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Your teaching superpower and your Achilles' heel.

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I've been thinking about this a lot recently... what would you say is something you do really well as a teacher, and what's something you really struggle at? I'm interested in teaching skills and not necessarily specific subjects. 

What I'm really good at as a teacher is gauging what my students understand and providing stepping stones to understanding. I'm also good at structuring our days so they work well for everyone, and at finding projects that kids enjoy. 

On the other hand, I'm constantly battling my temper. I'm from the former USSR, and Russian culture is quite high-conflict, so I struggle to keep things positive and calm. It's a perpetual battle. 

How about everyone else? 🙂

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Great questions! I work in two different hybrid schools and had over 70 students last year. 

I excel at taking big tasks and breaking them into bite-size pieces. I can scaffold and provide clear directions; I maintain a good and positive energy when in class, and the kids sincerely like me. I grade papers quickly and provide direct feedback so students can learn further. 

I need to grow with better communication (especially if we are online again) as I tend to assume that people will have read the information and ask questions if needed. I need to find a way to be more available to answer questions for parents. When a kid seems to not care, misses class, misses assignments, or does not really try, I get frustrated with the parents and the family for not helping more. I need to communicate better with this as well. How to reach the families that aren't fully invested? 

 

 

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I’m good at finding creative, hands on ways to provide those inch-pebbles, especially for young kids and struggling kids. I love teaching music, math, and almost anything that lends itself to being broken down. I dislike teaching writing (but oddly, enjoy teaching handwriting).  I also tend to provide too much information for parents, which works for some (usually for people with a teaching background who are used to filtering what they use), but tend to overload those who just want limited assignments. And, my "try out a lot and see what works" is harder online.

Edited by dmmetler
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What a good question. I think my superpower is my ability to be really, really interested in things. I find my kids' learning styles very interesting. I also find (for example) letter formation interesting, and I find the fact that 12+9=21 very very interesting. I think all of this this makes me a very flexible and engaged teacher.

On the other hand!! I also think I rely too much on my own ability to improvise and to kind of "swim" through the school day, if that makes sense. Organization is my weakest point. Just as I want my kids to be self-disciplined so that they can work even when they don't feel excited, I need to work on that myself.

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53 minutes ago, Little Green Leaves said:

What a good question. I think my superpower is my ability to be really, really interested in things. I find my kids' learning styles very interesting. I also find (for example) letter formation interesting, and I find the fact that 12+9=21 very very interesting. I think all of this this makes me a very flexible and engaged teacher.

On the other hand!! I also think I rely too much on my own ability to improvise and to kind of "swim" through the school day, if that makes sense. Organization is my weakest point. Just as I want my kids to be self-disciplined so that they can work even when they don't feel excited, I need to work on that myself.

 

I must be your twin. I was going to write the exact same traits as you!

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56 minutes ago, Little Green Leaves said:

What a good question. I think my superpower is my ability to be really, really interested in things. I find my kids' learning styles very interesting. I also find (for example) letter formation interesting, and I find the fact that 12+9=21 very very interesting. I think all of this this makes me a very flexible and engaged teacher.

On the other hand!! I also think I rely too much on my own ability to improvise and to kind of "swim" through the school day, if that makes sense. Organization is my weakest point. Just as I want my kids to be self-disciplined so that they can work even when they don't feel excited, I need to work on that myself.

Oh, that's me, too! (I guess we have triplets on here, @lwest?) I've heard a few people say elementary math is boring... and I don't find it boring at all! I'm excited to teach kids about the basics, and if anything, I prefer teaching other people's kids the basics as opposed to later stuff  -- teaching earlier stuff doesn't require them to already know things, so it's easier to teach in an effective, comprehensible way. 

I'm very organized in terms of the local stuff -- like, we have a nice schedule for each day of the week, and we stick to it. But I haven't been putting in ANY energy into organizing things more globally. I get up, I write DD's math lesson, we work on wherever we are in her writing, we do a Russian lesson... I have no idea whatsoever what's coming next. I wonder if this is one of the downsides of flexibility? I've used the fact that I can choose DD's next math unit to great effect (did I expect us to work on addition facts via binary? Nope, but it worked great!), but I don't know anything else nearly as well as I know math, and I wonder if we'll get in trouble without me having a bit more of a sense of where we're going... 

