is our response to any challenge.
Our response to any challenge (resilience) is based on the way that we think about four Ss, which are found on the dragonfly’s wings:
Self: Who we are and what we stand for, (victim or survivor?)
Situation: Our understanding of the challenge itself, (challenge or tragedy?)
Supports: Who we can go to for help, and
Strategies: The action(s) we take.
We can use those Four Ss as a framework to prepare for, handle, and reflect on any challenge. This use of that framework offers our brain a consistent map support the formation of more resilient brain pathways.
You can always choose the “window” you are looking through for observing the outside world. It is not enough to choose the most enchanting panoramic views, but the way that you look at it.
For me, to look with love in the eyes of those around me and to those to whom I speak to, it is a way to express my own respect and responsibility towards the surrounding world
There is a Romanian saying, which mentions that the first 7 years of childhood are defining for the rest of our life. In addition to this, another American proverb says, “as children are at age of 5, as adults are at 50”. Is that true? I will say that everything begins with the love between two people and this love has to do with our birth and life journey. All that we are as adults is the final result of the love and education we got from our parents.
A mother look is always filled with love. Is that kind of look which give us the courage and desire to grow and become successful adults. I like to think that everything starts from that first love or tenderness or whatever you want to call that supreme and unconditional happiness of a mother.
What happens when we grow up and we encounter the first hardships? It is the moment when the first demons are showing up – the fear, the lack of trust and hope. How do we learn to deal with it and how can we look again at the world with trust, courage, responsibility and hope?
We are not aware of the fact that during the years the power of love fades away; and when that happens, the challenges occur and break us down.
As the time passes, we see a world, which gets darker and more opaque than ever. What can we do? My advice to you is to look at the world through “a window” which reflects the beauty of it. Each morning, when we woke up we have the power and ability to clean off from “the window” all our fears, worries, and lack of trust. I strongly believe that love is the only “ingredient” which can clean the whole dirt.
A mindful thought: “Keep your window clean and your mind open!”
Revista Boulevard IUNIE 13, 2013 by SIMONA BACIU
Poți întotdeauna în viață să alegi fereastra prin care să privești spre lume. Nu este suficient să alegi cea mai încântătoare priveliște, ci și privirea cu care te uiți prin ea.
Pentru mine, a privi cu dragoste în ochii acelora din jurul meu și acelora cărora le vorbesc, este un fel de a-mi exprima respectul și responsabilitatea față de lumea înconjurătoare.
În România se spune că primii 7 ani de acasă sunt hotărâtori în viața noastră. În SUA este un proverb care spune că așa cum este copilul la 5 ani, este și adultul la 50 de ani. Să fie oare adevărat? Dacă mă gândesc bine, totul începe când din dragostea a doi oameni ne naștem și pornim în viață. Și cum totul are un început, eu cred că începuturile noastre și ceea ce suntem azi se datorează dragostei din care ne-am născut, familiei noastre și educației pe care am primit-o.
Tot dragostea este prima privire pe care o întâlnim în ochii mamei noastre care ne dă curajul și dorința să creștem, să devenim oameni responsabili și să avem succese în viață.
Îmi place să cred că totul pornește de la iubire – sau dragoste, sau cum vrem să-i spunem acelui sentiment de fericire supremă și necondiționată.
Ce se întâmplă când creștem și în fereastra noastră apar lucruri care nu ne plac, care ne sperie, care ne încearcă limitele? Atunci apar și primii „demoni” – fricile noastre, lipsa de încredere, lipsa de speranță.
Cum învățăm să le facem față și să ne uitam din nou prin fereastra noastră către lume, cu încredere, curaj, responsabilitate și speranță?
Ceea ce pierdem pe parcursul anilor este de fapt, puterea dragostei. Atunci când lucrurile slăbesc, apar încercările care vor să ne înfrângă.
Geamul prin care privim lumea devine cu timpul tot mai murdar și opac. Ce putem face? În fiecare dimineață, când ne trezim, să ne curățăm fereastra și să ne uitam la lumea care ne înconjoara printr-un geam curat și luminos. Să vedem prin ea lumea minunată, nu opacitatea pricinuită de fricile, neîncrederea și grijile noastre. Eu cred în existența unei lavete care curăță orice murdărie: dragostea.
Gândul zilei este: „Keep your window clean and your mind open!”
Aside from parents who contribute significantly to building good character traits and morals, teachers and schools play a vital part in establishing solid foundations for happy, positive and successful futures. Success in the classroom has been closely linked to emotional well-being, so values and social and emotional education should be a responsibility shared by both parents and schools.
As children learn about their own and other people’s emotions, they gain an appreciation of the benefits of kindness, and soon realize that a positive outlook improves their well-being, boosting self-esteem and their sense of belonging
When we do something kind for someone else, we feel good. On a spiritual level, many people feel that this is because it is the right thing to do and so we’re tapping into something deep and profound inside us that says, “This is who I am.”
On 29th of March, I had the honor to attend , during which His Excellency Klaus Werner Iohannis, President of Romania, awarded the „Star of Romania” medal as Rank of Great Cross to acknowledge „the fondness for his activity in Romania and for promoting its image in the world”.
During this exceptional event, I had the opportunity to speak to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales about Transylvania College and I was happy to see that our projects were appreciated.
This unique invitation also offered me the right moment to launch an invitation to His Excellency Klaus Iohannis to visit Transylvania College.
I’ve recently had an interesting conversation with a dad from our school community. He shared a personal story, a lesson he learned from his 6 year-old, which may be a great lesson for us all, for life.
One day his daughter asked him if he was a boss, or a leader. After considering the question for a moment, he responded that he was both a boss, and a leader. Hearing that, his daughter asked him: ‘Do you know that, as a leader, you must have people following you? Who is following you, daddy?’
Not knowing how to respond, he decided to find the answers the next day, at his company. He stepped into the office and tried to see who were the people following him, and who were those who just listened and obeyed. What a wake-up call, delivered by a 6 year-old! From that day on, the father understood his purpose in running the company and started to think about what he could change in order to become more of a leader, and less of a boss.
We’ve all heard, seen pictures and read articles about the differences between a leader or a boss. I personally used to think that I knew everything on the topic.
However, this story has opened my eyes and has showed me how a child could intuitively understand such an abstract and profound topic. Children have the ability to easily accept and apply life principles that we have difficulty accepting, because our thinking is owerpowered by outdated paradigms. Most importantly, children have an innocent drive to share their knowledge with others and they understand the true value of sharing.
That is why children such as the little girl in the story are the true leaders of tomorrow. They have the courage, the skills and the knowledge to change our world for the better!
Yes, you heard me! Not only are we back in school for an exciting new year, but we are thinking big. For me, each Monday represents a new beginning, an upgraded version of what I was last week, whether that is a chance to start anew or to advance my projects. Either way, Mondays are positively charged for me. (mai mult…)
1996 was the year when I had the chance to go for the first time in the USA, with the help of the Soros Foundation.
It was a time when many questions were in my mind and I found many of the answers to them in my unique visit to the US. During that visit, I started to open my eyes wider and sharpened my ears to learn more about the new education models I encountered here.
Everything seemed to be wonderful. I had the chance to go and learn from the Montessori system and to visit exceptional schools. The difference was so big!
I did the first step towards discovering the American educational system and dared to dream big. (mai mult…)
“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”