Storytelling is Leadership: 6 Sentences to Help your Story

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These days, I find myself observing and mentally noting with fervour the magical elements that conspire to empower great leaders. There is a universality about great leadership that makes it easy for those to assume that one either has it or one doesn’t. However, in this growth mindset culture, we know that to be a fallacy. Leadership is a cultivated skill not a role we’re simply born into.

Sure, it helps to be competent at the work you do because competence surely goes a long distance in helping to create trust. But, I’d argue that true leadership goes beyond being the best at your job. Leadership is about enabling those around you to be their best, do their best work, and doing so in a way that helps them to feel autonomous, valued, and empowered. From what I’ve seen, read, listened to, and from the people with whom I’ve personally spoken on the KindSight 101 Podcast (and within my own life), leadership is rooted in storytelling. A solid story can do more to convince people to believe you, join your ranks, or sell you ideas than any coercive, strategic approaches can. Show me a good storyteller and I’ll show you a good leader.

So, how to tell a good story? I recently read the book To Sell is Human by the amazing Dan Pink (Seriously, if you haven’t heard him on a podcast, read or listened to one of his books/speeches, you’re missing out! He’s a guru in motivation and sales…and he’s funny, too!). He introduced me to Emma Coat’s Pixar Pitch framework, which uses the Hero’s Journey to formulate your ideas/story/pitch into a palatable pitch. You want to pique curiosity, solve someone’s problem, create value, and be specific enough that someone can see themselves benefitting from the solution you offer.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Set the tone for the way things are currently: Who is in the story, where do they live, what is the context? – Once upon a time…
  2. Talk about the routine of life-the status quo- Every day…
  3. Create tension and a disruption from the status quo- One day…
  4. What are the consequences of that event or disruption? – Because of that…
  5. What are the further consequences? – Because of that…
  6. Arrive at the conclusion, where things have returned to stasis, but things are better than they were- Until finally…

Take the Finding Nemo Plot, for instance:

  1. Once upon a time there was a fish named Marlin who lost his wife and was protective of his forgetful son, Nemo.
  2. Every day, Nemo would be warned by his Dad not to venture beyond the dangers of their coral reef.
  3. One day, Nemo ignores the warnings and swims beyond the cozy comforts of his home, to the open ocean.
  4. Because of that, he winds up being captured and winds up in a fish tank in someone’s home.
  5. Because of that, Marlin begins a tireless journey to find his son with the help of a few kind creatures at his side.
  6. Until finally, Marlin and Nemo reunite and understand that love is dependent on a sense of trust.

Here’s the Small Act Big Impact story in six sentences:

  1. Once upon a time, there was an education crisis in our schools and communities across North America and the World-at-large.
  2. Everyday, more than 25% of our students were mired in hopelessness, stress, depression, anxiety, and loneliness, to the point where it made it hard for them to learn, connect with one another, and feel deep and authentic happiness and life satisfaction. This was affecting their learning and well-being, making it hard for them to be their best expressions of themselves.
  3. One day, neuroscientists discovered that happiness and fulfilment could be derived from generosity and kindness on a chemical level in the brain. We learned we could learn to develop kindness habits that would release continuous happiness hormones not only to those demonstrating generosity and receiving kindness, but to even those who witnessed it.
  4. Because of that, Small Act Big Impact developed a 21-Day Kindness Challenge to encourage students, teachers, parents, businesses, communities, and educational leaders to develop meaningful habits of kindness that would ripple out into the community, inspiring people to adopt the habits, themselves.
  5. Because of that, students, teachers, and leaders began feeling happier and more hopeful, bringing levels of hopelessness, stress, anxiety, and depression down.
  6. Until finally, everyone knew that the path to living happy lives resides in our ability to help one another through deep and intentional kindness.

How will storytelling help you to become the leader you want to be?

An Alternative to the Dreaded Resolution

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

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

So, what is mine this year? Patience.

