#25: How Sleeping on the Streets Taught These Students an Unforgettable Lesson About Homelessness (with Alan Barwin)

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In this episode, you’ll hear how sleeping on the streets taught these grade 8 students an unforgettable lesson about homelessness. I interview a passionate middle school teacher to learn how he was able to navigate understandable constraints to implement such a dramatic real-life lesson in empathy and how you can bring elements of his approach you’re your practice. You’ll also hear from three students whose lives were forever changed as a result of their experience. Get ready for your mind to be blown by this assumption-busting episode.

Alan Barwin is a teacher at Central Middle School in Victoria Canada, where he specializes in Grade 8 French Immersion, Media and Social Justice and Outdoor and Environmental Education. Activities like the annual Grade 8 overnight trip to the Juan de Fuca Trail, connecting with the local homeless community, and fundraising and awareness building campaigns for social justice causes are now part of the fabric of his school.

When not teaching, Alan can be found exploring the wilds of Vancouver Island by canoe, kayak and foot, reading and writing, and spending time with his wife, Pam, and their three daughters. For more information visit my website smallactbigimpact.com and search for episode #25.

For more information check out my website [smallactbigimpact.com][1]

[1]: http://smallactbigimpact.com

 

#24: The Trauma-Informed School Making Waves Across the World (with Mathew Portell)

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Have you ever wondered how to authentically hold space for students who have experienced adverse trauma, uphold a successful results-based academic program, and maintain your sanity? Well, you are in for a treat. My guest has been featured on a number of viral educational videos for the incredible work his school is doing to realize the trauma-informed schools movement. In this episode we discuss 7 keys to developing student leadership and agency, creative ways to reduce compassionate burnout in teachers, specific strategies for developing growth mindset in our students, and explore two proven transformational strategies for reaching at-risk students within your classroom. Please enjoy this conversation.

Mathew Portell has dedicated over a decade to education in his role as a teacher, instructional coach, teacher mentor, and school administrator. He is currently in his third year as principal of Fall-Hamilton Elementary, a nationally recognized innovative model school for trauma-informed school practices in Metro Nashville Public Schools. National Public Radio, Edutopia amongst other organizations have highlighted the school’s work.

In 2008, he combined his passion for literacy and cycling and founded the local double award winning non-profit Ride for Reading. The organization promotes literacy and healthy living through the distribution of more than 500,000 books via bicycle to underserved children. Portell also heads up Paradigm Shift Education which is focused on providing professional learning experience to assist in creating or cultivating a trauma informed school culture.

You can find him on social media by searching his name. For more information visit my website [smallactbigimpact.com][1] and search for episode #24.
[1]: http://smallactbigimpact.com

In Honour of Pink Shirt Day!

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“David Shepherd, Travis Price and their teenage friends organized a high-school protest to wear pink in sympathy with a Grade 9 boy who was being bullied [for wearing a pink shirt]…[They] took a stand against bullying when they protested against the harassment of a new Grade 9 student by distributing pink T-shirts to all the boys in their school. ‘I learned that two people can come up with an idea, run with it, and it can do wonders,’ says Mr. Price, 17, who organized the pink protest. ‘Finally, someone stood up for a weaker kid.’ So Mr. Shepherd and some other headed off to a discount store and bought 50 pink tank tops. They sent out message to schoolmates that night, and the next morning they hauled the shirts to school in a plastic bag. As they stood in the foyer handing out the shirts, the bullied boy walked in. His face spoke volumes. ‘It looked like a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders,’ Mr. Price recalled. The bullies were never heard from again.”

— GLOBE & MAIL

Tomorrow is Pink Shirt Day!

You may or may not be aware of the origin story related to #pinkshirtday but it’s an important one in Canada. Although gender diversity is becoming a more mainstream and accepted, it continues to be important to advocate for those who live their lives in marginalization, be it race or gender or socio-economic status.

We all need to be responsible for one another. Pink Shirt Day is a great way to have a conversation about kindness! Use it as a jump-off point to start the 21-Day Kindness Challenge with your class, staff, or within your community.

 

 

#23: How Kindness Softens Grief-How to Support Those Living Through Loss (Ben’s Bells with Jeannette Maré)

 

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Have you ever been face-to-face with someone who has experienced unimaginable heartbreak and been at a loss for words?

