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You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

Last updated: May 15. 2014 6:38PM - 268 Views
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By Holly McElwee


Teachers constantly expect kids to try new things and accept change. I bombard my students with new content every day. I also routinely change group mates, classroom seating positions, and learning strategies. On top of everything else, I don’t want to hear them complain about it! My expectation is that they’ll do all these new things and like it. This is the regular life of most students.


How well do adults handle change? Do we proceed with grace and style, or do we complain? My guess is that the kids handle change better than most adults. Can adults learn to be more flexible and manage change in our lives the way kids are expected to? Yes, and one of my strategies is to purposefully learn new skills. We have to be purposed about it and make a concerted effort to add new talents to our bag of tricks.


For example, my grandmother was in her mid-60s when she decided to learn the violin. As a retiree, she was at a point in life where she could afford to purchase the instrument, she had access to a teacher, and she had the time in her schedule. She started weekly lessons, and while she never played in public, she found joy in her accomplishment and was able to continue for many years.


I recently decided to learn Spanish. An upcoming trip to Peru, my third one in four years, provided the motivation. I also regret not learning Spanish in high school. At age 16, I never put much stock in Spanish class, arrogantly thinking, “When will I ever need to speak Spanish?” Well, over 20 years later I can see why I shouldn’t have dropped that class! Now I’m putting my best foot forward to learn a new skill, in this case a language skill.


So, what new skill, hobby, or trade can you learn? For some people it’s a crafty-type of skill. Maybe you’ve always thought about sewing, knitting, or crocheting. It could be wood working, painting, or photography. Or, learn a musical instrument like my grandma did. There are plenty of places to take music lessons. Maybe you’d like to take dancing lessons. It could be ballroom, line dancing, or Zumba.


Speaking of Zumba, exercise is an area that can fall into the “new skill” category. Try a new workout or take a class at the YMCA that you’ve never done before. If you never learned to swim, take a class for adults and become a swimmer. Expand what you’re already doing in your workouts. For example, if you’re a runner, plan to run a 5K or a marathon. Expand the amount of biking you’re doing by exploring our excellent bike trails.


Look at other hobbies you already enjoy and take them in a new direction. If you like to read, join a book club or start one yourself with other friends. If you like photography, expand your proficiency by trying new things with your camera. Search out a convention or a show that brings together enthusiasts of a hobby you enjoy. Start to network with people and meet new friends who share your same interests.


Some skills can be picked up through the generosity of a friend who can show you the ropes. Other aptitudes take formal training, especially those that are skill-intensive. You may need to search out school program to help you on your way. We have many places in Miami County and the Dayton area to do so.


Start planning today to acquire these new talents. Become more flexible and willing to handle change in your life by doing so. Don’t leave all the fun to the kids, let’s all learn something new this summer!


Read more at www.travelingteacheronline.com


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