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

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

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

 

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

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 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

 

Old Habits Die Hard

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As I heaved the heavy school door open and headed out into the crisp Friday afternoon sunshine, my eyes, still bleary from an action-packed Halloween week at school and home, scanned the sparsely-filled parking lot for my car. My breath caught as a distant panic in my gut threatened to rise into my chest and ripple out onto my skin in goosebumps.

Where was it?

For a brief moment, I was transported back to my early twenties, where I had spent nearly every weekend and countless evenings in fluorescent, heavily curated, and windex-ed storefronts, selling t-shirts and promises to shoppers in the local mall.

One particular day, having driven my cherry red Celica to work, I parked the car on a slight decline, within close proximity to the front entrance of the mall.

I had a love-hate relationship with this vehicle, by the way. Straight out of the early 90’s, this manual shift was compact and zippy. It was the perfect summertime commuter. The problem was, where we live, it rains most of the year. The sunroof, which worked approximately 25% of the time, had a nasty habit of collecting water within it’s frame and would unleash the load on me every time I took a left-hand turn. I remember heading to a bridal shower, wearing a beautiful dress one weekend, only to arrive at the host’s house completely soaked, with mascara running down my face.

It was a cute looking car, though.

So, at the end of my shift at the mall, I emerged eager to head home for dinner. To my dismay, the car was nowhere to be found. After a few frantic minutes of searching, I received a call from my then-boyfriend-now-husband informing me that the car had been towed.

“What?” I demanded incredulously. “Why would they do such a thing?”

It turns out, in my haste to start my work shift, I had neglected to put my car in park. Unbeknownst to me, the vehicle had reversed slowly into the middle of the parking lot, causing a major headache for those wishing to enter the mall. Classic!

Flash forward to today. As it turns out, relief flooded my chest as I spotted my car tucked behind a lumbering, obtrusive van.

The truth is, I still harbour a little post-“traumatic”-stress from that situation. Although its more than 15 years later, part of me still worries that I might have forgotten to put my car in park.

I often think about the way we cling to past mistakes, reliving them, fearful that we’ll make the same ones again. Our brains are often so quick to jump to the worst-case, to scan for crisis. Optimism is the ability to overcome the conditioned pessimistic response and to talk yourself into believing that what has been will not always be, what has happened, will not necessarily be repeated.

 

E 15: Bomb-Diffusal, A North Pole Exploration, and One War Hero’s Courageous Heart: Learning How To Teach Kids with Trauma and PTSD (with Bruno Guevremont)

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With Remembrance Day just around the corner, it’s so important to take a moment and hear the stories of our brave service-people and that we reach out to support them in any way we can.

Ever wonder what an ex-bomb-disposal war vet and paratrooper could teach you about being a better educator? You’re in for a real treat! I’d like to wager that after this conversation, you’ll see your students in a whole new light. In this episode we explore a number of important topics including challenging your assumptions about people, ways to challenge yourself, how nature and contribution can make you happier, and the a 140k multiple day hike across the North Pole helped this war vet overcome the devastating PTSD symptoms of trauma.

“I SPENT 15 YEARS WITH THE ROYAL CANADIAN NAVY, serving two tours in Afghanistan. I was trained as a Weapons Specialist, Paratrooper, Navy Diver, and spent a good portion of my military career as a member of a Canadian Counter Improvised Explosive Disposal Team.
I am also the only member of the Canadian Forces to ever dismantle an explosive vest off a live suicide bomber.
After returning home from my second tour in Afghanistan, I couldn’t function like a normal member of society. I was on high alert at all times, uncomfortable around others, and spiraling in the depths of my own mind.

I remember staring at my nightstand, and wishing there was a handgun inside to stop the pain. And then I’d get out of bed, get dressed and head out. This is how I started my day. I’d drive to the base and dream of crashing my car into the big rock face that I passed on the way. There were car crash casualties there all the time, so nobody would know I did it on purpose. My family would get the insurance money and this constant pain would end.

