Teaching At-Risk Students


I started teaching at an alternative high school when I was 30 in 1984. I began teaching the students how to juggle and several of them really enjoyed the activity. Right off the bat one of the things that worked was putting up a chart to show their improvement on how many in a row they could toss without dropping. They were competitive and had scores into the hundreds.

I started teaching exercises from Betty Edward's groundbreaking book, "Drawing on Both Sides of Your Brain" and quite a few students really learned to draw for the first time. I also did the exercises and had not been much of a drawer and it was amazing to me to see the shift from pre drawing to post and actually feel the shift of thinking. It was fascinating and I wanted to learn more to teach more.

Gabrielle Rico's book "Writing the Natural Way" was a breakthrough book in clustering. I loved writing using clustering and continue to use the method today. The students liked it also and wrote some great poetry.

Both methods have gone on to mainstream educational acceptance but were new and exciting techniques to use the left/right brain research that had been accomplished by Roger Sperry and his team of brain researchers in the 1960'.

Both books were published by Tarcher Publishing and explained very well how the techniques worked in using both sides of the brain.

The owner of the small school saw my interest and the results of getting uninterested students wanting to learn how to draw, juggle and write with clustering. She offered to pay to send me to a weekend seminar called "Brain Gym". This was completely revolutionary to me and sent me down my teaching path.

Paul Dennison created Brain Gym and they were doing seminars all over the country. That weekend is when I learned that stress can cause information to not be shared by both sides of the brain because the corpus callosum. the bridge of nerves that connects the hemisphere, gets blocked and information does not flow.

These books and seminar taught me that each side of the brain controls the opposite side of the body.

Juggling fit right in with all these other techniques as a way to exercise both sides of the brain.

Teaching juggling became my passion and I wanted to add my thoughts to the conversation so that is when I started writing the manuscripts that will be on this website.

I sent the first manuscript to Tarcher Publishing and felt good about the possibilities. It was not to be and was crushed to be turned down and that was my only attempt at getting published. I continued to write and put them in manuscript form and sold copies as a self publisher but did not try a publisher again.

There are many stories to share that I hope teachers, parents, jugglers and others can use in their educational endeavors.

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