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My superpower is listening.  Most that I have worked with are little guys, no one takes the time to dialogue with them.  They have a lot of thoughts & observations and most times just need something clarified.  

My most fav experience is unconfusing second graders with clock.  Its the intro to mechanics for so many now that bike riding isn't available.  Its also the intro to modeling and counting.  The dc absolutely reject the classroom approach of splitting the whole thing up as something to be memorized over several years. 

Achilles heel...need more experience in coaching to overcome the home expectation that the child only needs to do enough to pass.

Edited by HeighHo
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Strength:  I think I have a really strong rapport with my kids.  It's not exactly a teaching skill, but it means discipline/conflict just really aren't problems here.  We'll see if this continues to be true in the teen years!  My other strength is self-confidence.  

Weakness:  Consistency.  I need to change things up regularly to engage myself as a teacher, and unfortunately this can lead to letting some things fall by the wayside.  

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Like others have mentioned I'm good at breaking things down.  I am also good at backing up and reassessing if something is not being mastered.  I first ask myself where/if I went wrong in teaching and then look and see where the student missed a concept and we move on from there.  I'm also good at pushing to the upper edge of learning but stopping short of frustration.   

I'm bad at getting in ruts and over the years have learned to take breaks before that happens.  It's good to be goal oriented, but it's also great to stop and enjoy the scenes along the way.  I also am not good about rabbit trails, which can be really useful and interesting and add to concepts and learning.  I guess that relates back to not wanting to stop because of the goal ahead.

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26 minutes ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

Weakness:  Consistency.  I need to change things up regularly to engage myself as a teacher, and unfortunately this can lead to letting some things fall by the wayside.  

Yeah, I get bored easily. I'm pretty problem-solving oriented, and if there are no problems to solve, I get restless. 

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My weakness is staying interested and engaged.  When I have used a prepackaged course, complete disengagement sets in and it turns into going through the motions.

Good thing my strength is finding resources for teaching self-designed courses that we find interesting.

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11 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

My weakness is staying interested and engaged.  When I have used a prepackaged course, complete disengagement sets in and it turns into going through the motions.

Good thing my strength is finding resources for teaching self-designed courses that we find interesting.

We seem to have a lot of people on here who have trouble staying interested! I do sometimes wonder whether I need to reinvent the wheel to the extent I do nowadays ;-). On the other hand, I'm certainly a better teacher if I'm more engaged! 

Do you also get less interested if you teach a class you've made up yourself before? Or does your attention wander less then? 

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1 hour ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

Strength:  I think I have a really strong rapport with my kids.  It's not exactly a teaching skill, but it means discipline/conflict just really aren't problems here.  We'll see if this continues to be true in the teen years!  My other strength is self-confidence.  

Weakness:  Consistency.  I need to change things up regularly to engage myself as a teacher, and unfortunately this can lead to letting some things fall by the wayside.  

This is me too!

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2 hours ago, square_25 said:

I'm very organized in terms of the local stuff

 

I'm most organized at longterm planning. When I was deliberating homeschooling last year I had to write out a plan that led to high-school diploma and university. I have so many piles of paper mapping out year to year. DH was confused about why I was planning high school when our kids were in grade 1 and 4. I needed to see a path that would get us there. I have trouble breaking things down to daily lessons.

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I think I am good at finding very efficient ways to learn things. I want my kids to be able to learn a lot, but also to have a lot of free time, so I try to optimize as much as possible. But this is probably often true for homeschoolers. Our kids can spend fewer hours on academics than their peers but they often end up learning so much more.

My main problem is my temper when I have to multitask. For example, when I am trying to help my older kid with his last math problem for the day before I have to go to prepare lunch for everyone, but get interrupted by my 3 y.o. who has already gotten bored with the activity I set up for him previously. And it gets especially bad if for whatever reason I have a backlog of chores to work through that day. I know many moms on here manage beautifully with (many) more kids than two, so, yeah, no excuses, I just need to get better.

Anyway, the above only applies to me as my kids' teacher. My only experience teaching others is a discrete math course and some computers science labs years ago, which was way before I figured out most of what I know now about the process of learning.
 

