Am I a Storyteller?

It was in Grade Two when I first had the audacity to create an after-school writing club with a handful of friends.
Audacious, because my teacher believed that although I showed hints of “potential,” my story craft was evidently pretty weak.
Every week or so after the final bell rang, my little crew and I would race onto the bus, walk the 1/2 mile of gravel road to my front door, plunk ourselves down at my kitchen table, and we’d begin.
I think in hindsight that the others came for the snacks. I bumbled through that year with the unwavering belief that I was a storyteller.
Soon, with advent of a few strong personalities and notable events in my life, that belief transformed into doubt. I began curating my contributions and took on the role of observer.
The truth is that until recently, I’ve rushed to the punch-line, unable to own my slice of the limelight.
Not long after my children were born, I tuned back into the little whispers and the deep restlessness I felt.
I began writing.
It wasn’t “good” but it was my voice. Clarity and passions emerged… ideas… interests.
My joyful observation and curiosity then pushed me to start a podcast.
I am honoured to listen to the stories of countless people and delight in connecting them to my own, to the narrative of common humanity that runs through all of us.
Now, I have been delighting in creating workshops for educators around creating belonging, and I understand the engaging power of story.
I am have stepped back into the belief that I am a storyteller.
How about you?
I’d love to hear your story of how some of this content has changed your viewpoint.
#kindsight101 #smallactbigimpact #teachers

 

Ep. 89: Creating Calm in the Covid-19 Chaos (with Stefanie Szewczyk)

Let’s face it. The world as we know it has changed for the foreseeable future. Schools are closed. Essential services are the only businesses allowed to function. Covid-19 has ravaged much of Asia, Europe, and has made its way into the cities of North America.

As parents, business leaders, and teachers, we have been left scrambling to bring some sense of calm into the chaos. Many of us have had to face the new reality of online remote learning, while balancing the needs of our own children and job responsibilities.

Today, I speak with Stefanie Szewczyk, a fellow mom, virtual assistant, and project manager about the realities of working from home, how to schedule your day for optimal productivity, how to be kind to yourself in the process, and learning how to give your children what they need in this difficult time.

Please enjoy our conversation, as we attempt to bring calm to the chaos.

 

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/kindsight-101/id1412489005?mt=2

What If We Had User Manuals for People?

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Dr. Adam Grant suggests that we should all get clear on what makes us tick in order to play better with others. 

What if we issued user-manual that made it easier for people to work with us? It’s almost certain that conflicts and misunderstandings would decrease and productivity would increase.

That’s exactly what Dr. Adam Grant decided to do, after receiving some negative feedback from members of his team. He decided that it would be helpful for those around him to provide him with some specific feedback about his strengths and his blind spots.

It turns out that the user manual was a brilliant document that enabled people to interact with Grant in an effective, productive manner. Many people and companies have adopted this strategy in their businesses and organizations.

What if we took this approach with school? It’s possible we could do this with our colleagues, with our students, even with our administration to amplify connections.

Here’s how you can start.

Part I:

Here are the questions that Dr. Grant suggests you should reflect on the following three questions:  ask when creating your own personal User Manual:

  1. What are my strengths? How can someone bring these out in me?
  2. What are my weaknesses? What tends to bring those out?
  3. What are some of my “bright spots” (the spots that are strengths I might tend to see)?

Part II:

Think of 5-10 people who work, live, and play alongside you and ask them to answer some questions about you. These should be you genuinely like and trust. You could send out a google doc or a quick email to see what comes back.

  1. Reflected Best-Self: Ask 15-20 colleagues to contribute stories of times when you were at your best.
  2. Next, analyse the stories and find common themes. What activates my being at my best?
  3. Ask these colleagues to reflect on the following questions about you:
    1. What are my blind spots?
    2. Triggers that bring out the worst in me?
    3. What do you wish you knew about me when we first started working together?

Take all of this information and put it into a one-pager that highlights your strengths, stretches (with triggers), and ideal communication style.

 

Written by Morgane Michael #smallactbigimpact #kindsight101

 

 

 

Ep. 82: The More We Get Together (With Raffi)

 

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Millions know Raffi for his work as a children’s entertainer whose string of gold and platinum-selling recordings in North America includes his classic “Baby Beluga” song with its beloved melody and lyrics. But a very interesting piece of Raffi’s story is not as well known: Raffi’s pioneering commitment to honouring his young fans changed the way we came to view music made for children. Founding his own record label, Troubadour, then folk musician Raffi set out on a path that rescued children’s recordings from bargain bin pricing and sub-par production values.

