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Traditional education has long served as a foundational pillar in societal progress. Yet, its inclination to prioritize academic success over the holistic development of children remains a predominant concern. As students invest countless hours in classroom learning, more than 90% of the students are struggling to reap its full benefits. This results in unmotivated learners and a sense of disillusionment among parents and educators. This podcast addresses that critical imbalance head-on.

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The show joins a diverse group of people who express their discontent with the current education system and offer their well-informed opinions on necessary changes. Listen to parents whose children deal with the challenges of a system that seems to be against them and how these families have successfully managed to navigate through standardized education to showcase their children's unique talents and abilities.

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Helping Students Develop A Love For The Language With Katherine (Kat) Páez Douce

February 22, 202448 min read

Learners need to be empowered with the tools, knowledge, and confidence to be successful, independent, and enjoy life. Today, Kat Páez Douce and Kohila Sivas discuss a range of topics related to language learning, education, and teaching. Kat shares her experiences as a language teacher and her desire to empower Mexicans. She emphasizes the importance of teaching culture alongside language and the need for students to develop a love for the language before effective communication. Kat also discusses the challenges teachers face in classroom management, assessments, and individual student interactions. Kohila and Katherine discuss the benefits of hiring a Wholistic NeuroGrowth Learning Success Coach and the importance of patience and grace in language learning. They also emphasize the role of parents in supporting their children's language learning journey.

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Helping Students Develop A Love For The Language With Katherine (Kat) Páez Douce

I am truly excited to introduce our special guest, Kat Páez Douce. She's not a typical educator. She is a Certified Holistic Neuro-Growth Learning Success Coach with a passion for helping students thrive. She is the Founder of Elevate Language & Culture Coaching Practice. Kat specializes in teaching languages with particular emphasis on Spanish, French, and English as a second language. Her expertise in language instruction is complimented by her holistic and neuro-growth-based approach, which helps students not only become proficient in these languages but also foster their cognitive and personal development.

Kat's unique teaching methods aim to create well-rounded, confident, culturally aware language learners, making her a valuable resource for students seeking a deeper and more enriching language learning experience. Let's welcome our guest, Kat. Thank you for joining us on this episode. How are you?

I'm fine. How are you?

Very good. You are currently in France. How are you enjoying France?

I  love France. This is where I built my home, and I love being in my house. It's in the countryside where I'm surrounded by vineyards. It’s very nature-oriented out here.

Aligned Learning Revolution (Activate, Accelerate, Achieve) | Katherine (Kat) Páez Douce  | Language Learning

Before this, you were in the United States and you were a Language teacher. Tell me a little bit about what made you want to leave teaching in the US.

I originally started teaching in the United States for about eight years before I met my husband and moved to France. As my children grew older and they were bilingual, we moved back to the United States. They continued to do their education in the US for a little bit. I went back to teaching and it was already different from when I started teaching at the beginning. I noticed that there were a lot more restrictions as to how I could teach the content and a lot more restrictions or demands on the teaching time.

I felt like I wasn't being trusted with the work that I was doing. I don't feel like it was just me. I think that it was a blanket for all the teachers. All the teachers had to prove what they were doing in the classroom was effective, etc. That takes away time from the planning and the time that I can spend with students individually or as a group. That was very frustrating for me, not feeling like I was trusted and not being able to spend the quality time that I wanted with the students because I had to fulfill this admin situation.

Let me ask you a little bit about that. When you're not trusted in a classroom environment, that's by the administrators, right?

Yes.

Parents can understand what teachers go through because parents don't see your side of sight many times. They see what's happening outside of the classroom. When you are there and they throw a blanket over you and they expect you to do certain things in certain ways, now you're saying that that takes your time away from the students. Can you explain a little bit so parents can understand what a teacher goes through?

As they want to try to hold teachers more accountable for educating the different students and are they learning, are they moving ahead, is there growth happening, they implement something for all teachers to have to fill out. They have to do certain assessments. They have to then show that the students are in fact, growing, and they have to say what they're going to do differently if there are situations in which the students are not learning.

All that for all teachers takes an enormous amount of time away from planning, feedback and spending time with the students. I feel like administrators have to implement what the district or the school board has decided that all teachers must do. Parents don't realize how much time we have to spend on assessing children. Sometimes, we have to build assessments that don't necessarily show what students can and can't do, but we have to show a piece of paper, etc. It's a lot of accountability and the time of students of teachers.

A lot of grading and fact-collecting.

It's mostly fact-collecting. Fact-collecting can't be done in one way, especially with languages. There are many ways in which a student can communicate and maybe they're not going to do it with a multiple choice test, or maybe their reading is not as well as good as a production. These factors are not put into place, but we have to come up with an assessment for the department for 3 or 4 teachers who have to do the same assessment.

