As a life coach, the most important thing I do is to enable people to accept the fact of their wholeness. Perhaps the classic example of the struggle to find wholeness is depicted in the poignant fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen: "The Ugly Duckling."
In this evocative story, Andersen describes the pain and yearning of a misplaced soul searching for love and recognition. Accidentally born into a family of ducks, a newborn swan appears gangly, ugly and gross. He is shunned by family and friends and becomes an outcast who is ashamed of his differences. Finally he meets beautiful swans who not only recognize and accept him as one of their own, but embrace him as the most beautiful swan of all. At this point, the ugly duckling overflows with the joy of fulfillment. He has, what is known in spiritual terms, arrived home.
This simple tale actually expresses the experience of not only my clients, but is true for my own story. Many assume that there is something missing or wrong with them. They initially expect a Life Coach to give them answers or advice. But my job is to reveal to you the fundamental fact of your wholeness. My role is to help you access your own answers, arising from your natural, beautiful, and brilliant self.
Once you see that you are the beautiful swan, transformation begins to catalyze. Why? Because your perspective shifts from the paradigm that something is missing, to the empowering realization of your wholeness. When you taste this kind of independence you open to the joy of life, making changes and taking risks you could/would never have otherwise conceived possible.
To find out more about this amazing process go to my life coaching page. For a free consultation book an appoiuntment. You, too, can experience the liberating recognition of that beautiful swan.
Until next time,
Stay Strong and Live Boldly.
Life is very short.
As a long time teacher, educational consultant and life coach one of the main themes of contention I hear and speak about with teachers is discipline. In fact, disciplinary management is arguably the most important element in effective teaching. Etymologically discipline comes from the Latin, Discipula, meaning ‘student’ and the verb, Discere, ‘to learn.’ Discipline is at the heart of teaching. The manner in which discipline is engaged in the classroom affects test results, dropout rates and violence levels. Rightly or wrongly, a teacher is often assessed by the quality of his or her disciplinary strategies.
I hear teachers complaining about the lack of consequences following student misdemeanors. Administrative officials are blamed for “taking the student’s side” and undermining a teacher when there is a classroom confrontation ending in the student being sent to the office. This is known as a student referral. Student referrals are a common metric used to evaluate effective classroom management. For example, if a teacher has a high number of referrals then she or he may be considered a poor teacher, a teacher at risk or a teacher needing help.
Since the mid 1990’s, schools have increasingly employed zero- tolerance policies. A zero- tolerance policy is a policy of punishing any infraction of a rule, regardless of accidental mistakes, ignorance, or extenuating circumstances (Wikipedia). Originally zero-tolerance policies were an attempt to curb extreme disciplinary issues such as drug use, arson or violence in schools. Over time a number of schools applied zero-tolerance policies to minor infractions, as well. Broadening the scope of zero-tolerance has resulted in disturbing trends beginning to appear within and between schools.
Emerging data from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) show:
As enlightening as these guidelines are, it remains to be seen if they are implemented into the budgets and schedules of our schools.
The questions remain: What gap is zero-tolerance filling in our schools and, if it is not working, what will?
Broad zero-tolerance policies are an attempt to replace the role of corporal punishment and the liberal power of schools to expel or suspend students that they had in the good old days. King Solomon’s wisdom, “He that spareth the Rod, hateth his son; but he that loves him chastises him betimes” was the dominate discipline philosophy from ancient times until the 1960’s. Its influence cannot be underestimated a mere half century later.
Although corporal punishment seems archaic or even criminal in today’s society there is ample evidence of its use in modern education. Time Magazine cites a new report by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union, “nearly a quarter of a million children were subjected to corporal punishment in public schools in the U.S. during the 2006-2007 academic year. …and how students with disabilities are disproportionately affected by such draconian methods of discipline.” 
If corporal punishment and broad zero-tolerance policies are not the answer to the growing disciplinary concerns in our schools, what is?
The simple answer is learning to understand the needs of our students in a complex and confusing time - in other words cultivating greater tolerance. Expanding our ability for greater tolerance requires investing resources into our teachers so they can not only transform their own pedagogical praxis but also share it with their students.
For more information, coaching and training on these skills go to Lawrence Carroll’s workshop and coaching pages.
 Wikipedia, A Free Dictionary. Zero Tolerance (Schools)) July 7, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero_tolerance_%28schools%29 (Accessed January 10, 2014)
 NASP Resources, Fact Sheets, Zero Tolerance. Zero Tolerance and Alternative Strategies: A Fact Sheet for Educators and Policymakers http://www.nasponline.org/resources/factsheets/zt_fs.aspx (Accessed January 10, 2014)
 Rich, Motoko. Administartion Urges Restraint in Using Arrest or Expulsion to Discipline Students. The New York Times. Vol.CLXIII …No. 56,376, January 9, 2014.
 Stephey, M.J. Corporal Punishment in US School. TIME US August 12, 2009. http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1915820,00.html (Accessed January 10, 2014)
“Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” is a wonderful radio show airing on National Public Radio every Saturday. The show has special guests each week and asks them questions about current events. Like other quiz shows such as Jeopardy et al there is a pause between the question and the answer. Anyone who has listened to these shows may recognize that pause, or wait time (Stahl, 1995), between the question and the answer, can be suspenseful or even anxious.
Have you ever thought about why there is so much emotional charge as you scramble for the answer before the contestant answers? The answer is fear. Fear is an emotion that does strange things to the thinking process. It slows it down and even distorts it. Fear changes the physiology of the human. It drains blood from the frontal lobes and critical thinking areas of the brain, rushing the red liquid to the large muscle groups of the arms, chest and legs ready for flight or fight. But what are you afraid of? Making a mistake and looking foolish? Running out of time and feeling dull or witless?
