Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Mindful Feedback can Replace Discipline with Katarina Gleisberg

Speaker 1: (00:00)
Alright guys, welcome back to another ESL podcast and you know what I got the most wonderful person in the world on my podcast. This must be the fifth one and you know what? We’re creating so much noise because her podcast, her videos, the feedback we’re getting from teachers and students from around the world has been unbelievably amazing and today I’ve got the one, the only that Katrina Glassberg on here to talk about mindful feedback that can replace discipline. Katrina, thank you so much for coming back. 

Speaker 2: (00:42)
Thank you so much. I think this is our maybe six wow. Six one damn. And I’m excited because all of these conversations go by so fast. It’s so fun. 

Speaker 1: (00:55)
Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s the six one. I need to start making more snippets because I, we put so much value into this and I just need a post more like on the different platforms out there, especially on Linkedin, linkedin. Oh yeah. It’s big time right now, but nonetheless. Oh my goodness, we in you. We just had an hour conversation before we had this conversation. And it’s just, I love it cause it’s like mind chemistry that’s happening. Um, but you know, what you, if for people who don’t know, who you are, I guess for the little slate that we just talked about, you’d be in, you know, a contractor going into mindful teaching and what you just started doing at middle school. So let’s get into this topic, introduce it to them. 

Speaker 2: (01:39)
Sure. So, um, first for the background, yet I have taught elementary school, third grade, fourth grade ESL and special education. Um, and I’ve taught ESL from elementary to adults. Now the mind and all of those experiences made me realize that mindfulness is valuable to everyone, um, and just drastically improves our ability to focus and produce work and just be in that happy state of mind and get along with others. And so now I am doing, I left the traditional teaching world and I’m still in traditional classrooms, but I’m doing contract teaching where I’m teaching mindfulness and I am still teaching, um, English as well, both online and in person classes. But what’s really cool about the worlds of ESL and mindfulness is that they are taught together. I am being paid to teach mindfulness classes, but I’m teaching some of them to English language learners. 

Speaker 2: (02:48)
And so that is amazing that I still get to use that expertise. And then I’m also teaching English classes and see like I saw in all my other teaching context, how mindfulness helps people to be more calm and open to challenging things like pronouncing things that are difficult or trying words when they’re not certain and just building that confidence. So I love that these are skills that so wonderfully tie together and I can do some of the same lessons and completely different contexts. So you had mentioned, yes, we had been getting questions about discipline. Yes. 

Speaker 2: (03:37)
A mindful approach to teaching is something that all teachers can use no matter what subject you’re teaching or what age of students. And so these techniques can be used by anyone. And it all starts with, as a class discussing classroom norms, call them classroom norms, classroom expectations, uh, classroom rules, what have you. But as good teachers know, the more you have students, um, create the classroom norms, the more ownership they take versus just being lectured to. So I just, since this is the beginning of the school year, this is a perfect time to talk about this. Just yesterday I was teaching a middle school mindfulness class and part of our lesson was discussing classroom norms. Now this was my second class with this group of middle schoolers. The previous class I just had them brainstorm what are expectations that you would like to have in a safe, um, healthy classroom. 

Speaker 2: (05:00)
And what I did for the second lesson yesterday as I put the classroom expectations on little subset paper and I put them in a bucket and on these slips were things like that the kids had already brainstorm, write things like speak only when it’s your turn. Um, respect others and respect property, participate things like this. And then so the students were in partners and I had them each pick a classroom expectation out of the bucket and with their partner they needed to act out that classroom expectation well enough so that the rest of the audience could guess what that expectation is. And it was so interesting because I, it just happened that one of the girls who has um, maybe the biggest issue with interrupting others gets the, gets the paper that says speak only when it’s your turn. And um, I was going around from group to group as they were practicing what they are going to act out in front of the lash. 