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5 minutes ago, OneThoughtMayHideAnother said:

My main problem is my temper when I have to multitask.

Yeah, that's definitely a trigger for my temper, although sadly not the only trigger. Feeling overwhelmed doesn't work well for me. 

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For years, my dad has said that my superpower is taking complicated concepts and making them easily understandable - a drawing, an analogy, a visualisable model, etc - that's how I think.  I also learned that, when I was a kid my parents were told that I was a smart kid who would do fine as long as I avoided math and science.  They told me this the night before I defended my doctoral dissertation in molecular genetics.  I had always thought that English/humanities were easy, but maybe they were easy for me because that's what I was good at.  😉  Anyway, it means that I see a lot of possible pitfalls and misconceptions because I had to work through them.  I enjoy breaking down concepts so that students can think about them logically, and with advanced students I like teaching them how to think scientifically - what does the data really show?  are sweeping conclusions warranted?  what narrow question was this experiment actually addressing?  Thinking like a scientist is one of my favorite things to teach.

I struggle most with 2 things.  Teaching writing is hard because I do it intuitively and couldn't figure out what my kids needed because I never had to work at it.  MCT books have been a great fit to help with that.  Second, I struggle when I get kids who don't have any self-control.  With littles (my own or the kids I volunteer with) I'm good with helping them to get the wiggles out, and with older kids I have no problem breaking up mind-taxing stuff with a break or an off-topic story.  But, when I have to deal with unfocused ADD-like behavior or kids who explicitly say that they don't want to learn or other defiant things, I don't have a lot of patience.  It doesn't seem to matter if it's my own kids or somebody else's.  With kids who are working, I have a lot of patience and enjoy trying to find different ways to help them grasp a concept, but when I feel like I'm wasting my time, I get frustrated.

Edited by ClemsonDana
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Strength:  Finding ways to explain things so kids understand better.  Adapting a plan on the fly if something is not working.

Achilles Heel:  Procrastination.  I wait until the last minute to finalize plans.  I can't seem to not wait until the last minute. 0

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Superpower: I can convince teens of anything. I can convince even the worst students that they have skills to use to overcome weaknesses. That they are capable, that they have inherent self worth. My success as a tutor is dictated on how I can change attitude, which is why all of my students stay with me for 3 years. Now, when new parents call, I can say "Oh, I can turn the attitude around in 2 months, but the math will take a year." I have NEVER failed at this. This is also how I convinced my younger boy with dysgraphia that it was worth the fight to overcome it. He does not mind me talking about his struggles because he is *proud* of them. A teen proud of how he has struggled in school? - yes, this is my superpower. 

Weakness: I cannot keep an academic schedule.  I am philosophically ambivalent as to whether good learning includes strict timetable goals, and because of this ambivalence, I am unable to keep my own kids to due dates. This can build excuses and a sense that they can just do it tomorrow.  I have no trouble with this with my tutor kids because the school gives them due dates to meet. But because I am philosophically ambivalent, I have been unable to work on this weakness to improve it.

Edited by lewelma
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I am uber organized. I'm good at discussions and asking questions to ferret out what my kids are thinking. I'm very in tune with their strengths and weaknesses and "what makes them tick". I also am good at reading aloud and using all the good voices 🙂

I am not so good at breaking a task down into smaller more manageable steps. So much of executive function comes down to organization, and that has always come naturally to me from a very young age and it is very difficult for me to see how it can be not completely obvious to someone else what steps need to be done to get from X to Y.

I also have zero patience for tears accompanied by wails of "I caaaaan't!!!" Some days that's a superpower, some days that's an Achilles heel ...

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3 hours ago, square_25 said:

We seem to have a lot of people on here who have trouble staying interested! I do sometimes wonder whether I need to reinvent the wheel to the extent I do nowadays ;-). On the other hand, I'm certainly a better teacher if I'm more engaged! 

Do you also get less interested if you teach a class you've made up yourself before? Or does your attention wander less then? 

I have never taught anything the same way twice except maybe math.  Not kidding. My kids have thankfully all been different enough that I can adopt different strategies, themes, approaches that change things up enough to keep me engaged.  I am not joking when I make comments like I'd be committed or my kids would be in school if I had to use a program like Seton.  I.could.not.do.it. I'd be so bored that I would truly go crazy.  Doing this yr after yr after yr (about to start yr 27) I have to have enthusiasm for what we are doing or things will die a slow, agonizing death. 