It's time-consuming to come up with these assessments, then grade them, meet as teachers and come up with solutions for those things. However, I do believe that teachers do need to assess students as they grow and go, not necessarily with tests, to make sure that there is growth happening. There has to be a sense of trust in the teachers to be able to do that organically in the classroom.

What that takes away is the relationship that you can build with the students. because you're now focused on marking and grading, where you can spend all that time building relationships as well. It wasn't working for you in the classroom, but you have a very close attachment to the languages that you coach now, which are Spanish and French. Tell me a little bit about your background. How did you get into teaching languages?

I am a Mexican American. I was born in Mexico. My mother is American and so I was raised bilingual. In Mexico, I attended an American school, which means that I went to the school and half day was in Spanish, half day was in English. When we moved back to the US, I was fifteen and I didn't have an accent. I was able to go right into education in the United States, but I realized that the United States had a predisposed idea of what a Mexican is. I wanted to fight that in some sense. I arrived in the United States, and people would say, “Why do you keep saying that you're Mexican? You could pass as an American. Why don't you say that you're American and say that it wasn't your fault that you lived in Mexico?”

It denied my identity. I thought, “That's ridiculous.” I thought that I wanted to change that. I wanted to empower Mexicans, Hispanics and Latins, in general, in the United States. Secondly, I wanted to give a different opinion or vision of what Latins do in the United States. Latin can be White and can be a teacher, and can be a professional and so forth. That was important for me. I wanted to share my culture and my identity with others.

I started learning French in college, and then I traveled in France. France now is where I live. That is who I am. The other one is what I love. I love teaching both of those languages. The biggest thing for me before they can learn to communicate in a language is to have students get that feeling of loving the culture, wanting to speak it, and recognizing the people and the different things in the country themselves. For me, it's very passionate.

It's very rooted in your culture and upbringing. I love how you shared that because the show is for parents and we are growing up with differences, sometimes we hide our identity. We learn to hide in places. When we get made fun or when people ask sometimes silly questions, we hide. Instead of hiding, you pushed forward and you said, “This is me. I'm going to become a teacher who's going to teach that. You're going to learn the culture properly because every culture has beautiful parts of it, parts that we don't understand. Through your way of coaching, you're sharing that passion as well.

It needs to be humorous. There's a lot of humor usually involved and the silly mistakes that we can make. Those kinds of things are funny. We need to be able to laugh at ourselves when we're learning.

We need to be able to laugh at ourselves when we're learning.

What was your greatest frustration? You shared this with one because I'm trying to get parents to understand the frustrations that teachers face inside the classroom walls. One of them is this blanket delivery curriculum, test everyone out and give data because that's how we decide what's working and not working. What else was your struggle as a teacher in the classroom?

Another thing that was a struggle for me was not being able to move through the curriculum as I wanted to give the time and differentiation that I needed for different students, to have to be at a certain place always with all kids. In the school, I had to work on creative ways to allow students to learn and grow at their own pace. It wasn't very appreciated at times or by all my staff members because if I do something, then other teachers feel like they have to offer the same thing. There's this ill feeling inside the staff. For me, anytime there was an assessment or anytime that there was a quiz, because we have to have those, I realized a student didn't know it then. 

I always allowed students to retake a test or do it again once they got it because one student might not get it for another two weeks, but it doesn't mean that they don't get it. They're tied to this grade. I’m like, “Now that you get it, do you want to take that quiz again so that we can bring that grade up again?” The grade matters for the parents and students. I always have more of a growth mindset. I want to be able to differentiate and go at the pace they're learning because if we move too fast, then they feel like they want to give up.

What would be a tip that you could give a parent who is reading this? If their students or their child is learning another language, Spanish or French, we'll stick to those two, what can you tell them to tell their students about learning in the classroom?

In terms of learning a language, it's important for the parents to become involved in the learning with their kids. Many times, parents will tell me, “I can't help them because I don't know Spanish or French.” It would be a great thing if they would get involved with that when they are learning. At the beginning of the school year or they are learning the language, it would be interesting to say, “How about we sit down and you can show me some things you know? Let's grab some Post-Its and label everything in the house. We're going to post it on the door.”

Put another Post-It on the refrigerator or window and post it everywhere so that the student and the parents can always visualize the word. They're learning together or make them the teacher, “Teach me what you learned at school. How do you say this? You learned how to say, ‘I like.’ Great. Can I say I like the cat, food, and so forth?” The idea of allowing them to teach their parents is a strong suit for kids.

It's a good way to start a conversation with your child at home. How about if they're teenagers? Would this work for them or would they shut down and say, “Don't ask, Mom. I didn't learn anything.” Sometimes, teenagers tend to say that.

