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The Magic of ‘Sugar’

Guiding Learning to Accomplish Core Skills Via Engagement

03-Coaching Playbook-Fact checking & writing Jenny Balliet

Engagement is everything! Full stop.

While I may be biased, I use this fact all the time. When students need assistance in writing for example, I chat with them, and get to know them. Not because I have nothing better to do, but because the number one rule in my teaching/coaching ethos, is empathy and respect.

Student’s don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

For parents you have a head start. Your children already know that you care very much for them. Likely, you know what makes them tick; you know what they’re passionate about; you know what they feel that they’re really good at, and you probably also know what they need to work on. The difference between a teacher and a coach, is that coaches leverage what students are really good at in order to work on what they have not mastered, yet, by focusing on the process. Coaches can teach near anything on any topic. If you follow my logic/articles of how I believe a classroom should be run, then, you understand why I gravitate towards coaching. Teachers simply do not have this freedom. Unlike coaches, teachers are bound by test results and collective metrics.

However, if it is your child, you are instructing and you follow the cues I offer, you will see that there is an alternate way to teach and simultaneously assess their learning — a research based theory that falls under the “expectation of learning” highlighting the diminishing returns produced by the stress response. (I will save that for tomorrow’s article.)

Coaching: Find your Academic Superpower

What is Their Sweet Spot, Sugar?

When a parent guides a their child, they are essentially working on the same skills needed, but doing so via strengths — think Mary Poppins. If you can get a student to forget they are not the greatest at something, you break through those barriers, they forget that they are doing something undesireable or difficult, and if you followed yesterday’s strengths article, you see that their frustration tolerance, i.e., their general level of annoyance with you, increases. The following example is myself and my daughter exploring animal welfare topics, which she is very passionate about. We’re working on metacognition and creating arguments plus her most detested subject: grammar.

Grammarly and Writitng, The Magic of Sugar: A Three Part Series

Conquering the Homework Gridlock

The two most important skills in this lesson are ‘chunking’ or the ‘ebb and flow’ of learning & the benefits of third party solutions. Here is why. When students are learning and they do not understand, they feel shame, or frustration this frustration may manifest as inattentiveness, sass, or even anger. When I coach, I aim to give parents a way to remain neutral/disarm these negative feelings that can quickly snowball into disaster. As a teacher in the classroom, I used this strategy often. Here is what this looks like in Kindergarten,

“Oh, look the clock says it’s time to clean up.”

Sounds silly, but here is the kicker, I am not telling them to clean up, the “clock” is doing so. Is the clock physically talking? Well I suppose it would depend on what IoT device you have. Likely not. But, when you use this strategy you change the dynamic towards neutrality. Ergo, instead of a temper tantrum of how “You are the meanest, [parent/teacher/aunt/coach/sister/guardian] ever you never let me do anything.” You have eliminated that friction. Of, course this strategy only works with reminders ahead of time as well. No one likes a cold turkey transition — regardless of age.

In elementary and secondary classrooms you can use tools like Grammarly. (I am not exactly thrilled about some of their privacy policy — do your own research) However, tools like Grammarly offer students a buffer between what you as a “now teacher” are trying to instruct upon and their level of confidence in them selves.

May the Force Be With You

Essentially, it’s like giving them a force field. This is critical! When students perceive they are not good at something — even if they are mistaken, you must motivate them intrinsically, in a careful but nuanced way. It is important that you selectively pick your battles.(soundtrack)

In the following video I intentionally made mistakes typing, in part on purpose, and inpart because I have fat fingers. Lula saw my mistakes, which was great! Doing this will allow students to feel less “judged,” -and more as a collaborator versus a minion because, they see that we all make mistakes.

I pasted her writing directly from a shared Dropbox Paper doc and intentionally did not not correct, but rather waited until the program (third-party/ neutral) edited it. Then, I explained *some errors, ignored some, and asked her advice on others. I did that very strategically.

Ebbing & Flowing Empowers

I knew approximately how much frustration she could handle, and how hard I could push. Sometimes I went too far, and had to pull back or redirect with humor. The point is if I tore it up and pointed out all the errors, she would have been heartbroken. I knew I couldn’t tell her all of those errors, at once. She is just learning. I also knew I needed to make errors and let her correct me. (Keep the balance.)

If the piece is a dumpster fire, group them together, and show one strategy. Then praise, rinse and repeat! Despite the fact that we all really want our kiddos to learn everything all at once, Ot does not bode well. In the following example I knew I could not overcorrect or she would shut down. There is a phrase we used in grad school *to discuss in upcoming lessons, “blue cards.” In other words, I would have emptied her bucket versus, filled it.

The Magic of Sugar: Writing & Summarizing: 7 USC § 54 et seq.

Stay Calm & Coach On

It may be frustrating, but please know, it is frustrating for everyone including the most experienced teachers. Many parents experience this as gridlock, head butting, or the emotional outbursts. It is very difficult to take that in stride. As a parent you have many other tasks, all you really want to do is help your child to understand what they are supposed to learn and take their pain away. In the videos above, there are specific points where I struggle with this balance: when to take a break, push, and pull back. At the same time she was really excited about this story and there was a time deadline because it was a “news story.” Yes. she did in fact create the video including the soundtrack.

Breaking News by. Narwhal Life @Lulaeducte

Children Learn Even When We Think They Do Not

While it may seem complacent to suggest, sometimes children need to wiggle and move in order to learn. This goes back to the modalities that I spoke about yesterday. Therefore, it can be very difficult to know if students are really paying attention or if they’re just being kids. One thing that was difficult for me when I began teaching was to transcend beyond the idea that everyone learns by sitting statueesque still. Just because students aren’t looking at you or are not appearing to listen to you, but rather wiggling/rolling around on the floor, they may likely take in the information.

Research Says…

Research is so important, because it further substantiates this framework, by examining at the modalities we understand that movement may help students take in the needed information more efficiently. And if you read my article on treadmill desks, I propose that children may be the wise sages. And, unlike the song Ooh La La, by the Faces, The script is flipped. Instead of “I wish I knew then what I know now; it becomes, I wish I knew now what I knew then.”

‘A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the [Learning] Go Down’

It is my belief that children teach us so much about the world and how to fix it, but we just don’t listen. So, it is in everyone’s best interest is to capture all that enthusiasm and sneak the learning in, just like you may have done when they were younger. See below.

Sugar is to Medicine, what Engagement is to Learning Jenny Balliet

Beyond ‘Subjects’ — Interdisciplinary Engagement Lays the Groundwork — For Life

Coaches use the “ebb and flow,” along with third-party neutrality to nudge students along in a seamless manner.

Each card has a wealth of information to explore in high interest areas that schools are likely not teaching due to mandates and testing. In education this self-directed learning forms the basis for both Montessori and Project-based Learning. The real secret of coaching students is that coaches can teach any critical competency or needed objective via any topic. Follow these tips, and you will too.

  1. Gaming for a Cure
  2. Digital Assets & Bitcoin
  3. Markets
  4. Writing, crypto, & content

Resources Consulted


[2] Sugar

[3] Coaching







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Jenny Balliet

Jenny Balliet

Frmr. Dir. of Presentations, Athena.Trade | E Media Group | Educator|ADD/ADHD Coach |M.Ed. |Writer | MLAW |Founder of MinED & Lula & CO|Mom (14yo Gmer./Writer)