Episode 53 – Language Pilgrimage: Linda Markley

It's About Language, with Norah Jones
It's About Language, with Norah Jones
Episode 53 - Language Pilgrimage: Linda Markley

“So maybe we’re just going to take an easier path today. We’re just going to hold each other’s hands and walk together. I just wish … we would make better choices that are kind and gentle and more loving and compassionate…Why can’t we give them grace? That’s what I would like as a human being. So I’m willing to give it so I can receive it. ”

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This year, It’s About Language has three areas of focus: language in life, language means business, and language for fun.

I’ve interviewed Linda Markley again, and used my conversation with her as the “education room” of the language in life area for 2022 in order to draw attention to the struggle and pain within our current society, and to the unique insights and pathways to hope offered by language and language education.

Education and educators have always done the heavy lifting of a society. How can it not be so, when each day we entrust our young to those who will focus on their knowledge and skills needed for an adult life of contribution to society, and work for their future and the future of our country and world?

Because of this key role, as our society has been more complex, we have placed those complexities on the shoulders of our educators, on behalf of reaching the young in an ever-more extended and stressed culture. SEL, we name it (Social Emotional Learning), and standards so that No Child is Left Behind, and testing, testing, testing in our data-enamored society so that benchmarks can be measured and progress can be measured and achievement can be measured.

And recipients of all these obligations and stressors: educators.

And behind them, the upheaval and confusion and pain and loss that all are feeling in this covid world. They must live that life, too, and then face young people, sometimes hundreds a day, who are also facing and working through this world.

This podcast conversation provides a snapshot of this stressful moment among these caring educational professionals, who happen to be teaching young people other languages and introducing them to other cultures and perspectives.

This podcast invites you as the listener to take a moment to reflect on your life, for each of us are teachers of others in this world, no matter what our “real work” happens to be. You cannot help but reflect a world view, a culture, to others you meet and live and work with. It is the nature of humanity, and we express our understanding of our lives in language to ourselves and others.

Language provides a sense of the journey, the pilgrimage, that Linda Markley literally took in Spain, and now metaphorically takes each day, where she and we find the tools and courage we need to follow the path unfolding before us.

Language is how we go under the surface of our experiences to find and label who we are in the face of life’s challenges and our relationships with ourselves and others. (See Episode 52 with Josh Barinstein.)

Language is how we name the burdens that are placed on ourselves and others, and the purposes for which we carry those burdens. We use language to begin to remove burdens we should not be carrying, and to turn to our fellow human beings to help identify and relieve their burdens, too.

Call it diversity, equity, inclusion…call it social-emotional learning…call it compassion and advocacy: with language we realize we are not alone in our struggles and joys, that we can ask for help and help ourselves, and that we are all, ultimately, on pilgrimage that leads to, as Linda puts it, reciprocal grace.

Enjoy the podcast.

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It’s About Language – Episode 53 – Language Pilgrimage: Linda Markley

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Thank you for always focusing on the possibilities, opportunities and the power of language and what it can do for us individually - and collectively!

Elizabeth Mack

If you've never done #cliftonstrengths, yourself or with your team, don't wait any longer.  Norah Jones of FLUENCY CONSULTING is the one and only to do it! It's all about your super powers: finding & using them to affect positive change in the world. What's not to love?!

Elizabeth Mack
Founder and CEO / Freestyle Languages


Yes, @NorahLulicJones definitely has the talent of "bringing out" the best in others or allowing them to showcase themselves in the best light! Thank you for directing the spotlight on others who have great stories and talents to share with others. 

Lisa Fore


Your podcasts are exceptionally relevant and applicable, thought-provoking and insightful, easy-to-follow and enjoyable!  

Paul Sandrock
Senior Advisor for Language Learning Initiatives / ACTFL


You have an immense talent to draw the best from your participants. 

Richard Brecht


Norah knows how to LISTEN - she really "hears" the message - and the interview is richer because of it.  New questions come from the hearing. 