Speaker 2: (06:24)
And this student says to me, she said, I got this one and this is something that I struggle with. So it’s really good that I have this one. She’s like, I have a lot of examples to act out. And she’s been in a mindful in a few other mindful classes before. So she kind of gets this vibe of we’re in this safe place where we can be vulnerable. And I thought that was such great awareness that she wasn’t grumpy about it. She was aware of this is an issue that I need to work on. Wow. And so that was an activity. I mean anytime we can put students in a leadership role or where they take ownership or in this case, how valuable is it for a student to be up in front of the class and to experience what it’s like to have perhaps a disrespectful I audience have, you know, just or just what it’s like to have all eyes on them. And as the students were doing this activity, I was able to give them feedback that was mindful feedback. So instead of things like stop talking, it’s feedback such as notice the impulse to interrupt because when you ask them to notice that impulse, you are putting that responsibility on them for them to realize that, oh, it’s my choice to interrupt. 

Speaker 2: (08:04)
It’s not like someone made me do it. Yeah. Because a lot of times if you just say, stop doing this, stop doing that, then it can make the teacher just look like they’re being the bad guy or being nitpicky. But when you say, Oh, can you notice the impulse to interrupt? Then you’re having them look at their own actions. 

Speaker 2: (08:27)
And so we can use that kind of language with all kinds of other scenarios. Um, I’m lucky that some of these mindfulness classes I get to co-teach with other teachers. And so we help, um, you have that kind of feedback to students. So it might be something like, um, cause we don’t want to embarrass the students, right? Cause that’s gonna make them, didn’t make them act out more. So you have a student who’s there, who’s clicking the pen incessantly, realize that they’re doing that. And it might be really irritating to someone, but you snap at them and that’s all all of a sudden going to make them defensive or embarrassed or whatever. But if you say, notice, 

Speaker 3: (09:10)
hmm, 

Speaker 2: (09:11)
your body and how still you are right now, then they might, and you can say this to everyone, right? Because mindfulness is paying attention on purpose to the present moment without judgment. So they know that without judgment part is, I’m not calling you out to embarrass you. I just want you to be aware of what’s going on with your body. So that could be tapping of the foot or you know, clicking the pen. But it could also be anything else that someone’s aware of, you know, like am I stressed out and is my body really tense? Is My heart pounding because I’m nervous? Um, it’s good for anybody to take a moment and realize what’s going on with their body. 

Speaker 2: (09:59)
So this mindful approach decreases the need to even have discipline in the race, right? Because students are aware of what’s going on in their body, what’s going on with their emotions and that they have control over it. Because a lot of times when teachers call that students, the first thing they say is, but so and so is doing such and such or so and so made me do it. Or I was distracted. And so I posed the question with the students, when someone’s doing a behavior, do you have the control over whether to be distracted or not? Or can you simply notice it because noticing it and your reaction to it? Just taking those few seconds, those few seconds just to be aware of I’m getting angry or my heart is racing or whatever it is. Kids stop someone from reacting and just snapping at someone and saying something that they felt that they would regret later. 

Speaker 2: (11:11)
So I, I used that, that mind talk all of the various, the impulse to, and then they, and then a lot of times because I’m not, I may not be calling them out specifically they, oh, sorry. And they become aware of it if they’re not, because a lot of the times things that students get scolded for it. Yes, sometimes they do things just to be difficult, but a lot of times it might be habits like pen clicking or foot tapping that they’re not even aware of or they might not be aware that other people are distracted or annoyed by it. That’s so fascinating. Oh, you know what we talked 

Speaker 1: (11:54)
about, you know, being able to tap into how you’re feeling at that specific moment. And you know, these moments could happen to me on, you know, while taking public transportation, you know, and I’ve realized over like the last three weeks, I’ve become increasingly very stressed about like the traffic or the train come in late, although it’s not late, but I’m telling myself it’s late, you know what I mean? So I practice mindfulness on daily basis. You said something so interested in being able to the students who have problems with specific areas and then choosing that little card that they have to act out and see how it feels to be interrupted. You know, and I love this because you know, can you imagine, uh, I had this role play situation happening, uh, just a couple of days a few days ago with a, this tech company out here. And I told her, I said, okay, let’s see. 