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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2 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I have never taught anything the same way twice except maybe math.  Not kidding. My kids have thankfully all been different enough that I can adopt different strategies, themes, approaches that change things up enough to keep me engaged.  I am not joking when I make comments like I'd be committed of my kids would be in school if I had to use a program like Seton.  I.could.not.do.it. I'd be so bored that I would truly go crazy.  Doing this yr after yr after yr (about to start yr 27) I have to have enthusiasm for what we are doing or things will die a slow, agonizing death. 

Hahahahah, then you should understand my math experimenting somewhat, because I don't like teaching the same thing twice, either!! 

I did do "100 Easy Lessons" for both kids. Although come to think of it, DD4 preferred DH to do it, so really it was that DH did "100 Easy Lessons" with DD4.... I did other practice with her, mostly. 

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48 minutes ago, Where's Toto? said:

Strength:  Finding ways to explain things so kids understand better.  Adapting a plan on the fly if something is not working.

Achilles Heel:  Procrastination.  I wait until the last minute to finalize plans.  I can't seem to not wait until the last minute. 0

Found my twin!

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31 minutes ago, Momto6inIN said:

I also have zero patience for tears accompanied by wails of "I caaaaan't!!!" Some days that's a superpower, some days that's an Achilles heel ...

Oh, that sounds familiar. Yes, that's true for me, and it definitely oscillates between being a blessing and a curse. 

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43 minutes ago, Momto6inIN said:

I am not so good at breaking a task down into smaller more manageable steps. So much of executive function comes down to organization, and that has always come naturally to me from a very young age and it is very difficult for me to see how it can be not completely obvious to someone else what steps need to be done to get from X to Y.

That's interesting! I'm very organized, but for me, it's definitely compensation for being a bit of an absent-minded professor -- if I didn't figure out workarounds, I wouldn't be a functional human being. So it's easy for me to break things down into steps, even though at this point I'm quite good at this. 

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The Good: Teaching on the fly, incorporating different subjects together, thinking of fun projects, patience, breaking concepts down, being silly

The Bad: Not enforcing routine skills practice, forgetting artists and composers names but remembering their work, allowing probably too much "interpretation" of assignments, dropping instrument practice too often

The Ugly: Not providing strong, enduring social environments with same age peers. 

 

Edited by Sarah0000
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Strengths: Consistency and coaching my kids to a goal.
The ability to steadily do what work needs to be done, day in and day out.  The ability to masterfully coach The Boys through their studies.

Weakness: Flexibility and Multitasking.
Flexibility because I put a lot of thought and effort into our plans and figuring out the path that we need to take towards a goal. At the outset I invest a maniacal amount of effort and attention into understanding what skills need to be mastered and what work needs to be done to achive whatever the over-arching goal is. I love a well written plan with all the appropriate contingencies in place at the out-set.  I don't like veering away from my carefully laid plans and resist flexing and changing without good reason.

Multitasking. I'd rather The Boys do 2 subjects to exceptionally-high standards, than 5 subjects to above-average standards. The nice thing is that as they've gotten older and more capable, their ability to do difficult work to high standards has expanded nicely.

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Good: organizing, planning, staying on top of everything, and consistency.

Bad: I've had a habit of jumping ship on curriculum too soon rather than sticking it out and working through difficulties. I'm getting better at it though. Also, I can't multi-task at all. If I'm working with one kid, the others just have to wait. Juggling multiple things at once frustrates me.

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58 minutes ago, Gil2.0 said:

Multitasking. I'd rather The Boys do 2 subjects to exceptionally-high standards, than 5 subjects to above-average standards. The nice thing is that as they've gotten older and more capable, their ability to do difficult work to high standards has expanded nicely.

Well, I don't know if that's a weakness!! I tend to lean that way myself. 

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59 minutes ago, Gil2.0 said:

Strengths: Consistency and coaching my kids to a goal.
The ability to steadily do what work needs to be done, day in and day out.  The ability to masterfully coach The Boys through their studies.

