E3: How to Breathe Life into Your School and Boost Achievement (with Principal Kafele)

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In this episode, you’ll learn how to breathe life into your school every day and how to boost achievement in your school through easy, actionable strategies. Principal Kafele’s message comes alive through his expressive storytelling, vulnerability, and personal experiences. Whether you’re a teacher or an educational leader, you’re sure to get fired up by this conversation.

A highly-regarded urban educator in New Jersey for over twenty years, Principal Baruti Kafele distinguished himself as a master teacher and a transformational school leader. As an elementary school teacher in East Orange, NJ, he was selected as the East Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools Teacher of the Year, he was a New Jersey State Teacher of the Year finalist, and a recipient of the New Jersey Education Association Award of Excellence.

As a middle and high school principal, Principal Kafele led the transformation of four different New Jersey urban schools, including “The Mighty” Newark Tech, which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to national recognition, which included U.S. News and World Report Magazine recognizing it three times as one of America’s best high schools.

One of the most sought-after education speakers in America, Principal Kafele is impacting America’s schools! He has delivered over two thousand conference and program keynotes, professional development workshops, parenting seminars and student assemblies over his 32 years of public speaking. An expert in the area of “attitude transformation,” Principal Kafele is the leading authority for providing effective classroom and school leadership strategies toward closing what he coined, the “Attitude Gap.”

A prolific writer, Principal Kafele has written extensively on professional development strategies for creating a positive school climate and culture, transforming the attitudes of at-risk student populations, motivating Black males to excel in the classroom and school leadership practices for inspiring school-wide excellence. In addition to writing several professional articles on these topics for popular education journals, he is the author of eight books which include his national best-sellers, Closing the Attitude Gap, Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and in Life, The Principal 50 and The Teacher 50. His 9th book, Is My School a Better School Because I Lead It? will be released in November, 2018.

Principal Kafele is married to his wife Kimberley, and is the father of their three children, Baruti, Jabari and Kibriya. He earned his B.S. degree in Management Science/Marketing from Kean University and his M.A. degree in Educational Administration from New Jersey City University. He is the recipient of over 150 educational, professional and community awards which include the prestigious Milken National Educator Award, the National Alliance of Black School Educators Hall of Fame Award, induction into the East Orange, New Jersey Hall of Fame, and the City of Dickinson, Texas proclaiming February 8, 1998 as Baruti Kafele Day.

You can find him on principalkafele.com or on social media, including YouTube @principalkafele
For more information visit my podcast.

E8: Defying the Status Quo: The Unique School that *Actually* Teaches for the Future (with Founder Jeff Hopkins)

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Have you ever wanted to start your own school? This discussion will have you wanting to rethink the way you approach education in your own classroom. My guest explores the importance of creating a school that values student voice, utilizes the inquiry process to prepare students for the uncertain future, and focuses on the importance of creating a psychologically safe classroom culture in order to foster creativity and innovation. Hope you love it as much as I did!

Jeff Hopkins is the founder and Principal Educator of the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry – an independent high school in Victoria designed to provide a model for education system transformation. His ted talks: “Education as if people mattered” and “An inquiry approach to education” have earned him global attention. Find him by searching Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry. For more information visit my website [smallactbigimpact.com][1] and search for episode # 8.

He has been an educator since 1993. He has taught many different subjects, including literature, physics, history, and psychology, and has been a counsellor, principal, and school district superintendent, among other things. Jeff was BC’s first Safe Schools Coordinator, working to address issues of intimidation, harassment, anxiety, and suicide through programs that promote equitable, engaging, and welcoming school environments. Jeff is the founder and [Principal Educator of the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry][2] – an independent high school in Victoria designed to provide a model for education system transformation. Inspired by the notion of “consilience,” – the unity of knowledge — PSII helps its learners to transcend traditional high school subject silos through an interdisciplinary, inquiry-based approach. He often refers to his approach as [“Education as if people mattered.”][3] This was also the title of his 2015 TEDx Victoria talk. In 2013-14, Jeff was the University of Victoria’s first “Educator in Residence,” offering support and inspiration to education students and faculty in their contemplation of what an education system could be. He was also named UVic’s Distinguished Alumnus for 2018. Jeff has been invited to present his ideas on education and schools at dozens of conferences throughout BC, in other provinces, and internationally. First and foremost, Jeff is a father of two and a husband.

