E10: Leaving Your “Heartprint” on the World (with Adrienne Gear)

In this episode, you’ll learn so many strategies, tools and lesson ideas for teaching integrated and meaningful learning that it’ll have you sprinting into your classroom with a recharged sense of purpose! In this conversation, Adrienne Gear explores specific ways of teaching Social Emotional Skills that will prepare our students for the future and how to use the three-step Powerful Understanding Model to do so.

Adrienne Gear has been a teacher in the Vancouver School district in Canada for over 18 years working as a classroom teacher, ESL teacher, teacher librarian and District Literacy Mentor. Adrienne developed Reading Power almost 10 years ago and has been since working with teachers in many districts throughout the province presenting workshops, giving demonstration lessons and facilitating Reading Power leadership teams. She has also presented workshops in the United States.

She is the author of six bestselling books including, Reading Power and Writing Power, and has just completed her sixth book Powerful Understanding : Helping Students Explore, Question, and Transform Their Thinking about Themselves, Others, and the World. Find her online on her website readingpowergear.com or on social media by searching Adrienne Gear.
For more information about her books, book lists, blog, resources and workshops visit her blog.

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

Seth Godin: What is School For?

Brian Bloom credit Seth Godin suit
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: 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!

Paintbrushes, Lizard-Brain and My First Faux Pas

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With a paintbrush gripped by my little inexperienced fingers, I’ll never forget the way his voice drove the chills over my skin in unrelenting waves. I froze like prey before a victorious predator, time stood still, my heart exploded out of my chest. I was barely breathing.

Pointing an accusatory finger at me with furious grimace, he bellowed, “What is wrong with you? Get out of my sight and clean yourself up! Don’t even think of coming back unless it’s gone!” As I gazed around the ancient stone-built room in stunned silence, my classmates stood before me staring, barely attempting to conceal their smirks, and pointing as a snickers and snorts of laughter erupted around me.

I must have been about 3 ½ years old when I had my first shaming experience at school. As one of my earliest recollections of childhood, it was a memory that had a huge influence on the way I showed up in my formative years.

Born in France, I attended a tiny two-room school house that catered to children preschool to high-school age, within the stone walls of the little village in which I resided with my family. The headmaster happened to be my classroom teacher; he was not what you’d call a kind man. Shaming and ridicule were often tools he employed to ensure that we complied and remained obedient.

Lost in my thoughts and in the process of creativity, I had been earnestly creating a masterpiece that day. Delighted at the opportunity for creative expression, I had been so wrapped in the pure joy of mixing the colours that I hadn’t even noticed the dollop of bright blue paint that had found its way onto the front of my stark white blouse.

Quick to call attention to anyone falling outside the tight confines of acceptable conduct, one of the older boys had raced excitedly to point out my faux pas to our militant leader.

The dull green walls in the bathroom closed in on me, as I scrubbed furiously to rid the blouse of the stain. Shame sat in my belly, a heavy lump weighing me down as I finally ambled back to the classroom with a crushed spirit, the lower-half of my shirt a sopping mess. Thank goodness the day is almost over, I remember thinking to myself.

When my parents came to pick me up that day, hordes of children ran alongside me, eagerly anticipating the joy of reminding me, once again, how I had failed that day.

We are all neurobiologically hardwired for belonging. When we become the outcast, when we get called out for doing something the wrong way, or when we find ourselves at a crossroads between standing within our integrity versus trying to fit in, it feels like death. So, we spend most of our lives trying to reduce any possibility of finding ourselves alone and exposed. In my case, striving for perfection has been a cross to bear for most of my life. Striving for perfection felt like the promise of protection-the guarantee that I would never experience being the outcast again.

But, the paradox of perfectionism is that it fundamentally separates us from others. Striving for perfection draws us away from true belonging, the ability to be who we are without apology. The ability to stand within our integrity. The ability to say, “this is who I am.”

It turns out that evolutionarily, when we do find ourselves standing alone, the reward circuitry in our brain screams at us to smarten up and find our way back to the tribe. To fit in at all costs.

This mechanism was once very useful to us, because not belonging to our tribe would quite rightly result in death. In the caveman days, being an outcast meant you no longer had the protection of the tribe. The chances of you dying were actually pretty high.

Even though the drive to fit in doesn’t truly serve us any longer, it’s still a very real part of our fight, flight, or freeze response. As parents, educators, and employers, we owe it to one another to respond compassionately in light of mistakes.

