What would you tell a future teacher?

Earlier in the week I wrote about being on a journey.  At the end of the month I will be testing for a Master’s Rank in Martial Arts.  One aspect of this test is that our Grandmaster did not want to produce empty headed warriors.  At Black Belt students are required to write 1,000 word essay and answer a 100 question test on history, terminology, etc.  Within our studio, we have taken this requirement and broken it down into smaller steps so that all of our students have been working towards this goal (ie 50 words, then 75, then 100, etc for the essay and smaller tests in the beginning, gradually getting longer and more in-depth)  But I have digressed from my point.

This essay that is required at black belt is also required at Master’s Rank.  Only at Master’s Rank it is a 20,000 word essay.  After much contemplation I have decided to write mine on an instructor’s box of tricks, a toolbox if you will.  What does every good instructor need to know or be able to do in order to lead a class?  What do we as teachers do really well to make sure that information is passed to our students?  How do we go about teaching the next generation of leaders so that they may be better than us?  Here are just a few of my thoughts:

  1. Know each child by name
  2. Always find the positive before you offer a correction
  3. Greet everyone with a smile, a hello at the door, etc.
  4. Body language is important
  5. Be kind on purpose
  6. Know your audience
  7. Have a plan B, and C, and D, and E
  8. Offer different ways to teach the same skill
  9. Have 3 reasons why you are teaching in a certain manner
  10. Use focus anchors to bring everyone back
  11. Have clear expectations
  12. Practice zero downtime.  Even downtime has a purpose.
  13. Always look for professional development

I would love to hear your thoughts.  My goal with this list is to then design skills and drills to enhance my students understanding of what each of these mean.  They are our future leaders but they need to know how to be leaders. Too often we put people in positions of leadership who don’t understand how to lead, how to communicate, or how to pass on knowledge or ideas.  My goal is to change this, one person at a time.




nounplural journeys.
1. a traveling from one place to another, usually taking a rather long time; trip:

a six-day journey across the desert.
2. a distance, course, or area traveled or suitable for traveling:

a desert journey.
3. a period of travel:

a week’s journey.
4. passage or progress from one stage to another:

the journey to success.
I have been thinking about this word a lot lately.  Though I never typically think of it in terms of a long trip.  My husband and I love to travel.  We took 2 weeks in Alaska seeing the sights, 3 weeks out west seeing national parks, and cities, and have seen all but 6 states (New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Georgia, and Hawaii) together. When my husband and I travel, we typically call it going on an adventure, or getting away, or going to relax, or taking a vacation.  We never refer to this as a journey.
I have instead been thinking about “journey” in the 4th definition.  A passage or progress from one stage to another.  Being a former classroom teacher I often saw my students journey through elementary school and into junior high.  Their journey would take them into maturity, puberty, and all the other crazy emotions that this growth entails.  Being a business owner/karate instructor, I now see students journey through different ranks, growing and maturing along the way.  But this journey is different.  This is now my journey.
My journey has led me to practice martial arts for 18 years.  My journey has led me to test for my black belt while pregnant with my 2nd child.  My journey has led me to test for my 3rd degree black belt 2 months after we opened our studio 6 years ago.  And now my journey has led me to be invited to test for a master’s rank.  Not everyone is invited and no one is sure when/if their invitation will come.  In fact my invite is a story that I will share another day.  But I am on this journey and whether I feel ready or not, I have the honor of attending camp and testing.  And so I give myself pep talks every day.  I tell myself the same things I tell all  my students.  “You got this.” “Go out and do your best.” “This is the total of all the practice you already put in.” “I believe in you.”
And yet I am on this journey, and I don’t know what the final destination will be. It is scary, and exciting, and fabulous, and nail-biting, and so entirely welcome.  And even after the test is done, this journey, for me, will continue.

Go away!!

Do you ever have one of those moments?  The “GO AWAY!” and leave me alone moments.  I was laying here in bed, listening to the dryer ding that it was done, watching the spinning wheel of death on my tv because comcast wasn’t working, thinking about what to write about.  I had begun to generate a now forgotten list in my head when my husband sits down next to me.

Him: “So is the tv still out?”

Me: “Yes.”

Him: “Do you want to watch a show downstairs?”

Me: “No.”

Him: “What are you doing?”

Me: “My blog.”

Him: “I’m thinking of watching SNL, or do you want me to save it for you?”