It works for teenagers, but it's true that teenagers want to have their own space. Even outside of learning languages, in order for get teenagers to share with us, it's important that they're able to maintain that connection with them. A great way to do that is through efficient communication, especially nonviolent communication. A strategy to use with adolescent children is to make time for open conversation, like going for a walk or coffee break with them. It's important that the parents check their intention because the intent is to build and nurture the connection and communication so that when they do sit down and ask them, “Why don't you show me something?” then there's already a basis for that.

They check their intentions before having this conversation so that they realize, “I'm not going to talk about how school or the chores that I want done or didn't get done. I'm going to be an active listener.” When they go with this intention of being an active listener, then they start building a foundation of trust and empathy where they listen to each other. They acknowledge and validate each other's feelings. In that same sense, you're giving autonomy and empowering the students and the teenagers. When you build this open and trusting communication, there's another time to talk.

When parents go with the intention of being active listeners to their kids, they start building a foundation of trust and empathy where they listen to each other and acknowledge and validate each other's feelings.

“Leave me alone,” is a wall that they start putting up as they reach that age level. If you keep pushing it, they'll never have the chance to build it. Keep pushing forward and asking them, “I do still need time with you because you're still my son or daughter. I still want to talk to you because I still care what happened in your day.” If you keep showing that you care about their day, they will never have the opportunity to build a big wall.

They want to see if that wall is going to stick. I do believe that they need time to themselves, but most of the time, it's, “Are they going to follow me? Are they interested in what I'm doing?” It’s like a little bit of a test. You have to push through a little.

With my family, because we're learning Spanish right now, we are watching movies with subtitles. I don't know any Spanish at all. My son is pretty good now. He's doing well. That's another strategy. Watch something with them as they grow older. It's another way because teenagers tend to shut down if it's not interesting to them. If you watched something or read something together, then you have content to have a conversation around it.

I often tell parents that, especially now with Netflix and other things like that, they can choose to watch a show together. I have one family where they have picked a series. Twice a week, they watch their series. In this case, it's in French. They watch the series in French and it brings them together. Even though it is more difficult for one than it is for the other, it is a moment. It brings them together. Also, YouTube videos. You can get them in any language. My daughter shares with me a lot of YouTube videos that have to do with either the culture or the language and so forth. It's another way of sharing communication and their passion or their interest in the language.

Culture. Forget the languages. Ask them questions about, “What do they eat or wear? What celebrations do they have?”

Especially hand gestures because some hand gestures are okay in the US and don't mean that in Europe or in other countries. You have to always be careful.

Let's go into you leaving the teaching from the classroom. Let's go back to that. You had a very strong reason for leaving, and you wanted to start your own business. Now, you have a holistic dual growth learning success coaching practice. Tell me a little bit about why you chose that.

One of the problems that I was having was not allowing students to learn at their own speed to feel like I had to get through the curriculum and test by the end of the semester. Even though still building connections with my students was my first priority, I came to realize through my years of teaching that I can't teach a student who does not want to be in my classroom. I need to have students who want to be there. The only way they're going to want to be there is if I have a connection with them so that we know each other. It's a safe place for them and forth.

It seemed like 30 students in a classroom, 5 or 6 classes a day, I was doing as much as I could, but I could still feel some falling through my fingers. I couldn't catch them all. It made me very sad. Going into coaching is perfect because I'm able to work with students one-on-one. I'm able to go at their speed. I'm able to know them well enough to adapt the content so it's interesting to them and see them flourish one at a time. That was the biggest reason for me to go into coaching. It’s to be able to work with students individually.

For parents who are reading who signs their kids into these group classes, there are lots of people offering massive Spanish classes and there are 30 or 40 kids on Zoom learning together, what do you see as a teacher and now as a coach as the problem in that?

The biggest problem with having 30 or 40 kids learning at the same time is the same as they would have in a classroom, but probably even less because now they're online and you have 30 kids. How are you going to reach each and every one of them? If they're already having problems in the classroom, they need somebody to work with them individually. That's the first one.

The second one is they do that so that they can charge a lot less. They would be making maybe more than a coach would be making by getting many students on the same platform, but they're not delivering the same service. The other situation with that is that when you're paying somebody to work with your student, even individually, you need to think about, “Are you paying somebody to do the work for your student to make sure it gets done? Are they learning from that person?”

That's another problem with, for example, tutoring. You don't want to be paying somebody to do the work for your student when your student still doesn't know what they're doing. The third, and probably most important one, is that when you do that, you don't have somebody who's interested in the whole student like I am. I would not attempt to go into teaching Spanish until I know what is wrong. What are we missing? I'm not going to teach the same thing that the kid already knows. If they already know that, great, but what is it that's missing?

What has that little piece that's been missing caused over the years? Lack of self-confidence, boredom or not knowing how to study for it. Those are the things that I have to first help them with before they can start even getting back into the language because we have to change their perception of the class. They have to start to want to learn it again in order to be able to learn it. That's the difference with coaching for me. 1) Adapting the material to the student, but 2) Giving the student the tools and the need to want to improve or do better.