Around this same time, I was diagnosed with PTSD and medically released from the Canadian Armed Forces. I could’ve believed I was broken and gave up right there, but then I would think of my little guy growing up without a dad.
THANK GOD FOR MY LITTLE GUY.
IF IT WEREN’T FOR HIM, I WOULDN’T BE HERE TODAY HELPING OTHERS.I WENT ON A QUEST, A ONE MAN MISSION TO FIND A CURE.

This shit wasn’t about me anymore. It was all for my little guy. I forced myself to find ways to recover. But the first step was taking responsibility and accepting that I signed up for this. I was a warrior.

I dropped my ego and asked for help.
I chased my passions and opened my own gym.
I completed an expedition in the North Pole.
I led Team Canada in the Invictus Games.
I summited Mount Kilimanjaro.
I stepped back into the roles I was meant for – survivor, warrior, leader.

I became a voice for my brothers and sisters who serve.Today, I’m building a community, bringing those who serve together to conquer PTSD. I’m also fortunate to be able to help thousands of people transform their lives and businesses – from CEOs and influencers to athletes and celebrities (not to mention, some of the biggest veterans and charity organizations in Canada).

WHETHER YOU ARE A SERVICE MEMBER LOOKING TO RECLAIM YOUR WARRIOR SPIRIT, OR A BUSINESS LOOKING TO BOOST PERFORMANCE, FEEL FREE TO REACH OUT.”

For more information visit my podcast and search for episode #15.

https://www.brunoguevremont.com/
Facebook – @brunoguevremont
Linkedin – Bruno Guevremont
Twitter – @Be_Redemption
Instagram – @Bruno_Guevremont

https://www.brunoguevremont.com/

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.

E3: How to Breathe Life into Your School and Boost Achievement (with Principal Kafele)

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In this episode, you’ll learn how to breathe life into your school every day and how to boost achievement in your school through easy, actionable strategies. Principal Kafele’s message comes alive through his expressive storytelling, vulnerability, and personal experiences. Whether you’re a teacher or an educational leader, you’re sure to get fired up by this conversation.

A highly-regarded urban educator in New Jersey for over twenty years, Principal Baruti Kafele distinguished himself as a master teacher and a transformational school leader. As an elementary school teacher in East Orange, NJ, he was selected as the East Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools Teacher of the Year, he was a New Jersey State Teacher of the Year finalist, and a recipient of the New Jersey Education Association Award of Excellence.

As a middle and high school principal, Principal Kafele led the transformation of four different New Jersey urban schools, including “The Mighty” Newark Tech, which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to national recognition, which included U.S. News and World Report Magazine recognizing it three times as one of America’s best high schools.

One of the most sought-after education speakers in America, Principal Kafele is impacting America’s schools! He has delivered over two thousand conference and program keynotes, professional development workshops, parenting seminars and student assemblies over his 32 years of public speaking. An expert in the area of “attitude transformation,” Principal Kafele is the leading authority for providing effective classroom and school leadership strategies toward closing what he coined, the “Attitude Gap.”

A prolific writer, Principal Kafele has written extensively on professional development strategies for creating a positive school climate and culture, transforming the attitudes of at-risk student populations, motivating Black males to excel in the classroom and school leadership practices for inspiring school-wide excellence. In addition to writing several professional articles on these topics for popular education journals, he is the author of eight books which include his national best-sellers, Closing the Attitude Gap, Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and in Life, The Principal 50 and The Teacher 50. His 9th book, Is My School a Better School Because I Lead It? will be released in November, 2018.

Principal Kafele is married to his wife Kimberley, and is the father of their three children, Baruti, Jabari and Kibriya. He earned his B.S. degree in Management Science/Marketing from Kean University and his M.A. degree in Educational Administration from New Jersey City University. He is the recipient of over 150 educational, professional and community awards which include the prestigious Milken National Educator Award, the National Alliance of Black School Educators Hall of Fame Award, induction into the East Orange, New Jersey Hall of Fame, and the City of Dickinson, Texas proclaiming February 8, 1998 as Baruti Kafele Day.

You can find him on principalkafele.com or on social media, including YouTube @principalkafele
For more information visit my podcast.

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!