Purpose Summit 2019

October 23, 2019 Leave a comment

At the beginning of last year, we had a professional development with Ross Wehner of World Leadership School.  I posted about it here.  This year I attended the Purpose Summit held in Boulder, Colorado at the historic Chautauqua Cabins.


We had community agreements to 1)disconnect to be fully present, 2) decenter by taking risks, and 3) re-envision via new perspectives.  “The biggest problem growing up today is not actually stress; it’s meaninglessness.” by Dr.. William Damon, Director of Standord Center for Adolescence.  My ideas for my purpose:  To share resources so that students and teachers can learn.  Or to share resources and connections so that others develop a global perspective.

Stanford defines purpose a stable intention that is meaningful to self and beneficial to the world.  Wehner suggested reading Dark Horse by Todd Rose.  We discussed the book “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl.  Frankl discusses the fact that those who concentrated on hedonic needs, perished first.  We need to ask students what are their skills that they can use to impact the world.  Help students understand what their purpose might be.  Ask thee students to answer: Who am I?  and How do I connect?  Ask the teachers what do humans need to thrive?

Can we get our schools to look at students as the agents of change?  What community partners do we have.  Stanford did interviews to determine that high school students are 24% goal driven, 24% disengaged, 32% dreamers, and 20 % purposeful.  My five cards were Making Connections (investigative), Seeing Possibilities (artistic), Seeing the big picture (artistic), Building Relationships (Social), and Discovering resources ( investigative).  You picked the ones that I don’t remember learning, people observe me doing well, or sometimes I get lost doing.

Daren Dickson was there from Valor Collegiate. He has a background in mental health.  He introduced the Circle Process which is to introduce your name, your feeling, your work and your neighbor.  Dickson’s purpose is to empower our diverse community to live inspired impactful lives. Dickson feels that schools are responsible for developing the whole child and the whole adult (teachers). Their motto is about being vulnerable and getting rewards with connections.  We have the capacity and need for connections.

Aaron Griffen from DSST explained their values.  We all want to matter, have a voice, and make an impact.  When you live a life of purpose, it is a journey. There is value in knowing students’ names and pronounce them correctly.  Acknowledge your biases in your purpose.  How does my bias show up? What do I do to overcome my bias?

Susan Freudenburg from Winchester Thurston uses the phrase “City as Our Campus”. Their school was founded on the idea of “Think also of the comforts and rights of others”. They have formed mutually beneficial relationships with community partners.  Learn Passionately, foster community, embrace diversity, break boundaries, and make changes.  As they try to be a city as their campus they try to do it in different levels: Moment, expedition, project, unit, year long study, course, residency.  They bring in a lot of guest speakers.  Goals are to bring student to learn about Pittsburg, to interact with community in order to understand diverse stories, equip students with new skills and knowledge through authentic learning experiences, provide teachers a co-educator model and partner with community.

Phu Tranchi of Oakwood School started his session by showing the Pan Seared Scallop with Peas video from a cooking show to demonstrate the precision of teaching and the engagement of students.  Their students and teachers speak about the mission.  They believe that privilege and purpose can create change making.  Community service is for other people.  Community engagement is with other people.  Using UN SDGs to determine what is the cause of issues.

Ask teachers “What will this learning experience be like for this child in my classroom? ” Think of your extreme user – sample of OXO – inventor had a wife with arthritis so he designed kitchen tools that were comfortable for her but they ended up being comfortable for all.  Create an extreme user with identities, interests, happiest at school, plans for the future, frustrations at school.  Make sure to get at the transfer of knowledge “Now What?” If you are a teacher, you are a learner.  What is a school?  It is a ecosystem – it needs to be interdependent, balanced, diverse, harmonious, and built on relationships.

IDEATE: defer judgment, encourage wild ideas, go for quantity, build on other ideas. Warm up exercise: name as many junk foods as you can. How might we help disengaged students find purpose in learning so they can be their authentic selves and achieve their own academic goals.  We created a HACK – which is a method of modification that can be used to help people develop creative solutions to existing or future problems.  You can’t have engagement without purpose so we used an Experience Map to create an experience.

