Monday, August 11, 2014

Guest Post: Honesty by Nick Ambrosino

I am pleased to introduce the first guest in our brand new Collaborative Journey series: Nick Ambrosino, speaker, coach, and author of Coffee With Ray. The following is an excerpt from his book. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a new lesson with a nine-year old girl.  We were learning a new piece, and as she got to a challenging section, she exclaimed, “This is too hard!”  Now, initially my response, as a compassionate adult educator, would have been one of the cheerleader, “Oh you can do it!  It’s not too hard.”  

But, I stopped and decided to respond to her words instead of simply reacting to her exclamation.

Instead, I said, “You’re right, this is hard.  Sometimes learning is challenging.  Now would you like to work on it together? Because, I am sure, that with your effort and my teaching, we could make it easier after some practice.”  She looked at me with a surprised look in her eyes and responded, “Okay!”

After some reflection, it occurred to me, that many students are manipulated into thinking that learning is always supposed to be fun and easy.  Yet, in reality, that is not always the case.  By definition, when someone is learning, they are expanding their horizon, or as I prefer to call it, "stretching their comfort zone."  Anytime stretching is required, there is a certain amount of discomfort. And, it is okay. 

When students are told the truth, it is okay with them also.  Young people, just like adults, do not like to be manipulated and certainly, as adults, we may have become very good at being very “persuasive.”  Yet, what I believe all people really want is honesty. 

It’s easy to assist students in overcoming the hurdles and fears to learning.  Just be honest with them.  They want honesty, compassion and someone who is willing to problem-solve with them. Honesty, compassion and problem solving are three tools that are essential for a successful facilitator to have in his or her toolbox.

About the author, Nick Ambrosino, Author/Speaker/Coach: After a long time of being "gently nudged," by fellow educators, students, parents, business people and family members, I decided to succumb to their, "You have to put this stuff in a book." anthem. When I began to put pen to paper, I thought I would create a textbook. Ten pages in, I was bored out of my skull writing it and I had the sneaking suspicion that readers would be bored reading it! "What did I like to read?" "How did I like to teach?" Stories, I liked stories that had lessons. I liked stories because they made the lessons easier to remember. I liked stories because they had people in them, not just facts...

Read more about Nick and the story of writing Coffee With Ray here 

Read a review of Nick's book Coffee With Ray here

Follow Nick Ambrosino on Facebook here

Purchase Coffee With or Amazon!


  1. This was wonderful! I'll definitely be adding this to my bookshelf soon :) Thank you to Nick for giving us a deeper look into the writing of the the book, and thanks to Melody for a great suggestion!

  2. Nick, I totally agree with you! I think we need to acknowledge our students feelings. "Yes! This is hard..." then move to encouragement.

    Honesty and compassion will win their hearts and in turn...they'll learn and grow.

    Great post. :)

  3. Excellent point. I love that your response validated her feelings at the same time showed that you had confidence in her as well as a plan to get her there. Thank you for the reminder to not only hear what is said but to respond to the emotions behind the words. After all, music inspires emotions (and an emotional connection with others).