My guest’s personal insight into grief as a result of the sudden unexpected death of her 2 year old son will bring you to tears, inspire your soul, and provide you with tangible ways to meaningfully support parents, students, or colleagues who have experienced devastating loss.

Jeannette Maré is the founder and Executive Director of Ben’s Bells Project. Jeannette’s leadership has anchored the organization through remarkable growth, including the opening of four studios, collaborating with hundreds of local organizations and recruiting more than 25,000 annual volunteers. As part of her vision, Ben’s Bells has become nationally recognized and “kindness” is becoming part of the nation’s collective consciousness.Jeannette lives in Tucson and is grateful to have the opportunity to combine her two passions – teaching and community building – in her role with Ben’s Bells.

You can find her on social media @bensbells or on her website [www.bensbells.org][1]. For more information visit my website [smallactbigimpact.com][2] and search for episode #23.
[1]: http://bensbells.org
[2]: http://smallactbigimpact.com

#22: What Love Can Teach You About Learning: How to Get to Know Your Colleagues and Students Better (with Mandy Len Catron)

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Whether you want to create rapport with a new staff member, employee or student, this is a must listen episode for you! Get ready for deep dive into the topic of love, vulnerability, consent in the age of the “me too” movement and learning the practice of truly seeing one another.

My guest plunges into the story of how it took just 36 questions to fall in love with her now-husband and how the experience illuminates simple effective ways to create platonic rapport within schools amongst staff, parents, and students. Hope you enjoy this fun conversation.
You can find her on twitter, facebook and Instagram by searching Mandy Len Catron or on her website [mandylencatron.com][1]

Originally from Appalachian Virginia, Mandy Len Catron now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Rumpus, and The Walrus, as well as literary journals and anthologies.

She writes about love and love stories at The Love Story Project, and she teaches English and creative writing at the University of British Columbia. Her article “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This” was one of the most po

 

Head, Heart, Hands

Empathy, Compassion, and Kindness: Head, Heart, and Hands

In order to feel proud of our communities, I believe we need to wrap our arms around those who struggle within them. Caring for people starts with a willingness to see, hear, and understand one another with an open heart. We have to begin with empathy, compassion, and an eagerness to bravely step into our kindness.

Empathy is the practice of being able to understand the feelings and circumstances of others, and putting yourself in their shoes.

IMG_4410.jpgImagine your friend has just spent the last hour meticulously creating a LEGO structure. Smiling ear to ear, she makes her way over, balancing the creation in the palm of her hand, when suddenly, her foot catches the edge of the rug beneath her. Time slows as her body sails through the air, the structure and pieces fly in all directions. Her chest hits the ground with defeat. In that moment, you understand how disappointed she must feel. You understand it, but you don’t feel disappointed yourself. That’s empathy.

Then, compassion hits you. Compassion literally means to suffer with. You start remembering that time when you built the best LEGO house you’d ever made and how you wanted to show it to your neighbour, but before you could beckon him over to check it out, your little brother had made other plans. With one sweep of his hands, your prized construction was destroyed. Remembering this moment makes you feel a flash of that same devastation again. Suddenly, you actually start feeling a sense of disappointment alongside her. Compassion takes the mind-based understanding of empathy, and moves it into our hearts.

Kindness is the ability to act upon our empathy and compassion for others by taking meaningful action, transforming the world drip-by-drip.  

In the case of your friend’s LEGO structure, for example, kindness is helping her to reconstruct it, giving her a hug, or helping her up. We are all responsible for one another.

 

 

#21: Instagram, Poetry, and Anxiety: What Teachers can Learn from Diving Head-First into Vulnerability (with Brittin Oakman)

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You’re going to love my guest today. Through her vulnerable poetry, she had made meaningful connections to tens of thousands of loyal followers on Instagram. You might be thinking; how does this relate to teaching? We discuss the ways that writing enables us to process our self-discovery and emotions Excellent teachers recognize the place for meaningful reflection in their practice not only for themselves, but for their students.

We touch on process over product, overcoming fear, getting to know the quiet, unassuming people in our lives because they often surprise the world with how much they have to say when given half a chance, and developing a sense of worthiness. This conversation is a warm cup of tea for the teacher’s soul.