At the end we each created a PechaKucha.  Here are some takeaways from that. How do we live our values?  They should not be a marketing tool!  How are the teachers and students impacting their world.  If we are not wholly developed adults we can’t teach students. Fun Icebreaker with staff could be post it with one word about that person.  Could be skills we have. Very empowering for the staff.  Batten Leadership Program starts with understanding self and others and ends with affecting change.  Not leaders for tomorrow but Activists of Today.  WE can’t look at the past we must look forward.


Out of Many, One

April 22, 2019 Leave a comment

On February 6th, the World Affairs Council hosted:

Ali Noorani is the Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan advocacy organization working with faith, law enforcement and business leaders to promote the value of immigrants and immigration. Growing up in California as the son of Pakistani immigrants, Ali quickly learned how to forge alliances among people of wide-ranging backgrounds, a skill that has served him extraordinarily well as one of the nation’s most innovative coalition builders.

Before joining the Forum in 2008, Ali was executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and he has served in leadership roles within public health and environmental organizations.

Ali is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, holds a Master’s in Public Health from Boston University and is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. Ali lives in Washington, D.C. and is the author of There Goes the Neighborhood: How Communities Overcome Prejudice and Meet the Challenge of American Immigration, (Prometheus, April 2017) and host of “Only in America” podcast. (https://csworldaffairs.org/event-list/#!event/2019/2/6/out-of-many-one-a-defining-moment-for-american-immigration)

Most Americans are afraid of immigrants because of three man things: 1)Culture- will they assimilate, 2)Security – are they a threat to American ideals? and 3)Economy – will they be givers or takers?  With immigrants there is no sense of the “common interest”. Most people have a binary choice for immigration, they either believe in it or they don’t.

  1. Economy – Give or Take?  They are coming to work here, so they want American jobs.  They want their kids to have a better job.  American Immigration Council reports that 73% of agricultural workers are immigrants. Rural areas are in need of workers.  Idaho has 3% unemployment.
  2. Security – they want to defend. 1 in 5 medal honors recipients are foreign born. What is a sanctuary city? The police will let immigrants go after 48 hours. Where all immigrants documented or not feel safe.  Where they don’t get harassed at every step. They won’t be witnesses if they think immigration status will be questioned. Ports of entry are where drugs are coming into our our country.  Work does need to be done there.
  3. Culture – emotional anxiety and fear of others.  Allies believe that churches will find a way to bridge the immigration gap. In 2016 Latter Day Saints Church in Utah had a conference focused on immigration. They said:  “This moment does not define the immigrant but our response will define us.” Christians believe that they are not White Male Christians – they are CHRISTIAN first.  500 pastors signed letter saying “don’t divide families.

Our job is to invite a conversation about the immigration issue.  Our fellow Americans need to understand the immigration process. We need to work together to understand.  Families need to be released after 20 days and then make an ankle bracelet. They need to have access to council to speed up the process.

How do we make a bridge between the caravan of immigrants and the government view?  Are immigrants rapists or victims?  74% of Americans are in the exhausted middle and do not know what to think or do. Even if we closed the walls, we would still as a country continue to get more diverse.  You can’t build a wall high enough to stop hormones.

Podcast “Only in America

National Immigration Reform works on Constituency, Communication and Advocacy.  Need to talk to the constituents and have them talk to the politicians.  And give your money to legal services.

Noorani was asked what would he do if he could wave a magic wand, what would he do.  He said a new policy for the undocumented 11 million which would include requirement to apply for status, learn English, pay a fine, get in line for citizenship. For the ports of entry, Noorani would invest in security. If policy above is in place, you will have more resources to deal with those who don’t want to be documented.  Noorani does not think there is a magic number to let in.  He thinks that we need a sliding scale for how many immigrants should be entering the country.