As a coach, you are also not looking for the weaknesses and the root causes, but you're also looking for the strength. Each one of us was born with our own superpowers. In a group class, you'll never expose that. You never figure that out. You're one person in the crowd. You need those superpowers from the children that you work with. When we find those superpowers, that's when they get excited because they don't sometimes know they have them.

They're especially good with languages because in languages, you are working on the written, reading,  listening, and oral production. There are some kids that are going to be great at reading but maybe not so much at listening. There are excellent ways that you can work with that. Let's say, for example, it's that first case. If they can read but they can't understand when they listen, then you add the audio to whatever they're reading. You use the strengths to bring up their weaknesses.

How important is it to have personalized and customized attention when learning a language?

It's everything. It's the difference between if it's going to work or if it's not going to work. Is it going to stick? Is a student going to want to continue to learn? If you don't do this, then you're not going to wind up with a lifelong learner who is going to figure out, “I know how I can learn this. I want to learn this.” You are patching the problem, and the problem is going to persist. The only way that it's going to go away is when the student decides that they don't want to do this anymore.

It’s a frustration for the family and the student. We all know that even though there's ChatGPT, Google Translate and all that, more and more employment ads and so forth ask for a second language. They don't want to know if you can Google a translation. Everybody can do that. They want to know if you can speak to or write an email to their clients. Especially in the United States, the Spanish-speaking population is only increasing. That's a large amount of clients that you would not be able to reach if you don't have a minimum base in Spanish, for example.

When a child is learning a language, what do you recommend they should focus on first? Should they start with the conversation? Do you have a formula we can give parents about that?

I do have three different pillars that work together at the same time. I wouldn't say to start with one particular thing. You have to mix it all together because, talking about the strengths and weaknesses, some students want to get started speaking right away. Great, let's do that. Some students are afraid to speak for a long time. Language learning is very relatable to your first language learning. There are children who don't speak until almost three years old. They're not ready. It's the same way with learning a language.

Sometimes, it takes some people longer to produce orally because they're not ready, and other people are ready to speak right away. It's important that we mix these together so that they're always going to be growing, even if they're not going to be producing or reading at the same level. One of the most important things that you have to put in right away is making it fun. You have to make it so that when they are learning, there's something funny, humorous and a song, there's something that is going to make it stick in a fun way. If you can add it to being cultural, that's even better.

As we talked earlier, watch shows and make it more at home. Bring it into your family. Invite it into your family. If a child struggles, for example, we talked about putting them into tutoring because that's what a lot of parents decide to do. When they're struggling in school, they try to find a tutoring place because there are many options. A lot of the time, as parents, we don't know what's the best. When they're looking for a tutor and when they're putting them together with them, they're thinking they're all equal, but not always. That's one thing. The second part that I was going to go over is the students start struggling. What happens at the end is they give up.

If you get into a situation where you want your child to succeed, and you find a tutor, it's not the right match, and they start struggling more, or they're not getting the help they need because they haven't uncovered the problems they're facing, they tend to give up. I was one of those people. When I came to Canada, I didn't know English. When I didn't get it fast enough, I started shutting down because it wasn't going as fast as I wanted. As you said earlier, some kids shut down the speaking component. I muted myself completely because I wasn't going to make a mistake and get caught.

One of the things that's important is that when you build this safe place with a student, you want them to make mistakes because we learn from our mistakes. Especially with languages, it's okay to make a mistake and we can laugh about it a little bit and then move on and realize that we make mistakes all the time. With languages, you don't have to be perfect to communicate. Your first and biggest goal is communicating.

With languages, you don't have to be perfect to communicate. Your first and biggest goal is to communicate.

With communication comes that cultural piece again because people in different countries don't communicate in the same ways, either through their gestures or body language. You might be killing the communication before you even speak because you already did something that's culturally not correct. There are many different aspects to it. You have to see what is interesting to the student that's going to grasp their interest for them to want to keep moving forward and not be worried about making any mistakes.

As a holistic learning success coach, how do you make your learning language easier for students, interesting and funny? You added humor. That must be part of your process.

I have three pillars that work in tandem. They support each other. One of them is the recollection and association formula. This makes learning fun and effortless. It allows students to visualize, appropriate and engage with a new vocabulary or grammar in a fun way that shows them that learning can be fun. It's ways of learning vocabulary list. It can be done through a song or a rhyme. Same thing for grammar terms. How am I going to remember we going to use this to be or that to be? There's an acronym that we can use with that.

Those are different little tools that you need to advance within vocabulary and grammar. We have to make that connection so students feel safe. The second one of my pillars is to understand, empathize and relate system, which makes students feel heard. When students feel that there's a connection at a personal level, then the communication is going to flow freely and the content is relevant. It's uniquely adapted to them. This is how the first pillar works. I adapt the content from the first pillar so that it works to that student's needs and what he likes doing.