 

When You Lose Your Work…

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I’d like to wager that

every.

single.

person.

has likely experienced the bone-chill that accompanies the realization that the one thing into which you’ve been diligently pouring your blood, sweat, and tears…has vanished.

Forever.

Sometimes, all it takes is a single, fateful moment to undo hours, days, weeks, months, or even years of work, to delete precious and irreplaceable memories, or for achingly important items to go missing.

For example:

  • The near-complete set of report card comments you spend days crafting…poof.
  • Your computer crashes and important documents…gone.
  • The passport you need to board the plane back home… still sitting on the small round coffee table adjacent to the room service menu.
  • The one-of-a-kind baby photos you’ve been meaning to transfer from your phone to your computer…only a distant memory after a clumsy juggling act at your front door.

You get the picture…well, actually not any more.

Too soon?

In moments like those, my breath catches and my chest tightens, skin bristling with kinetic potential fueled by adrenaline. Frozen in time, I can sense the ever-quickening shallowness of my inhalations.

Have you ever mindfully noticed how your body reacts when it’s in panic mode?

It’s fascinatingly similar in likeness to your body being remotely occupied like a desktop computer by some tech assistant from a faraway land, who speaks an unrecognizable language, and keeps instructing you to do things you feel incapable of doing.

In other words, it’s easy to feel completely out of control.

In rapid succession, within the space of one week, three fairly-devastating events took place, delivering me to the very brink of my patience, and if I’m really honest, my sanity.

1. Just yesterday, while in the process of attempting to relocate and move my classroom resources after an extended parenthood leave, it dawned on me that due to a communication error more than 75% of my boxes had completely disappeared. Permanently. (Deep, deep freakin’ breath.)

2. Last week, after having had one of the most incredibly rewarding, gold-mine podcast interviews with a very VIP guest, my computer glitched, the software we were using to stage and record the call crashed unexpectedly and with it went the full hour-and-a-half interview. (Cue panicked hyperventilation.)

3. And, finally, yesterday morning, no sooner had the coffee touched my sleep-deprived lips, did I hear: “Moooooommmmmmyyy!”  To my horror, I discovered one of my blessed angels with ball-point-pen in hand and devious grin on face. There, laying face-up on our couch was the defaced page of Daniel Pink’s freshly-minted library-edition book I had meaning to dig into. (ARGH!!! Seriously, people?) The irony was not lost on me when upon closer inspection, the joyous scribbling had been contained to the opening page of the book, a quote:

 “Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.” -Miles Davis

 

Was it a sign? Perhaps. With the intention of purchasing the book, I ripped the page out with purpose, and taped the quote to my fridge. Thank you, Miles Davis for the timely reminder of what truly matters in this world.

Although I may have lost some really important, seemingly irreplaceable items in short succession, the really important things in life will always remain intact.

These moments provide opportunities for deep practice in patience, letting go of our attachment to things, forgiveness (of self and others), adaptability, or at the very least, resisting the temptation to unleash unrelenting fury on the world.

Nestled within the struggle of ‘opportunities’ is the ability to rebuild a foundation that is even stronger than before.

Epilogue:

  1. Due to the generous nature of my podcast guest (and some reconfiguring of technical equipment), I was able to reschedule and rerecord the interview. I’d like to say that it was even better than the first.
  2. Those lost boxes enable me to enter a more minimalist approach to teaching, one I had always been meaning to adopt, anyway. No day like the present, I guess.
  3. In a way, I’m grateful for the quote. It was worth the $30 to be reminded to stay present in the now. It’s all we really ever have.

 

The Letter Every Teacher Should Write in June

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The Letter Every Teacher Should Write in June

Five years ago at the end of each school-year in the busy month of June, I started the practice of writing a letter to myself.  Like a ritual, I would seal the letter and place it in the left-hand drawer of my desk on the last day of school.  At the end of September, during the beginning of the following school year, a time when the lighthearted novelty of freshly sharpened pencils, crisp and clean notebooks, and excitement to ignite passion in the hearts of our students seems to melt like a brightly-coloured rainbow popsicle on a hot sunny day into thick greyish soup of overwhelm, lack of sleep, and a thorough sense of imposter syndrome, I would allow myself to pry open the letter. I would read each word slowly, with intention, allowing the message to sink into my skeptical spirit… reminding it that, yes, these students would get to where they needed to go. I just had to meet them where they were.

Patience. Time. Faith.

That was all I needed to keep in my mind over the coming months in order to stay afloat.

Throughout most of my career, I have had the pleasure of teaching Grade One, one of the most incredibly rewarding age-groups to teach because of the nature of exponential, near-explosive growth and learning that occurs in such a short period of time.

