In an overly difficult world we now live in, we need to move
forward with empathy and understanding for each other, blooming with a flexible
mindset. Tough times, like a pandemic, can overwhelm, even painfully gripping,
the most devoted, talented parent/educator with student instructional demands
that should reveal positive improvement outcomes.
Having taught many puppetry workshops in the Kansas City area, it
became my open door to the creativity process. You might consider applying
creative puppetry to your classes as a learning tool. There are many online
examples and options.
Accessing your own talents is your open doorway to connecting with
learners positively, happily, and reach self-actualization in the process. But,
you might ask – how can I do this? It does take time and patience, but I can
relate my unusual story, as an example of making worthy progress in bettering
Creating and Realizing Your Inner Mindset
A mindset takes inner resolve of taking action through mental
planning. Many teachers and parents feel they have enough to do with
student/classroom management without trying to figure out new, creative
activities, or wade through the best online applications for every subject. It
simply is not their bag when their hands are full enough. There can be simply
too many hourly demands. Now, you can decide to expand your mind to energize
your own inner resolution that will give you endless hope joy, and peace of
Jump Into Action Tips
1. Spring your own ideas from
inspiring, moving, reading/media material.
2. Follow your own inner intuition, rather than including outside
influences, to create your personalized mindset. Agreeing with others’
comments, opinions, or criticisms will affect your own creative process.
Competing derails your own originality.
3. Use trial and error.
Experiment, and then adjust as needed on following days. Have fun with
different variations. Make it your own game plan.
4. Build and elevate. Subsequently,
your creativity will build more and more, bit by bit, just like mine did into a
crescendo, for a new, fluid, mindset.
How Did I Develop a Creative Mindset?
As a first year teacher, I had a forward looking, enthusiastic,
mindset graduating from college early, ready to teach, and create a positive,
happy, day for eager learners. Taking a second grade position, with a wide
variety of disabilities in my own generational background, I knew that I wanted
to address each child independently with as much undivided time and attention
as I could possibly muster. Subsequently, I soon had five individual reading
groups at different levels for several years in the teaching profession.
For my student teaching practicums, I had understudied with an
amazingly creative veteran first grade teacher who taught through poetry. Then,
I also did practice teaching the following semester with a traditional, second
grade veteran. I hated every minute of it, and decided then and there I would
apply art and science methodologies that included music, drama, story- telling,
and poetry that I was highly proficient in. The days would brighten. But, I was
not certain how I would do it, as diverting from “old school” teaching methods
was not the norm.
Accessing my music-speech-drama-science-literature studies
background, I began designing special activities to encompass a large variety
of learning levels and abilities. Nonetheless, I soon found myself with a
school principal that welcomed creativity in a progressive school district. Students
applied reading, spelling, language and math learning into writing poetry,
songs and dramatic plays. This progressed to combining all subject matter into
one dramatic musical episode for parents, teachers, and admin. Soon, I became
recognized for giving end-of-semester auditorium performances.
As a family also enjoying books, poetry, music, and science, we
soon created a charming puppet play with a home-made stage and hand puppets,
for a summer church school event.
An enthusiastic church troupe formed, and we toured nursing homes,
facilities for those with special needs, and offered public grade school
musical events. Elderly, disabled, patrons often waited an hour in anticipation
of our amusing “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” puppet show.
Meeting a Wood-Carving Puppeteer Strapped in Performance History
While touring with the clever “The Teddy
Bear’s Picnic”, I was asked if I had met the local puppeteer, Foy Brown, whose
livelihood was a fireman who carved ventriloquist puppets in off moments. He
had grown up with a father who traveled nationally to the New York stage, as an
entertainer and wood carver at the turn of the 20th century.
Foy Brown lived near our high
school. Enchanted with this history, I
purchased the first two puppets. Enjoying his ongoing carving process, I made
another upcoming purchase, “Professor Do Little Higgins”.
Foy introduced me to another nationally
recognized, vaudeville/Hollywood stage performer, Lucile Elmore, who sold Lily
La Teur to me. This created the puppet ensemble necessary to create our “Voco
Poco Puppets” advertising productions.
Foy’s and her enthusiasm had become
contagious for my family of three children who wrote the scripts, created
costumes, lighting, and set designs, as done earlier. We now had three large
ventriloquist wooden puppets that sang and had silly, comeuppance story lines,
accompanied by my 12-year old son playing the electric piano. Soon, we found
ourselves as a big show stopper with advertising demands for the then trendy
shopping malls and department stores, for every holiday imaginable.
We gathered large crowds of hundreds
enjoying our unique ventriloquist puppets. Noticing that the puppets caught
fixated attention, I began wondering if they might be good role models for my
teaching with special needs children, as a learning disability teacher.
Lucile attended our productions and was enthralled with our family
show. I enjoyed her ventriloquism
lessons with my ongoing vocal studies. When she passed away, I sat behind her
attorney at her funeral. He was with a little ventriloquist wooden, Hollywood
studio-made puppet, a red-haired, little boy, stage-named Butch O’Malley.
Surprisingly, she had bequeathed me Butch, of her early Hollywood 1930s, stage
When the attorney presented Butch, he announced, “Lucille knew you
would do something important with him, and would prevent his storage in a box
lost in a museum (that did happen with many of the early puppeteer performers’
stage puppets, props). I was not only astounded, but deeply touched.
My classroom teaching segwayed into research projects with small,
homogonous, group instruction in a home studio. This created my own research
and content development company, Mem-ExSpan, Inc. The cognitive skills research
and practice work indicated that the lessons required filming for scalable,
sustainable, expansion. The Voco Poco Puppets family team created the initial
home-filmed lesson segments for test site application, decades ago. Updated
filming became paramount, now a reality.
Thirteen national test sites were set up through research and low
cost availability. In-depth individualized, standardized cognitive and academic
assessments formed remarkably large data pools. This in-depth assessment,
evaluations, and data analyses for a wide wage of ages and demographic groups
explained the extraordinary, novel methodology. Participants were pleased as
they obtained unusual, yet visibly apparent, assessment and outcome results in
a short period of time at low cost. Thousands benefited and blossomed.
Throughout this endeavor, I remained in scholarly class work at the
University of Kansas, a nearby campus.
Applied research in a variety of settings, was my noteworthy, enwrapped
focus. Testing company executives, the
Educational Testing Service (ETS) in Princeton, NJ, and professors, doctoral
students, from five different universities joined and worked on the pre-digital
data outcomes. I wrote scientific articles that were submitted to journals,
juried, published, and eventually received awards as landmark research having
completed 5 longitudinal research reports.
This is my story, as to how a flexible mind set created
inspirational, lasting, teaching methods, now completed. Never give up. Give it
a try and see. What will your self- empowerment story be?