Thursday, November 6, 2008

Teacher Interview

Today we have an interview with Linda Kiefer, a Montessori teacher from Illinois. Although Linda and I have never met face to face, I feel like we know each other very well. We have a 'virtual' friendship kindled by the dakband project but anchored in Linda's complete absence of technical expertise (she contacted me initially to tell me she could not register the bands she had purchased - and she purchased a ton of them!), and my obsessive need to ensure that every band and story is in fact registered! There were a few evenings when I was tempted to jump on a plane and fly down to Illinois to register all the bands myself.

Through all this I have been moved by Linda's perseverance and commitment to the project. Despite the difficulties, she had a vision that was bigger than the problems. Here is what she has to share with us:

Interview Questions:

1. Linda can you tell me a little about yourself: what grade you teach, how long you’ve been a teacher, where you teach, children, interests....
I'm one of those people who's always going to be in school. I have a Master's in Speech and Language Pathology, a year of post-grad work (which would only have made it easier to work grant to grant), worked in California for a few years was a long-term sub at Michigan School for the Blind, and then switched totally to Medicine for about 8 years. I worked as a Surgical Physician's Assistant for many years in Baltimore, MD until after the birth of my second child, when I decided to be a full-time Mom.I still dream of another Master's that marries Montessori with Special Ed. As it stands, I'm Montessori certified for grades 1-6 (with non-readers to those at the 10th grade level, and those doing rudimentary addition all the way to algebra).

As life would have it, times changed and I found myself going back to school and being a single Mom. I had one multiply impaired son, and another with ADD; it was time to see what I could do that used my backgrounds, but kept me close to the boys. Thus I found Montessori, and all it entails, including allowing children to do everything that they're able to do, and encouraging a life of peace and conflict resolution.

2. How did you learn about the dakbands, and what was your initial impression?
In my continuous studying, I came across TRIBES, recalled that one of my sons had been in it quite successfully, and I was off and looking for more information. Last Spring, as I was planning for my class for this year, I came across dakbands and the whole concept of changing the way children see their world by changing how they live it. I was psyched and wanted to start it then, but decided to wait until this fall.

3. Who did you buy the bands for and why?
Initially, I decided to use our class (one of two first to third grade classes), and the newly established Middle School (4 kids), along with all Elementary Staff and the Middle School Teacher. I chose to kick it off with a food drive for the local food pantry, rewarding children who brought something in, with their first pair of dakbands. First I had to explain the difference between "random" acts of kindness and sincerely directed "deliberate" acts of kindness. What I thought was going to be a hard and even impossible task, the children took to as though they always knew it deep down, and simply needed to have it brought to the surface. I'm so proud of them! These children, aged 6-9, knew more about kindness than many adults that I know.

4.Can you tell me why you feel the dakbands are an important tool for kids/families?
No longer do I find the "tattling" or looking for differences, but I find the bands have brought us closer together as a team and as classes (it's spilled over to adults and other Elementary classes!), and made teaching so much more pleasant. Sometimes it's been my roughest gems that have the more tender hearts and are willing to share their bands and tell others what they saw. We meet several times during the day, reviewing the schedules, but also reviewing good times and positive behaviors. I'm so very proud of these young people, carrying forward their new-found ways of Being, which is what it's become.

5. How have the children in your class responded to the bands.
They were taught how to register their bands, and a letter went out to parents explaining the concept, but these children actually couldn't *wait* to hand off their bands when they saw good things happening. They knew that they could follow their bands if they registered them, but excitement overcame all and I was amazed at the things they wanted to recognize in another

6. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I gave a set to my youngest son this weekend as he helped a grocery store stock boy with some runaway carts, not expecting anything in return, just knowing it was the right thing to do. He stood stock still for a moment, then asked quietly,"These are for *me*?". I smiled and hugged him and said they most certainly were--and they were his to pass on to other people that he saw doing genuine acts of kindness, with nothing expected in return. He stared at me, then excitedly returned an "Oh!", as though a light bulb had just gone off. What a grand sight to see.

That's what keeps me going on tough days; I know that we're making a difference in the way these children see their world now, thanks to a few wristbands and kindness from fellow students. I hope that this goes on all year--I'll buy more if I need to! If we can't change the children, how in the world can we change what we want our future to be?

Thanks for helping to get it moving in all of our classes, Elaine. I really think this is going to create a change in our future.

Talk about touching a life by teaching....

Please remember to share a story for our giveaway.

Please see the story attached to band #38738.

1 comment:

heidi said...

Hi Elaine - I received my dakbands yesterday and am excited to get them out into circulation!! Thank you so much for them!!