Weakness: Flexibility and Multitasking.
Flexibility because I put a lot of thought and effort into our plans and figuring out the path that we need to take towards a goal. At the outset I invest a maniacal amount of effort and attention into understanding what skills need to be mastered and what work needs to be done to achive whatever the over-arching goal is. I love a well written plan with all the appropriate contingencies in place at the out-set.  I don't like veering away from my carefully laid plans and resist flexing and changing without good reason.

Multitasking. I'd rather The Boys do 2 subjects to exceptionally-high standards, than 5 subjects to above-average standards. The nice thing is that as they've gotten older and more capable, their ability to do difficult work to high standards has expanded nicely.

By the way, what happened to your original username? Assuming you're in fact the same Gil, which it sure sounds like you are. 

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1 hour ago, Sarah0000 said:

The Ugly: Not providing strong, enduring social environments with same age peers. 

We were doing so well at this before the pandemic, sigh. All the social stuff has totally gone out the window over here. 

Edited by square_25

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Strength: I'm organized. I have things well planned in general, but can also be flexible on the fly. It doesn't bother me to not follow a script and I can live with not completing my plan. Decent at incorporating multiple things/therapy into one activity or subject.

Weakness: Little patience with inattention. I reeeaallly want to just push through and get it done instead of taking a break for the umpeenth time. I also have little patience with crafts and experiments. I'm sometimes irritated with just how small the increments of learning need to be. Reading and writing were very easy for me and I can get antsy with LDs. Impatience is a theme here; I'm constantly working on it.

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Strength: I'm good at problem solving, and figuring exactly what concept this kid is missing, and how to teach it. I'm good at weaving instruction into games, or life skills activities, or play.  I'm good at recognizing and celebrating tiny little steps, and I'm patient I'm happy to spend a long time working on something.   I'm good at setting up routines that manage anxiety and behavior.  I have some expertise in assistive tech that is very useful for our specific situation.  I

Weaknesses:  I am a control freak.  It's hard for me to set aside my need for things to be perfect, which makes it hard for me to let other people teach, or to just follow the curriculum.  This is a problem for my two younger kids.  My youngest is a really typical learner.  I could probably buy any scripted curriculum, open it, read it word for word, and he's fine, but instead I spend hours trying to make it perfect.  My middle kid moves through curriculum really quickly, which makes it hard to stay ahead.  I'm also perpetually sleep deprived so I make lots of little mistakes.  I'm constantly modeling poor grammar or punctuation, for example. 

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Strength: I am really good at ferreting out exactly the right resources for my kid.  When I find just the right book, he's very engaged and basically teaches himself the material.  I am also really patient with him. Once or twice a year, he and I will butt heads, but most days it's smooth sailing around here. 

Weakness: I panic about the social stuff since kiddo is an only child, and then over-commit us to activities that have not lead to the lasting friendships I had hoped kiddo would have.  It just wastes money and time and creates stress.  Our social life has completely imploded and that's probably my fault because I couldn't keep my mouth shut about the pandemic, and my opinions are in the minority among homeschoolers here. Although if I'm honest, the social stuff wasn't working well before covid, because kiddo is academically in a different place than a lot of kids around here and they were starting to snub him. 

Ugh.  

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2 hours ago, MissLemon said:

Strength: I am really good at ferreting out exactly the right resources for my kid.  When I find just the right book, he's very engaged and basically teaches himself the material.  I am also really patient with him. Once or twice a year, he and I will butt heads, but most days it's smooth sailing around here. 

Weakness: I panic about the social stuff since kiddo is an only child, and then over-commit us to activities that have not lead to the lasting friendships I had hoped kiddo would have.  It just wastes money and time and creates stress.  Our social life has completely imploded and that's probably my fault because I couldn't keep my mouth shut about the pandemic, and my opinions are in the minority among homeschoolers here. Although if I'm honest, the social stuff wasn't working well before covid, because kiddo is academically in a different place than a lot of kids around here and they were starting to snub him. 

Ugh.  

The social situation sounds like it’s not your fault in any way :-/. It sucks, though.

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My superpower - I don’t give up. I am like a dog with a bone and can “outwill” my children.

My downside - temper for sure. My people are crazy. That’s my excuse. 

