On Wednesday, January 27th, 2016, Fountain Valley School created and participated in an amazing day named Unity Day. The day started for staff at 8:00 am with a “White Privilege” session led by Dr. Eddie Moore. Dr. Moore was energetic and brilliant with his words. He discussed how he had not grown up with diversity skills, he had grown up with segregation skills. Dr. Moore explained that 2+2 doesn’t always equal 4. Dr. Moore grew up in a very segregated neighborhood in Florida where his Southern Baptist Church was a big part of his life. When he went to college in Iowa, he thought church would be his common experience. But does church always equal church. 2+2=8/2. 2+2 = 3+1. We all have different experiences. We need to Understand, Respect, and Connect. The biggest changes need to be made by understanding how systems, organizations and institutions work. “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are,” stated by Anais Nin. Dr. Moore suggested reading “Lies My Teacher Told Me” and “The White Racial Frame” and watching the movie “American Promise.”
The day began for the students with an introductory by Dr. Moore at All School. Students chose three sessions to attend from the following list: Racism in Soccer; Irish Dance; Pueblo: It’s not Mordor; Springs and Swirls; Relaxing Life in Tea House; Water Polo Through the London Eye; Hillary, Donald and Ted–Oh My!; Myth, Me, and We; Rugby Around the World; Holi- The Indian Festival of Color; Japanese Experience; Arabic and Living in Arabia; Transgender Rights; Special Needs Awareness; White Privilege; The Red Sand Project; It’s Not Just Black and White; and Brought Up Bilingual. The sessions were created and present primarily by students. We had a few presented by teachers and one presented by an alumni.
I was fortunate to assist with the alumni presented one. Molly Gochman ’96 is an artist in New York who started the Red Sand Project (#redsandproject). Molly Gochman started learning about Human Trafficking and wanted to do something about it. She started using red sand to fill in the tracks in sidewalks to represent the humans that fell through the cracks. Last week she got requests for over 50,000 bags of sand for others to partake in the social justice statement. Our students participating in the sessions were able to find a space to add their red sand into cracks around school.
The next session I attended was Springs & Swirls which was about the labels associated with Manitou Springs and learning about the history of the town. The last session I attended was Transgender Rights. The students presenting were thorough in their knowledge and open for questions and discussions. We ended an All School with Eddie challenging us to keep our minds open to diversity. The advisory groups then met to reflect on the day. During reflection students were asked to create a Dream Flag displaying what their dreams of the world would be. The project is based on the poetry of Langston Hughes and the prayer flags of Tibet. The flags are currently hanging in different areas of our campus. Unity Day was featured on the front page of the Gazette and featured on Fox 21 News.
On Monday of this week, my boss talked about a conference he has been attending for the last 3 years. My boss has been going to the People of Color Conference. He shared these ideas with the staff and his presentation was amazing.
During the presentation, my boss mentioned that he has read “Witnessing Whiteness” by Shellie Tochluk and “Waking Up White” by Debby Irving. Other staff members added “Between the World and Me“ by Ta-NeHisi Coates and “White Like Me“ by Tim Wise. It was suggested to read Dear White America article from the NY Times. As much as we try to erase racism, it is still here. The definitions of racism, racist, prejudices were discussed. The idea of white privilege was discussed. One teacher uses Race: The Power of an Illusion from PBS during class to start discussions. Another teacher uses the Implicit Test from Harvard to show students their own prejudices. Yet another shared “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” which is a checklist of things that mean you are privileged.
I feel like an open-minded person, but I know I have prejudices. I also know what it feels like to be the only white around. While living in an industrial part of Shanghai, China, I got those blank stares. Sometimes I felt like the locals had never seen a white person before. Of course, I still had the “white privilege”. Even though I was a minority, white people are still looked up to. As I traveled around Asia, everywhere I went, people spoke English. English is the “white” language. I felt grateful that I knew English, but also realized that it was a privilege to be in the majority. Everyone around the world wants to learn English.
If you want to see horrible social media examples of white privilege, check out White Whine by Streeter Seidell. He even wrote a book compiling them.
