Sunday 13 May 2012
Teaching is My Passion by Alli Vainshtein
As I get more experience as a teacher, I have learned that sometimes little things you say can be blown out of proportion and change a life. This can be a good thing, but it carries a lot of responsibility. I had a piano teacher (for 12 years) that I started with at a very young age. When I did well, I was a good Swede. When I didn't do well, I was a dumb Norwegian. My heritage includes both, but I always describe myself as Swedish. I approved heartily when my brother moved to Sweden, but inside I was disappointed when my sister married a Norwegian. I know now that this was my piano teacher's idea of a joke, and I actively try to overcome this prejudice, living in Minnesota where there are as many Norwegians as there are mosquitoes. It has made me more cautious about what I say to my students.
When I was working as a minister, I had a woman tell me that I changed her life. She came up to me in church, told me she was inspired and named her first child after me. She told me that she met me when I was preaching on a street corner in downtown Minneapolis. I told her that she had the power to change her future with her choices. At the time, I recall she and a few of her friends threw banana peels and eggs at me. Later, she went home and thought about how she was living her life and how she wanted to change that. She ran away from home when she was 12 and had been living as a prostitute. She told me that she had never really thought about her own choices, that she had considered herself a victim of abuse at home and abuse on the street. This gave her the courage to come to the women's shelter and change her life. I didn't know about it until 4 years later, she was married, had a good job, and had just had a child. I was so humbled by the fruit from this seed I had planted.
I think of the inspirational moments in my own life. I remember just a few phrases, words, and kind deeds from teachers who changed my life. Sometimes they were words taken out of context, but they burrowed their way into my brain and found the courage to change the way I think.
It may take just one person to inspire you and change your life. It may take one book, one movie, one poem, or one quote. It may be the status somebody shares on facebook. It may be a picture that you happen to see. These are seeds. Nurture them. Let them grow. Look for the positive seeds, the kind deeds, the beautiful ideas, and give them life.
I am finding out that imagination is not just for children. Imagination is powerful. This is how we makes our dreams become reality. This is how we change our world. Imagine your day the way you want it to go, then make the choices that will bring that dream into your reality. Don't wait for miracles, create them. The human brain is powerful. You can create patterns in your brain with positive ideas, positive thoughts, and positive words. This is why visualization is so useful. This is why role-playing works so well. If you role-play a job interview, for instance, and practice the really difficult questions, when you are under stress, your brain will fall back on the patterns that you have created. If you have test anxiety, practice taking tests. Start with the free personality tests online. They are fun and you can't fail. Then look online for other tests. You can find a test for just about any subject, and often the answer keys are online as well. Practice taking them until you feel that you can take them successfully. Your brain will fall into the pattern of success and you will overcome that anxiety.
I had a dream. There was a beautiful swan named Burilda. she kept smiling at me and welcoming me into her nest. She taught me many things about the world, about life, about myself, and about the future. Then she looked at me and said, "I am you. You are a beautiful swan. You are the teacher. Share your knowledge with the world and make it a better place. Don't worry about seeing changes right away, because seeds often give up just before they bear fruit."
I am embracing Burilda.
Alli Vainshtein is an instructor at Riverland Community College. She teaches business, accounting, medical administration, human relations, technical computer and software. She is also working on a doctorate in Organizational Management and Leadership. She is a Reiki Practitioner, an ordained minister, a licensed private investigator, an accountant, and jack-of-all-trades. She lives in Northfield, Minnesota with her husband, Igal and Pooh, the feline dictator. She is always looking for new ways to enjoy her spiritual journey through life.