[2]: http://learningstorm.org
[3]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5O5PK6LsymM

E 7: The 5 Steps for Teaching Self-Regulation and Reducing Flight, Fight, Freeze Responses in the Classroom (with Dr. Stuart Shanker)

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With terms like self-regulation being thrown around like confetti in education these days, the true meaning of such important approaches can become watered-down and lose effectiveness. In this interview, I go to the source. In this discussion with self-regulation guru Dr. Stuart Shanker, we explore 5 actionable ways to implement self-regulation strategies within the classroom with the goal of reducing retraumatizing triggers for the children in our classes.

Dr. Stuart Shanker is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The MEHRIT Centre, a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Psychology from York University. His most recent book, Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (And You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage With Life, has garnered glowing reviews around the world being published in Canada, the US, the UK, as well as many foreign editions
Over the past decade, Stuart Shanker has served as an advisor on early child development to government organizations across Canada and the United States, and in countries around the world. During this period, he became increasingly interested in the impact of excessive stress on child development and behaviour. Stuart Shanker’s five-step Self-Reg model — The Shanker MethodTM– is a powerful process for understanding and managing stress in children, youth and adults. Stuart commits considerable time to bringing the research and science of Self-Reg to parents, early childhood educators, teachers, educational leaders, health practitioners and communities through presentations, master classes, online courses, webinars, publications, social media and a blog entitled, “The Self-Reg View”. For more information about his work visit [www.self-reg.ca][1] or find him on twitter, facebook and linked in by searching Stuart Shanker or the mehrit centre.
Social Media.
The MEHRIT Centre TMC: Facebook, Twitter
Stuart Shanker: Twitter, LinkedIn
Book Title: *Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (And You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage With Life*
For more information visit my website smallactbigimpact.com and search for episode # 7.
[1]: http://www.self-reg.ca

E 5: The Surprising Neuroscience of Kindness (With Dr. Shimi Kang)

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We all know that it feels good to be kind, and my guest today talks about the ways in which our bodies have been wired for generosity. She explains the surprising neuroscience which proves, once again, that contribution is nature’s most effective antidepressant. It literally makes you happy! This is a must-watch mini episode for any teacher or parent wanting to understand the benefits of explicitly teaching altruism and for those wanting to start the 21-day Kindness challenge. Hope you enjoy!

Dr. Shimi Kang is an award-winning, Harvard-trained doctor, Researcher , Media Expert , Bestselling Author , and Speaker. She is the former Medical Director for Child and Youth Mental Health for Vancouver community, a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia, and the founder of the Provincial Youth Concurrent Disorders Program at BC Children’s Hospital. Her books The Dolphin Way™: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Motivated Kids Without Turning Into A Tiger (Penguin Books 2014) and ” The Dolphin Parent: A Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Self-Motivated Kids ” are #1 Bestsellers! And she also has a new title out “The Self-Motivated Kid: How to Raise a Healthy, Happy Child Who Knows What they Want and Goes After It (Without Being Told).
She is also the founder of the DolphinPOD school , located in India and dedicated to developing the key 21st century life skills. She also heads up The DolphinKIDS Achievement Programs which are designed to develop the mindset and life skills to achieve your dreams!
She is most proud of receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for outstanding community service and being a mother of three amazing but exhausting children!
Dr. Kang can be found on social media @drshimikang
For more information about Dr. Kang, her amazing schools, or books, visit drshimikang.com or my website smallactbigimpact.com and search for episode # 5.

TGIF: Nightmares and Compliment Circles

TGIF: Nightmares and Compliment Circles

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My whole body shuddered awake under the covers. Groggily, I heaved my it to a seated position and gently swung my legs around so that my bare feet touched the softness of the carpet beneath my bed.

It was 4:30 am and I had awoken from one of those all-too-common teacher nightmares. This delightful episode featured a non-existent colleague, who had deliberately made her way down to my classroom to inform me of my below-average teaching performance, how I needed to be doing more, and how I would never take my students to where they needed to go. Ugh!

“I knew it all along,” I can still hear her smug voice echoing in my mind, as she wagged a disapproving finger at me. “You don’t know what you’re doing, do you?”

Not good enough. Imposter. Oh boy…here it was again. At the beginning of every school year, in one form or another, that doubtful fear resurfaces. The kids won’t listen. I’ll somehow blow it with a parent. I will misunderstand a kid. I’ll lose the respect and control of the class. And, every year…somehow, despite all doubts, it all works out.

After grabbing a cup of coffee and gradually tuning back into the reality of the present moment, I started thinking: I’m an experienced teacher, now. I’ve been doing this for around 10 years. How is it possible that I can feel like this, knowing that things always have a way of working out? How many other educators, educational assistants, and principals wake up from dreams like this, gripped for a moment by the self-defeating belief that even their best efforts won’t cut it.

