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The Parent-Teacher Struggle and a Solution

The Struggle

There is an age-old struggle that anyone who has ever attended school or been a parent of a person who attended school is familiar with. No, not the struggle between good and evil, that’s for another blog post, but the struggle between parents and teachers, which ends up being a struggle between good and good. The struggle between parents and teachers tends to be a break down of communication. Thankfully, here at Maharishi School, we think we have the solution.

I am going to give you a few scenarios. You let me know if any of these sound familiar.

“What?! This project is due tomorrow?! Why is this the first time I am hearing that you need 37 different colored pencils, 4 rolls of aluminum foil, and 2 bags of light green, fake moss?” Then you spend the next 3 hours going to every store within reasonable driving distance (read 1.5 hours radius) that MIGHT have fake moss.

“What do you mean you have only been wearing one shoe to school for the last 6 months?”

“Honey, I just got an email inviting me to a student art showcase this Friday. In the email is says it is YOUR WORK BEING SHOWCASED! How is this the first time I am hearing about this?”

Any of that ring any bells? Yeah, me too. Sounds pretty familiar.

The Solution

Well, we decided it was time to strengthen the communication between teachers and parents because we are all on the same team here. We want our students to succeed. You want your kids to be passionate, to do well in school, to be well adjusted, and to have the ability to dream big and achieve those dreams. So that gave us an idea. What do teachers and parents have in common? THE STUDENTS! Our overlap is our students, your kids – one in the same. We concluded that the solution to the communication break down was the students. This probably isn’t a surprise to anyone. We put notes in kids’ backpacks. We send them home with information to pass along to their parents. Etc. But what if we put the students in charge of the information? What if we let the students decide the most important parts of what they are learning? What if we let the students decide where they are struggling each quarter? What if we enabled the students, gave them the proper tools and supported them, to be in charge of their own information?

Student-Led Conferences This the the paradigm shift that brought us to Student-Led Conferences. In student-led conferences, students, parents, and teachers meet together to discuss what the student has picked out. They talk about successes and failures, triumphs and the lessons they learned; they set goals and plan to reach them. To read more about our most recent Student-Led Conferences, click here.

Although this is still a learning experience for us and there are still improvements to be made, we think this is the road to a solution. When we give our kids the power and ability to be take responsibility, we continually see them live up to their own expectations (because they set the expectations) and go beyond. Student-Led Conferences encourage students to self-regulate, to self-adjust, and to communicate. Let’s just say that again: our kids COMMUNICATE! That includes our quiet teenagers too. Read some of our parent and student experiences here.

Empower Our Kids

Our solution boils down to the idea that we don’t want to demand our students to comply with the things we ask them to do; instead, we empower them to put value on things that are important to them and communicate that value to the people around them. Isn’t that an important skill set to have? We believe this empowerment leads to our students’ success because it let’s them decide what ignited their passion, let’s them focus on that passion, and allows them to plan a path to their own success. From the beginning, they took ownership of their own success. That’s powerful.

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

To learn more about school events and student life, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hannah Nichols
Marketing and PR
Maharishi School
hnichols@msae.edu
Fairfield, IA 52556

It’s Okay to be Weird

High School Can be Weird

High School is a weird time. In high school, we deal with the pressure to fit in, to be good at sports – or to be good at something, to get good grades, and to have fun. On top of that, we’re expected to act like adults, with a lot of the responsibilities of adults, but none of the benefits of being an adult. Maybe we even deal with heartbreak or our sexual identity in high school. That’s a lot. High school is one of the busiest times of our lives.

These are hard things to address because they are so abstract. There’s no real solution because there’s no real problem in such that there’s nothing wrong with going through these events or feeling these pressures. However, these pressures have an emotional weight, an emotional tax. So, how do we lift that weight, get a break for that tax?

Managing Our Stress

One way we manage these stressors at Maharishi School is by practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique. The TM technique is an easy way to relieve stress. There’s a lot of research about the health benefits of reducing stress through the TM technique. Read more about that on TM.org.

Though the TM technique is backed by years of research and countless stories of the relief and aid it provides, it also can seem a bit weird. From the outside, people who practice the TM technique can seem like they are just a little different. Until recent years, it was a subculture with roots in India and connections to Holland with a hub here in Fairfield, Iowa. It was a hard thing to explain, and still can be, but people are more familiar and accepting of the Transcendental Meditation technique.