For example, if a student enjoys sports, then I'm going to try and associate when we're learning and making sentences that have more to do with sports so that it's going to become more interesting for them, or they're going to be able to relate to it right away. As we were talking about this cultural portion, then there's my third pillar, which is the international cultural and inclusive framework, which helps students understand the diverse ways in which people communicate value and they do things in other countries.

That inclusive portion also allows them to feel like they are included in that conversation because my students come from all walks of life. It's important that when you start feeling like you are included, then you are able to include other people and visualize other differences when your differences are appreciated or accepted. That way, they can gain confidence in their ability to communicate and operate either within different countries or with people from different cultures because they know that they're aware of how people work.

When you start feeling like you are included, then you are able to include other people.

These pillars all play together in your coaching practice so that students can have a holistic transformation.

Transformation is an amazing word. What they have to see when they start working with me is, “This is where you are at now. We are going to go through a transformation, but a transformation takes time. We're not going to make you get an A next week. You are going to find out exactly what you need to make this transformation so that you can be successful from here on out, even after you're done working with me.”

Give the parents a tip about how sometimes as parents, we can be hard on our kids, like, “My son is learning. We wanted him to go faster.” “Why don't you know the grammar?” We have all these expectations as parents. As a coach, I'm different. When it comes to a parent, I'm also different. As a parent, what kind of mindset should I have when my son or daughter is learning a new language?

Patience is a big one. It's interesting because I posted something on social media that talked about probably this transformation and the mindset of parents. It was this idea of there being two verbs to be in Spanish. If there are two ways of saying to be in Spanish, that means that sometimes you're going to use this one and sometimes you're going to use the other one. It's going to take time to figure out when you're going to use one and the other.

I'm hoping that parents are going, “How can there be two to-be’s?” I am is one word. It can be four different words in Spanish. The thing that I put on the post was that language can be hard. Give your student grace on the time it takes to get it. It was interesting because a lot of my past students, a bunch of likes and followed and said, “Thank you.” Parents don't realize the difficulty it is for the student. Unless they studied the language themselves, they don't realize that the student is trying. There are times when it's hard for different students at different times. Give them grace. Be patient.

What is something that one of your students told you that still remains in your mind?

It’s interesting because it was the one that said, “Thank you. You're always on our side,” was a student who is extremely successful who wrote that because there are a lot of expectations at home from him. He always needs to have an A. When it comes down a little bit, because learning is a process, then he gets spoken to by his parents. He felt like by me posting that said, “Parents give your students grace,” of course, he's an A student and he's going to be fine, but maybe it's not going to be fine all the time. Let them work through it. It's important for students to feel the struggle and work through the struggle. That would be one of them.

It's important for students to feel the struggle and work through the struggle.

I'm still in touch with most of my students through my social networks. Through Instagram, they send me messages like, “This reminded me of you.” I'm very happy and proud to have built these connections with my students that allowed me to continue to work with them. There was one student who sent me a reel about a song that we learned in class about the different countries in capitals in Central America. 

They said, “I still curse you because now that I heard it, now it's in my head again and I'm not going to get rid of it,” because they still remember that song. They know the capitals of the countries in Central America because they can't get this song out of their soul. It was like, “Curse you. Now I've got it back in my head again. It's going to take you years for it to be gone,” but they said that while laughing.

The thing with students is they always remember the teacher that made them smile, who gave them a shortcut or a cheat code and made them learn things in different ways, like not the traditional, “Read the book. Copy it.”

Memorization never works.

You must have had all these extra qualities to make learning language come to life. That's why they're still remembering you. These things remind them of you. That's very beautiful. To wrap up, I want to ask you, what is the difference in learning from you? A big thing that I think parents have to understand is learning from a holistic neuro-growth learning success coach versus hiring a tutor.

The biggest difference is having a team player. My biggest passion outside of languages is helping students and empowering them. I've seen so many students feel depressed or bad about where they are. I don't want that for other kids. I want to help bring harmony back into those homes. When it starts to go South, then the parents are like, “Why didn't you get a better grade on the test? Why didn't you study?” 

There's going to be this friction between parents and students. When at home, they're supposed to be loving and supportive towards their kids, but they want them to do well, so they feel that by asking them or telling them that they should study more or so forth. This creates this unhealthy home relationship that I would like to first put a stop to.

I'd like to tell parents, “You go back to being mom, dad or guardian. Go back to going out, having fun and laughing over ice cream. Be supportive of your students. Let me take care of that school part. Let me email the teacher. Let me find out what's missing, what we need to work on and I will be that person that works with your student.” I'll build that connection and that trust that they can tell me what's happening. I can help them get past the struggle that they're having right now. It might not just be in Spanish.