In 1976, with help from Ken Whiteley and Daniel Lanois, Raffi made sure that his recordings met the highest standards. Raffi convinced retailers that parents would pay regular price for quality music for their children, and he was right. Teachers, parents and kids took an immediate liking to the kind of songwriting and recording Raffi offered, perhaps because of the respect that was obvious in his material and the playful delivery that always clicked with the kids. Soon, the media were knocking at Raffi’s door.

Because of his belief that children should not be exposed to too much television viewing and that they should not be directly marketed to, during his thirty-year career as a superstar of kid’s music Raffi refused all offers for commercial television shows and commercial endorsements. Even recently, when approached by a Hollywood production company to do a film based on “Baby Beluga,” he declined when told that the film’s marketing would include direct advertising to children. This is only one of a series of lucrative deals Raffi and Troubadour have declined over the years.


https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/kindsight-101/id1412489005?mt=2

Ep 79: The Secret to Health and Happiness (With Gail Markin)

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https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/kindsight-101/id1412489005?mt=2

Have you ever wondered what the number one predictor for high-achieving teams was? What about optimizing the brain’s most basic neurochemicals to live a happier life? Did you know that there are three main ingredients to create belonging in the work place, and anyone, irrespective of title can contribute to doing so? In our episode with Gail Markin, we’ll be answering these questions and more. I was totally blown away by the TED talk this amazing educator gave this past summer and want to share all the juicy learning with you! You can connect with her @markingail on twitter.

Notes:
Dr. Brene Brown’s master list of emotions
Dr. Lieberman’s work on physical vs. emotional pain

Gail Markin is a Middle School Counsellor and a District Support Teacher for Social Emotional Learning in Langley, British Columbia. Gail has a background in social work, family counselling and parent education. Gail is a member the BC School Centred Mental Health Coalition, Social Emotional Learning BC and the Langley School District Wellness Team. She is passionate about promoting and supporting mental health and wellness for all. Here is the talk that was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

Ep 78: The Unity Mandala (With Raphael Divi)

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Raphael Vincent a Haitian-born artist and activist based out of Victoria, British Columbia, who celebrates the concept of strength through unity in order to bring a sense of belonging and identity to school-aged students through the creation of collaborative mandalas made from a common household item.

Raphael hopes to create a healing symbol for those involved in the system and bringing students together for the greater good.

In this conversation, we talk about art as a healing force, the unity of humanity, and Raphael shares an easy exercise that can help any creativity skeptic regain a sense of creativity.
You can find out more about Raphael on his website https://www.theunitymandala.com or by following him on Instagram at raphaeldivi

Ep 76: Culturize Your School (With Jimmy Casas)

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https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/kindsight-101/id1412489005?mt=2

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a the kind of educational leader that nurtures excellence while building a powerful sense of community?

I’ve got another gem for you today…the one and only Jimmy Casas!

In our wide-ranging conversation, we explore:
* the biggest challenge in education,
* how to become a leader regardless of your title,
* how to delegate effectively,
* how to reach tough-to-teach kids without lowering expectations,
* the power of second chances, one of his top anxieties as a school leader,
* and the magic of establishing student-centred school culture.

Jimmy Casas is the best-selling author of Culturize and Stop Right Now, a speaker, and leadership coach, and currently serves as an adjunct professor at Drake University in Educational Leadership. He was an award-winning principal who served for twenty-two years as a school leader and is now consulting with and coaching educators, principals, and superintendents across the us.

You can find him and more about his books on social media at casasjimmy or online at jimmycasas.com

Throughout the book Culturize, Jimmy refers to his 4-point-core-values that have guided his practice as a leader and we touch on many of these throughout the interview:
1. Be a Champion for Kids– 3 rs’ …relationship, relationship, relationship! It turns out that most kids don’t succeed because a lack in these following three areas: confidence capability, and connection.
2. Expect Excellence– Choose empathy vs. sympathy and through effective scaffolding, hold the people you serve and your stakeholders to a high standard.
3. Carry the Banner– Be positive about your school. Branding happens…you can either control the message or let someone else do it. Social media is here to stay, so it makes sense to learn how to harness it.
4. Be a Merchant of Hope -Give people chances, make your mistakes right, and believe in people.

In culturize, Jimmy asks leaders to reflect on their practice using the following questions:
-Do your words inspire success or shame?
-Do you acknowledge the needs of others?
-Do you dismiss the gifts of others?

Hope you enjoy the episode. Please share with people you think would benefit from the message.

Ep. 75 Teach Like a Pirate (With Dave Burgess)

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Have you ever wanted to know the secret to truly achieving success?