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On 6/18/2020 at 1:26 PM, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

Strength:  I think I have a really strong rapport with my kids.  It's not exactly a teaching skill, but it means discipline/conflict just really aren't problems here.  We'll see if this continues to be true in the teen years!  My other strength is self-confidence.  

Weakness:  Consistency.  I need to change things up regularly to engage myself as a teacher, and unfortunately this can lead to letting some things fall by the wayside.  

I think this is a really great question too.  

I would like to know more about how you build rapor with your kids.  I think I might be kinda good at this too, but I need an example of how you do it.  I think this might be a particularly key superpower and would like to be better at it.

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23 hours ago, lewelma said:

Superpower: I can convince teens of anything. I can convince even the worst students that they have skills to use to overcome weaknesses. That they are capable, that they have inherent self worth. My success as a tutor is dictated on how I can change attitude, which is why all of my students stay with me for 3 years. Now, when new parents call, I can say "Oh, I can turn the attitude around in 2 months, but the math will take a year." I have NEVER failed at this. 

Wow.  I would love a “how-to” lesson on this.

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11 hours ago, MissLemon said:

Strength: I am really good at ferreting out exactly the right resources for my kid.  When I find just the right book, he's very engaged and basically teaches himself the material. 

Can you give us some examples of types of materials that motivated your child to “kind of” self teach? I have kids like this too and I would like to hear more about how it worked for you. You might have some tips I could use. It is such a glorious thing when it happens.

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I am so bad at all the things you all are good at.  Except the “really interested” part. This is cementing my commitment that I should never homeschool.  Haha.  I am a disorganized after schooler who always thought I would be forced to homeschool.  Ta da, look what happened.

I do teach and facilitate my kids a lot and I have a superpower.  It is enthusiasm.  I am so excited about learning things that I actually have my 3rd grader eagerly anticipating learning algebra.  Haha. I mean, eventually. We aren’t working on it any time soon.

Achilles heel: anything else it takes to be a homeschool teacher. 

The enthusiasm thing is actually very powerful in all areas of my life though. It makes me more successful in my job and business. When you are on fire, people will come for miles to see you burn.

It is powerful in teaching because it fits into the intensity part of the “frequency, intensity, duration” components of neuroplasticity. Learning is stimulating neuroplasticity.

 

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9 hours ago, drjuliadc said:

I think this is a really great question too.  

I would like to know more about how you build rapor with your kids.  I think I might be kinda good at this too, but I need an example of how you do it.  I think this might be a particularly key superpower and would like to be better at it.

 

Honestly, I think it took me many years of parenting before I could relax into it enough to just really, really enjoy my kids.  And I think they can feel that I just like hanging out with them.  I've got four, and it's been progressively easier.  I've gotten much better about saying yes to things when my knee-jerk response is no.  I don't have a ton of rules, but what I do have, I enforce strictly.  I would say if my kids leave this home with self-discipline, I will have met my personal parenting goal.  It's really the ONE thing I want them to have, and because I'm always operating with that in the back of my mind, my kids are self-disciplined and therefore extremely pleasant to be around.  Another tip I got from here somewhere was to become interested in their interests.  My kids know I don't really care about pokemon, but they also know that I will listen to them talk about it (or equally crazy things) and ask questions to show I've paid attention.  This is sometimes really hard because for Pete's sake, pokemon??? but it has been paying off as promised by some of the more experienced moms on this board.  I think the only other thing that comes to mind that I might do differently from some other moms is that I tell my kids the truth, virtually all the time.  If I know the ultimate answer is going to be a no, I just say it.  I don't dance around and say maybe or let's think about it.  This can be disappointing to them in the short-term, but I think it's much healthier in the long-term than stringing them along or offering false hope.  The only other thing I can think of is having a "large" family.  It has really changed our dynamics considerably from the families I know with two kids.  The way I describe this is that, with superhuman effort, most parents of two can parent them as sort of "co only children".  This is exhausting and inadvertently can lead to things like over scheduling, maybe even some selfishness in the kids. With four, I just can't.  While I have a strong relationship with each child, we also spend the majority of our time as a family, so a lot of their love "tanks" get filled with attention from siblings, they are not wholly reliant on DH and me for family love.  

