Friday, April 18, 2008

Grace Under Fire (Patricia Wallace)


You have displayed amazing gifts of patience and compassion in the brief time you have been with us that have enabled you not only to build meaningful relationships with your fellow colleagues, but equally important, with the sweet children in your care. You have won over the hearts of all of us around you with these special gifts. On top of that, you have also amazed us with the ease and gracefulness with which you have taken ownership over the science and social studies content in fifth grade. You are wiz with teaching through integrated technology, you have a vast knowledge of the content you teach, and you are a natural at asking the right questions (both convergent and divergent-ha!) to elicit student learning under your care.

In our fast paced world at CCE, you have never floundered or lost your balance. Your amazing ability to take each new wave in stride is commendable and admirable. You continue to put people first, and let the stressfulness work itself out without losing a beat. I have noticed this even with the way you interact with your own children, which I consider to be the highest of compliments.

What advice can you offer someone like me, who is quite the opposite, on how to slow down a bit and not become so overwhelmed by it all? I look forward to learning some of your "tips" on how you make this happen. :-)

Angela Phillips

Dear Angela,
First of all, thank you! I humbly accept your kind words especially since they come from a person that I admire. Needless to say, I am somewhat stunned that I could possibly have anything to teach you when I have already learned so much from you during my brief time in the magical CCE kingdom and I look forward to continue to do so everyday. So, I will take advantage of this opportunity to show my appreciation by sharing with you all my “tips” and just as I have done, you can tweak them to how it will best suit you.

My first “tip” – BREATHE! That is my first thought (and my wallpaper on my cell phone) every time things seem to start to get out of hand. By taking a very brief moment to take a deep breath, I attempt to only focus on that breath. In that nanosecond, I try my best to let go of all negative energy and thoughts. Truthfully, that doesn’t always work but I do it anyway because there have been times where taking that brief pause was enough to remind me to stop clinching my jaw. My teeth and jaw always appreciate it when I do that for them. Minimizing my physical stress helps to minimize my mental stress.

My second “tip” – Flexibility. How many times have I heard you say it in passing or in a meeting? It’s amazing how a simple word can be key factor to my role as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a relative, a friend, a colleague and an educator, even if it is sometimes very difficult to be flexible.

My third “tip” – Communication. I have a few sweethearts this year that have helped me practice being patient and flexible by truly testing my patience. Thankfully, I have so many colleagues willing to share their knowledge and experiences with me. This allows me to learn from their successes as well as their mistakes and make the necessary changes to my approach on a situation.

My fourth “tip” – Practice. I still have to practice doing my own “tips” everyday.

When I am overwhelmed, I am not very productive and am basically useless to myself, my family and everyone else. As you can see, I try my best to keep it simple.

Patricia Wallace

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