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The endeavor to walk in the world : Colors.

The endeavor to walk in the world : Colors.

They say when things get tough, that’s when you see people’s true colors.

In each of my trials, I’ve been shown the “true colors” of my friends.  I’m lucky to have so many good friends.  I appreciate all the calls, messages, shows of support, and offers to hang out now that I’m stateside again.  And, I truly appreciate my online friends as much as my in-person friends. 

Blog of many colors

Right now I’m coming to grips with how this atrocity even happened.  I was handling all that Mother Nature was dishing out; no electricity, no running water, violent storms, horrendous heat, Typhoid Fever, with a fair amount of grace I think.  And then without warning, at the end of my weakest state, John Goosen went on an unprovoked ape-shit rampage and decided to fling me around like a rag doll to make me listen to his drunken rant.

Some days are good.  Some days are bad.  That’s normal.  I write more on my good days, but lately it’s writing about my bad days.  That’s also normal.

I value being able to read through other blogs to see the uplifting and helpful information out there.  Feeling like there is a community of people who understand the process I am going through is so wonderful.  Sometimes it can be difficult for my in-person friends to understand.

And then there is always the hope that through this blog someone else can be helped as I work through everything and keep living the day to day as well.  Life goes on and this is how I’m trying to learn as I go.

All the Colors change

Once something traumatic has happened, you see the world differently.  I see the world differently.  Not better or worse, just different.  Things that were once important aren’t any more.  Things that weren’t important suddenly are.  Everything is colored a little differently.

Different or not, I’m still trying to walk through this world. I’m still trying to learn from this and become a better person for it.  I still see the beauty in the sunrises and sunsets.  I love listening to the birds in the morning and the coyotes in the evenings.  I enjoy conversations, cold beers, painting, reading, laughing.

But behind it all I’m trying to find my voice, give voice to those who don’t have it, and blaze a trail for change.

I pick at and piece through the trash pile that is the ways abusers work.  It is alarming how often I pick up a piece of that trash and think, “Oh, that looks familiar, that must be mine.”  Only to turn it over and see an Abuser’s name on it. It’s a bit disheartening to see how pervasive the blaming/ shaming way we treat victims is. 

For example, we all have heard “there’s a way victim’s walk, or hold their head, or (….) that clues abusers in that they are a good target”.

First,

and I want to scream this at the top of my lungs,

NO ONE SHOULD EVER. BE. A. TARGET. 

It doesn’t flipping matter if PersonX walks around with a real sign that says, “I let people abuse me”, PersonX should not get abused.  PersonX should not be a target.  PersonX should feel and be safe.  End of story.  Even if the sign has shiny flashy lights with arrows.

No one should be a target.

Think about that for a minute.  If PersonX has poor self-esteem, (and that shows through their posture), there are people out there who are compelled to hurt PersonX because of it.  Abusers look for people who already feel inferior, then Abusers humiliate them, isolate them, manipulate their emotions, make them feel crazy, makes others think they’re crazy. 

And instead of denouncing the Abuser, instead of stopping the Abuser from finding and hurting others, the general population looks at PersonX and says, “hold your head up more, walk straighter so abusers won’t target you”.  Everything gets shifted over to PersonX.

Why are people so afraid of Abusers that they can’t stand up to them?  I stood alone in trying to get people to see see John Goosen as an abuser.  The other people in Mozambique were so afraid to stand up to him.  He needed to work. He needed his space.  It wasn’t good what he did, but he’s sorry.  He needs medication.

Not a single person, other than myself, looked at him and called him out.  Not one person actually stood up to him, except me.     

It has been enlightening to say the least, to realize every single person I’ve discussed abusive situations with has given ways to change PersonX.

Ex:   “I’d try to get them alone to tell them I could help them if they leave the abuser.”