Terri Marlow

Want to hear more? Access previous episodes, and get to know the wonderful people I talk with through the It’s About Language page, or by clicking on the Podcast tab above. You can also find this week’s episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

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My guest for this episode is Linda Markley. She was also my guest for episode two, about a year and a half ago. Then, her episode was called Advocacy From the Heart, and she’s continued that advocacy through her website, Spirit of Teaching and her podcast, Teacher Tales. What is your spirit? As you listen to this podcast, notice that Linda refers to the journey of the Camino de Santiago, which starts in France and goes along Northern Spain. She uses the Camino as a symbol of the journey we all take, the individualized approach that we all need to look at in our lives. She makes some remarkable decisions and reflections based on that experience with the Camino. You’ll hear that today. What’s your journey? What’s your Camino, your road, your pathway? And what kind of decisions are you making as a unique individual that expresses your story to others and brings hope?

Hi, I’m Norah Jones. Welcome to It’s About Language, weekly conversational explorations of language in life, at work and at play. I invite you to reflect on your own life and language to find your voice, and through this podcast and my website, fluency.consulting, to enter the conversation. I appreciate all my donors and sponsors that make this podcast possible. This week, a special shout out to Eavan Mages. Eavan is a wonderful multilingual, multicultural woman with a delightful Irish voice and a skillset in publishing and business, managing projects and people and creating possibilities for lives. She’s a real giver to the world through language and culture, and I thank you, Eavan Mages for making this podcast possible. And now to the conversation.

Norah Jones: What would you define your superpower as, and what spider bit you to get that superpower?

Linda Markley:                 I think my superpower is listening and making connections, and really hearing what people have to say, and trying to make that connection to their heart and lift them up that there is hope. There is a spirit within them that they can tap into that can lift them up. And that’s why I call it the spirit of teaching, because that’s what teachers have to do. They have to find a way to lift their spirits every day because… And there’s been a lot in the news lately about how many decisions teachers have to make in a day. It’s like over a 100,000. Like in what other career does a person have to make over a 100,000 decisions in a day? That blew my mind. And so creating a space of calm, and not a monkey mind, where you can tap into that spirit, which I of course had to make an acronym out of it with like serenity and sincerity and all of that for the different letters, but it’s true.

                                           And that’s what I learned on the Camino. If I wasn’t calm and I was in a monkey mind, I got lost and I lost hope and I lost my way and that could have had dire consequences if I didn’t find my way back or tap into some hope to try again, that resilience again to try again. Maybe there’s another path, maybe I can back up and look at a bigger picture and oh, I’ll see a little opening in the woods there and I can make it through there. Or I see the yellow arrow and it’s going to point me in the right direction again.

Norah Jones:                    Well, and you mentioned that for example when you couldn’t walk any longer, you took a cab. When you got lonely, you, or so I interpret, you found someone to be with as well as then enjoying solitude when it was enjoyable. That’s a lesson for the folks that you lift up that you write as well, I presume, the concept that they don’t have to figure it all out on their own.

Linda Markley:                 No, because what we do and I know I did this in the classroom too, I was afraid to be vulnerable sometimes, I was afraid of judgment or that I wasn’t going to get all the praise and compliments maybe that I expected or hoped for. And so I would isolate and just stay in my little room and to myself. And what I learned from that is that then nobody knows you and nobody knows what you’re doing. And if you want to advocate for yourself and you want to advocate for your program and for your language and for your students and for the profession and for humanity, you’ve got to step outside of the classroom, and you’ve got to let the world in. You’ve got to let them see what you’re doing. You’ve got to them feel what you’re doing. And that’s another goal of Spirit of Teaching and the Teacher Tales podcast is to get the stories out there.

                                           Let people hear these stories from these teachers that are from the heart. Like why did you become a teacher? That is the essence of their being in their profession, in their career, in the classroom every day. And sometimes they get lost like I did on the Camino, and they have to look for the yellow arrows and they have to go deep inside you and maybe be reflective. But then they also have to reach out to other people to maybe walk with, or learn from, or maybe give to, because when we give, we receive so much more. And that’s what happened at the end, like after like maybe the highest point literally when I went up the highest point on the Camino and then coming down and my feet got all torn up, and that’s when I took a cab and I didn’t think I was going to be able to continue on.