I might be working with students who are not taking Spanish, French or English but who are having a hard time getting through school and who need more effective ways of studying or learning different tools that they can use. I can be that person for them. I can be with students to make them feel better about themselves and want to succeed. Parents can be a little bit relieved knowing that they did do something for their student and the child. They got them the help that they needed and they can go back to being just mom and dad.

You're repairing the relationship. That's the most important part. Sometimes, education tends to bring us apart because we are not on the same page as our kids get older. Sometimes it gets difficult. I am excited about your journey as a learning success coach. I want to turn around and ask you a question for a teacher who might be reading. Some of our readers are teachers. Struggling in the classroom with the demands, the administrators, and the politics a little bit, what can you offer as a solution and starting a business because you are now a business owner as a piece of advice?

My biggest advice is people would say, “If I were to start my own business, I think that would be overwhelming.” What was most overwhelming was when I was in the classroom trying to accommodate administrators, other staff members, students, and so forth. That was incredibly overwhelming. Starting your own business and going into coaching is not as overwhelming as you might think it is. It's going to take work to get there, but you feel better about doing what you started teaching for. Going back to the basics, helping the students, working with them and wanting to see students succeed.

Since I know you, the word that comes to me while I look at you going from the United States and now in France, settled, is empowerment. It empowered you. That’s the word that comes to mind. As teachers, we're not in the classroom.

We're in the business of hoping to empower students, but even then, we were lucky if we were able to do it with only a few of the ones that are the 30 in our classroom.

Let's talk about that. Sometimes, when I say teachers need to have some control, people take that differently. Control has different meanings. When a teacher doesn't have control over how they can help their students, it's hard because so many students can drop through your fingers because you don't have the control to differentiate, slow it down, or speed it up for some. Tell me a little bit about that control, because that's a big word sometimes people misunderstand.

There are a lot of different ways in which we have to control the classroom. We are expected to differentiate for students, but it's very difficult when you have ten differentiations that you have to do. If you have somebody who's dyslexic, dysgraphic or who has ADHD and somebody who has to take medication. One parent has a few kids that they have to remember, “You have to take this medication. You have to do this.” Imagine a teacher who has to know this about maybe at least 10 students out of 30 in 1 classroom. That's one thing that we have to control, and that is difficult. It's crazy to expect that somebody's going to be able to control that as much. Control all the different aspects of all the different students that we have at the same time.

The second one is I have been blessed with not having to have very many problems in terms of discipline in my classroom. I connected well enough with my students that I didn't have those problems. I know some of my peers who had terrible problems with discipline. They have to then control the classroom. You have to maintain control of the classroom so that you can teach your curriculum, but then you're spending so much more time on controlling the discipline and in the classroom management that you're not able to get to the curriculum and other students are not getting the instruction that they need. I think that this word control, when it comes to teachers, is big all the things that we have to be able to control. Every parent wants the teacher to see their student. We do want to, but we want to do that for every student. It's impossible. When you have a coach, you know that your coach sees your student.

Every parent wants the teacher to see their student, but it's impossible. When you have a coach, you know that the coach sees your student.

What would you tell a student who might be reading about learning a new language? What should they remember?

It takes time. You have to throw yourself out there and be willing to have fun with it and make mistakes if you want. you have to enjoy the ride. Ultimately, think and keep in the back of your mind, “Why is it that I'm learning a language? What is my objective? What is my goal? Why am I putting myself through this? Is it because I want to travel? I'm learning Spanish and French because I want to travel to Europe. I want to travel to Latin America. Is it because I want to go in aeronautics, for example?”

In Toulouse, France, they have the other big company where they make the planes. “It's because I'm into the United Nations and stuff like that.” French is the official language of the United Nations. What is it that's making you want to take this class? Keep that in mind and allow yourself lots of time and humor. The more that you enjoy the ride, the faster you're going to get there.

The more that you enjoy the ride, the faster you're going to get there. 

I started speaking because I had one teacher who looked into my eyes and said, “I know you can speak. Start speaking.” She is my ESL teacher. She would get me up and say, “Read the sentence. I know you can read it.” It's that care of someone by your side. Having the right person to be by your side because if it wasn't for her, I probably wouldn't have spoken to this day. She gave me the confidence. She said, “I know you can do it.” I was hiding because I was afraid of making mistakes. Having the right coach, teacher or mentor is important while we learn new things, especially language, because we tend to be afraid that someone's going to laugh at us.

The idea is that you are going to make mistakes. It is a good thing to make mistakes. When somebody is with you chuckling or saying, “That's what you said,” then it's a game. It's fun to make that mistake of saying what you are going to say because even if you get it wrong, it's going to be fun, funny and great. I have one of my students who wrote one of my testimonials. That was one of her things. It had to be perfect.