How to create rapport in less than one minute?

What about rethinking your personal brand-everyone has one (you can either be intentional about it or let someone else create it for you)?

What about how to guard against the destructive nature of perfectionism?

This episode with New York Times Bestselling author, speaker, and publisher Dave Burgess is a total game-changer because in our 40 minute conversation, he dropped so much knowledge that I took two pages of notes and I had to listen back to the recording just to squeeze it all out!

Get ready to be inspired! #TLAP #smallactbigimpact #kindsight101

https://www.daveburgessconsulting.com
@burgessdave (twitter)
@dbc_inc (instagram)

A Rant about Joker

image0So, this is a personal rant about the movie, Joker. While I know this is just a movie, I challenge the long-term implications to our culture of “normal.” I also question the 14 A rating as we know from The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, that copy-cat trends in crimes start with an antecedent example.
Last night, my husband and I went to see Joker. Knowing full-well it would be gritty and dark, I mentally prepared myself… disconnected myself as much as I could throughout the movie from the violence, grit, sorrow, horror, and anger in the movie. I tend to take that stuff on as though it was real, so I have to fashion a protective casing around my emotions before I watch that stuff.
Honestly, I was spellbound by Joaquin Phoenix’s method approach to the character. He totally nailed it… to the point where I questioned where reality and fiction intersected.
I felt chills in the back of my skull as the character pulled the trigger on loved ones, when he exposed the delusions he was living to the audience, and when he scared every last human with whom he connected.
As I left the theatre, I didn’t feel empathy. I felt fear. It made me want to pull my children closer to me. It made me skeptical of strangers. Cortisol was clearly pumping through my body because I felt protective of my family. The concern is that I’m a pretty open-minded person. I bet lots of parents felt this way leaving that theatre. It is precisely why I do the work I do. This sentiment is really bad for us. It creates the US vs THEM narrative that allows humanity to put atrocious nazi-esque policies in place.
Throughout the movie, it was clear that the character was battling a grave mental illness exacerbated by severely traumatic childhood experiences and a distinct lack of connection to human beings. He presented as a psychopath, unable to feel empathy for others in pain and sadistically demonstrating joy in hurting others. Psychopaths make up less than 1% of our population.
We learned that the character was on medication, had been repeatedly admitted to psych wards, had been incarcerated, and had to see social workers routinely.
Honestly, I worry about the way the mass market with conflate all mental illness with sadistic psychopathy. Most people living with visible mental illness are not psychopath killers.
I have met incredible people and children who are afflicted with schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, severe depression and anxiety, and delusions. This is out of their control. Many of these folks are tax-payers, parents, business people, creatives, accountant, lawyers, and contribute positively to society with the help of medication.
My major concern is that people will alienate these folks even more than they already do because of fear. Many of these people work hard to overcome the negative stigma of mental illness. There is so much shame already associated with these disorders, I’m not sure that this movie helps dispel the cultural view of mental illness.
We need to wrap our arms tighter around people battling mental illness. We need to remind them of their place in society. We need to continue to fund the social services that support those living in poverty. We need to intervene early with high-risk kids.
We need to move closer not further away.
I don’t think the film should be banned. I just think we need to ensure we have the cultural conversation around the type of illness this portrays.
#kindsight101 #smallactbigimpact

 

#kindnessninjas The October Challenge

IMG_2876Allie Apels and The Kindness Ninjas:

I recently had the amazing Allie Apels of @joysofkinder on my podcast to discuss the transformative power of her brainchild “Kindness Ninjas” Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program in her kindergarten class (#kindnessninjas).

Essentially, a few years ago, when Allie was faced with one of the most challenging groups of children she had ever taught, she and her teaching partner (yes, there were two teachers allocated to one class due to the high level of needs), came up with a brilliant way to encourage the development of a kind and supportive classroom. They introduced a kindness ambassador: the kindness ninja. Every day, leading up to Christmas break, Allie and her class would be greeted by the kindness ninja who would leave them notes and various random acts of kindness missions.

She explained that the experience was completely transformative. The class came together as a team and that year wound up becoming one of Allie’s favourite years as a teacher.

All About Our 15-Day Kindness Ninja Video Challenge Synergy

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Not long after our conversation went live, we got the best idea ever and now…it’s about to go live!

This October, Allie and I are collaborating to bring your classroom an exciting synergy between the 21-Day-Kindness-Challenge and the Kindness Ninjas.

Every day, staring October 7th, 2019, we will be posting on our Instagram accounts 15 school-days worth of kindness ninja challenges to complete with your class. Our little kindness ninja will speak to your children through video using the chatterpix app.

