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Teaching, Motivating, Thriving
Personal stories from Bike Rides to AirBnb
One summer, I taught my brother GT to ride a bike. My parents bought each of us a bicycle but he was hesitant to learn. He was academically brilliant, consistently at the top of his class. However, when it came to athletics, he struggled to excel in any sport. I don’t recall how I convinced him but we found ourselves circling within the perimeter of a large vacant lot near Mesina Orchids located just outside of our village. I ran behind him, holding the metal handle attached to the bicycle seat as he learned to balance himself. I would let go and then grab the handle again when he was about to tip over. He fell several times, scraped his knees and elbows, but he kept going. His determination grew as we persevered, enduring the sweltering heat over the course of a few weeks. Finally, the moment came when I let go and he pedaled all the way to the end of the empty lot. I screamed and threw my hands up in the air. He had a big smile on his face. I was so proud of him. It was an exhilarating feeling seeing all our hard work come to fruition.
The memory resurfaced as I was jotting down my strengths and weaknesses during my period of unemployment. I realized, at that young age, I had a knack for motivating people.
During my stint as a Photo Editor at Airbnb, I enjoyed coaching photographers from our Marketplace Photography pool. Not everyone was teachable but those who were motivated to learn saw significant improvements. I remember this one photographer from Tulum, Mexico. He received a notification from us that his technical skills were not up to par. We informed him that unless he demonstrated progress, we would have to remove him from our roster. He wrote back and I happened to open his note. He was a single father with two young children. He needed the income to support his family and practically begged us to keep him. How can I improve? He asked. Upon reviewing his past correspondences with us, I noticed that my colleagues had repeatedly outlined the areas where he needed improvement. I paused and tried to think this through. This gentleman was obviously motivated but why did he not understand our instructions? So, I tried a different approach, an experiment if you will. Rather than merely providing written guidance, I opted to visually demonstrate the changes. I took a few of his photographs and made corrections through Photoshop. In addition, I marked up the areas he needed to pay attention to. Then, I presented these images side by side, showcasing the 'before' and 'after' shots to illustrate the improvements. Something must’ve clicked because his submissions afterward showed that he was applying what he learned. I did this a few more times. Then, I was assigned to oversee another region so I was unable to track his progress. Out of curiosity, I checked his work three months later and he was nailing every submission. If I were to show you his initial work, you wouldn't believe he's the same photographer. I was amazed and felt so proud of him!
Fast forward to three weeks ago when my sister Malyn and her friend Carina decided to list their property on Airbnb. They needed help with the photos. I saw this as a challenge. Of course, I said yes. My sister takes good photos on her Samsung phone so I was confident she had the eye to pull this off. She just needed to learn a few techniques. As long as she could take the raw images correctly, I’d handle the post-production.
Via text messages, I taught her the foundation. I also sent her sample images to review. Lastly, I instructed her to turn the grid function on her phone as a guide when shooting. The following week, she was ready. Again, via text, I coached her in real time as she photographed each section of the property. She sent every image and I shared instructions and/or suggestions for her to improve on.
My dear readers, I am so proud of her! For a first-timer, she did better than I expected. I only made minor tweaks to the raw images (contrast, color correction, small perspective correction and exposure). They are not perfect by all means but she did so well. Their property is also beautiful, to begin with, and that goes a long way!
I’m happy to share the photos with you.
Yesterday, out of curiosity, I visited the Airbnb website and did a query. I was thrilled to find their listing on the first page. Malyn was also happy to report they received their first booking. I hope you don’t mind, dear ones, that I take this moment to also help them spread the word. If any of you or someone you might know is interested, please share this listing with them. The property is in Hudson, NY, a 2-hour trip from Manhattan. More information is available by clicking on the button above.
I had a tough time in 6th-grade math class due to my struggle with fractions. When my instructor first began teaching it using visual aids, I was able to follow her. As the equations turned complex, she dropped the visuals and concentrated on the numbers instead. I was lost. Visual aids were important to me but back then, I could not articulate what I needed. My Lolo (grandfather) used to tutor me on the weekends. He was exceptional at breaking down elaborate equations. He also drew illustrations alongside the numbers which made it easier for me to understand. I came out of those sessions feeling a little bit more confident tackling the next math exam.
This experience heightened my empathy for those facing learning challenges. In the words of Albert Einstein, "I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn." Recognizing that people absorb knowledge differently, I make an effort to understand their unique circumstances. By applying creativity and patience, I believe it's possible for people to thrive.
I hope this story has resonated with some of you, whether as a teacher, a learner, or both. Let me know your thoughts. As always, let’s meet. in the comments section below.
Let's continue to inspire and uplift one another on our unique journeys.
See you all next Sunday!
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