TM Might Make You Weird, but That’s a Good Thing

One of our alumna, Jennie Rothenberg, came back to speak at graduation last year. In her speech, she addressed feeling weird, or having the experience of having to explain growing up in this meditating community for the rest of our lives, actually might be a positive experience. Maybe it always hasn’t been so, but now it is a good way to set ourselves apart from the rest of the crowd, the rest of the job applicants, the rest of the people running for public office, the people applying for that scholarship, and so on. Watch the video to hear Jennie’s speech.

Another benefit of practicing the TM technique, though arguable less measurable, is learning that it is okay to be weird. It is okay to stand out. It is okay to be “the only one” in a crowd. Though we have a supportive and close community, eventually we leave this nest to experience different parts of the world, maybe even different cultures. However, something we will always have is our de-stressor, our weirdness, our ability to stand out, and our inner stillness – Transcendental Meditation.

So go ahead. It’s okay to be weird.

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

To learn more about school events and student life, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hannah Nichols
Marketing and PR
Maharishi School
hnichols@msae.edu
Fairfield, IA 52556

Failure Breeds Success

Success and Failure

Let’s look at success holistically, rather than the ultimate and exclusive goal for our kids. What does it mean to be successful? At Maharishi School, we would argue that success is often measured in the moments surrounding failure. When failure occurs, what happened right before and right after that event? Moments before we failed, did we do everything we possibly could have to have the best likelihood of reaching our goals? In the moments after failure, could we tell what went wrong, did we learn anything, does this event spur us on to a bigger goal? The answers to these questions decide whether failure is something that squashes us, our passion, and our drive -or- leads us to a deeper, more thorough, and longer lasting understanding of ourselves, our goals, and our passions.

Read below to see how Maharishi School’s Robotics stood in the face of failure…and found success.

Small Failuresby Carol Chesnutt, Director of Enrollment Management

Perhaps I was standing too close when I overhead the phone calls in Maharishi School’s Central Office.

“Fei Hung is missing from school today.”

“Is Steve at home sick today?”

“Tom didn’t show up for school today. (pause) Is Tom on the same robotics team with Fei and Steve?”

I’ll admit I was a bit giddy when I heard that Fei and her 2 robotics teammates were “home sick” 2 days before the state robotics competition. Software updates had created havoc with their robot. The students weren’t home with a fever: they were scrambling to fix the problem.

Why did their tense situation give me a thrill? My first 20+ year career was in management consulting helping large corporations either fix complex problems or innovate their business. Clients paid high fees and expected results in a compressed timeline. The most successful consultants never grimaced at a tight timeline and didn’t shrink when the project came up against obstacles – which happened regularly. They dug in and worked the problem. When I see students digging in, I know they’re learning and developing ‘grit’ in a relatively low-risk environment.

“Small failures, when the stakes are relatively low and the potential for emotional and cognitive growth is high, are what psychologists Elizabeth and Robert Bjork call ‘desirable difficulties.’ Learning that comes with challenge is stored more effectively and more durably in the brain than learning that comes easily.” Jessica Lahey

Teachers at Maharishi School embrace difficulties and small failures. Learning from failures not only ‘sticks’ better, it creates resiliency and humility – desirable traits for students and management consultants alike.

By the way, the state robotics competition didn’t go well for Fei, Steve, and Tom. The software issues never got resolved. But without question, I’d hire any of those 3 kids for a consulting team.

The Future of Failure

robotics

We have complete faith these kids will go far in whatever education or career path they choose. No one doubts that. When failure came their way, their end goals suddenly were even closer to their grasps. Did they win a robotics competition? No, but they did learn a real-world lesson: stuff goes wrong, sometimes that is out of your control regardless of how hard you work or how well prepared you are, you’re just going to have to deal with that. Inevitably, these students learned that lesson better through their failure than if anyone had tried to explain that to them. The future of their failure is success.

 

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

To learn more about school events and student life, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hannah Nichols
Marketing and PR
Maharishi School
hnichols@msae.edu
Fairfield, IA 52556