She would come in and have lunch with me. We would have lunch together. She would go over this stuff. She would say all the things that she wanted to say. She would make mistakes and we would laugh together. I'd say, “You know what you said, right?” She's like, “I can't believe I said that.” We would laugh while we were having lunch. That's the kind of connection that I want to be able to have with all my students.

I want to touch on the last person who might be reading to our show, the administrators. What's your, not feedback, but our request because many of the teachers are still in classrooms? What can an administrator understand about the teacher's side of things?

I think this is difficult. I've had administrators who were supportive and less supportive. It's hard to put it all into one same basket. I would remind administrators that while it's important to check on the teachers and make sure that they're doing the work because not everybody's meant to be a teacher, I don't think either, that they also learn to trust the teachers that they've already seen and say, “This person's got it. They're on the road. That's fine.” We give them that trust.

If they see a teacher that is constantly continuing to better themselves, prepare themselves and get more certifications to empower those teachers to move forward and not have the mentality that only certain teachers get to teach or do certain things because of status or privilege of some sort. That demotivates teachers. Teachers can be motivated and they want to do better. They get all this training.

They say, “I'm going to be helping these kids do this.” They'll say, “Yes, but no, we're not going to have you teach that. We're not going to have you do that.” You realize you did all this for nothing. If administrators want to keep good teachers in their classrooms, they have to learn to trust, validate and empower them so that they keep the ones that they want in the building.

If administrators want to keep good teachers in their classrooms, they have to learn to trust them, validate them, and empower them so that they keep the ones that they want in the building.

Seen and heard. See the teachers’s hard work. Hear their feedback because they are the ones who are in front of the students. You have to listen to their feedback.

Value them. They need to be valued for the work that they do.

It becomes a team environment rather than pointing fingers. I’m an educator of 24 years myself. I was in a culture where everybody was pointing their fingers every other way, direction or person, except they were not thinking about, “What are we doing wrong?” In the middle, always, is our students who get caught.

It's either parenting styles and mistakes that we make. We don't make it intentionally, but sometimes we make them. I make them, too. There are administrators who are making some mistakes or misunderstandings, then the teachers, and then in the middle are the students. As everyone involved, we have to protect our students because when they feel hurt, left out or unseen, there can be consequences that come from that. We don't want to damage them because they're the vulnerable people in this equation.

They're the client. Whether they're in school or coaching, ultimately, they’re the client. They're the ones that need to receive the education and the results. They have to see the results.

I enjoyed our conversation and all the tips you gave us, as well as each individual different person who can read this. Do you have anything that you want to leave the parents with?

The most important message that I have is to communicate and listen to your children or student, if you're a guardian. It's hard for parents to feel this way because I had the same situation. We may not be the most apt to help our children, but we can find them the right person to do that. There are a few people that I know in this business who are as committed to working with the student, the person, and seeing them come out the other end as successful, lifelong learners than I am because my first priority is getting students out of that struggle.

I see too many students wanting to give up on a lot more than school. I want them to be safe. I want them to find a place that is safe and a person that they can text at the last minute saying, “I'm losing it. What can I do?” A person who's going to be their mentor, their guide and who is going to walk alongside them until they're strong enough to fly on their own. Sometimes, parents feel like this is their job, but sometimes we can't do that. The best we can do is find somebody to help us do that.

That's why help is available. I love your pillars. Thank you for sharing. If you're reading, you'll have all the details on how to contact Kat and see what she shares and what she has to offer if you're looking for someone, a mentor, a guide for your children to learn Spanish or French.

English as a second language.

You help in AP, too.

I'm also IB certified. I've seen a lot of students get through the IB diploma, Spanish and French and get good scores.

Language is important because it also empowers your brain. It rewires your brain. Many different networks are formed. It's a very good critical thinking component to language. Knowledge is important. One more language is critical.

It does help so much in the other subjects as well because of your problem-solving and your critical thinking, that you get stronger in other subjects as well.

I appreciate culture and other people around the world. Thank you so much, Kat. I'll talk to you later. 

Thank you.

‐‐

Kat give you some tips on how you can help your child learn the language. She was talking about having at-home conversations. It’s important for us as parents to have that conversation, especially as our children get older and older, they tend to build this wall, telling us to stay away. I have a child who does the same thing, stay away from his wall. As parents, we need to make sure that they don't build the wall. We can give them privacy. They can have their downtime, but as they're learning a language, especially my son, who is learning Spanish, I want to be involved. I want to ask him questions and watch shows or series where you can put the subtitles and watch the language.

You can learn about the culture. It’s important. It’s such a great tip. You read from Kat why she left the classroom as a teacher. She didn't have that space to give the students what they needed and differentiate and give the attention your child needed. She is now a holistic neuro-growth learning success coach. She offers this mentorship and guidance to students. You read how important it is to not put your students with the tutor or into a group setting where they are getting the same or worse education than they would have in the classroom.

