#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

 

E 35: But, I’m Not Indigenous: How to Explore Indigenous Ways of Learning, Authentically (with Adrienne Gear)

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With the advent of more ethically-conscious curricula that challenge the outdated colonialist outlook on history, educators are more responsible than ever for carefully and accurately talking about cultures and ways of knowing that may not be personally familiar to us. In light of the Canadian government’s reconciliation efforts with indigenous people, the way we teach has to reflect a more culturally conscious approach.

“But, I’m not indigenous,” many people say. “How do I teach about indigenous culture?”

In this conversation, you’ll learn specific lessons, books, and approaches to teaching indigenous ways of knowing in an authentic, integrated way. Hope you enjoy this short, illuminating mini-episode with my esteemed guest, Adrienne Gear. Be sure to check out her full-length treasure trove interviews (E #9 and #10)AdrienneGear_600x480-300x240

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  or on social media by searching Adrienne Gear.
For more information about her books, book lists, blog, resources and workshops visit her blog.

#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.

 

 

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.

 

 

E 19: Twenty Actionable Ways to Integrate Kindness into your Curriculum Starting Monday (with Sheila Sjolseth)

Sheila Sjolseth

Sheila Sjolseth brings to life acts of kindness and service projects that families and kids can do. In her daily adventures of serving with her young boys, she has witnessed the awesome things that happen when kids serve others. She started serving daily with her boys in 2012, when they were 3 and 5 years old. What started as a way to teach her kids empathy has transitioned to a way of life and a connection with thousands of others.

Born and raised in small towns across Texas, the oldest of four girls, she felt a call early on to help others for her career. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Special Education from The University of Texas at Austin and her Masters of Education in Learning and Teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Moving across the US and the world several times over, Sheila has taught in a variety of settings from a classroom in small town Texas, to a psychiatric unit in Chicago, to the US Department of Education. Public school, private school, charter school, and in the community, Sheila has had the opportunity to teach and present in almost every type of setting.
Along each step of the way, she worked with parents and students to improve parenting and learning skills. Known for her innovative teaching skills and ability to reach even the “hardest to reach” student, Sheila’s professional background is rooted in applying best teaching practices while addressing the needs of the student. As an educator and professional with 20 years of experience in working with children and parents, she truly believes that teaching kids to be kind results in a happier family.

As the President and Founder of Pennies of Time: Teach Kids to Serve, Sheila works with families and other community focused organizations to help families integrate kindness into daily habits. “Kindness as a lifestyle . . . not an item on a ‘to do’ list.” She is a 2015 Daily Point of Light Winner for contributions to family volunteerism and community service.

Her goal: For families to choose to complete an act of kindness as often as they go to soccer practice or to the movies.

“Let’s elevate the meaningful activities that we do as a family and lessen the activities that isolate us from one another.”

Her upcoming book will be released in late 2018.

Synopsis of Book:
Join Sheila in a journey through a magical land visiting families struggling to be kind in an unkind world. Her book is a storybook parenting resource that helps parents see what they can do to foster kindness and compassion in their homes. From an engaging story-line, poignant real life stories, and practical tools families can use, Sheila guides parents from doable first steps to an inspiring future where our children are compassionate problem- solvers.

Website
Pennies of Time-Kindness Academy
Instagram Twitter Facebook Pinterest

 

E 18: Depression, Anxiety, and Suicide: Easy Ways for Teachers to Navigate these Hard Topics (with Dr. Shimi Kang)

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Every parent and educator experiences visceral fear at the thought of needing to support a child in crisis. Most of us feel a sense of powerlessness, but this psychiatrist explains the importance of our role in our students’ lives. In this mini episode, you’ll learn easy tangible ways to support students experiencing depression, anxiety, or even suicidal thoughts. This is an episode not to miss!

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 http://www.drshimikang.com
Or check out our podcast search for episode #18.

E 17: Can You Teach Kindness and Empathy? : Actionable, Proven Tips You Can Implement in Your Class Starting Today (with Barbara Gruener)

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Some people believe that empathy is intrinsic, something you’re either born with or you’re not. Well, my guest today believes that all children have the capacity to be kind, compassionate contributors, we just have to be willing to teach them how. You’ll come away from this conversation inspired to start the 21-day kindness challenge, with a ton of easy to implement tips and strategies for the classroom, with lesson ideas, and with service-based projects to dig into with your students. Enjoy!

Currently having completed her 34th year school counselor in Friendswood, Texas, Barbara Gruener, has had the unique opportunity of growing alongside learners in every age and stage, preK through 12th. A passionate, connected educator, Barbara enjoys positively inspiring and influencing change through her high energy, engaging keynotes and interactive learning sessions. The author of the Corner on Character blog and the book, [What’s Under Your Cape?][1], Barbara firmly believes that we have the power to change the world, one kind act at a time. Influenced by the recent school shooting in in Santa Fe, just 15 miles from her home, she felt moved to take a bigger stand for kindness. She has just recently taken the leap into consulting work. When she’s not working, you can bet Barbara is knitting, baking, writing, reading, walking, gardening, napping, or spending time with her husband and their three children.