Speaker 1: (12:49)
You’re going to have to be able to handle these stressful situations. You have a group of people over here, there are airline passengers. You have to give them the bad news that because with chemical issues, it’s been delayed and you’re not going to be able to do this, this, this. And she was, she had, she was dealing with that constant interruption. But I love it cause she was just so candid and said, okay, just calm down. Listen, okay, I can’t do that for you here. Call by. And you know what I mean? And so it makes you practice not only real life situations, but things that you need to improve on. So when we talk about discipline, Katrina, the most broken philosophy to discipline is potential. And so even if there is detention or something to middle school, what we would call in house suspension, you are basically sit in a room for six hours a day and you would do the homework that a teacher decides to give you, but it doesn’t teach anyone anything. 

Speaker 1: (13:45)
You know what I mean? So what’s a way for, let’s just say teachers out there, whereas they could improve you, you know, that well, you know, improve the mindfulness by not doing the historically driven discipline, you know, taken the historically, uh, disciplinary actions that most teachers would take. You know. Okay. RPC Report Require Parent Conference and House suspension. You’re suspended. That doesn’t do anything. It’s like keep keeping a caged animal who shouldn’t be caged in the cage. What’s going to happen? They’re going to become more combative. They’re going to do more things that may be, you know, it’s just like prison. Right. So I don’t know. What are some things like you dealing with the, you know, a variety of different cultures and stuff out there at the international school in Athens, Greece? Um, yes, sure. There were times where a student or students or a group of students would act very, very wildly. I saw them yesterday at the MRT station. You know, the subway station. They are crazy as hell, you know, so you know, what are some ways instead of discipline. Then here in Thailand they hit them. I know they have a, like they have a 1000 year old philosophy out here. What’d you say? If they get it wrong, you little Beth, you know, they hit ’em that doesn’t teach them a damn thing. It teaches them pain and not to do it. It’s just a broken philosophy. So country that take it away. 

Speaker 2: (15:17)
So first of all, I’d like to preface when mindfulness doesn’t cure everything, but it gives people relief, especially for the teacher. Um, right. It makes us less reactive. And studies have shown that those are some of the biggest benefits from mindfulness. Is that less reactivity and greater attention. Right. Um, and, and I do know from having been a classroom teacher and having a, also having been a special education teacher that there are students with a behavior disability for which there are times when they do need to be removed from the classroom because they might be, um, endangering other students. I’ve, I’ve definitely had that before. Wow. Um, I think of mindfulness as a proactive way 

Speaker 2: (16:19)
to benefit everyone, whether it’s teacher or students so that students have these skills. Just think before they react. So if we take the time with, um, the language that we use in front-loading at the beginning of the class, this school year, um, with things like talking about classroom norms and, and not just doing that as a first day of school thing, but continuously referencing them and using that safe mindful behavior or that, um, mindful, um, dialogue, then students will adopt it themselves. So, you know, you were asking that or you are mentioning these really old school techniques of just giving a student a consequence that maybe does not even relate to what they were doing. So part of mindfulness is heartfulness, which includes things like empathy and gratitude, right? So a lot of good teachers do things like giving students that maybe are difficult, giving them a leadership role or giving them an important job like, oh, they can see so and so is frustrated. 

Speaker 2: (17:40)
Oh, I’m going to give this student a note to deliver to the office or to another teacher. And maybe that note has no purpose other than getting that kid out of the room and giving them some movement or a change of setting so that they can come back with a different perspective in a refreshed mindset. Right. So there are things like that that teachers can do to, to do, to be preemptive practice. If you’re giving students leadership roles and you’re letting students take ownership of the classroom by their sending the classroom rules, they are the ones coming up with ideas for projects and assessments. When you can be creative, they take much more ownership of it. And if you’re giving them a project such as you role play in front of the class, well that’s building their empathy for what the teacher deals with and therefore is also building their gratitude for the teacher of wow, you do a lot, you do a lot. 