Me: “No, I’ll watch it later.”

Him: “When is later, because if this thing keeps acting up, we may need a new one.  Should I save it for you? Never mind, I’ll watch something else.  I’m going to feed my fish, are you joining me downstairs?”

Me: Look of death with a blank screen.  Then I type the title.  Go Away.

Him: “So that is what you will write about today.”  He leaves the room.  Does something in the hall, and comes back to peer over my shoulder as I have begun to type.

Him: “I think I will watch you type and comment as you do it.”

We both start laughing, and, thankfully, he leaves.  If not, I may have thrown the remote at his head.  Now I have to generate the since forgotten list of ideas and moments I could reflect on, and/or write on.  But this moment will be remembered, laundry is calling my name again, and he has gone into the laundry room.  That can only mean one thing.  He is going to be coming back.  🙂

My girl


I am here in the dark thinking about my day while my 2 kiddos are asleep in the hotel bed next to mine.

Today was no ordinary day. Today my daughter pre-tested for her black belt. This is a day she had been hiding from due to fear and uncertainty. This is a day she had been worrying about because of who her parents are and to quote her “I don’t want to let anyone down.” This is a day that came despite her attempts to avoid it. Does this surprise me? No. We often avoid tasks we deem difficult, scary, unlikable, disgusting, or anything else negative that we wish to avoid.

But today was no ordinary day. Today my daughter pre-tested for her black belt. Despite her fears, she gave it her all. Despite her uncertainty, she showed her skill. Despite her worry, she held nothing back. And at the end of the day, when she left that room smiling and excited, I asked her if she was proud of herself. Her response was YES!

Today was no ordinary day. Today my daughter pre-tested for her black belt. Her dad and I couldn’t be there. We weren’t allowed to watch. This was behind closed doors. She had to do this on her own. We knew she was ready. This was her time to shine. She had put in the work, practiced her skills, but did she know she was ready?

It’s 1am and as I reflect on the smile my girl gave and the hug I received when I saw her after the pre-test, I would think that she did. She knew she was ready even if only for a brief moment.

Tech trouble

Yesterday I wrote.

I wrote about being on my daughter’s field trip. I wrote about having the private concert and the freedom to enjoy it. It wasn’t much but I wrote. Then came the tech trouble.

We have all experienced it at some point or another. The need to out-think the computer because it won’t do, post, show, what you want it to. When it came time to share my piece with all of you, I could not find the web address to post it. A very simple thing to find but because I was using my phone and not my computer, it was “new” to me. But I tried. 3 times I tried. And now I have downloaded the app to try a different way because I believe I am smarter than a machine. I can think outside the box, and adapt. I will figure out how to share my slices with all of you this month, because I will be out of town for some of it and using my phone is the only way I have to slice each day. So I raise my mug of tea and make a toast to learning something new, stretching my wings, and apologizing in advance if I post this piece 3 times in an effort to get it “right.”

I will not be beaten by technology. I will figure out how to post from my phone. Because it just can’t be that hard. Happy slicing everyone!

My Daughter’s Piece

It seems like forever since I have posted.  But today’s post is not my own.  Instead, my beautiful, courageous, twelve year old daughter is once again inspiring me with her grit to put herself out there.  Last week she entered 1 of her drawings in an art contest at school.  This week she asked that I share her poem with you.  She has a creative soul, and I am in awe of the piece she created a few weeks ago in her Language Arts class.

Wind in my Heart

If wind would whip once more.

Wind once whipped like a swirling storm

in my heart a yearning once there now gone.

The yearning to be in the beautiful blue sky of the mountain side.

The yearning once went boom, boom, boom in time with my heart.

Now the wind only howls outside.

It howls a sad, sad tune.

If wind would whip once more.

Now that the wind is gone, I sit in my little hole of a world,

looking out wondering where went that yearning

to be where creeks babble and flow,

where wolves howl and trees sway.

If the wind would whip once more.


Sit still, look pretty

Every time this song comes on the radio I feel empowered.  I am not the type of person to sit around and do nothing.  Yes, I can spend a Sunday doing nothing except for odd tasks and playing video games with my kids, but for the most part I am a busy person.  I was talking with fellow PTA moms and leaders last Friday and I call us yes-ers, the people who say yes to doing anything and everything.  Some things I have said yes to:

negotiating the teacher’s contract, being president of the union, subbing for after school tutoring, opening our small business, being our accountant, being president of my kids’ school PTA, yearbook chair, running regional tournaments for our karate association, keeping attendance records for our regional workouts, board of education strategic plan committee, running for school board (election is April 4th) and other miscellaneous things like field trips, outings, projects, etc.