Where you can connect with Barbara:

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You can find her on twitter: @BarbaraGruener
On facebook: www.facebook/WhatsUnderYourCape

On pinterest (bgruener) and by reading her blog
[www.corneroncharacter.com][2]
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/bgruener/

For more information visit my website and search for episode #17.

Barb’s Blog: The Corner on Character

E 16: So, You Want to Start your Own School? (with Tom Hudock)

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You are in for a real treat! I am here with Tom Hudock, a successful entrepreneur, a non-profit founder, a father, and business advisor. He is the co-founder of Rethink Thinking, a non-profit making change in the world of education and he has also founded Arc Academy school based on the inquiry-based learning model.

You can find him @tomhudock on twitter and Instagram and by searching Tom Hudock on facebook or teach Arc Academy to get connected on social media.

In this conversation, we discuss :

-Actionable ways to rethink education in this uncertain world

-The key to keeping students engaged and passionate about their own learning

-How to overcome challenges and fear of failure whether you’re starting a new business or helping students to adopt a growth mindset

-The importance of cultivating environments that sustain and support mental wellness

Hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did!

A message from ARC Academy School:

“We are bringing inquiry-based, interdisciplinary learning to our community but what does this mean? Learn how we see the differences or download the chart to read at your convenience (on their website)

Opening a progressive inquiry middle school takes a very committed community, and becoming a part of the family also has its privileges. Each Founding Family instantly celebrated the victory of ensuring this type of independent school education was available for their child. Our hearts go out to these families with the utmost gratitude.”

To find out more or register for ARC click here.

About Tom Hudock:

I’ve been fortunate to have amazing people be a part of my life – it has helped me pursue my passions. I’ve started a couple companies, latest passion is Reinfluence Marketing – http://reinfluenceinc.com, and have worked with people in various industries on business transformation, sales/marketing, and startup initiatives. My diverse background has given me a unique perspective on business and Making It Happen (MIH).

Entrepreneurship is my #2 passion (family comes first). I enjoy talking about business and sharing stories but I really want to make successful businesses, whether they be mine or helping others create an environment for success.

Currently, my focus is on building a branding/marketing business. I’m putting everything I can into businesses that need strategy and execution with the latest marketing methods. We help build brands with compelling advertising.

In the past, I’ve consulted for executives, business teams and individuals looking for ways of solving their problematic situation. Whether it was rescuing a failing project or helping take a new initiative to implementation, I have a proven track record for delivering on customer expectations. I’ve delivered $25 million dollar business/technology projects to smaller management consulting gigs to mentoring startups.

Specialties: Marketing and Branding
Business Development, Project Management, Business Analysis
Performance Management and Business Intelligence

 

An Interview with Peter H. Reynolds: How to Inspire the Happy Dreamers in your Class

“Creative thinking is the fuel for getting things going. Dreaming about the project is a huge part of the process. The actual ‘doing’ requires following through on the dream, but the dream is the rough sketch. I encourage people to ponder and conjure the vision, but eventually I’ll nudge you to “prove your groove.” Don’t just say you are a writer… Write. Don’t just dream about making a film… Pick up the camera and go!”

-Peter H. Reynolds

Have you ever wondered how to empower the dreamers in your life to be the fullest expressions of themselves? To take audacious leaps? To connect with their passion in a meaningful way to serve the world?IMG_3148

In this episode, you’ll learn the 4 questions you can ask to connect students with their purpose, the top two ways anyone can generate new and creative ideas, and the most important question everyone should be asking themselves in order to live a life of joyful intention. I am thrilled about this remarkable interview, with the best-selling, award-winning author, Peter H. Reynolds. Join us as we deep-dive into creativity, dreaming, and joyful expression.IMG_3151

Creativity champion, Peter H. Reynolds, is a Canadian-born, NY Times best-selling author & illustrator Published in over 25 languages.

Peter’s books The Dot, Ish, The Word Collector, and Happy Dreamer, among many others, inspire children and “grown up children” with his messages about authentic learning, creativity, bravery, empathy, and courageous self-expression.

Peter also illustrated the best selling I am Yoga, I am Peace, I am Human (which was recently a #1 NYT Best selling picture book!), and The Water Princess with Susan Verde, as well as, the Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald. Peter lives in the Boston area where he founded The Blue Bunny, a family-owned and operated children’s book, toy, & creativity store.

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Peter and his twin brother Paul, launched the Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning, and Creativity (TLC). The center is a not-for-profit organization that encourages creativity and innovation in teaching and learning. Also worth checking out, whether, you are a child, a teacher, or a grown-up kid, Fable-Vision, a creative animation studio designed to helping learners find their true potential.

You can find Peter on Twitter @peterhreynolds and by visiting his website.

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Here are 15 tips to make your mark:

Tell stories. Family stories. Made-up stories. You don’t need a book to read with your children. In fact, if they see you improvise they will learn to do the same. Improv is key to creative thinking and innovation. For more ideas, click here.

Check out Peter’s blog, The Stellar Cafe. And here’s a great interview about his artist’s way.