Brittin Oakman who is currently combining dreams and ambitions by abroad in Scotland while completing her MSc. Health Psychology, is a soulful Canadian writer and storyteller, Health and Wellness advocate, and incredibly popular (with over 41, 000 followers) Instagram personality. You can find her @b.oakman on Instagram . For more information visit my website [smallactbigimpact.com][1] and search for episode #21.
[1]: http://smallactbigimpact.com

 

Analysis Paralysis: Just Leap!

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I call them “jump-off-the-cliff-moments.”

Those moments that cause your stomach to lurch as you launch yourself off the safe confines of the rich earth that support your shaky legs.

It’s the difference between dreamers and doers.

Jumping off the cliff requires you to abandon the all-too-common narrative of self-doubt and boldly replace it with the belief (even-just-for-an-instant) that you have the capacity to do better, that you have the worthiness to deserve it, and the unwavering knowledge that somehow, through magical cocktail of faith and persistence, you’ll be resourceful enough to build yourself a parachute as you plummet through the air.

So, about paralysis. Is it really that you can’t choose? Or, is it truly about the fact that you’re scared to do so?

Paralysis is a form of hiding. It’s a mechanism that our ancient mammalian brain uses to signal to us that we’re about to step into a dangerous place.

“Retreat!” it shouts at us with frantic urgency. Obediently, most of us freeze. Quit dreaming. Quit trying to step outside of our comfort zones. Just before things get interesting.

Because interesting means you might be wrong. You might fail. You might leap before others and get judged for it. You might departure from the status quo. You might not be accepted by the tribe.

Then, what?

Analysis paralysis will stop your forward momentum to express yourself fully.

Instead, choose to dream. Choose to take the first step. I urge you to leap off the cliff.

action= change=growth=wisdom and learning=trust=leadership 

Ep # 20 Hang Loos-Surviving a Public Lifestyle (with Casey-Jo Loos)

IMG_4240Have you ever wondered what an educator and a popular radio dj have in common? In this energizing episode, my guest and I explore how to survive a public lifestyle while living with anxiety and depression. We delve into the experience of battling with perfectionism, the pressure of conformity, vulnerability, and overcoming the desire to please the arm chair critics. Through her unique perspective, we learn profound insights will help you foster a culture of psychological safety and creativity within your classroom. Hope you enjoy!

Self-described as a “fruitloop in a bowl of cheerios” my guest Casey Jo Loos is the energetic and hilarious radio dj from Vancouver’s beloved 107.3 The Peak Radio Station. She has a passion for connection through media, radio & television, a former canucks tv host, ctv news community reporter and host, and much music VJ finalist. and teaches yoga and meditation on her downtime.

Find her @caseyjoloos on Instagram and facebook or on her website [caseyjoloos.com][1]. For more information visit my website [smallactbigimpact.com][2] and search for episode #20.

An Alternative to the Dreaded Resolution

75796DC9-D5AF-49FF-B3C2-44425D551995.jpegAs we sit on the cusp of a new year, full of promise, it’s enticing to want to create a long list of things to check off that brings us closer to the goals that signal success, to imagine that this year will be vastly different/better than last year, and in doing so, place the heavy weight of anticipation of achievement upon yourself.

In light of last year’s rejection of the practice of naming a yearly resolution, I’ve opted to join the #oneword train. One word has the power to keep you aligned to your vision without creating additional baggage. It’s more of a reminder of areas you want to grow and who you want to become, than a quest for accolades or achievements.

So, what is mine this year? Patience.

Some who know me might be surprised, as I tend to be an outwardly patient person. I’m learning to trust the process of creation, to be patient with myself, and to make space for reflection.

The truth is, even the simple practice of focusing on one small goal makes it possible to make significant changes to the way you move through your life.

Today, for instance, my one word enabled me to patiently wait out my 2.5 year old son as he moved along the continuum from hating snow, snowsuits, mittens, the sight of snow (anything related to snow and the mountain) to actually laughing and giggling as we catapulted ourselves down the snow-covered hill on a little sled. Patience. It’s powerful to step back with a deep understanding that things will not always happen at your pace. It’s possible that things may not happen at all according to plan. That said, rushing and pushing and forcing won’t get you where you need to go.

 

What’s your #oneword?
#patience #positivevibes#grateful #kindness #newyearseve#oneword