I don't want to imply that I have all the answers, but I would say the above describes what I see as different between our family and some friends' families where the kids tend to have lots of conflict with the parents and each other.  A friend of mine told me very early on in my parenting journey that she never wanted to be one of those moms who dreaded summer and Christmas vacations because she doesn't know what to do with her kids and can't stand to be around them all day.  I really took those words to heart and I've tried to strike the balance between promoting discipline (because kids are more pleasant to be around when they aren't climbing the bookshelves) and taking even young children seriously as "born persons" (as Charlotte Mason would say), with their own serious interests, goals, etc.  Kids who are both civilized and interesting are a true delight to spend time with.  

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22 hours ago, square_25 said:

The social situation sounds like it’s not your fault in any way :-/. It sucks, though.

 

Yeah. I guess I should just be glad that the social situation worked as well as it did, for as long as it did. And maybe due to the timing of the pandemic, he won't grow up thinking the lack of friends right now is his fault for being "weird".  

Just..ugh.

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13 hours ago, drjuliadc said:

Can you give us some examples of types of materials that motivated your child to “kind of” self teach? I have kids like this too and I would like to hear more about how it worked for you. You might have some tips I could use. It is such a glorious thing when it happens.

 

For me, it's knowing his personality and the things that he likes.  My son is into goofy stuff vs. a lot of typical "boy stuff", like superheros or sports. So, I look for resources that have goofy, cartoony illustrations, because I know those will always catch his eye and keep him engaged. He will watch  these videos by the Amoeba Sisters all day long. He has also really enjoyed Beast Academy and the Murderous Maths series for math, the Organ Attack! game from Awkward Yeti, and this biology text book. Books from "Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists" has introduced him to art, and he's learned a lot of history from the Horrible Histories series. He loves the science units from Ellen McHenry because she's put little "finger print people" illustrations in the text. 

All different topics, but they all have "goofy" illustrations in them, which he loves.  It keeps him curious.  Every resource I've listed above, he has read or watched from start to finish, of his own free will, multiple times.  He retains a great deal of it, because it's appealing and interesting to him.  Since it's interesting to him, he naturally wants to share what he's read.  He doesn't like writing very much, but he's happy to draw little illustrations to demonstrate a concept to me, so I always know how much he truly understands the material. (He was about 7 and drew out an explanation of osmosis, but wanted me to guess what it was.  Unfortunately, he woke me from a dead sleep to show me and it took me 2 cups of coffee and a solid hour to finally wander into his room and ask "Is it osmosis?" and he yelled out "FINALLY!".  I'd been guessing everything *but* osmosis!)

 

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2 hours ago, MissLemon said:

 

For me, it's knowing his personality and the things that he likes.  My son is into goofy stuff vs. a lot of typical "boy stuff", like superheros or sports. So, I look for resources that have goofy, cartoony illustrations, because I know those will always catch his eye and keep him engaged. He will watch  these videos by the Amoeba Sisters all day long. He has also really enjoyed Beast Academy and the Murderous Maths series for math, the Organ Attack! game from Awkward Yeti, and this biology text book. Books from "Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists" has introduced him to art, and he's learned a lot of history from the Horrible Histories series. He loves the science units from Ellen McHenry because she's put little "finger print people" illustrations in the text. 

All different topics, but they all have "goofy" illustrations in them, which he loves.  It keeps him curious.  Every resource I've listed above, he has read or watched from start to finish, of his own free will, multiple times.  He retains a great deal of it, because it's appealing and interesting to him.  Since it's interesting to him, he naturally wants to share what he's read.  He doesn't like writing very much, but he's happy to draw little illustrations to demonstrate a concept to me, so I always know how much he truly understands the material. (He was about 7 and drew out an explanation of osmosis, but wanted me to guess what it was.  Unfortunately, he woke me from a dead sleep to show me and it took me 2 cups of coffee and a solid hour to finally wander into his room and ask "Is it osmosis?" and he yelled out "FINALLY!".  I'd been guessing everything *but* osmosis!)

 

I love this. So curious to see what his "osmosis" drawing looked like.