Like little jumping jellybeans, pint-size bodies file into the classroom in September,

eyes and hearts wide-open to the possibility of learning,

passionate about their beliefs,

sure-footed about their perspectives of the world,

filled with a desire be their authentic selves,

some students filled with trepidation,

others eager to show off their strengths,

certain children combative and oppositional,

other kids quiet and observing,

most are not yet able to

read,

write,

or do math.

There’s truly nothing like it!

It’s exhilarating.

It’s also incredibly exhausting.

But most of all, teaching Grade One (or any grade) can seem insurmountable in September.

The magic of the learning and deep growth that occurs within the soul of each child seems impossible to the rational teacher’s mind at the beginning of the year.

And so, the letter served to remind my “September-Self” that according to my “June-Self”…it would all work out.

No matter how long you’ve been teaching, the beginning of the year can seem tough. Why not take a moment now, in June, to reflect on how far your students have come, you have come together on your journey?

I urge you to jot it down on paper, pop it into an envelope and open that gift of insight and wisdom in September. It’ll alleviate some stress and create a sense of certainty for the future.

I guarantee, it’s the kindest thing you can do for yourself.

 

How These Well-Intentioned Compliments can Contribute to Devastating Inner Struggle

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“You’re so strong!”

“You’re so smart!”

“You’re so nice!”

How many times have we uttered these phrases, with the intention of bestowing our greatest admiration upon the receiver in front of us, whether a child, a colleague, a family member or a friend?

The truth is, when you’re told that you’re a certain way over and over, your identity can become inextricably linked to a particular set of traits or qualities.

What’s so bad about that?

Don’t we all want to exude a sense of effortless positive traits and be known for it?

What could honestly be so negative about reinforcing those characteristics in our loved ones?

Aren’t we being a little overly sensitive and PC?

When someone’s identity is so wrapped up in celebrated traits like emotional strength, kindness, intelligence, or happiness, it can be devastating and surprizing for that person (and others) when, for some reason, he or she can’t keep it up any longer.

The “strong” person shows vulnerability and cries.

The “smart” person gets a mediocre mark on a test.

The “nice” person shows anger.

Fixed or Growth Mindset?

Preoccupied by the desire to prove himself/herself, she might spend a great deal of energy trying to uphold the ideal of who he/she thinks she/he should be. As Dr.Carole Dweck asserts in her book Mindset, “I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves— in the classroom, in their careers, and in their relationships. Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?”

Just Keep Swimming

Like a duck in water, he might find himself paddling furiously underwater to keep the illusion of strength, control, discipline, or intelligence alive, when inside he is feeling anything but in control. Sooner or later, his energy wears thinner and thinner with every paddle. It becomes too hard to show up the way he wants-too exhausting. Suddenly, the fragile nature of his ego is exposed. He finds himself acting in ways that deviate from the traits with which he most identifies, which can feel confusing. The stakes feel really high. Above all, the desire to cling to certainty can become overwhelming. Hello, identity crisis.

Veterans and PTSD

Take, for example, the war veteran who has been necessarily conditioned throughout most of his or her career to be emotionally strong, overcome fear, and show up selflessly for others. These skills and traits are what a serviceperson requires in order to survive some of the horrors and trails associated with war. That being said, the after-effects associated with adverse conflict-related trauma can be devastating. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, “it is estimated that up to 10% of war zone veterans—including war service veterans and peacekeeping forces—will go on to experience post-traumatic stress disorder.”What’s more, the conditioning that a serviceperson has undergone throughout his/her training often precludes him/her from demonstrating the vulnerability required to seek medical attention and support. There’s often a stigma attached to PTSD. It feels impossible to admit that he/she is struggling because his/her identity as a strong, capable, helper is so deeply entrenched in who they are.

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High-achievers = Higher expectations

Quite often in classrooms and schools across the globe, it can be easy to get caught-up in the capitalist-industrial pressure to keep improving, keep exceeding expectations. It’s pretty common for teachers to be more surprized by average to mediocre results from our high-achievers than by failure by the lower-achieving students in our classes.

We expect our high-achievers to continue high-level products, to continually be improving, but we don’t always make space for them to show up in an average or mediocre way. Quite often, childhood prodigies or high-achievers will do anything they can to avoid failure because the expectations on their achievement is so high. Perfectionism can set in, which can cause really intelligent, capable kids to seek certainty and comfort over risk-taking and creativity. According to Dr. Adam Grant (Originals), “Child prodigies usually pursue conforming achievement, following the well-worn paths to Carnegie Hall, the science Olympics, and chess championships. They succeed by expertly following the rules rather than making their own.”