                                           What happened was things turned around and people started showing up that I could not only be with and maybe lean on to help feel better about my journey and how I was doing, but also I could help lift them up and hear their stories and hear their struggles and just listen and be there for them, and give a little bit of myself to them. And I got so much more in return. That was amazing. They inspired me.

Norah Jones:                    And so here you have indeed, you’re out of the classroom. One of the things that I would love to be able to tap with you here is that your Teacher Tales for example, I’m loving just reading where the people are from. And in addition, what you are speaking about is not a classroom behavior, but it is a human behavior that can be taken anywhere. So kind of two levels here, one is how do you think teachers then bring that life lessons to this young people that are in front of them, of various ages that are taking courses. And second, how do you think that it can, or is going out into the bigger world right now, which is a very challenging place for adults to be, and they’re not in a classroom with a teacher that might be able demonstrate some of these things for them. Can you kind of reflect on ways in which we as humans learn from what you’re expressing?

Linda Markley:                 I think I had a conversation with someone recently about your circles of influence or your sphere of influence. And like a lot of things in education they’re labeled, people write books on them, they become the flavor of the week, so to speak and everything. No insult intended there, but we all learned from each other and some write about it and some share it and some just do their thing and that’s okay too. And so I just was like, “How did I learn languages?” And within my own family context, like how was I going to learn and live within that context, like my interactions at a very young age? Because I’m a highly sensitive person, I realized that my interactions with my immediate family and then my school family with teachers and other students, and then even into the community, I would reach out there and find other connections, I learned from all of that.

                                           And so that’s how I approach teaching, was I knew that my circle of influence was not just within my immediate group of friends, and so I didn’t really adopt a tribalistic viewpoint of things and follow along what other people were doing. I realized that I was at the center of things, not in a narcissistic egotistical way, but that I had a sphere of influence. And not only that I influenced people outside of me, but they influenced me and they influenced the choices that I made. Being very aware of that, I brought that to the classroom. So here you are as a student, what are you learning? Who are you as a student? What are your likes and dislikes, your preferences, your dreams, your hopes, your, personality? And then how do you connect that to the content, but then how does that connect to where you fit into your family?

                                           And how does that reflect who you are as a person and your place in this world with your family? And then how does it go out further to your school community? If you’re learning languages, how does that fit in with other subject areas? Can you make connections there? Can you share what you’ve learned in this class with your science class, with your math class, with your social studies class? And then in the community, we have a lot of community service projects because that’s what the kids really wanted to know and be able to do, was connect to the real world. And so we connected to businesses, businesses that the kids had interest in, or that they never knew existed. We took field trips. And then I had parents that were like, “Can I come on these field trips. I’ve been living in Florida my whole life and I never knew that all these cultures were here or all of these historical places were here that kind of shape who we are as Floridians or shape our history here in Florida.”

                                           And that’s everywhere. That’s everywhere. And then that bigger connection to humanity. And so, okay, so if these people came to Ybor City from Cuba and also from Spain and how it was a real melting pot that worked there, how did they get along? How did they all appreciate each other’s differences, and what was common among them? And it just opened up their eyes and their hearts, and just made them see themselves and their place in the world a little differently. Not a little differently, a lot differently. I still get things back from students that say that that is what changed their whole life, was that perspective and getting those new lenses to look at the world and to look at themselves.

                                           And I think that’s just what I learned from different experiences in life and always having the hope that I had another opportunity, another chance to try again, to move forward, to figure it out. If big shoes weren’t working for me, yet everybody said I had to wear boots with wool socks in August in Spain, then that’s what I was going to do. And then I learned uh-huh, that’s not for me. I don’t need boots with with wool socks. I need sandals. No, no, you can’t ever walk the Camino in sandals. Well, guess what? I did. And here, are these special bandaids, they’re 100 different bandaids you can try that will fit your blister need on your foot. And I found out that just good old salt water as painful as it was healed them for me faster. So everybody’s got to try their own thing and try to figure out what the next step is and what works for them.

