The Lesson Behind “You’re Processing; You’re Not Stuck”, Coach’s Corner, Monette
~~ Originally published in my column “Beyond The Comfort Zone” within NCRA’s Journal of Court Reporting, JCR
By Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved
Years ago, I wrote “You’re Processing; You’re Not Stuck.”
I detailed how one sentence I shared shifted a court reporting student’s focus when she phoned my Purple Books – Court Reporters Reference Books office to order a product to assist her to advance in her 170-word per minute court reporting class.
The student soon graduated and began working as a certified court reporter.
Realtime Coach then included “You’re Processing; You’re Not Stuck” from my JCR “Beyond The Comfort Zone” column as one of their dictations.
Over the years, I have been contacted by students, reporters, CART captioners, and instructors to expand on this topic with my tutoring and empowerment coaching.
Frequently, I see students and veteran court reporters, CART captioners writing “You’re not stuck!! You’re processing!” on forums and on Facebook.
Often, I see students and reporters referencing my article, name, and the Realtime Coach dictation.
Emails continue to ask that I explain the “processing” concept.
The sentence “you’re processing; you’re not stuck” originated began when I was teaching in the late 1980s.
My students asked why they were not progressing in speed classes while putting in the hours, while enrolled in academic classes, while working full time, and while arriving after a long day for a (full) four-hour evening.
I saw their frustration as their expectations were not met.
Students often “flew” through one speed to then “sit” in another speed.
This varied student to student.
Students often compared themselves to other students who were “flying” through a speedbuilding class. Students also compared themselves to others who “remain” in a speed class, semester after semester.
The court reporting students were challenged by speedbuilding classes; by typing Q & A, Jury Charge, and Literary speed tests; by academics; and by academic tests. Students often are required to take Legal Terminology, Courtroom Procedures, and Medical Terminology where each course might have a hundred new words each week.
(In addition to my steno speed classes with 4 hours steno drills/writing each day, and required 4 additional hours of steno homework each night – and – academics, we had one class we never liked. When I was a full-time student in CR school, a nurse arrived – in uniform, and handed out her test. Each day we were tested on 100 words she had given to the class, the prior day. She did not take roll, did not speak to us. She walked the class while we filled in blank lines. She waited for us to finish. Then – then (!), she handed us another 100 words and left. We – we did not like her. Really. Every day, ‘two’ very long semesters, 100 medical words each day. No talking involved.)
My parents, both degreed instructors, always asked about my students’ progress.
My father particularly enjoyed helping me as he had listened to my challenges when I was a court reporting student (think my “struggles”).
Now he was listening as a guidance counselor, social worker, and father.
“My students work so hard. Sometimes I think they’re working too hard. They become frustrated. I think their frustration may be part venting to progress,” I shared one weekend.
Mr. Emmett, as my father was known to the court reporting industry, with an education and teaching background in languages, science, medical arenas, history, and English, replied, “The mind is like a sponge. The human mind has to take time to absorb information. Tell your students that their mind is like a sponge. When you put a sponge into a glass filled with water, the sponge first absorbs the water. This is a process.”
“They came into the court reporting program with an empty slate, learned new skills, and learned thousands of new words with ‘steno language’. Now their brain, like that sponge in the glass with water, has to take time for the new information to be absorbed.”
“If time is not taken for the absorption – or the process is interrupted – there is an overflow of water or a problem.”
“I saw this when you were a student. You phoned upset and frustrated from your dorm room. I listened, encouraged you to go back to work, and told you that it would come to you,” he (Dad – Mr. Emmett) continued.
As Dad – Mr. Emmett spoke, I had flashbacks of moments that were like walking on hot coals, barefoot, then convinced that “it was not coming to me.”
He continued, “Your students are learning a new language and new skills. When they fully process the information they will progress. And it happens when a person least expects it. Yet the work has to be put in. Has to – with court reporting skills.”
My mother is a degreed elementary special education teacher. I listened to my parents, in a spirited conversation, discuss young children who learn languages.
There is a window of learning, and 4-year olds are able to easily learn multiple languages with little effort. The “window” closes, as my parents explained, a few years later.
“Their sponge is filling their glass,” my dad continued. “Yes, they continue to learn, but probably never at the same pace, and with such ease. Kindergarten is the most challenging year to teach. Children are open slates. They absorb with great ease,” my father explained.