I think it is hard-wired into my DNA to just say Yes.  When I was growing up we learned to “Just say No to Drugs.”  I think I needed to learn the lesson of “Just say No to extra stuff.”  All the volunteer activities, committees, and extra fun stuff mixed with the required day-to-day events like work and school make me appreciate lazy Sundays more.  Like yesterday.  Nothing planned.  Kids had a sleepover and friends were going home.  All I had to do was laundry and pick up my daughter’s glasses.  So Paul and I decided to install cabinets and shelves in the laundry room.  Why not, when you have nothing to do?  May as well keep busy, and cross one more project off the list.  Since I always seem to say “yes” to things, we fixed the laundry room.  But on a lazy Sunday, we can do this project at our own pace.  We took time to hang out with the kids, grocery shop, and pick up those glasses.  We didn’t start the project until almost 3pm (which for us is VERY late).  There is no need to rush on a lazy Sunday, but also no need to sit still, and look pretty.

How to Torture your Husband

Yesterday we decided to defrost the mini-fridge.  Our mini-fridge is technically my husband’s domain. It holds all the beer for him because I don’t actually like beer.  He subscribes to the theory that “all beer is good, some beer is better.”  In our mini-fridge he has at least 10 different types of beer to choose from on any given night.  But this is a slice for another day.

Yesterday we decided to defrost the mini-fridge. Paul, my husband, decided to put all the beer in shopping bags next to the space for the fridge. Since it was so nice out last night, we moved the fridge to the deck so the ice in the freezer could melt out there, instead of in our house on our hardwood floors.

Today the fridge was ready to come back in.  He wiped it clean and we plugged it in.  He left to go grocery shopping (something I have proven unable to do time and time again) and I stayed behind to prepare for the day.  I took it upon myself to restock the beer fridge. Bottles, cans, soda and beer all found their rightful place back in the fridge.  Only I neglected to turn it on.

This evening Paul went for a beer out of the now defrosted and cleaned mini-fridge.  Only his beer was warm and the fridge was off.  As he put it: I am “sweet and a torturous witch, all at the same time.”  I guess I won’t have to do this job ever again either.  Now if I could just find a way to get out of doing the laundry. 🙂

Peace of toast

My daughter is sick.  Not just sick, but SICK.  She has pneumonia and it makes her miserable, especially as the day goes on.  She wakes up somewhat refreshed, but as the day goes on her fever goes up, she coughs more, and she naps more.

My daughter also got a phone for christmas.  It was a truly coveted item that she had been asking for for quite sometime and it has come in handy during this illness.

“Mom, can you come switch out my movie?” she texts me.

“Mom, may you get me some spirit in an straw cup?” she texts me which I think meant sprite.

“Mom, can you bring me a blanket?” she texts me while laying in my bed surrounded by blankets.

“Mom, can I have a peace of toast?” she texts me. (I really need to work on this kids spelling.)

When I was a kid, I had to yell hoarsely, or ring a bell for my mom to come and do all these things.  She sends me texts.  Modern times call for modern methods.

“Thank you for taking care of me.” She texts me.  Anytime kiddo, anytime.


Have you ever wanted something, and yet the idea of having that something is terrifying?  Today this idea was at the forefront of my thoughts.  I want to be there, yet am terrified of what that means.  I feel ready yet know that no matter how much I prepare I will never be ready.  I am not worthy of the honor yet want someone to say that I am.

As I struggle with my own self-confidence I continually watch Facebook.  Many of my friends are there enjoying themselves, learning, training, being part of the “family.”  I am here living through pics and status updates….waiting….waiting…waiting….

For that day that someone else says I am worthy to attend.

For that letter to arrive in the mail saying I need to be there too.

For that moment when I finally feel that my skills are good enough to join them.

But then the waiting is just part of the journey as well.

Until then I will be here, sharpening my skills, teaching my students, growing my studio, and working on myself both inside and out.  So that when the day comes that I get my invitation to Master’s Camp, I will feel worthy or ready or honored or scared out of my mind or a combination of all of these and much more.

But until then I will be waiting….and learning….and sharpening…..and growing….and waiting…..