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6 hours ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

 

Honestly, I think it took me many years of parenting before I could relax into it enough to just really, really enjoy my kids.  And I think they can feel that I just like hanging out with them.  I've got four, and it's been progressively easier.  I've gotten much better about saying yes to things when my knee-jerk response is no.  I don't have a ton of rules, but what I do have, I enforce strictly.  I would say if my kids leave this home with self-discipline, I will have met my personal parenting goal.  It's really the ONE thing I want them to have, and because I'm always operating with that in the back of my mind, my kids are self-disciplined and therefore extremely pleasant to be around.  Another tip I got from here somewhere was to become interested in their interests.  My kids know I don't really care about pokemon, but they also know that I will listen to them talk about it (or equally crazy things) and ask questions to show I've paid attention.  This is sometimes really hard because for Pete's sake, pokemon??? but it has been paying off as promised by some of the more experienced moms on this board.  I think the only other thing that comes to mind that I might do differently from some other moms is that I tell my kids the truth, virtually all the time.  If I know the ultimate answer is going to be a no, I just say it.  I don't dance around and say maybe or let's think about it.  This can be disappointing to them in the short-term, but I think it's much healthier in the long-term than stringing them along or offering false hope.  The only other thing I can think of is having a "large" family.  It has really changed our dynamics considerably from the families I know with two kids.  The way I describe this is that, with superhuman effort, most parents of two can parent them as sort of "co only children".  This is exhausting and inadvertently can lead to things like over scheduling, maybe even some selfishness in the kids. With four, I just can't.  While I have a strong relationship with each child, we also spend the majority of our time as a family, so a lot of their love "tanks" get filled with attention from siblings, they are not wholly reliant on DH and me for family love.  

I don't want to imply that I have all the answers, but I would say the above describes what I see as different between our family and some friends' families where the kids tend to have lots of conflict with the parents and each other.  A friend of mine told me very early on in my parenting journey that she never wanted to be one of those moms who dreaded summer and Christmas vacations because she doesn't know what to do with her kids and can't stand to be around them all day.  I really took those words to heart and I've tried to strike the balance between promoting discipline (because kids are more pleasant to be around when they aren't climbing the bookshelves) and taking even young children seriously as "born persons" (as Charlotte Mason would say), with their own serious interests, goals, etc.  Kids who are both civilized and interesting are a true delight to spend time with.  

The bolded part rings so true to me. I feel like I have a very good rapport with my kids, but I'm definitely guilty of trying too hard to treat them as only kids. It stresses me out and gives them unreasonable expectations. I need to shift to assigning them more chores 🙂

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3 hours ago, Little Green Leaves said:

The bolded part rings so true to me. I feel like I have a very good rapport with my kids, but I'm definitely guilty of trying too hard to treat them as only kids. It stresses me out and gives them unreasonable expectations. I need to shift to assigning them more chores 🙂

I had more of this issue before the pandemic, because I did prefer to schedule different activities for them -- I like preschool for social time for little ones, so we'd do DD7's lessons during the preschool time. 

I'm still finding it easier to work with DD7 on harder topics when DD4 is more out of the way (she's been listening to audiobooks in the same room as DH is working for the morning intensive work time), but we've also been doing a lot more together after the more intensive subjects are done, and it's been fun to include them in the same activities for most of the day :-). So I'm looking forward to feeling like they are more of a unit... DD4 is outgrowing the high tantrum period, anyway, so I imagine she'll be fine to have around soon enough :-). 

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Strengths: Hyperbole, lol! I was always mocked for using too much hyperbole, but one of my kids needed it to understand things (ASD). Finding materials I can use flexibly without having to reinvent the wheel.

Weakness: Implementing great ideas, plans, etc. It's more fun to plan it than to do it. This is partly why I am glad I can find flexible materials as I would waste a lot of time planning and then not want to implement the plan!

As others have stated, I need kids to be engaged. I am not an entertainer, but I do genuinely like to make the work pleasant.

On 6/18/2020 at 1:15 PM, HeighHo said:

My most fav experience is unconfusing second graders with clock. 

Yes! My older son attended school K-2nd, and they totally messed this up with him. I loved learning to tell time in Kindy--we had a teacher that taught us the whole shebang over a fairly short period of time, and it made me feel so smart and competent. 

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On 6/20/2020 at 8:10 AM, Little Green Leaves said:

I love this. So curious to see what his "osmosis" drawing looked like.

I'll keep an eye out for it.  I know I saved it somewhere!

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