Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April 2010: Eleanor Rouse – Somatic Strategies Superstar


April 2010 Strategy of the Month


Girls For A Change logo

Eleanor Rouse has almost single handedly built up the somatic (mind, body, and heart) side of the America Learns National Strategy Library.

During the 2009-10 school year, this Girls For A Change coach created a number of innovative, effective strategies to help middle school girls focus and center themselves, ultimately leading to greater concentration and teamwork throughout each session. You’ll see one of those strategies below.

Like Megan Conners, who we’re also celebrating this month, Eleanor is one of the few individuals we’ve served since 2003 who has shared three or more strategies that were promoted to the America Learns National Strategy Library.

Eleanor Rouse

Eleanor didn’t pull her strategies out of thin air. On top of her work in the nonprofit space (she has managed two arts organizations and raised more than $5 million for a number of organizations, including Girls For A Change), Eleanor coaches and facilitates workshops for clients who are interested in connecting deeply with their authentic selves and their own concept of a Higher Power.  From that place, her clients create greater fulfillment in life, work and relationships.  Learn more about Eleanor’s company.

When we asked Eleanor to share some advice that others can use as they try out her strategies, she noted that, “The girls think I'm crazy when I try somatic coaching practices with them; however, I always notice a difference in their own presence and energy, even if we do it for just a few seconds. Particularly for middle school girls, it helps them become ready to listen to each other and to participate with a bit more concentration during the meeting.”

Not Familiar with Girls For A Change?

If you’re not familiar with the work of Girls For A Change, invest 60 seconds in a video that was recently produced by TNT.  We’re so proud of (and blown away by) the amazing accomplishments and impact that this organization continues to have around the world.

Eleanor’s Strategy

Presence Practice
(Centering & Grounding for Girls)

Created by: Eleanor Rouse, Girls For A Change
(America Learns Network member since July 2008)
Topics: Check In/Check Out
Activities to Begin Sessions
Grade Levels: Sixth - Eighth
Arrangements: Small Group; Large Group

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Situation: Our middle school girls have a lot of physical energy after school, so we wanted to try out a grounding practice to see what the impact would be on their ability to channel their energy and to be present for themselves, for each other, and for the meeting.
Step 1: As an intro to check in, we had them stand in a circle feet hip width distance apart (a good solid stance). 

We then asked them to close their eyes.  Girls who are uncomfortable with closing their eyes in the group may stare towards a single spot on the floor.
Step 2: Said to the girls, "Feel tree roots coming out of your feet, grounding you into the floor and the Earth. Raise one of your hands above your head and pull a string as if you were pulling the top of your head to the sky. Feel your length."
Step 3: Then, "Open your arms and hands wide to the side. Breathe into your heart, your belly, your chest. TAKE UP SPACE. Take up your rightful space in this room, on this team. Feel how wide you can be."
Step 4: Next, "Now imagine you have a dragon tail coming off the back of your body 30, 40 feet long. Big fat, heavy, scaly. It can be any color you want it to be -- green and scaly, purple with sparkles etc. Imagine this tail holds everything you've lived in your 11, 12 ,13 years. Now lean back against it. Let it hold you up."
Step 5: Lastly, "Breathe deep into your belly. Let your belly get very big as if you were pregnant. As girls and women we're always told to hold in our bellies, let it out. Breathe low and deep."
Step 6: We debriefed with them about how creating social change (a core focus of the Girls For A Change program) means we have to be very grounded in our own bodies and have the presence of a leader.

Then we had them do check in without words -- acting out with their bodies what animal they would be.  It was challenging for some of them to not use words and to not be self conscious but they all did it.

The rest of the meeting felt far more calm than usual.  And we pulled "centering and presence" back in later in the meeting when we asked them to visualize their neighborhoods and feel what they want to be different.

Attend a Planning & Action Hour!

Individuals attend these sessions to reflect upon, take stock of, and begin making concrete plans to improve their tutor, mentor, and/or coach training, monitoring, and support practices.

The session is ideal for administrators and coordinators of volunteer-, AmeriCorps-, and service learning-driven organizations.

>> Learn more & reserve your spot today.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just tried this out. Worked so well!!!!! Thank you.