Now, I am by no means suggesting that we should all start lowering the bar for some of these high-performers but do want to bring attention to the fact that sometimes these kids will strike out. They’ll produce lower quality work, once in a while. They might have a couple of bad ideas, but it doesn’t make them any less intelligent. They shouldn’t be shamed or ridiculed or pressured to do better every single time. They should be encouraged to ask interesting questions, pursue creative exploits, and to express themselves fully so that they may become originals in their own right.

Separate Traits from the Person

When we can separate the person from traits or qualities (positive and negative), we can allow for the normalization of a wide range of emotions and traits within a person, as opposed to a fixed perspective of who they are. It can be helpful to think of the power of growth mindset, which Dweck has described as “the passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well…This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”

It is possible to free ourselves from the expectations of who we’re supposed to be and allow ourselves to sit within the essence of who we are, without judgement and with great admiration for ourselves and the journey that got us to where we are today.

Some practical replacements for common reinforcements:

            Instead of….                               Say….

You’re so strong!             ~                 You handled that with a lot of strength!

You’re so smart!        ~.                You solved that problem really well!

You’re so lucky!                  ~                  Way to be prepared for that opportunity!

You’re so pretty!                   ~                  That’s a lovely shirt. How do you feel in it?

You’re so organized!                 ~          You’ve thought of every detail. You must be feeling prepared.

https://cmha.bc.ca/documents/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-2/

Dr. Adam Grant (Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World)

Dr. Carole Dweck (Mindset)

 

Making Change, Drip-by-Drip: Child Soldiers, a Brave Citizen, and Goats

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Sometimes, we have it in our heads that in order to make impactful, positive change, we need to have some tangible finished product with a huge grand opening.

This is mostly a fallacy. It rarely exists. Big changes take time. It’s messy.

This concept of go big or go home, all or nothing makes it hard for us to want to get started in the first place. We put pressure on ourselves to have it all figured out. We think we need a roadmap with a clear destination. We think we’ve failed if the roadmap or direction eludes us.

Impact is almost always born out of a longer incubation period, where ideas, groundwork, and many failed attempts bring one closer to the goal of making a meaningful difference.

The thing I’ve realized is that the drip-by-drip, slow-and-steady approach seems to be the best way to get there, wherever “there” is.

Follow the string, pursue that thing that quickens your pulse, listen to the voice inside that tells you: this is where you need to go, be, see.

Sometimes, that voice is just barely audible. A whisper. But bit by bit, as you give it more space in your mind, it becomes amplified.

Trust it. Listen to it.

Don’t ask for it to make you money right away.

Don’t ask for it to be neat and tidy and rational. It probably won’t be.

As Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backward.”

So, start at the beginning and trust that your intuition will take you where you need to go.

___________________

I just had the pleasure of talking to Dr. Scilla Elworthy (a three-time Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, global peace negotiator, and author) for the podcast I am recording, who told me the story of Henri Bora Ladyi, who has been called “Africa’s Schindler.” All he knew was that he wanted to prevent his horrendous experience as a child soldier from repeating itself. He knew that he couldn’t stop the practice of mobilizing children from war from happening, but he knew he could make a big difference for a few children.

Across the world, 250,000 children are estimated to be involved in armed conflict. An ex- child soldier, himself, Henri, listened to the call after having escaped, and risked his life to rescue child soldiers in the Congo. He became an ad-hoc mediator and negotiator, making it his mission to continue to save child soldiers.

At one point, Henri was contacted by militia commanders, with whom he had built a sense of trust. They had too many mouths to feed. Hoping to establish an exchange for supplies they offered to demobilize some of the child soldiers in return for goats. As a result, Henri was able to negotiate an exchange rate of 10 animals for 40 children. With the help of UK charity Peace Direct, he was able to free 100 children.

Now, Henri makes it his mission to continue going back into the bush to trade goats, at a price of $5, for a child he can bring back to their family.

Henri didn’t have a clear roadmap in his head. No one gave him license to do what he did. He was guided by the urgency to take action. He had ingenuity and an innovative mindset. He risked his livelihood for the lives of others and has made an incredible difference to the lives of hundreds of people as a result.

To learn more about Peace Direct and fund projects like Henri’s, check out their website: peacedirect.org 

 

Sources:

www.scillaelworthy.com

www.peace direct.org

Photo From: www.foreignpolicyblogs.com (Neil Thompson)