@AlfieKohn Talks In Denver

March 28, 2019 Leave a comment

On a Thursday in September 2017 (I know this is long overdue, but better late than never), I took a drive north to John Shoemaker School – a school designed to nurture students.   I was a little early, so I toured the school by just walking around.  I found pods where 3 classrooms were grouped together and there was an open common area that they shared.  The classrooms all had flexible seating – some including dining room sets for group work, some had couches or comfy chairs.  I noticed many signs in Spanish and English  The library was open with comfortable seating.  Many garage doors open into outdoor spaces or hallways to give the school an airy feel.  The rest are my nuggets that I gained from the evening.  They may not be perfectly organized, but I wanted to remember them.

Jan Shirley gathered us together when the talk was about to begin. She is the president of Catapult Leadership, the organization who invited Alfie Kohn to come.  Shirley discussed that Catapult Leadership is interested in working with school leaders, to allow them to find and recruit amazing educators who know what we need to transform education.  “We are not preparing our students for college, we are preparing them for uncertainty.”

Alfie Kohn started speaking by talking about “working together for a common good”.  He wants people to believe “schools are where everyone goes to thrive”.  Kohn believes  that high test scores does not mean the test needs to get harder.  Testing is simply not the answers.  If we raise the bar higher, it means we will have a test that not all students can pass.  We are almost assuming that not everyone is allowed to be successful.  We are turning schools into test preparation centers.

Students should be asking “What is the reaction of my audience?”  We need them to work collaboratively, critically think, and be good at informational literacy. Rubrics are just as bad as standardized tests, they are getting rid of human judgement and tell students what exactly we need from them.   Kohn referred to the Coalition of Essential Schools “Exhibition of Mastery”. If you are getting kids to take their temperature all the time, we are just teaching them to ask “How am I doing?” over and over and over again.  “The more focused you are to measure a skill the more menial the skill usually is.  The multiple choice tests are written to trick students. Standardized tests are used to make bad teachers look good.  Kohn calls “teaching to the test”  – legal cheating.  The more time you take to test prep, the less valuable the results are.  And you need to look at “What are we missing?”  “What have we gotten rid of to test prep?”

Kohn claimed “the best teachers never give tests.”  Standardized test typically over or under qualify students.  Students will ask questions when they are ready, they will connect with past knowledge.  There are studies that show that high scorers on standardized tests, typically show that they are not deep thinkers.  Standards are one size fits no students.  The best teachers have bite marks on their tongues for not giving students the answers – let them struggle.  Perfect example is the Mayflower Math – where a teacher draws an outline of the Mayflower boat on the floor and then ask them to see how big it is.  Students use other students as a standard to measure but we are not all the same size.  It takes them 3 days to decide how to measure but those students won’t forget it.

Does your schedule control the learning?  Homework is all pain and no gain.  It is making the students work a second shift.  Good lessons show students why they are learning without asking.  Telling students “Good Job” is like giving them a reward.  Talk about their effort not the accomplishment.  The best teachers know how to complicate a lesson.  We learn in context and for a purpose. If you have to memorize by rote, you don’t need to learn it.  Learning should be active and interactive.  It should be constructive learning.

What gets in the way of learning?  Grades, tests, textbooks.

What helps learning?  Asking better questions of kids, getting kids to ask the question, using the kids questions to create the curriculum – Reggio Emilia Approach.


March 7, 2019 Leave a comment

From an inservice by two amazing co-workers Brittany Harrison and Jennifer Grubb

What are microaggressions? a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority); also : behavior or speech that is characterized by such comments or actions. (from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microaggression)   “You aced that test because you are Asian”  Not participating in hair and makeup night because these products won’t work on me.

What to do if you say a microaggression? 1) building micro proficiencies – be vulnerable this is not about you, apologize without explanations. 2) self care – find time for your own personal processing.  “I have not developed my racial muscle yet” Inquiry vs. defensive response. 3) honor the other’s feelings. Again is not about you. Consider confrontation as a gift, they are helping you learn. They’re not crazy or wrong. Our reality = our experience. 4) own that the microaggressions happen – it is a fact of life, ignoring is not seeing the whole person.