Then, I started thinking about my students. Surely, if I feel this way, they must, too. How many kids are confined by a crippling fear of failure or of not measuring up? How many of them, with their little brains still developing, believe in their hearts that their efforts won’t be enough? And, more importantly, how does that negative self-talk manifest? Crumpled-up papers? Silly behaviour? Grumpy sullenness? Refusal to speak in class? Overt oppositional outbursts? Yep, sounds about right!

Staring out onto their faces during Friday morning check-in, I decided to tell them about my bad dream. Of course, I didn’t dive into the details (those are somewhat irrelevant to a bunch of 6- and 7-year olds ), but I told them about my dream, nonetheless. Their little eyes grew wide with genuine surprise. The thing is, we adults forget to show them our human vulnerabilities. It seemed to surprise them that an adult could have nightmares or fears. But, what I’ve learned from every conversation I’ve had with educators, parenting experts, neuroscientists, and notable culture-shifters is that showing an appropriate amount of vulnerability builds deep, unbreakable trust. And when a child trusts you, some pretty incredible things have the potential to occur.

So, after sharing, I asked my students if they had ever had a bad dream. All of their hands shot up. Next, I asked them to share whether they had experienced nightmares during the first few days of school and nearly all of their little hands remained stretched high. We talked about their worries about the new school year, their friendships, and their struggles with learning. It was a powerful moment. We all need to be reminded that we’re normal, that we’re ok, and that we’re not alone in our experience.

Later that afternoon, for the first time ever in my career, I gathered my students in a circle on the carpet and explained that we would be starting a Friday tradition called Compliment Circles. Admittedly, I wasn’t sure it was going to work and I was feeling somewhat skeptical. After discussing the meaning of compliments, we agreed that they were nice things we say to make others feel good.

“My friends, compliments are also like mountains,” I explained as I drew a pointy, snow-capped mountain on the whiteboard.

As I drew a line near the bottom, I described that the first, superficial level of the mountain is the easiest to climb. “These compliments are usually about what you see, someone’s appearance or clothing.”

“The next level is about listening and noticing; it’s a bit of a tougher hike. You might point out how clean someone is keeping their desk area, how well they can throw a ball or how good someone is at reading,” I went on, touching the middle of the mounting with my hand. I reminded them of some compliments we had received from the custodian, the principal and the neighbouring classroom about manners, eating, and tidiness. We counting the compliments and reflected on how these had made us feel as a class.

“But, Mrs. Michael, what’s the top part of the mountain for?” one of the students interrupted. I drew a heart at the summit of the mountain: “These are the most special and challenging compliments of all to give. It can feel like rising to the top of a mountain. These are the compliments we notice with our hearts. For example, we can feel when someone is trying their best. We can feel when someone is being kind. We can feel when someone has made a special effort to support us when we’re sad.”

We discussed the rules for the exchange of a compliment (which, it turns out is similar to how we give and receive a gift) and some compliment sentence starters.

  1. Speak loudly
  2. Say their name
  3. Be respectful
  4. Be sincere (Say it like you mean it)
  5. Say “Thank You”

Then, it was time to start. I encouraged them to start at the first level of the mountain, choosing a compliment about appearance (we’d be working out way up the mountain this year).

Every child had a turn and I was heartened to see some of my quieter students compliment their classmates with pride in their eyes. Once everyone had received a compliment, I congratulated them on their first Compliment Circleand was just about to transition to the end-of-day procedure, when a last-minute hand shot up.

Nodding for her to share, she said earnestly, “Mrs. Michael, I have a compliment, but this time it’s for you…I love being in this class.”

“Oh…” I uttered, surprised and almost embarrassed by the unexpected tears springing to my eyes. Then I smiled at her, “That means so much to me. Thank you for that compliment. That really filled my bucket.”

Blinking my eyes quickly, I sent the kids on their way, a warmth spreading through my chest knowing that no matter the dreams or doubts I might have about this year, what matters most was that each student feels seen, heard, and loved in this classroom.

E 4: Three Simple Ways to Beat the #1 Health Epidemic- Becoming Happier as an Educator, Parent, or Student (with Dr. Shimi Kang)

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In this episode, you’ll meet a remarkable woman who will share simple actionable tips to help your students and colleagues combat the #1 health epidemic of the 21st century, stress.