                                           And that’s teachers in the classroom. And if they’re listening too much to what’s being prescribed, or what is the magic purple pill lesson of the week that is going to make them that wonderful, perfect teacher with an innovative highest score on the evaluation, they’re going to find out that it’s not true. That’s not life. We fall back and we fall forward. We step back and we step forward. Sometimes we stand still, but we just keep taking one step at a time, reflecting, figuring it out, taking another chance, having another choice, and holding that positive hope in our heart that it’s all going to work out. It’s all going to work out. It is.

Norah Jones:                    Such a powerful message that you just provided there that it will work out, take a step. And one of the things that strikes me about your story is the personalization. When you just commented there about the method de jure, and of course, all of these things can contribute to increased excellence in education, no question. But the personal part, the going and taking a look at the student’s interest, I’m looking back at what you said in your first podcast with me, which was over a year now, it’s unbelievable. “I want them to have…” That is these your students. “I want them to have meaningful, personalized experience with language.” And you provided surveys. You said 30 years of surveys, very beginning of the year, every nine weeks after that. What did you find helpful? What did you like? What didn’t you like? What do you think you can do with the language? What would you like to do with the language? And then you said, “I would develop my lesson plans from there.” That focus on the individual, in this case in a language class, seems to be a key, the key.

Linda Markley:                 It is, and here again, we now have a term for it. It’s called differentiation. And that’s great, but I think teachers do it naturally in their hearts, because they care about their students. And if they see a student as struggling or they see a student is hurting, they see a student is excited about something, they’re in tune to that. They really are. But if they have, going back to those over 100,000 decisions a day, if all of those decisions now are being buried under… I got to get the data in the district spreadsheet, I’ve got to answer all of these emails from angry parents that are scared because their child is not getting the grade they want them to get or expect them to get or that sort of thing.

                                           Or they have to go to another meeting, and they still haven’t gone to the bathroom today and all of those things. We can let that overwhelm us. And here again, going back to the Camino, when I let all of that overwhelm me, the journey was painful. The journey was not enjoyable. I didn’t get out of it anything. I didn’t get out of it what I needed to. Once I let the monkey mind go, once I let my fears go and I just said, “I’m going to focus right now and what’s going on, and I’m going to feel into this and just take another step.” The beauty of the world opened up.

                                           I noticed the sounds around me, the apple trees, the apple orchards, where you could just stop and pick an apple and sit down and enjoy it. I would just not worry anymore. I’d sit down and say, “I’m going to take my shoes and socks off for a little bit and just give my feet a rest.” And it worked wonders. But before, when I was letting people who had goals of so many kilometers an hour, or that you had to wear certain shoes, or you had to carry a certain amount of weight on your back, or you weren’t a true pilgrim or peregrino, when I had those standards pushed on me, or I allowed them in, I should say, more graciously allowed them in, that’s what held me back. And that’s what holds students back.

                                           If you let them explore and be curious and give them, like I said, my lesson plan was always breadcrumbs and fairy dust. If that’s how I could deliver the content to them, that’s how I did it, and let them explore it and make the connections that were personal and meaningful to them. And you know that with StrengthsFinder, that it all is a neat little package tied up together that creates what we call human beings. And some of us, those strengths just, we have to have them. Those are our superpowers maybe, and that’s what we need to help shine on the world and share with the world and lift up the other people with their strengths and what they have to offer to the world. But theirs is going to be different, just like the superheroes in Marvel and all of DC Comics and stuff, every one of them has a special superpower, and they’re not all the same. And every one of them has a different weakness and it’s not all the same.

Norah Jones:                    So they work as a team.

Linda Markley:                 Mm-hmm (affirmative) And they work as a team. They work as a team and I see that happening now with teachers going… They’re so overwhelmed, and there are so many demands made on them and they’re isolating more and more. And again, afraid to kind of put themselves out there because they’re afraid of being judged or criticized of not being enough. They’re not doing enough for their job. They’re not giving enough. They’re not being enough. And they don’t have any more to give. We may have superpowers, but we’re not superhuman, and what they are being asked to do is superhuman. And I think, again, that with Teacher Tales, that’s what I’m trying to raise awareness about with people, is that look at how much heart there is in teaching and how much teachers already give. And what we’re doing is we’re destroying them with too many demands, with too much criticism, with too much, too much of the wrong things and not the right things.