Speaker 2: (18:38)
And I can only realize that when I’m in your spot up here in front of the class. So it’s not, it’s not just a few simple little cures. It’s more about the safe environment and the overall teaching style that the teacher is setting in that classroom of letting kids know, I’m open to your ideas and giving them different responsibilities and not just lecturing to them, uh, give them more. Okay, we’re control, you know, implementing a variety of different things to my students. Maybe some of them were more driven, you know, to be, I wouldn’t say discipline, but more. Okay. So let’s scratch all that discipline. When we talk about discipline, we need the, 

Speaker 1: (19:43)
because I love it. When I first mentioned it to you, you were like a discipline. How about mindfulness and this and that. And you were like very good, 

Speaker 2: (19:51)
very opposed to the word discipline. So 

Speaker 1: (19:55)
when it comes to teaching discipline in class, does that put up more barriers, you know, does that say, okay, you must do this, you must do this, you must do this. It’s gotta be a better way of approaching it from a teaching perspective. Right. 

Speaker 2: (20:10)
It’s about the language that we use for sure. Um, you know, like a lot of us teachers are, we’re taught in college or in different trainings about instead of telling kids what not to do, tell them what they should be doing. So instead of no interrupting you, tell them Phique only when it’s your turn instead of telling them, stop running in the hallway, you tell them, please walk. Um, so I feel like it’s the same, people have different reactions depending on the language that you use with them, right? So instead of discipline, which is a way to react to a problem, I think it’s more important to teach skills like mindfulness that is proactive, that decreases the need for discipline in the first place. Because I’ve shared in other podcasts how much, I love the quote by the Dalai Lama, that if every eight year olds in the world was taught meditation, violence would cease to exist in one generation. 

Speaker 2: (21:18)
And at first I heard that and thought it was really bolden and I thought about it. And with mindfulness, we realized that we’re in control of our emotions and therefore we take accountability for our actions and we develop things such as empathy and gratitude and patience and trust and non-judgment. And so if we can develop all of these things, it is so true that violence would cease to exist. But it starts when they’re at a young age, when they realize I’m about to call someone a mean name, but I’m going to stop and take a breath and realize how, how I feel right now. And it changes the course of everything. And then if kids can do that on their own, then I don’t have to as a classroom teacher, spend my time, um, problem solving with these two kids that got in a fight. So pro. So this teaching mindfulness and other proactive strategies just benefits everyone. So it’s a more peaceful environment in general. 

Speaker 1: (22:24)
God, that’s really a discipline. 

Speaker 2: (22:29)
Reactive mindfulness, proactive. 

Speaker 1: (22:33)
I love that. Oh my God, we’re going to have to like cut that out. We’re going to have to coin the phrase for you. Okay. In the name of Katrina Glassberg because that was solid. And so in the sea. And so when you look at a class, if you look at a class from the outside and you look at a class that’s mindful versus discipline, what would you see? Would you say? Yeah, I would like that. Like from your perspective, what would you see from the discipline students versus the students who are more mindful? 

Speaker 2: (23:01)
So I think as a discipline in that old school way, kind of like what you were talking about where in some countries students are still musically that fear thing. You’re putting theories where I think of my mindfulness, you’re opening kids up to awareness. So when kids are open to awareness, they have more thoughtful, mindful speech. They’re being more truly authentic. They’re more comfortable in their own bodies, right? They don’t need to be tense because we don’t want kids to be text a lot of the times. And this is why we have so many, even kids having back problems and neck problems and all of these things because we live in this society of stress and all of these really, really, really high expectations where a lot of times mental health is not valued or addressed in the classroom setting. In a mindful classroom, kids can learn to be with their emotions, right? Because mindfulness is not just all about calm, right? And some people have that misconception that I practice mindfulness and I’m going to be calm. Well, I can be mindful of when I’m angry or frustrated or stressed or nervous or embarrassed, right? 

Speaker 2: (24:35)
Because that way I’m not stuffing it. Right. I can take a moment to be, okay, I’m nervous. What does it feel like in my body? Okay. I’m, my cheeks are warm, my heart rate has increased. Um, and I feel tightness in my chest. Oh, you have kids that are more comfortable in their own skin, in a mindful classroom. So these are going to be classrooms where kids volunteer more. Yup. These are going to be classrooms where students share creative ideas. Yep. These are student classrooms where there’s more connection because students, when they’re comfortable in their own skin, they’re gonna radiate that comfort in those positive vibes to everyone else. There is, you know, there’s, with that connection there is going to be greater empathy and gratitude and trust and patience. 