Where There Be Dragons? – Student Container

February 28, 2019 Leave a comment

We started the inservice with the question “What does transformative teaching looks like?”  “Courage to Teaching” by Parker Palmer.  We need to encourage your vulnerability as a teacher today.  What tone have you set in your classroom?  Activity: Storytelling – describe a profound educational experience. What were the conditions that allowed for such learning and growth? What adjectives describe the environment and your learning?  Mine was my first global project with Flat Connections.  Dynamic, Interactive, Innovative.  How do we teach to courage, open-mindedness, self-reliance, curiosity, compassion?

Students catch value they don’t learn it.  Students come pretty stripped when they are not comfortable.  We need to be between the comfort zone and the panic zone.  There is the uncomfortable / learning zone.  With goals we all start with unspoken and unmet, the more you speak about it the more you will reach your goal.  PPPP – Pirate is the not wanting to learn and no one else should be learning –   learning is uncool. Prisoner is not engage, everything sucks, negative but doesn’t affect others.  Passenger is along for the ride, no harm but not a lot of engagement. Participant wants to be there, deeply engaged in their own learning.

In order for all to learn there must be transference.  Transference happens when you review, reflect, synthesize, reintegrate and recognize. They need a place to draw from the learning, time to transfer the knowledge.  When “Dragons” does a program for 9 months, they usually do a 1 week transference.  For a week program, it might be a 1/2 day.

Process of Transference:

  1. Review – make the students state what we did.
  2. Reflection- reflect of how they felt, use a line chart to make a mountain range to show how they felt.
  3. Synthesis – How does this experience matter in your life?  What does a global citizen look like through a drawing.  A Davi – a god with multiple heads or arms carried by a vehicle.  Personalize your Davi.  How did your values change?
  4. Reintegration – How do you bring this home? How will they talk about the experience? How was the trip?  One word, one sentence, one paragraph, one page.
  5. Recognition – Acknowledge their participation and who has gotten them there.  Warm fuzzy conversations.  Have a page with your name on it. Pass it around and everyone writes one sentence about that person.

3 things that really landed – look people in the eye, get students to speak their goals and think about a way to get there. Make students think about the difference about panic mode and being uncomfortable. Give them time to decompress.

Learning and the Brain #latb52

February 21, 2019 Leave a comment

Learning and the Brain Conference in February in San Francisco California

Into the Magic Shop” by James Doty, MD

  • To learn, you have to attend and be present.
  • Relax with a body survey, breathe, meditate
  • We all want to feel Powerful, Heard, Important and Loved
  • One Simple Act can change the world

Dachner Keltner, keltner@berkley.edu

  • GreaterGood.berkeley.edu
  • Human Goodness & Science & Practice of Cultivating Compassion
  • Humanity” by Jonathon Glover
    • Sympathy breakthrough.  75% of soldiers refuse to shoot at enemy
    • Compassion – Feeling of concern and care for others
  • Thomas Huxley says goodness is a social contract
  • Activity- Compassion in the Voice – without using words – sound out feelings – contentment, interest, love sympathy.
  • Om Mani Padme Hum – Bhutan – soothing chant
  • Dancing in the Streets” by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • Test of Touch, One person closes their eyes, the other shows feeling by touching the the eye closer guesses the answers
  • Self-Compassion” by Neff
  • Science of Happiness Podcast
  • Many books:  “The Power Paradox”  and “Compassion Instinct”

Kelly McConigal – “Make Stress Your Friend”  Ted Talk

  • Compassion is:
    • Awareness & Recognized of suffering
    • Feeling of concern of connection
    • Desire to relieve the suffering
    • Belief that you can make a difference
    • Respond to be present or take action
    • Warm glow, satisfiction
  • Fostering Compassion – are you receiving compassion, witnessing compassion, compassion self efficacy, compassion satisfaction, self compassion.