Norah Jones:                    As a career educator and certified Gallup strengths coach, I engage with you and your team to bring energy, focus and breakthroughs to all you do. Fluency Consulting provides workshops, presentations, talks, and team building events for K-16 educators and education oriented organizations and businesses. Get energized, experience new insights, pathways, and perspectives for more information, see our notes or go to fluency.consulting.com.

                                           Your focus, though it has an impact on the whole world because of the young people I go back to especially that are learning or in the case of teacher mentors and supervisors that are helping educators to grow themselves. But take a look out into this big wide world we’ve got here, where there are folks that are in business, folks that are in NGOs, that are in communities. How can you extrapolate what you have spoken about here with regard to the situation, the support, and the possible future for teachers and teacher growth and life? What can you say to the folks that are not in education? The folks that are in that world of business, military, industry, community, et cetera? How can they learn from what you have here with language and educators?

Linda Markley:                 The first thing that comes to mind, and this is what we did with our community service projects and everything is to make a connection between businesses and students, to almost be mentors, to be role models, to show them the way into the real world. So that’s what I would say to businesses, it’s really nice to get… I would ask businesses to give donations to help support… Our honors society started a recognition program with teachers. And we would draw their names. It was for random act of kindness. Like you covered my fifth period class. Thank you so much, Nora. And I would write a little and I would put your name into this box. And then every faculty meeting, we would draw so many names and the teachers would get gift cards. But businesses, they wanted to maybe give money and I would take donations from them, but I changed that.

                                           And I had the students do service projects that would then raise money and they would then buy the gift cards and give it to the teachers because that was more of a direct connection. So what I asked from businesses instead was to mentor students to become like partners with the students to achieve that. Show them how to do it. Partner with them in a fundraiser or in a community service project. Don’t just give them the money, show them the way. Show them the way and help them. Show them the way of what it’s like to be a person of integrity, to be a person of their word, to be a person who gives back and it’s not all about money. Be a person who can show these young people that your business makes a difference every day.

                                           I don’t want to see a spreadsheet with numbers, show the difference you’re making in the world on humans. Let’s look at your customer service to start with, what difference are you making there? How kindly are you treating your customers? What messages are you sending to them? Do they matter to you? Do you know the problems and the heartaches of your customers maybe because of some sort of product that you produced that wasn’t quite right, or there was a miscommunication? Show them grace, show them caring. And so let the kids see that. I mean, that’s what I tried to do with businesses. And so don’t just give a donation. That’s nice, we do need resources and everything, but it’s much better if you get again, more personally and meaningfully involved with the students, and you become mentors and you become role models and you, like I said, light the path and show them the way of what it’s like to make a difference and to be the good you want to see in the world, so to speak.

Norah Jones:                    Show them the way and you also described walk with them at least part of that way. It’s Camino all in itself, isn’t it, Linda?

Linda Markley:                 Mm-hmm (affirmative). It is. I had mentors even for just the language class, not just our community, because I also did Beta Club, National Beta Club, and so they had to do community service. So they would have to meet with their mentors and talk about maybe some project that they wanted to do in the community. Maybe something just at the school that they wanted to collect clothing for hurricane victims, because in Florida we would have plenty of opportunity for that, or food, or whatever it is, whatever they wanted to do to give back.

                                           With my language students, I had native speaker mentors that would make one phone call every week for 10 to 15 minutes to talk to my students and get to know them and let them ask questions about, “What country are you from? Who are you? What do you like to do? What is your business? What are you doing in your business? How do you use Spanish in your business?” They were lighting the way so that those kids could see the power and the possibilities of who they could be in the world. They could see themselves maybe as that a person speaking Spanish in a business, or they could see and connect to a person who was a native speaker, who was an immigrant that came to this country and started from scratch, and how they grew and what steps they took.