“Abuser has a (…) problem.  PersonX needs to be more understanding.  I mean get away, but then they need to worry about themselves, not Abuser.  Good riddance, they can deal with themselves”

“If you just tell them to leave, they say ‘it’s only one time’, or ‘Abuser loves me’.  You have to give them little examples how to leave without really saying they need to.”

“I don’t understand why PersonX would go back after that.  PersonX needs to get their head examined.”

Not a single person suggested that the Abuser needs to change. 

The Abuser straight up thought, “Hey PersonX looks (insert adjective of choice ie, lonely, sad, etc.).  If I make them a little less (adjective) they’ll take any shit I dish out.”  “If you feel bad, I want to make you feel worse.”  “And I’m going to make you and everyone else think it’s your fault.”

And everybody else thinks, “PersonX should’ve made themselves look less like a victim.”

This is what abusers do.  They work the whole scenario from the beginning.  From the initial lure to the end, everything and everyone in their environment is part of the set up to get off scott-free.

Our True Colors

I think we are so entrenched, as a general population, in generations upon generations of dysfunctional families, war torn memories, secrets, and lies that we don’t even know how to see the first red flags anymore.  Abusers have done such a trick on the mainstream psyche that when we finally see the red flags, we all point fingers at the victims.

But how can we stop the abuse from happening if we start at the end?

What do you think? 

As you’ve heard/ read my and other stories, how many times have you asked the ‘questions of change’ to the victim rather than the abuser? 

How can we change that scenario?  How can we really stop abuse if we don’t change it?

 

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Unlearning and Birthday loveliness

Birthday Adventures

Last week I tried to book myself a hotel for my birthday night.  I learned seven good lessons.

One: Try to have someone that speaks the language help, it will save some frustrating hours.

Two: Don’t ever agree to pay up front without the full agreement understood first.

Three: Don’t ever mix up your Korunas with your Euros.  $1400 CZK= ~$75.  1400 Euros =~$1780.  Significant difference.

Four:  Birthdays are wonderful when spent in a new country, with new friends, new foods, good beer, great atmosphere.  A hotel room is not necessary.

Five: Nobody gets off free for their birthday.  Apparently, the one lesson in which I actually had a student leave and then come back and tell me they really enjoyed class, was the most unsuccessful of the lot according to my instructor.  Never take a good day for granted.

Six: A birthday cake muffin is pretty damn special when it’s brought in at the beginning of class with candles and everything!  Having a group of new friends sing Happy Birthday can make me cry. Thank you Christine, for starting my day out fantastically.

Seven: Andell Restaurant is my favorite.  Thanks to Katie, Daniel, Rachel, Liz, and Aidan for ending the evening with me there.

All in all my 40th birthday a resounding success.

Je to hotové – It is finished

The last day was yesterday.  What a crazy, ambitious, ridiculous, learning curve that was.  Cheryl said I survived just as we all do.  I suppose.  I would rather have done better than mere survival, but I can say I successfully survived.  How do I feel about my TEFL license?  Damn I earned that.  I had to work hard to stay on top of it.
My belief is that I will be able to better understand what I was just taught as time goes on.  It will be an accumulative understanding.  Was I the best student? No.  Was I the worst student? Not even, but I could have done better.

Notes on unlearning – an education rant

Why as Education students are we taught semester after semester of theory without being given practical knowledge of how to use all that theory.  Sure, I can write a paper about all the ways and reasons that having a student-centered classroom is the way to go, but seriously, we are NOT taught how to do it.  I have no capacity to explain just how much practical, actual, student-centered learning I just witnessed.

I have had to figure out (phrasal verb) how on earth to unlearn everything I’ve learned about how I thought I was supposed to run a classroom.  I did a damn good job before, but now I know even better ways.  Group work, pair work, these terms have hugely different meanings to me than they did just 2 months ago, yet, completely the same.  I now have an actual example of how to do what we talked about should be done.