You’ll learn the surprising way our bodies react when we’re in crisis and a proven three-step approach to teach your students resiliency in the face of adversity. She’ll highlight actionable ways to instill firm, loving boundaries within the classroom while maintaining a playful sense of adaptability that fosters innovation and creativity. And finally, you’ll also discover specific and effective ways to address bullying and support youth in crisis. Hope you get as much out of the conversation that I did!
Dr. Shimi Kang is an award-winning, Harvard-trained doctor, Researcher, Media Expert , Bestselling Author, and Speaker. She is the former Medical Director for Child and Youth Mental Health for Vancouver community, a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia, and the founder of the Provincial Youth Concurrent Disorders Program at BC Children’s Hospital. Her books The Dolphin Way™: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Motivated Kids Without Turning Into A Tiger (Penguin Books 2014) and ” The Dolphin Parent: A Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Self-Motivated Kids ” are #1 Bestsellers! And she also has a new title out “The Self-Motivated Kid: How to Raise a Healthy, Happy Child Who Knows What they Want and Goes After It (Without Being Told).

She is also the founder of the DolphinPOD school , located in India and dedicated to developing the key 21st century life skills. She also heads up The DolphinKIDS Achievement Programs which are designed to develop the mindset and life skills to achieve your dreams!
She is most proud of receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for outstanding community service and being a mother of three amazing but exhausting children!

Dr. Kang can be found on social media @drshimikang
For more information about Dr. Kang, her amazing schools, or books, visit drshimikang.com .

Seth Godin: What is School For?

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As an educator, have you ever found yourself stumped by the question, “Why are we even doing this?” or have you ever been graced with the inevitable “Is this on the test?” query?

In this very special episode, I talk to the one and only Seth Godin about disrupting the industrial model of education, helping students to get comfortable with struggle of learning and venturing beyond the pull of fitting-in.

We also discuss the real purpose of school and how we can best prepare our students for the uncertain future.

Finally, we explore the best way to provide feedback and advice to our learners, so that they may become the fullest expressions of themselves.

SETH GODIN is the author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He’s also the founder of the altMBA and The Marketing Seminar, online workshops that have transformed the work of thousands of people.
He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin, Tribes, The Dip and Purple Cow.

 

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In addition to his writing and speaking, Seth has founded several companies, including Yoyodyne and Squidoo. His blog (which you can find by typing “seth” into Google) is one of the most popular in the world.

In 2018, he was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame. His latest book, *What To Do When It’s Your Turn* is now in its fifth printing. You can find it at yourturn.link (and the new book, *This Is Marketing*, comes out in November 2018).

Here is a link to his FREE PDF Education Manifesto (it’s so good… consider checking it out for yourself or using it for an in-school book club with your staff.)

Here is a link to his Akimbo Podcast. Seth always loves hearing how his work has impacted listeners, so send a voice message or ask a question about his episodes via his Akimbo website.

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Want to level up? Learn about the amazing online courses and seminars that Seth offers. No matter what type of work you’re doing, learn how to make your mark through the AltMBA and The Marketing Seminar .

Please let me know how you enjoyed the episode and feel free to comment on my blog or website smallactbigimpact.com

Thank you for listening!

 

Photo Credit: Brian Bloom

Back-to-School Anxiety

So, it turns out that I’m not so good at transitions. For years as an educator, I’ve worked hard to meet my students halfway when it comes to transitions, especially the ones who specifically struggle to switch from one activity to another.

To prevent cataclysmic meltdowns, I did what every teacher does:

  • 5-minute warnings before an activity change,
  • providing a chance to process feelings with support when they were struggling,
  • using visual cuing schedules and sensory non-verbal signals,
  • and employing strategies that would ensure success throughout the day…the list goes on.

What’s ironic, however, is that I’ve often ignored and ‘pushed through’ my own anxieties during transition times. The beginning of university. The end of university. My first year as a teacher. The beginning of each school year. The end of each school year. The birth of each of my two children. Each new thing I try that might not work or that feels uncertain.

I guess, I never thought much about the need to create strategies and routines to keep myself regulated. These days, as I attune myself more mindfully to my thoughts and emotional state, I’ve noticed how much I feel the weight of big changes in my life, and I don’t think I’m alone.

As I prepare to head back into the classroom after a two-year hiatus at home with my children, I can feel the waves of uncertainty washing over me again, anxiety creeping into my belly, and I seem to be rising just a little earlier each day…all signals, like a canary in a mineshaft, that a big transition is looming. And it is. This year, I’ll be teaching English, which is delightfully exciting to me. I recently heard that August is comparable to a long, anxiety-filled Sunday where you wind up spending a lot of your time fretting about the inevitability of Monday. Sounds about right. You can feel it in the air. September is approaching at a speedy gallop. Ready or not, here it comes.