                                           And to be a little humbled by their privilege of already speaking English and already having those maybe opportunities available to them. So I just, like I said, breadcrumbs and fairy dust, and then I let the kids… We underestimate, we think that we have to give them all the answers and that all of the answers are in a book, maybe the book we’re using. And that if we just follow the pages in the book, they’re going to somehow miraculously come out with all of the right answers and be this whole math student or this whole social study student that has all the answers and is going to do brilliantly on the standardized test at the end of the year. And every teacher knows that that is not the case, and the more control we take over their learning, the less they learn, and the less empowered they are to personalize their learning and make it meaningful to them so that they can actually do something. They know something and can do something so-

Norah Jones:                    Powerful my friend. Do you have anything you’re like, “Okay, absolutely got to say this before we stop today. I want to make sure that I don’t leave this unsaid.”

Linda Markley:                 Teachers are doing the best that they can. And I want the world to acknowledge that. That they have their hearts and souls into this and that they’re human beings, and they do have superpowers and they can make a difference in every single child and in the world, one child at a time. But we need to give them grace. We need to empower them more. We need to love them more. And we need to allow more joy in the classroom and less control. The teachers are professionals.

Norah Jones:                    I’m looking at your Teacher Tale people, they’re from China, they’re Puerto Rico, they’re with special education, diversity. They themselves are a microcosm of the diversity and the giftedness of the world. And it’s just totally impressive and I’m gratified that you pull these wonderful people in to speak with you as a wonderful interviewer and as a person who cares deeply, so as to share these messages of educators with the whole world. Thank you.

Linda Markley:                 And not only to see what teachers go through and what the real world of teaching is like every day, but I don’t know, I think I would like our culture to appreciate more the treasure that they have in teachers. Not only for the difference they can make in a child’s life, but also what they bring to the classroom every day from that diversity, from their experiences from their cultures, languages. All of it is so rich, and a student can… To me, those are like different prescriptions or different things. I don’t want to use prescriptions really, but different variables that go into the creation of those lenses, those [foreign language] that I talk about all the time. And if you have a teacher that really can bring that to the table and to the classroom, what an amazing education those children are going to get in that classroom. What a difference it’s going to make in that child’s life. Because again, a teacher is a mentor. A teacher is a role model. They’re a leader.

Norah Jones:                    Also it strikes me in Linda that the concepts, very important concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion. And we start with that diversity concept. Every child, every young person, as well as every adult knows that they’re different from others. They sometimes give themselves permission to be that different person. And well, fitting in, belonging is part of it too. But the model of having varieties of teachers from varieties of backgrounds, including varieties of cultures and even languages in front of young people, helps, even if it’s not talked about directly like we tend to do in language classes, to affirm that their uniqueness, that is to say the students own uniqueness, the uniqueness of their family, the uniqueness of their experience, uniqueness of their community, can be acknowledged and celebrated and applied.

                                           But that the next year there’s somebody with a different cultural background, a different language background, a different experience. And that lesson, for my taste, becomes one of the biggest about education in total which is exposed to the multiplicity that is the world, the diversity that is the world, just by living through it each day. And when it can be reflected like in a language classroom, even more powerful I guess, but it’s there anyway.

Linda Markley:                 Just asking the kids in that survey, what was your favorite this, or what didn’t you like? I mean, what are your preferences? It’s like there are lots of different ways to make potato salad, and some people like it with pickles, some people don’t like it with pickles. I mean, in chili, there are different ways to make chili, and there are different ways that they make fruitcake. I just had this conversation this morning with my husband, because he bought another variety of fruitcake to try. And most people won’t touch it with a 10 foot pole, but he’s like, “This one’s got a little bit different taste to it and it’s got…” And so they may change the ingredients a little bit and it’s still a fruitcake. What would you do differently? How do you like your potato salad?

                                           It seems so simple and it really is. And so if we give them a lesson that says, “This is the one and only way you can make potato salad, and if you don’t do it that way, then you’re wrong or you’re going to fail or you’re a loser or your opinion doesn’t matter”, that’s a bigger thing. That you don’t matter, your opinion doesn’t matter. I don’t know, I think maybe there would be fewer contentious conversations as adults because everybody would feel comfortable to be who they are and not feel like they were going to be judged and rejected or that they had to kind of armor up and become very aggressive and loud to be heard. Maybe there’d be a little more kindness, a little more grace, peace, love and understanding. I don’t know.

