Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Volume Five, Issue Two:
The NVC journey of a middle school classroom teacher

Our newsletter appears once a month around the time of the full moon. Our purpose is to contribute to the NVC learning of people who have taken at least an NVC Level 1 workshop, and help us stay connected as we endeavor to deepen a culture of peace within ourselves, our families and the world. We believe a Level 1 offers so many new ways of thinking that additional support for learning and integration could be helpful.

We endeavor to make each edition informative, connecting, inspiring and fun. Please let us know how the newsletter might contribute to your NVC well-being.

Our feature article this month is the first in a series by guest contributor Amanda Blaine, a public school teacher and graduate of the Maine NVC Integration Program.


Feature: Classroom Teaching, NVC, and Vulnerability by Amanda Blaine
Further Practice
Upcoming Trainings
Monthly Empathy Circle
Poetry Corner
Opportunities to Volunteer
Paid Announcements

Classroom Teaching, NVC, and Vulnerability

by Amanda Blaine

"I’m nervous reading this memoir aloud to you because it’s really personal and I’m afraid of what someone might say about it. But I’m going to read it anyway."

That wasn’t one of my seventh grade students. That was me, their writing teacher.

As a new NVC practitioner, I chose to focus on my own internal NVC practice and how it affected my role as a teacher. My choice was to focus on building my own skills instead of "teaching" my students NVC. I will share my journey over several issues of the newsletter.

The radical part of using NVC in a classroom, even "just" using it internally, is that NVC is based on vulnerability. In order to serve life, NVC teaches me to share what is alive in me. Yet the classroom model that I experienced as a student myself and then learned as a new teacher was based on closing or obscuring any vulnerability on the part of the teacher. Even writing this, I hesitate to discuss what I feel in my classroom – I notice I am telling myself that teachers reading this will scoff if I do not write instead about student learning outcomes.

I invite you to check how this is true in your own training, whether you are a teacher or not. In what ways does your job encourage your vulnerability? In what ways does your job discourage it?

In education, we teach what we know, what we have mastered, what is least vulnerable. We follow a model that demands that we have mastery over our students’ behavior and learning. Students must act and perform a certain way, and if they do not, it is the teacher’s job to make them stop doing what is "wrong" and start doing what is "right." We don’t need our feelings to do this; we just need to know what behaviors we want.

That’s why choosing to teach from NVC consciousness felt like stepping off a cliff, at least at first: I had to go directly against what I had learned a teacher "should" do.

In the example above, this showed up in two ways: first, that I chose to share a personal memoir that disclosed details about my family, including mental illness. Second, that I chose to tell the class how nervous I was sharing it with them.

After my introduction, I sensed a stillness in the room. Every face was trained on mine. There were no giggles, there was no whispering, just a focused silence as I read my piece. Then students dove in to writing their own narratives. They wrote what was real: growing up fatherless after a parent’s suicide, being teased for being overweight, deciding between friendship and schoolwork. They treated each other’s topics with the same care and tenderness they had shown mine.

My choice to step off the cliff, to inhabit a high level of vulnerability and authenticity in my classroom, shifted the entire atmosphere of the room and the learning experience of my students in just a few seconds.

That example might seem unique to a writing teacher, but some of my most profound moments of vulnerability have been times that any educator can relate to. When a teacher is up in front of the class and a student says something mean or offensive, the usual response is to shut down the comment and usually the student. With NVC consciousness, however, this is an opportunity: I can restore connection in the class by making transparent what the comment has triggered in me.

First, I pause. That in itself is vulnerable. It’s scary to stand up there in front of a room of seventh graders and just be still with my feelings for a few moments, especially when the teacher is supposed to have power over the students; they're not supposed to have the power to elicit emotions in her.

The pause gives me a few seconds to get underneath my initial reaction of anger. I tell the class what I'm doing. I might say, "When I heard you say that just now, I got really scared. I can still feel my face flushed. I’m just taking a breath for a few seconds so I can understand why I’m feeling this way. Hmm . . . I think it’s because I really care about everyone in the room feeling comfortable to learn here, and when I heard you say to Chris, ‘You’re such a nerd,’ I became afraid that he might not feel comfortable!"

The students are usually taken aback: a teacher is telling them she’s afraid! Why is she afraid? Isn't she just supposed to punish the student who made the comment? But rather than the moment causing a disconnection where most of the students hold their breath waiting to see how one student will be punished, they see how much I care about them, and how I’m holding the group, including the student who made the comment. It’s transformational. How many times in a school day do students hear how much their teachers care about them?