We debated sharing the challenges ahead of time (we love a surprise), and decided to do so in order to give you amazing educators a head-start in your planning. Also, we will be posting the videos eventually to YouTube so that you can follow along on your own timeline at a later time!

How to Participate in the Challenge

  1. Follow us to see the videos! Follow Allie Apels on Instagram @joysofkinder and Morgane Michael @smallactbigimpact. 
  2. Watch the daily videos with your students-comment, tag others to join, use the hashtag #kindnessninjas, and don’t forget to tag us in your comments/photos/examples! We love seeing your journey, too!
  3. Participate in all 15 challenges (tagging us and linking the hashtag, too) and you’ll enter to win a prize at the end of the challenge!
  4. Spread the love and kindness to your school, workplace and community!

HERE’s A DIRECT LINK TO THE YOUTUBE VIDEOS-in FRENCH & ENGLISH 

Step-by-Step Breakdown with Prep Lists

  1. Day one: Create calming jars. Sneak into another classroom and leave the jars on the teacher’s desk for the class to enjoy.
    • Items you’ll need: A tube of clear or glitter glue, container of glitter, food colouring, jar with an airtight seal, Krazy glue to secure the lid. 

  2. Day two: Work together to create a collaborative mural with an encouraging kindness message for your school.
    • Items you might need-large bulletin-board paper, bulletin board letters, paint
    • Here are some examples of ideas that we’ve seen and love: 

  3. Day three: Line up along the hallways and offer smiles and high-fives to students when they come in from recess.ADB9C979-2E53-4B84-9B6A-2637DF7FD14B
  4. Day four: Make Thanksgiving Art for a nearby senior’s centre and deliver it to them before the holiday to make their hearts a little fuller.7531198384_IMG_9043
  5. Day five: Offer to help clean up your school grounds or a particular area of your school. Your custodian will thank you!
    • Items you might need: Picker-upper sticks, gloves, bags
    • Don’t forget to remind your kids about safety! You don’t want anyone picking up dangerous litter and hurting themselves.
  6. Day six: Make kindness pencils by attaching a kind message flag to colourful pencils, then sneak into another class and deposit them on their desks.
    • You’ll need pencils, little paper flags (white labels work, make little flags out of paper, or pay $2 to use this template 

  7. Day seven: Create a giant card for a special staff member in your school to show your gratitude for all that they do.
  8. Day eight: Bring a book from home, wrap it, and gift it to another class. Or, wrap several books and leave them in special places for members of your community to find.mrsmacsbooks
    • Mrs. McIntosh from Alberta, Canada recently did an amazing job wrapping and hiding gently loved books to her community. Check out her blog post about it!
    • What you will need: Gently loved books (one from the class or one from each student), wrapping paper (make, use newsprint, or purchase), notes explaining who it’s for and what it’s for. Check out Mrs. Mac’s example.
  9. Day nine: Write or trace notes of appreciation for the staff members of your school. Place the notes in their mailboxes or on their vehicle windshields.
  10. Day ten: Create a kindness cart to deliver cold beverages and snacks to teachers in your school (or set up the staff room for a special surprise treat day before lunch or recess):kidnesscart
    • What you’ll need: beverages (large containers of iced tea/lemonade/tea/sparkling water and coffee) or individual cans. Also, cookies/crackers and cheese/and homemade treats are always appreciated.
    • Students can make small posters or cards expressing their gratitude for those who serve the school.
  11. Day eleven: Create posters with uplifting and positive messages on them. When everyone is out for recess, tape them up on the mirrors of the bathrooms for all to see. Here is a free set of speech-bubble postersPosters to DecorateColour-in Postersor make your own (here are some quoteideas)! 

  12. Day twelve: Create kindness clothespinswith lovely messages to pin on staff and students within your school.
    • Check out some of thclothespine ideas from happinessishomemade.net about the kindness clothespins.
    • You’ll need paint, modge-podge, and some small-sized printouts of encouraging messages to adapt this project for the classroom.
  13. Day thirteen: Create beautiful kindness bookmarks with encouraging notes on them. Sneak into your school library and hide them in the books. Here is a template from TPTBe Kind TemplateMultiple Message Bookmarks 

  14. Day fourteen: Write special letters to people in your family thanking them for all that they do for you. Use fancy paper and envelopes to make it extra special.
  15. Day fifteen: Make a kindness big-book to gift to another class, to inspire them to be kind within your school. Each person can make a page to tell one way to be a kindness ninja. You could even send it to another school to spread the ripples of kindness throughout your community.

#kindnessninjas #smallactbigimpact #kindsight101