Mom, with a degree (two states) in elementary special education and music, agreed, “The most qualified instructors are kindergarten teachers because the children learn so quickly.” (Her greatest years teaching, per Mom, were when she was a first grade instructor.)
He then detailed the “open window” for children learning to speak while developing accents.
He offered me scientific and historical data that revealed how people develop accents around the world – and also how children who were found to have been raised under harmful conditions may never have been taught to speak. “Windows close, and this is the same for all cultures,” Dad reinforced.
In short, Mr. Emmett’s scientific point: learning continues, but never at the same pace as the “empty slate” that now has information – similar to that dry sponge being placed into an empty glass. The brain now has information. The sponge has absorbed water.
The conversation came back to my court reporting students.
Mom and Dad discussed how people learn steno theory, progress through specific areas, and then perhaps park. “That is when they are processing information. They have to process to move forward,” my dad said.
Mom nodded and said, “Amen.” Thus, my seed was planted.
With my new understanding of sponges and windows, the next time I saw my students expressing their frustration (after I had worked a very long day in the teaching and court reporting saddle myself) I said, “Your mind is like a brain. Your mind has to process information like a sponge in a glass of water. You’re not stuck. You are processing information. Once you fully process the information, you will progress.”
I was proud of myself until the class howled with laughter, “Your mind is like a brain? A brain? Oh, man, we’re going to put that on your tombstone. That was great!”
Okay, maybe not my finest moment behind the teacher’s desk, yet my “window” was working to assist each student that evening. And each student instantly “processed” the sponge in the glass of water and the window concept.
I now share how “you’re not stuck, you’re processing” was gifted to me, and how I then gifted it my students and to thousands of court reporters, instructors, and to students thereafter.
I also share with all my students that Yoga (which I do every day) has a concept comparing stretching to a kitchen cabinet. When a door is stuck, one does not have the greatest result pulling against the door.
The best effort to release a stuck kitchen door is to gently lean into the stuck door. This releases the pressure.
Stretch, gently release, then lean into the stretch for greater results. (We used to post students – as guards – outside my classrooms, so I could teach them specific Yoga techniques.)
That night and whenever I have had the teaching, tutoring, and public speaking opportunity after “your mind is like a brain,” I have witnessed shifts in progress and in focus.
Students saw the correlation to a child effortlessly learning multiple languages and to Yoga and to that stuck kitchen cabinet door.
They were able to see the comparison to learning steno theory, to advancing in speedbuilding, and to achieving goals in school and on the job.
They embraced the lesson: “You are not stuck; you are processing.”
Perhaps the mind “is” like a brain with windows and opportunities as we then graduate; we seek perfection in our writing translation rates; and we continue to advance our skills – always seeking accuracy, always progressing, always processing.
You’re processing; you’re not stuck.
I wish each of you and your loved ones a “processing” Happy New Year.
— Monette, named the Court Reporting Whisperer by students, may be reached: Monette.purplebooks@CRRbooks.com
Purple Books – Court Reporter Reference Books & CDs: www.CRRbooks.com * Advance skills, pass NCRA and State exams the 1st time
Monette Benoit, B. B.A., CCR, CRI, CPE, Paralegal, CART Captioner, Instructor, Consultant, Columnist
Since 1990: Multiple Title Author of Books & Purple Books Test Prep for the Court Reporting, CART Captioning Profession
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About Monette Benoit: As a 30+ year court reporter, CART captioner, author of NCRA and State test-prep material, instructor, public speaker, Monette Benoit has taught multiple theories, academics, all speed classes, and 225-homeroom within NCRA-approved schools and a community college. She understands challenges many adults face in our industry.
In 1993, she began to CART caption to a large screen for a Deaf mass, San Antonio, Texas. Wonderful opportunities then presented from Big D, Little D, Oral Deaf, HOH consumers -each with special moments.
Monette Benoit has worked with thousands of professionals, court reporters, CART captioners, students, instructors. She has helped to create new court reporting training programs, worked with federal grants, and assisted instructors in developing curriculum for both in-class and at-home students.
Her one-on-one tutoring, private coaching, has assisted thousands of students, novice and experienced professionals to reach the next level.
Monette’s Musings is an informative, motivational, and funny blog for busy professionals and students who seek to create their success and who seek to enjoy this special path.
09 Apr 2020