Speaker 1: (25:27)
I see that so much. I see that so much with my classes compared to other teachers. No offense to the other teachers, but my class does more of a open communication. People are more Asians, you know, they love to speak up, they love to joke, they do this, they do that versus other classes where they’re just very systematic and you know, you could see their solos are rolled over. They’re very tense. The back isn’t straight, they’re not very loose and whatnot. So wow. Very, very interesting observation, man. Man. Katrina. Okay, so what are, and it sucks because we could go on and on and on about this. You know what I’d be, but of course we got to go watch some back shoot voice dog. And within the next three minutes, what are some of the biggest takeaways, uh, that we could, that, that it could be from a teaching perspective or a student perspective in terms of my, uh, mindfulness versus discipline within the classroom and maybe some steps that you know, either or can take 

Speaker 2: (26:26)
simple steps such as when your students enter the classroom, stand by the door and greet them all. Yeah, I saw this one time and because you can catch right away if somebody looks a little off, if they look angry, withdrawn, [inaudible] et. Mm. And we all know that smiles are contagious and you know, everybody does better when they feel like they’re, um, cared for. [inaudible] so, um, and some of the schools here where I teach, they use this thing called the mood meter. And because the whole school uses it, you can ask them, where are you on the mood meter? And they can tell you, um, you know, I’m mad or, you know, I’m low energy or whatever it happens to be. And so if you can just start off the class by asking them how they are and letting them know that this is a safe place to be vulnerable and it’s okay to say, I’m nervous, I’m stressed, I’m worried, I’m bored, et Cetera, because that’s part of mindfulness, right? 

Speaker 2: (27:31)
You don’t, we shouldn’t be, we shouldn’t have to put on it fake face all the time and say, I’m fine, I’m fine. I’m fine. Right? Um, another thing with that is, okay, if starting a class and we’re taking attendance, we go through the list and we have it, uh, a simple question that we ask every student like, um, okay, Arsenio, how are you feeling today? They can show it with their thumbs. They can say a word or they can say, or, you know, in mindfulness a lot of times we say, um, um, use words like, um, positive or negative or neutral for example. Um, so just using that really quick time of going down your roster, just to check in with every kid really, really briefly and also students have been sitting all day. Okay. Start with the mindful movement. It’s okay to start with a stretch. We start our classes, even with adults, are all of them. Start with a mindful movement of take a moment to stretch, take a moment to breathe. [inaudible] even 30 seconds can be super impactful. So yes, greeting everyone, checking in with them so that they know that I see you and taking them a moment to do something with the body and also letting them know it’s okay to do that when you’re sitting at your desk. If you need to take a moment to stretch [inaudible] do it. Self care is so neglected. Yeah. Yeah. 

Speaker 1: (29:11)
Awesome. Oh my God, I love it. I love it. I love it. Actionable steps. A little snippets guys. Bad. I’m telling you a Katrina nightmare. We rocked the house all the time. Okay. If you guys have any questions, please let us know. We’re going to be getting back to this. I know it’s been a while since I’ve been treated, got on and people were actually missing her or what not. But you know what? We try to bring you as much as we possibly pay it all the time. And again, Katrina, um, for everyone, of course you guys already know how to get in contact with Katrina. All the links are in the description. This is her good six time on here. So again, more discussions, more Q and A’s, more things are coming up shortly. And again, Katrina, thank you so much for this nice little half hour podcast. 

Speaker 1: (30:01)
Thank you for having me. And to all of your listeners who give such awesome feedback and suggestions for next topics. Thank you. Keep ’em coming. Absolutely egg. I curious George bad. We’ll see you next time. And the little black doggy right over there over your right. Your right shoulder. Yeah. She’s just not even looking you at me. Can I? They every day, every gun that has no eyes, no eyes, no eyes. They have eyes. Well there are I beady eyes, but they’re kind of, yeah. Ah, okay. Okay. On top of the head. Okay. Oh right. Awesome. So guys, with that being said, but I hope you guys have a wonderful morning, afternoon. He did again, thank you so much. And guys stay tuned for more. I’m your host as always over and out.

ESL Podcast with Katarina

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