Norah Jones:                    And it’s interesting because I do think that what you just said is somehow we often are getting into the, “If we do it differently it’s fatal to me. I am in danger. I have something to fear.” Whereas the practice that you’re speaking about, “Here’s a kind of potato salad, here’s a different kind of potato salad. Here’s a kind of fruit cake. Here’s another kind of fruit cake and here’s another one and here’s another one. And next year you’ll find even another one.” And after a while, again, you get the idea that you can still like your fruitcake dog on it, but the other person’s liking another kind don’t mean that you have to stop liking yours or that yours is bad and so forth. It’s just a subtle and important learning.

Linda Markley:                 I learned from watching my youngest daughter when a student from Panama came. And she was visiting our neighbor and I wanted to have her over so I could practice my Spanish and take her to my school, and I could have her speak to my students and everything. And she didn’t want to do that because she didn’t want to be vulnerable. She didn’t want to have to speak English. So she would come over and she would play with my youngest daughter who was four years old at the time. And she would treat her with grace and kindness. I mean, they didn’t have tea time in Panama. And my daughter had learned from her nanny, who was very prim and proper how to pour the tea with the pinky and everything. And I mean, this girl didn’t even know the word pinky. So my daughter would demonstrate.

                                           And if the girl didn’t do it the same exact way, my daughter would just show her again. She wouldn’t say you did that wrong or take it away from her. She would just say the words over and over again to her in different sentences. She would talk to her about just simple things like, “What do you like? Do you like cookies? I like these kind of cookies.” And a lot of times it was just input so that she could listen. And if the girl didn’t know quite what to say, again, my daughter would prompt her or… She was just gracious in everything that she did with her, and she didn’t get out a big red pen and tell her you’re wrong or you said the wrong thing or that sort of thing.

                                           And so I created learning centers where the kids would just play. They would just play with paper dolls, with telephones, making phone calls to each other. There were some guided things which now we call IPAs.

Norah Jones:                    Let’s watch them flourish.

Linda Markley:                 Mm-hmm (affirmative). And how to be kind human beings. Again, role models. Teachers have to remember that. They have to remember they’re role models. That’s a good reason to take care of themselves, that they’re not too tired out. And I mean, those are the things I look back on in the classroom that if I were to regret anything, it was the days that I didn’t feel well and I still went to school, and then I didn’t have the patience with them. Or when I would not take the time to get more details of about what was going on in their life or what… Not excuses because they could dish them out, but just honest, be honest with them about, you know, “Hey, what’s going on?” And just, ‘You can share with me, you can trust me. It’s okay. What can I do to help you? What can I do to support you?”

                                           But also show that as a teacher too like I’m not having a great day today. So maybe we’re just going to take an easier path today. We’re just going to hold each other’s hands and walk together. I just wish there were more awareness about things like that and that we would make better choices that are kind and gentle and more loving and compassionate with teachers. And so we just keep demanding more and more, and we keep shaming them when they’re exhausted, when they forget something, when they don’t show up to a meeting on time because they forgot, because they’ve got those other 100,000 decisions they’re making in a day. I don’t know. Why can’t we give them grace? That’s what I would like as a human being. So I’m willing to give it so I can receive it.

There you go. But you perceive it and you know that it can be reciprocal. So it’s not a you must lose so I can win, but we all can win from that reciprocation of grace.

Norah Jones:                    We all come from the reciprocation of grace. We started out this podcast asking Linda Markley, what her superpower was. Her language superpower is listening so that others might be heard as they express themselves, sometimes in accurate language and sometimes weakly, not necessarily accurately. Don’t we all do that. Let’s take a look and think about our language superpower. So thank you so much for listening to the podcast episode today, and please do leave a review or share your thoughts on social media or on my website, fluency.consulting. Recommend topics and guests. And there’s a forum that you can use if you’d like me to come and talk to your organization or group. Thanks again for considering a donation or sponsorship. I really appreciate it and I look forward to our next time together.

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2 thoughts on “Episode 53 – Language Pilgrimage: Linda Markley

  1. i love how many times Linda Markley uses the words “kindness” and “grace” in this conversation. A little reminder to allow ourselves to be human.

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