I'm imagining you might be wondering what happens next. I'll talk more about that in my piece about discipline. I invite you to start with exploring vulnerability.

This article is the first in a series by guest contributor Amanda Blaine, a public school teacher and graduate of the Maine-based NVC Integration Program.

Suggestions for Further Practice

  1. Whether or not you are a teacher, take a few minutes to explore how vulnerability lives in you at your job. In what ways does your job encourage your vulnerability? In what ways does your job discourage it? One possible way to explore this:
    • Choose a moment from the last week of work that sticks out for you.
    • Pause and bring the moment into your awareness. What feelings were you experiencing?
    • Remember how you responded to the feelings. Did you choose to share what you were experiencing with others? Did you choose not to share what you were experiencing? Neither one is "right."
    • What needs were you attending to by sharing or not sharing?
    • Spend a few moments holding those needs in your awareness. What comes up for you?
  2. Schedule an empathy session with yourself or a buddy to explore what came up in your exploration.


back to top

Upcoming Trainings

Trainings listed here are in the Maine region. If you wish to list an event, please follow our guidelines for submission. Please note that both certified and non-certified trainers, (who are willing to follow certain requirements of the Center for Nonviolent Communication), may be leading the posted trainings. Listing here does not imply endorsement by the Maine NVC Network of the trainer or the event.

February 21-23, 2014, Nobleboro, ME
Bringing Mindful Speech To Life
FULLY enrolled; waiting list

Third annual weekend of mindfulness with Peggy Smith and Theodate Lawlor,
Members of Thich Nhat Hanh's Tiep Hien Order
pdf icon details


March 22-23, 2014, Belfast, ME
From Conflict to Connection: the basics of Nonviolent Communication

A fundraiser for WERU Community Radio
Taught by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration


April 12-13, Unity, ME
April 12: The Healing Power of Empathy
& Transforming Power Dynamics in Relationships
April 13: The Art of NVC Dialogue
These days can be taken individually, or combined for a powerful NVC weekend.
The two days together are equivalent to a Level 2 workshop.
Taught by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration


July 28–August 1, Belfast, ME
Sustainable Communication: The Theory & Practice of Nonviolent Communication

A three-credit course offered by the University of Maine System at the Hutchinson Center, Belfast. This course is part of the Peace & Reconciliation Program at the University. No pre-requisites. Perfect for professionals seeking recertification credits while learning a specific, powerful process.
Taught by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration


SAVE THE DATES! 2014-15 NVC Integration Program will take place on these dates:
Sept. 5-7, 2014
Oct. 24–26, 2014
Jan. 30–Feb. 1, 2015
April 10-12, 2015
June 5–7, 2015
Full brochure coming soon. FMI


back to top

This month we feature an old hymn with some "modern" adaptation – a beloved song of Pete Seeger (1919-2014). Pete held dear that within each human is the power to transform the suffering of the world, and to create the world of love and care that we long for. He manifested nonviolence . . . may we all do our part. Thank you, Pete, for always touching our hearts and minds through the power of music.

How Can I Keep from Singing?

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth's lamentation.
I hear the real, thought far off hymn
That hails the new creation
Above the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?
What through the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
What through the darkness round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of Heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?
When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging.
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?

Pete Seeger helped to make this song fairly well-known in the Folk-revival. He learned it from Doris Plenn, who had it from her North Carolina family. It can be found in Sing Out, Vol 7, No 1, 1957.



Invitation to
Monthly Empathy Circle

First Friday of each month, 10am-1pm
at Open Communication office
243 High Street, Belfast, ME
You are welcome to come when you can. If this is your first time coming, please contact Linda beforehand:
Phone 322-2122 / email

back to top

Do you want to receive emails about upcoming NVC trainings and other NVC events in and near Maine?

Join the Maine NVC Network
Yahoo Group

The group is moderated and is only used for announcements of regional workshops and other Maine NVC Network events. Inclusion in list serve announcements does not imply endorsement by the Network.


back to top

Call for Volunteers

The health of the Network depends on the joyful efforts of all who yearn to bring nonviolent consciousness to our region.
To learn more, email our volunteer coordinator.



Paid Announcements

Clarity Services, LLC
Now Accepting Clients

Helping groups of people think together collaboratively and effectively
Free 30 minute initial consultation:
1-877-833-1372 / email


Open Communication

welcomes individuals and couples, who want NVC-based support, to meet with them at their new office in Belfast, ME
Please contact Peggy:
207-789-5299 / email


Home  |  Newsletter Archives