Don’t you just love them?
I know I do.
There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.
I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.
Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my series of teacher interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.
I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!
1. I know you used to teach high school. What are you currently teaching?
For a long time, I had a very specific idea of what it meant to be a teacher (for me). When I went to graduate school for an MFA (specifically because I wanted to be a more powerful teacher and I felt using writing in the classroom as a tool for self-awareness and empowerment was a natural expression for me), I didn’t attend any of the optional publishing workshops because I had no interest in publishing. I wanted to teach my tail off.
Then, my final advisor confronted me about not attending publishing workshops. I told him that I wasn’t meant to publish, I was meant to teach and he responded that thinking of my teaching as just something that could exist within the four walls of a traditional high school classroom was limiting what I could teach and who I could impact. He encouraged me to think about my writing as a way of teaching and that idea was revolutionary for me.
So, now, when I think about my teaching, I think about the traditional classroom—I primarily teach Body Image for the Women’s and Gender Studies department and Honors College at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte (sometimes I also teach Women in the Media) and I am currently designing a course on Latinos in the US Education system for another local college. And I also think about my less traditional classrooms—I offer workshops for women on authentic, empowered, intentional, self-accepting living and try to write regular columns and blog posts as ways of being a teacher in and student of the world.
2. How did you make the move from high school teacher to self-care advocate/ body image expert? Workshop leader extraordinaire?
Well, they say that you teach what you most need to learn and, in the case of self-care this was absolutely true for me. I fell in love with writing and reading when I was young and really valued knowing how I felt about things. Being self-aware was what brought meaning and grounding to my world, and it still does.
And while that was a really positive experience for me, the other thing I was was incredibly self-sacrificing. I thought it was incredibly selfish to care for yourself and, as a young teacher, I felt that my students needed everything, deserved everything. Who was I to be having fun or taking a break when I had runaways and alcoholics in my classroom who I absolutely adored and felt needed more from me to help them make different choices that took them out of danger.
In my third year of teaching, I got incredibly sick and the doctor who treated me made a remark that I could keep landing myself in the emergency room if I wanted. I was so offended. I worked in a high school riddled with germs; I wasn’t landing myself here. But after a few days on bed rest, I came around to his point that I didn’t intervene on my own behalf- go to the doctor six weeks earlier when the infections were first starting, for example- and that had contributed to my sickness. And so I started very slowly, very self-consciously working on my self-care. But I knew that I couldn’t learn what I needed to learn fast enough to not do this to myself again- and soon- if I stayed in the same work environment and I also knew that I wanted to get an MFA (ultimately in non-fiction and poetry) because reading and writing had been my tools to boost my self-awareness and they were the tools that I wanted to use in helping others.
The book that I wrote during graduate school- a collection of non-fiction essays and linked poetry called Giving Up Beauty- focused on coming of age, ethnic identity, beauty perception, self-awareness, and self-acceptance. Though I never sought to publish it, it ignited a passion in me for empowering women to embrace their authentic selves so they can live their passion and purpose and give their gifts to the world.
I am still so compelled and inspired about being in space with people and so I love teaching workshops for groups that cover all these themes but I also love sitting alongside one person and really considering where she is and conceptualizing where she can and so I also love facilitating one on one retreats. I am just at the point where I am beginning to take these experiences and offer them in less conventional forms—away from four walls—whether on Skype, teleconference lines, or, maybe one day soon, e-books.
3. What kinds of stuff do you teach now? Who is your ideal client and what is your ideal work?
Every semester, I teach a course that I just adore on body image that focuses on the things that impact our sense of solves—from parents and peers to race, religion, and social class. This is a university, for credit course.
But away from the university, I facilitate several different workshop experiences from:
visionSPARK: a beginning of the year workshop that guides participants in creating vision boards and choosing a word for the year)
Mission::Manifest: a workshop where participants are guided in penning their own mission statements and manifestos
First, Love You: a self- acceptance retreat for women
Beautiful You(th): a body image workshop designed for moms so they can empower their daughters to have healthy body images
Unbridled Authenticity: an equine facilitated learning workshop that I do in partnership with Triple Play Farm and uses the intuition of horses to generate self-awareness and confidence
aware: a yoga and self-awareness workshop that I do in partnership with a friend who is an amazing yoga teacher
The Healthy, Happy, Sane Teacher: Sustainable Self-Care for a Successful School Year – teaching teachers how to take care of themselves.
I love doing work that inspires self-awareness, hones our vision, motivates us to be intentional, grounds us in our authenticity, and allows us to be vulnerable.
My ideal client is someone who isn’t afraid to do this work, in fact, hungers for this work and is receptive to journeying together.
4. What are your Top 5 self-care must do’s?
Self-Care Tip #1
Right now, I am really into the Magic Hour– an early morning hour to myself that unfolds as I wish in a space of quiet before my boys (the big one that is my partner and the little one that is my teacher) need my help in some way to acclimate to the day.
Self-Care Tip #2
I move my body in some meaningful way at least five times a week.
Self-Care Tip #3
I drink copious amounts of water.
Self-Care Tip #4
I plan with a great awareness of what I can fit into a day and don’t expect too much from myself.
Self-Care Tip #5
I do not ever criticize myself (this is different from giving myself feedback— which I do often, but when I look at the work that I do or the decisions that I made, I consider the challenges as growth opportunities and never a reflection of my worth. It is simply an assessment of how I did in that moment with that thing).
5. How do you manage working from home without driving yourself bonkers?
This is so dependent on what might drive you bonkers.
When I work, I very rarely do any house chores unless they are very brief chores- putting a load of laundry in the machine, for example. Chores are for off time.
I really treasure the time that I have in front of the computer and protect it because my work time is limited to when my son is at preschool or after he goes down at night.
Out of those five days that he is at preschool, one day is my teaching day at the university and then two other days I am usually working away from the home- either in meetings or facilitating a workshop or retreat. That gives me six hours a week to work at my computer.
Put that way, it is fairly easy for me to have a sense of urgency to get my bottom in my chair and get things done. I know some people might miss the interaction with coworkers on those two days where I am sitting in quiet (I don’t even play music or turn on a television), but I am a natural introvert and so my energy is restored by that quiet time. Protecting that quiet time to allow myself to distill ideas and do my work is another way that I practice self-care.
6. Do you have a yoga practice? What about meditation/quiet contemplation?
I do yoga at home during my Magic Hour, sometimes guided by Yogalosophy by Mandy Ingber. I really love being able to go to yoga classes but with, at most, six free hours a week, it is hard to find just the right yoga class for me during the time that I am free and so I have found a way to give myself what I need in that early morning quiet.
I most love journaling as a tool for quiet contemplation and do it whenever I need it—sometimes I get on a daily run and sometimes it might be a few weeks in between paper processing. I’m pretty aware now of when I need to return to the page and get myself there asap.
Aha—another aspect of my self-care practice!
Do you have any questions or comments for Rosie?
Are you a rock star teacher (or know one)? Would you like to be a TGBTS Featured Teacher? Send me a message or leave me comment here.