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]. For more information visit my website [smallactbigimpact.com] and search for episode #23.
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.
Imagine 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.
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.
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?], 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.
Have you ever found yourself puzzling over fostering resilience in our students but felt at a loss about how to get there? Well, you’re in for a treat. My remarkable guest describes through animated and relatable storytelling how to do just that by developing grit, growth mindset, and confidence within our students.
Here is her favourite quote by Goethe: “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back — concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
Dr. Jillian Roberts is a renowned child psychologist, author, professor and parent. She earned her PhD at age 26, became an associate professor at the University of Victoria at 32, and shortly after became the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Education. During this time, Dr. Roberts built one of Victoria, B.C.’s most successful child psychology practices.
Considered a go-to child psychology expert for journalists, Dr. Roberts’ work has appeared in the New York Times and the Toronto Sun; she is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post Canada, the CBC and Global News. Her best-selling series of children’s books was released in 2016 to international acclaim. In early 2017, Dr. Roberts co-founded Family Sparks to offer families a supportive, resource-rich community to help them navigate our increasingly complicated world.
For more information visit my website and search for episode # 13.
When you ask people what they want most in life, money, fame and notoriety are not at the top of their lists: happiness is. Have you ever wanted to learn a way to teach your students to be happier? My next guest shares the one thing you can do every day to lead a happier life and encourages teachers cultivate happier classrooms by teaching this daily habit.
Jacqueline has dedicated herself to social good projects both personally and professionally for over two decades raising millions of dollars for organizations globally, but it was Motherhood that inspired her to make a world of difference. In 2010 she made a commitment with her oldest son on his 3rd birthday to give back to the world every day for one year. They called it 365give. What started as a simple parenting project is now a global giving movement. Her recent TEDx Talk “[How to Be Happy Every Day: It Will Change the World]” has received world-wide attention connecting and inspiring people around the world to give every day. 365give is a registered Canadian Charity and with the help from her son Nic and a dedicated team of volunteers they continue to grow their vision to change the world 1 give, 1 day at a time.
For more information visit my website and search for episode # 14.
“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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.