So how can we change this? The first step is to just be aware. Be a witness when you can to stop racism from happening. Call people out on this. Try to be open-minded.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.
I have read all three of Brené Brown’s books. She starts with “The Gifts of Imperfection“. Her second one is “Daring Greatly”. The one I am reading is “Rising Strong”. Brené Brown does the research to understand why we act the way we do. Brown in book describes “The Gifts of Imperfection” – Be You; “Daring Greatly” – Be All In; and “Rising Strong”- Fall. Get Up. Try Again.
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.” Brown’s rules of engagement for rising strong are: 1)if we are brave enough often enough, we will fall; this is the physics of vulnerability; 2) once we fall in the service of being brave, we can never go back; 3) this journey belongs to no one but you; however, no one successfully goes it alone; 4) we’re wired for story; 5)creativity embeds knowledge so that it can become practice. We move what we’re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands; 6) rising strong is the same process whether you’r navigating personal or professional struggles; 7) comparative suffering is a function of fear and scarcity; 8)you can’t engineer an emotional, vulnerable, and courageous process into a one-size-fits-all formula; 9) courage is contagious; 10) rising strong is a spiritual practice.
Most of our vulnerability comes from not thinking that we are enough. For women, it is usually around appearance and body image, for men is around strength and courage. The “Rising Strong” process has a reckoning where we recognize emotion, get curious about our feelings and connect with the way we think and behave. Then we go into the rumble where we get honest about the stories we’re making up about our struggle, then challenge these confabulations and assumptions to determine what’s truth, what’s self-protection, and what needs to change if we want to lead more wholehearted lives. Then we enter the revolution where we write our new ending based on the key learnings from our rumble and use this new, braver story to change how we engage with the world and to ultimately transform the way we live, love , parent and lead. Brown uses the Maya Angelou quote: “you many not control all that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
During the “Reckoning” chapter, Brown explains the box breathing method of Breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds and hold for four seconds. Many high-stress workers use this in military, fire fighting, police, and teachers. Typically when something happens, we create a story that is driven by our emotions. Brown suggests that you ask these questions: 1)What more do I need to learn and understand about the situation? 2) What more do I need to learn and understand about the other people in the story?3) What more do I need to learn and understand about myself?
Brown discusses in the “Rumble” chapter that “in the absence of data, we will always make up stories.” Some of these are confabulations – stories we make up that we think are true but are honestly told. Anne Lamott uses the idea that we should write our own SFD – shitty first draft (or stormy for younger ages). This helps us foster awareness about our stories. Brown suggests that you write something down to get them out in the open by using these six sentence starters: 1) the story I’m making up…. 2) my emotions…3) my body…. 4) my thinking…. 5) my beliefs… and 6) my actions…. “Self-righteousness starts with the belief that I’m better than other people” leading to the thought that “I’m not good enough.”
If you go through life thinking that everyone around you is not doing your best, it is very easy to get frustrated. If you go through life thinking that everyone around you is doing their best, you have more empathy, understanding, and compassion. Brown also remind the reader that “Disappointment is unmet expectations, and the more significant the expectations, the more significant the disappointment.” Brown also states “offering help is courageous and compassionate, but so is asking for help.”
Trust is hard to do but you need to use the acronym “BRAVING” to remember to 1) set Boundries, 2) be Reliable, 3) have Accountability, 4) be a Vault for secretes, 5) choose Integrity, 6) act with Nonjudgment, 7) extend Generosity. You can also use this acronym to ask yourself questions about our own self-trust.
“Failure can become nourishment if we are willing to get curious, show up vulnerable and human, and put rising strong into practice.” Remember to ask “What are the stories that we are making up?”
The 5 Rs for how Rising Strong Works:
- Respect for self, for others, for story for the process
- Rumble on ideas, on strategies, on decisions, on creativity, on falls, on conflicts, on misunderstandings, on disappointments, on hurt feelings, on failures
- Rally together to own our decisions, own our successes, own our falls, own and integrate our key learnings into our culture and strategies, and practice gratitude
- Recover with family, friends, rest, and play
- Reach out to each other and the community with empathy, compassion, and love.