Two weeks ago, as reality hit me hard, I responded with my best tried and true strategy: panic-induced certainty-seeking. For two straight days, I ventured into my new, virtually empty classroom and prepped my room for the year. The entire weekend, I gathered, arranged, and curated carefully chosen items for my classroom.

Borders. Check.

Alternative seating. Check.

Matching book bins. Check.

Organized learning areas. Check.

Table lamps. Check.

(This is the “before”)

Although, I really hadn’t planned anything concrete lesson-wise, the room looked pretty and systematized. In other words, my brain was doing dopamine backflips of happiness. Certainty, at last!

That moment of triumph lasted only a few minutes as I quickly realized that I required a variety of books for my students to read and had virtually none because I had given away my old books (which had been in French, anyway). Additionally, many of the toys and learning tools I had used in the past, belonged with my old school.  Since my toy and book supply was lacking (as were my dwindling classroom funds), I decided to put a call out to a local mom’s group for help. And that’s when my whole outlook on back-to-school began to change.

The response was incredible. Within hours, my car was brimming with generous donations of books for my classroom library. After a quick search on VarageSale and a few pick-ups later, my once-empty toy bins were filled with affordable, quality-made building sets, Lego, board games, and puzzles.

As I was heading out for one final trip to collect the last remaining odds and ends from my vehicle, I noticed two middle schoolers playing on the school’s playground with their dad. Looking bored as they dangled from the monkey bars, they glanced over repeatedly as I juggled and bobbled bins unsuccessfully on my return to the classroom. Within moments, they were at my side, each taking a box, and accompanying me in the school. They lingered inside afterward, bashfully asking if there was anything else they could do to help. With the permission of their dad, I put them to work, painting lamps to match the colour scheme of the room and helping me align motivational posters on my wall. For about an hour, we listened to music together and worked while they told me stories of their experiences at the school.

Not long after they left, my sister surprised me with a beautiful antique, hand-restored chair for carpet time, which I love more than anything in my classroom.

What had begun as a weekend fraught with anxiety and resistance to inevitable change, was transformed by the genuine kindness of strangers, my new community, and those that I love.  No matter what the future looks like, it’s always nice to know that there are people looking out for you. And, I am so excited for this new year!

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The beautiful antique chair restored by my lovely sister for carpet time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to School: Tips for Success (Part Two)

IMG_1281In this special episode you’ll learn and hear:

  • a unique way to connect authentically with families during your first week in the classroom
  • a great way for students to get to know each other and the staff within your school
  • an awesome hands-on activity to start your first day off right
  • and a list of resources and tangible ways to develop growth mindset within your students during the first month, and throughout the year.
  • You’ll also learn a strategy so successful that three educators mentioned variations of it…love it! Finally, you’ll learn a handful of tips for starting the year off right.

When I put a call out to some of my friends and colleagues to learn the actionable ways they create a culture of belonging within their classrooms, I was blown away by the responses I received. I will be incorporating many of these strategies and lesson ideas within my own practice.

Thanks for listening! Feel free to share and review my podcast on iTunes…it helps other educators find it.

 

Back to School~Tips for Success

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Whether you’re a well-seasoned teacher or fresh in the field, it’s always great to gain insight into tried, tested, and true tips for success in the classroom. In this episode, you’ll come away with some great ways to prepare yourself and your classroom environment for a successful year, before the kids even set foot in the classroom. Hope you enjoy part one of this back-to-school series.

I am so excited to launch these new episodes because they are loaded with back to school strategies that you can implement right away to ensure you have a successful year with your students. I put a call out to some of my colleagues and was overwhelmed by the wealth of experience, creativity, and generosity.

This first episode focuses on preparing yourself and your learning environment in such a way that you not only optimize learning, but that you feel calm and happy as you prepare for the upcoming year.

  • You’ll hear from 4 experienced teachers about 4 strategies that’ll help you show up authentically for your students
  • the hidden curriculum every teacher should be focusing on this year
  • a proven tactic for increasing self-regulation on Monday mornings
  • key questions to ask yourself as you set up your physical space.

I have already planned to incorporate these tips within my own practice, I hope you find it useful for you, too!

Thanks for listening! If you liked the episode, please feel free to leave a review on iTunes!