In the class room students are asked questions all day. According to Mary Bud Rowe the average wait time given for a student is between one and one point five seconds (Stahl, 1995). After 1.5 seconds a teacher normally sends the child cues of impatience or simply moves on. This brief interlude has devastating consequences for the confidence of the student and more often than not, undermines the classroom atmosphere. In other words the classroom becomes a climate of fear. Fear to participate in the learning process.
The student is afraid of being judged and will often respond defensively by saying “I don’t know” or “IDK”. The IDK refrain is one of the most demoralizing expressions used in modern classrooms. Rarely is IDK used with sincerity by students. Instead IDK is used in a passive-aggressive way to defend the student from humiliation. This humiliation can be the result of beliefs such as “I can’t do this”, “This teacher picks on me” or “I never get the right answer.” These beliefs are built up over time because children are not given the space (wait time) to digest questions, reflect upon the solutions. Nor are they often given radical encouragement (Williams and Wegeriff, p9) when their answer does not satisfy the teacher.
Modern educator evaluation stresses the importance of extended wait time as a measurable teaching variable. Believe it or not, this simple act produces significant and profound changes in the classroom, including: 
· The length of student responses increases 400 to 800 percent.
· The number of unsolicited but appropriate responses increases.
· Failure to respond decreases.
· Student confidence increases.
· Students ask more questions.
· Student achievement increases significantly.
Many teachers will be criticized for their lack of wait time. Unfortunately wait time is not a skill taught very well to new teachers or introduced skillfully into the classroom by most teachers.
Introducing and using wait time skillfully requires a teacher getting comfortable with silence. For a teacher to get comfortable with silence requires two movements. One is to become aware of how uncomfortable our culture is with silence and secondly, to learn and practice silence as a skill.
 Stahl, Robert J. Using “Think Time” and “Wait Time” Skillfully in the Class. ERIC Clearing House for Social Studies, Bloomington, Indianapolis . http://www.ericdigests.org/1995-1/think.htm (Accessed January, 2014). “Wait time” was a phrase introduced to describe a teaching variable by Mary Budd Rowe in 1972.
 Williams, Steve and Wegerif, Rupert. Radical Encouragement. Creating Cultures for Learning. Imaginative Minds Limited. Birmingham, England. 2006. (According to the authors “All successful attempts at enabling people tom learn better…depend on effective encouragement.”)
 Fredericks, Anthony D. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Success as a Teacher .Alpha Books © 2005. New York, NY. https://www.teachervision.com/teaching-methods/new-teacher/48446.html (Accessed January, 2014).
Recently I shared my research paper The Phenomenology of Silence with a professor from Montclair State University. She was intrigued with how I use silence in the classroom and saw correlations with her own research on how to help children learn more effectively through interruptions. She asked me to write more about how I use it in the classroom.
As a young math teacher at Oak Flats High School in NSW Australia in the 1980s, I threw all of my energy into teaching. My philosophy was to make it fun and use humor as a tool to keep my students motivated. I used silence as a punitive measure to control the noise level in the room. While I could run silent classes the tension was unpleasant.
That was before I went through a hellish personal tragedy. I quit teaching and traveled to India, Bali and Europe. During this extended leave from teaching I studied meditation and mindfulness practices along with austere spiritual practices from several different traditions. Twenty years of soul searching finally brought me to Berkshire County in Massachusetts. I began teaching again.
Coming back into the third-millennium classroom in 2006 was a shock. The pressure on teachers and kids had increased exponentially since Oak Flats. Everybody was plugged in, wired for sound and pulled in a million directions at once: top-down initiatives like No Child Left Behind, adversarial policies like zero tolerance, and warp-speed social lives buzzing in their brains. Not the ideal setting for sharing the joys of higher mathematics.
In my initial years I was assigned a notoriously challenging group of freshmen students. The wisdom at the time was to assign the math phobic teens ten periods of math per week instead of the standard five periods. Because these students had weak number skills and hated math they felt tortured. The students were furious and blamed me for their inhuman schedule. Their resentment forced me to contemplate my future in education. The questions I contemplated included:
From this reflection I came up with a system of principles I called C.O.R.E. (cf. CORE Principles) and the use of silence. Within weeks the students were more engaged, respectful and happier. It was a pedagogical miracle.
Over the next four years I introduced my techniques to all my classes. The momentum built and built until other teachers started to notice. I was asked to speak with new teachers and veteran staffs alike about what I was achieving in the classroom through these unorthodox methodologies.
One day I introduced my methodologies to my senior class. Several of the students had spent their freshman year with me and eyed me suspiciously. They remembered their tortured first year with me. One student who had been surly and resentful as a freshman looked at me with an expressionless face throughout the lesson. We had not had the friendliest relationship over the years. He had been suspended for twelve months for arson and bullying. He had earned a terrible reputation around the school.
At the end of our lesson that September morning he lingered at the door after everyone had left. He turned to me and said, “This is the first thing that has ever made sense to me at school.” He turned and left my room. Goosebumps ran up my arms and tears came to my eyes as I sat down speechless.
This story and others reflect in many ways the miracle of silence in the classroom. My students start to come alive, become natural and express more respect. Surprisingly students with ADD and even Aspergers' Syndrome have expressed a love for the respite silence brings them in their busy school day. Out of this is born an atmosphere of safety, tolerance and respect for themselves and each other. A joy for the teacher!
I begin every lesson with silence and stillness.
"Lawrence Carroll's workshop on personal stress management, which he conducted with my Columbia Grad School class
was a huge success."
Neal Pilson, Columbia University, Former President, CBS Sports