Last year around this time, I was invited to fly to Germany for a couple of events, one of them a presentation of Movement Method for a public-school district in Ahlen, Germany. Not sure what to expect, I prepared well, practiced my very rusty German, and tried to learn to breath while presenting.
I knew I wanted the word out to use better strategies and philosophy in the classroom, I knew I wanted more students to benefit from Movement Method and Rupert and Iliane finally gave me a platform to be heard. Unfortunately to be heard, you actually have to stand in front of people and talk- absolutely not my favorite thing to do at that point. The flight was nerve wracking, but eventually everything fell into place and I presented in front of – I do not even really know who was in the audience, but some pretty important leadership folks from the district. The presentation went well, the principal of the hosting school “Mammutschule” was absolutely lovely and appreciative, but I walked out not certain if any of it got through. Did the message of the importance of this change in education come across? Did any seed got planted?
All this happened in April 2018- I am not a very patient person, and when I did not hear from them for days, weeks, months, I was disappointed, questioning myself if I was the one to spread the word, if I had failed in presenting the importance and effectiveness. If I had failed the kiddos that would now not be able to benefit from this innovative approach.
June was our Horse Boy tribal meeting. I was of course very excited to fly yet again to my home country and spend time in a culture and landscape I missed so much over the years. Little did I know that Elke Walters, the lovely energetic principal would be at the tribal meeting. Little did I know that she was so taken by the message that she turned her entire elementary school around. She started to implement ideas, and she started to plan for a training for her entire staff on Movement Method 1 and 2.
We were both in tears when we realized what an absolutely stunning connection we had without even knowing it. I was in awe of this elegant energetic lady who had my back, who took my words, Scub’s system, to a whole new level. As she described herself, “I am more of an ICE (speed train) when it comes to what is best for the kids.”
She saw it work and she went for it.
Since then, we have become close and effective allies together with Henrich and Gitti Berkhoff to change one teacher at a time, one school at a time, one district- one by one. This is not rocket science and does not cost extra- it is not yet another $300,000 reading curriculum which changed the cover and sells it as better and solution for low test scores- this is a method that helps students, teachers, and yes, down the line test scores as well- but more importantly it helps the social emotional stage of our kiddos, where the systems fails so miserably right now.
We just finished our Movement Method 2 training (yes, I did get to go to Germany again- it is a little like a fairytale for me) and one of their teachers will come to Colorado to brainstorm and develop more curriculum to share with other schools.
As you can see in the video, Mammutschule is a beautiful model school already. Elke Walters has supported our connection building with IB schools in Frankfurt and has been a trusted advisor and practitioner who is trying to make change on a large scale.
She knows the struggles of emotional suffering students. The school has many immigrant students who have seen and experienced things that no child should ever have to deal with. Is it really that important that they need to sit at desks to write? She allows teachers room to find what the students need- if they need to write on a swinging bridge, so be it- she trusts her staff and supports them to explore what the students need. Movement Method has guided many of them in the right direction and presented a climate change for the better, guiding teachers to show self- compassion and avoiding burn out. This principal is a leader par excellence.
It is inspiring to work with educators who can see passed numbers and realize what needs to be done. Elke Walters and Henrich and Gitti Berkhoff might not even know it- they are extremely humble people, but without them, I am not sure how many changes I could have made. Seeing the impact I could have, made a huge difference how things moved forward. They might call the changes they make ‘small’ maybe even to the point of insignificant- but that little light of theirs, that they let shine day in and day out made all the difference in the lives we now all touch from California to Virginia, from Canada to Japan. If you have “a little light” let it shine. Just like a small rock in a lake, the waves reach all the way to shore- no stopping it.