E 14: How to Be Happy Everyday: It’ll Change the World (with Jacqueline Way)

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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][1]” 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.

Instagram @365give.ca

FB @365give

Twitter @365give

YouTube 365give

For more information visit my website and search for episode # 14.

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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.

Seth Godin: What is School For?

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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 Anxiety

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.

Borders. Check.

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!

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The beautiful antique chair restored by my lovely sister for carpet time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

My Visit to St. Michaels University School

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It was a scorching hot day as I pulled up to the front of the gorgeous brick building and emerged from my car, weighed down by bulky bags of art supplies and all of the equipment necessary for my impending presentation on kindness.

Greeted by the warm and friendly staff, I was directed to the spacious auditorium where over 160 school-aged ELL students from St.Michaels University School’s ISPY program would soon fill the seats.

“I should mention,” one of the staff members announced apologetically, “they’ve mistakenly been told by their houseparents that they are set to go to the museum this afternoon. There’s been a schedule mix-up. I have to warn you, some of the kids are disappointed to be stuck on campus for a presentation.”

Uh oh. My heart sank a little.

This was not the most ideal situation in which to greet a rather large bunch of middle-schoolers, let alone speak to them about kindness.

I have to admit, I started getting nervous.

I took a deep breath, “Ok. No problem. We’ll make it work!”

Within minutes, kids began filing into the room. Some of them entered silently and sleepily. Others jostled one another, still riding high from the endorphins after a lively game of lunchtime basketball.

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I began my presentation, pleasantly surprised at how quickly they gave me the floor. Suddenly, due to a technical glitch, the video I wanted to play was inaudible and wouldn’t play properly (despite several soundchecks)…

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“Uh oh, I’ve lost them!” I thought, maintaining the illusion of calm on the outside while ripples of panic lapped at my mind.

I explained that sometimes life hands us challenging situations to test out ability to overcome them. I thanked them for their patience, then completed my presentation (with the technical support of a few friendly teachers nearby).

The thing is, these kids, many of whom had been disappointed initially at the prospect of staying on campus extended me the most generous, warm reception at the end of the talk. They demonstrated their compassion and allowed me to feel comfortable within their presence, in spite of the glitches.

Throughout the rest of the afternoon, these students, from China, Korea, Russia, Mexico, Japan, Iran, and Taiwan, cycled through break-out sessions where they learned about mindfulness (from the amazing Lisa Baylis from Awaken the Well-Being of Educators), calming strategies, yoga, and kindness.

In my session, we created Kindness Rocks (lesson linked) and practiced English language skills through writing encouraging notes for friends, teachers, and family members together.

About a week later, I received a letter from St.Michaels University School. When I opened it, my heart just about burst open. Within the envelope were a number of letters, cards, notes, and even a hand-drawn portrait expressing thanks.

What touched my heart the most was that some of the students articulated their initial disappointment about having to sit in lecture hall, then noted that they came away from the presentation with a changed perspective about kindness and happiness.

I love to see children realize that their kind acts enable people to feel valued and seen, that their generosity can contribute to a happier world, and that their influence within their learning community matters.

A big thank you St. Michaels University School and my friend Allison for having me in! It was truly an honour.

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Camping…in a Nutshell

Camping…in a Nutshell

 

Frantically searching for a buried soother in the depths of a crumpled sleep sack,

Patiently stroking a sleepless child’s hair,

Whispering empty threats, in a desperate plea for just a few more minutes of elusive, delicious slumber…

“But, I’m hun-grrryyyy…”

It’s so early, even the birds haven’t yet begun to sing cheery songs.

This is camping, in a nutshell.

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Endless lists,

Mountains of clothes, dirty dishes, filthy feet,

Argh!

Wind and rain, sunburns, broken bones,

Band-Aids,

Can’t get warm.

“I’m really hun-grrryyyy…”

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Sometimes I find myself wondering what on Earth possessed our family to commit to yet another weekend in the wilderness. (Well, perhaps “wilderness” is a stretch, but this is about as close to it as I’d venture with my lot.)

Despite the challenges, there’s something about camping on the West Coast with my family that has us coming back to it again and again:

Grains of sand cling persistently to the underside of tiny curled toes

Exhausted little arms wrap their way lovingly around my neck

Marshmallowed cheeks rest peacefully on my shoulder

Newly minted best-friends

Mesmerizing flames dance to the distant sound of laughter and delighted screeches of children

The way windswept tendrils of sun-bleached hair graze my arms as I envelop tiny shivering bodies still dripping from ice cold plunges into salty waves

When we stop doing and

Succumb to simply being,

When we trade our busy city-pace for

Island time.

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We connect.

Deeply and authentically,

We connect not only to nature,

But to the people and beings that inhabit it.

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In a comforting way, camping has a way of reminding us of

our smallness,

our insignificance.

It distills the important from the noise.

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I can’t wait to do it again in two weeks.

In the meantime, I’ll be catching up on laundry.

 

 

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)