Ten Guideposts for Wholehearted Living:
- Cultivating authenticity: letting go of what people think
- Cultivating self-compassion: letting go of perfectionism
- Cultivating a resilient spirit: letting go of numbing and powerlessness
- Cultivating gratitude and joy: letting go of scarcity and the fear of the dark
- Cultivating intuition and trusting faith: letting go of the need for certainty
- Cultivating creativity: letting go of comparison
- Cultivating play and rest: letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth
- Cultivating calm and stillness: letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle
- Cultivating meaningful work: letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to”
- Cultivating laughter, song, and dance: letting go of being cool and “always in control”
Scarcity Ideas: We’re living in a culture of scarcity, a culture of “never enough.” The opposite of scarcity is enough. We are enough.
Brown has so many tidbits in this book, it is hard to summarize. You must read this book!
Most people think of Mystery Skype as Mystery Location. This is where you guess locations. But many educators are trying Mystery Numbers where you have to guess a number. Or Mystery Guest where you try to guess the occupation of the guest. Or Mystery Literary Guest where the class pretends to be a literary Figure. Classes can also guess the Chemical Element or the biome. The ideas are unlimited. All you need to do is pick a partner and found a common subject. Good Luck.
Amazing staff development day on Monday, November 30th run by David Mochel of Applied Attention (https://www.appliedattention.com/). Many of the information that David covered were things that we all know and we all should remember, but we don’t. This was not a sit down type of day. We did many get up and move activities. Here is my synopsis of the day – this will not even tip on how much I learned from David, but it will help me remember it all.
David Mochel named his presentation “Building a Practice and Culture of Well-Being”. Much of the day was about refocussing our attention to what is important. David gave us the notion that we are enough – who we are is enough. We are all conditioned by wandering being stuck, being discomfort, and resistance. The condition or as Don Miquel Ruiz writes in “The Four Agreements” we are domesticated by our families, cultures and experiences. Resistance is a big one because we all have our egos. David’s example is when it is a family day and the wife wants to go to the zoo, but the husband wants to go to the beach, the husband might get upset, but the point of the day is to have a family day – not to always be right. Let go of the resistance. David discusses that courage takes vulnerability as discussed in detailed by Brène Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection (ready by blog post on it).
David continues by explaining how “refocusing” works. We need to be aware, have compassion and have a purpose. Our awareness starts with our attention – being open, noticing and accepting. Awareness is “what is happening?” Compassion has to do with our emotion – having empathy, showing kindness and gratitude. Compassion is “what is important?” Purpose is where you put your energy – how do you connect, create and commit. We usually ask “what next?”
Tip: Just two minutes of concentrating on your breath will help calm your emotions.
David then discusses how opinions are internally created. He uses the example of the baby crying on the airplane. Depending on who you are and what you have experienced, your opinion of the baby can be very different. If you are a person missing a child, it might be jealousy. If you are a person getting away from children, it might be anger. Any opportunity is a problem and any problem is an opportunity.
The power of practice is almost unbelievable what this YouTube video of Ben Underwood as the boy who sees without eyes. You get better at what you practice. Everything you do is what you practice. Practice only takes place in the present. Life is really about two things: what shows up and what you practice. What shows up can be divided into “events” and “stories”. Events are what happened and can be internal or external. Stories are how we interpret the events through survival or growth. As humans, we want to be the right one, but we are not always right. Check out Robert Burton’s book “On Being Certain“. I am looking to pick it up, but I have read “Being Wrong” which was an amazing read.
Practice by default or by design? Practice by training or response? Famous quote by Bruce Lee: “Under duress, we do not rise to our expectations – we fall to the level or our training.” And from David: There will always be time to freak out later. When we come across a choice, we have three reactions: spin (which accomplishes nothing and sucks the life out of you), let it drop, or take action. There is no research stating that procrastination works. Ask yourself what is most important! Because having a mission and not living by it is like not having a mission. If you want to learn more about David’s awesome training, please visit his website at https://www.appliedattention.com/.
Activities we did: Circle game with pen, hula hoop game, and the beep game. (go to his seminar to understand more)