Tip 2.5 for future TEFL students:  Read the “suggested readings”.  You WILL need to know the stuff and it is not easy to learn what you are teaching the day before you have to teach it, week after week.  Sure, you’ll get by without having read them, but it will be exponentially more difficult.  Get to know your grammar so that you can focus on the teaching method in class.  I was rarely able to focus on absorbing how the teacher taught us (which is why we’re here, to learn how) because I was too busy trying to learn all the grammar.  I would rather have been able to focus on the how more.

Side (pity party) Note for ALL students, not just TEFL students:  If there is a College survival/ note taking class offered at your campus, Take It.  I wish I had any ability to take notes that I could get actual information from.  I bought my recording pen because I have no idea how to take notes really.  Although I did start a timeline style that worked pretty well for notating how the instruction was taking place…

My pen ran out of memory and I was screwed from that point on.  Another gal (my TEFL Hermione) had these amazing notes that she color coded and wrote perfectly and beautifully as class was happening.  That shit comes from being taught how.  Take The Classwhatever it’s called – It is worth it.

Side side note, the Echo Smartpen from Livescribe has saved my educational life on many occasions.  It is worth every penny.

 

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Week 3, Day 3

It was inconceivable for me to have foreseen how this was all going to go down.  I had envisioned going to class during the day and sightseeing at night.  The only sight seeing I’ve done was the first few days before class started.  There’s no more time.  When they say intense and challenging, they are not joking around.  This week I had to turn in lesson plans, start writing up my One-to-One paper, I’m still looking for a job, and still fighting off the migraine that put me down last week.

Suggestion number 1 for anyone looking to take this course:  Arrive about 5 days before the class starts.  Go get the sight seeing done beforehand so that The City is not calling out to you with all of its unseen beauty.

Prague is amazingly beautiful.  Even the poorer parts have amazing architecture, rolling green hills, and flowers everywhere.  If I hadn’t had those few days before all this began, I’d be even more distracted than I am right now.  Go see Prague first, get in there and be part of it.

Walk, see, eat, do, live Prague before beginning the process of learning grammar, writing lesson plans, and trying to find a job/ place to live/ work out resume details, etc.

Distractions

Family stuff is tricky.  Throw it into the mix of being in a new country by myself, not knowing the language, not having a phone for communicating basic needs, no clothes dryer or shower, not sleeping, not having a job yet, having to learn what I’m about to teach as I learn how to teach it at the same time, and you have a mixture for hopeless distractability.  I am the epitome of distractable; and, consequently, a complete nuisance in class.

I am seriously making this much harder on myself than it really is.

Yes, me, super student, is sitting with the class goofs at the back table and pulling my fair share of ridiculousness.  I’m honestly astounded at what a frustrating student I must be right now to my instructors.  I’m not sure I’d like to have me in class.  I’m so overwhelmed that I can’t contain the inner goofball.  I will certainly have a better perspective for future dingbat students and their antics.   It is a release from the amazing amount of knowledge that I have to learn right now coupled with the many outside influences I am dealing with.

Now, you might ask, is the school really that hard??

I would have to answer that it’s a split decision.   It’s a tough course, but it is made more difficult by the fact that as native English speakers we are not taught the grammar of our language.  If I did have a better working knowledge of English grammar (not writing skills, actual grammar) this would not be nearly as difficult as I am finding it.

WAAIT A MINUTE – YOU are a Language Arts teacher, an ENGLISH teacher.  Of course you taught grammar.

What we teach as English Grammar is NOT all that we should be.  Truly, how many of you out there, who are not TEFL teachers, know what Past Perfect Continuous even means?  The trick is though, that if we did, learning another language wouldn’t be so difficult.  Teaching writing wouldn’t be so difficult.

Tip 2 for anyone wanting to take this course?  Study up on actual grammar.  Where you put a comma will not even be discussed.  It is a real course, it is not light, but it will be made much easier if you already know the grammar you will be learning how to teach.

I’m off to bed folks.

 

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