A lot of these tutors are doing this as a business. To have many students online in a Zoom room is not an environment where your child can thrive. When you're putting a child into a format like that, what's going to happen is that they're going to quickly give up because they're going to feel like, “I'm not capable.” We don't want our children ever to feel that they're not capable because every one of our children is capable if they're given the right guidance and environment. We want to foster that. 

When you're choosing the next tutor or a program, look at what they're offering. Look at the individual attention they're going to give your child, the customization and personalization. These are three things that you want to watch out for when you are hiring someone. Look at their background and the personality they have because your child is going to spend time with these people. 

You also want to study their personality so that you can trust your children with the tutors or whoever you find to help your child. That's why, as a learning success coach, all of our coaches are certified. When they're certified, and also they're certified teachers as well, you can trust your child with them because they're not in it for the money.

They're in it for the transformation. For every one of us and our coaches, it's important to see a child as one person and give them the attention they deserve, customization and uniqueness they have we want to bring out. As we talked about, it's not always about the weaknesses that we want to focus on. We want to find your child's superpower. Even as a parent, look for their superpower, bring that to life and see your relationship change with your child as well.

The last thing I want to touch on is that we talked about how, in the school system, it is now hard for students to learn because there are a lot of changes happening. There is a lot of blame. People tend to blame each other in the school system. A lot of the time, your child get in the middle and gets caught, and that leaves the child very vulnerable for a lot of things.

That's why we want to protect them. We want to give some guidance at home. Be the guidance. Be the person that you can listen and talk to them on a daily basis. Having a conversation, like Kat said, go for a walk because if you sit in front and talk to your child. Sometimes they'll shut down, especially if they get to be in their teenage years.

If you go walking side by side and have a conversation, that might allow you to have deeper conversations with your child as well or go for a coffee, watch a movie and have fun. Make sure not to make it too much pressure to learn a language because they do need grace and patience and allow them the time that they need as an individual child to learn. When you put all of this together, you are going to have a son or daughter who's going to flourish and be successful in learning French, English, or whatever subject or language they're trying to learn.

I hope this episode was helpful for all of you who are reading this because we want to bring all the sites of the people who are involved in your child's learning and education, and we want to explore different perspectives and how each person feels in this equation. At the end of the day, as I always say, the most important person is the student, the child, your children who are in the middle we have to protect. Thank you for reading. I'll see you in another episode.


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About the Guest

Katherine (Kat) Páez Douce

Aligned Learning Revolution (Activate, Accelerate, Achieve) | Katherine (Kat) Páez Douce  | Language Learning

She was born and raised in Central Mexico and moved to the U.S. with her mother when she was 15. Since her mother is American, she had both nationalities, was raised with both English and Spanish and attended an American School in Mexico. She was fully bilingual when she arrived in the U.S. and people wouldn't believe she was Mexican because she didn't fit the stereotype. She knew then that she wanted to change this erroneous idea people have about ethnicity and culture.

She got her BA in Secondary Education of Spanish and French and taught in Colorado for 8 years. In that time, She got her MA in International & Intercultural Communication from DU. That summer she got her ESL certificate from the University of Seattle. She continued her Education in this area because she is deeply aware that there is no way to learn a new language without learning about communication. We must learn to communicate with one another as humans across cultures and starting in our own homes, schools, and communities.

She then met a Frenchman and moved to France where she started her family and lived for 16 years. in that time she taught English, Spanish, and French (FLE) mostly to adults and post-high school courses. She also taught in a Middle School and High School for 6 months as a long-term sub.

When her children were in middle school and high school, they moved to the U.S. for them to perfect their English and decide where they would like to continue their Education. What started as a stay of a couple years turned into a seven-year experience. She taught Spanish and French at an IB High School while they continued their studies and returned to France every summer. Until her daughter finished University and her son finished high school.

It was time for another life change. She knew she wanted to continue working in Education and with adolescents. She just knew she couldn't continue teaching in 'the system' any longer. She worked close to 80-hour weeks making sure she planned for differentiation and individual needs of her students. She was available to them in and out of the classroom. She was also the Diversity Club sponsor and Student Voice Coordinator, ensuring that students felt safe in their school, But the unsurmountable administrative work took a lot of the time away from my teaching. It was becoming impossible to meet the needs of her students and it killed her to see some of them still fall through the cracks. She took training after training to implement new technology and methods into her teaching but continued to get passed up for promotions (by people with less training, experience, or skills) that would benefit students because of the privileged hierarchy present in schools.

She needed to get out and make students her priority once again. This is when she met Kohila who gave her the inspiration and opportunity to continue to make a difference in the lives of young people, one student at a time.

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Kohila Sivas

Kohila Sivas is a parent and a lifelong learner. She has been a classroom teacher at all levels and a Special Needs Instructor and is a Professional Math Interventionist, a Master NLP coach, and a #1 Best selling author.

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