Michelle Borba – Unselfie and other books

  • The Altruistic Personality” by Samuel Oliner
  • Communalities for Altruism
    • Model of kindness and social responsibility
    • Expected to be kind
    • Opportunities to do good.
  • Empathy can be cultivated:  ABC’s of goodness
    • Affect (feel)
    • Behavior (do)
    • Cognitive (Understand)
  • Was it helpful or hurtful?  How can you make it helpful?
  • 9 Empathy Competencies:
    • Emotional Literacy – look into their eyes
    • Moral Identity – helpful or hurtful?
    • Perspective Taking – How would you feel if it happens to you?
    • Moral Imagination – Books/Film
    • Self Regulation – coping skills
    • Practice Kindness
    • Collaboration – we world not me world
    • Moral Courage
    • Altruistic leadership
  • Happiness Hypothesis” by Haidt
    • Irene Sandler – German nurse who saved 20 jewish children
  • Show Goodness examples a board listing all good things on campus
  • Empathy stands for
    • Expect
    • Model
    • Praise
    • Active
    • Together
    • Habit
    • You

John Medina

  • Newest book: “Attack of the Teenage Brain
  • The Interpersonal reactivity Index measures empathic concern, personal distress, perspective taking or fantasy scale.
  • Empathic Training
    • Promotes cognitive flexibility
    • Boosts problem-solving abilities
    • Increases reading comprehension
    • Increases math comprehension
  • Dr. Keith Devlin researched narrative skills.  If a student can retell a story or make up a story with multiple perspectives then they develop a facility for thinking mathematically because it shows another perspective.
  • Executive Function
    • Mike Posner- an overarching term describing neurologically based skills involving cognitive control and emotional self regulation.
    • Dr. Philip Zelazo believe if you improve EF you improve empathy.
    • Lizard brain develops around 10-12 yo- fighting, fleeing, feeding & mating
    • Human brain develops around 25 – all that makes us uniquely mature including the ability to control the lizard
  • Nora Ephron “When your children are teenagers, it is important to have a dog in the house so someone is happy to see you.”
  • Willpower” by Roy Baumeister showed that People with High EF scores:  less moody, better anger management, more creative, better short term memory, commit less crime, less prone to substance abuse, set clear goals, work better in teams, better at long range planning, has a better BS meter, more productive, function better in crisis, tend not to cram.
  • Self control is a better predictor of grades than test scores
  • Aerobic exercise, NOT Strengthening helps your brain – 15 minutes can move grade up ¼ grade
  • Durlak et all Spelled out SAFE for training about Empathy:
    • Sequenced
    • Active – role playing/role-reversal
    • Focus – pro social, regular/priority
    • Explicit – empathy, no general terms, be specific

Ana Homayoun “Social Media Wellness” @AnaHomayoun

  • Students do not have the skills to be organized online. They need more executive function skills.
  • Most of the apps/websites that students used 8 years ago are gone today.  Today it is Tik Tok, Music.ly, SnapChat Streak and charms, Discord, After School, Yubo, Instagram has group chats
  • 1998 – don’t get in strangers cars or meet people from the internet.
  • Today – use the internet to summon people to: pick up groceries, run errands, stay at their place, get in their car.
  • It’s Complicated” by Danah Boyd
  • Do you want to get 7-10 hours a week back?    We need to teach students this. They are sucked into the social media vortex.
  • Hot or Not website- easy to use, easy to upload contact
  • New Social Media has Public Profiles, Private commentary, ephemeral and anonymous interactions, video and livestream, virtual reality.

Digital experiences affect sleep duration and sleep quality.

Five Ways social media affects our youngest generations:

  1. Altered expectations
  2. Mixed messages
  3. Information Overload – netflix binging  – similar to ice cream binging
  4. On all the time mentality
  5. All about the likes personal values development


Using the three Ss to help teens cultivate compassion and empathy

  1. Healthy Socialization –
    1. Identify – what is energizing and what is draining?
    2. Reflect: Figure out your why. Why are you posting?
    3. Decide: I can opt in or opt out. I can filter in, and filter out.
  2. Effective Self-regulation
    1. Identify: How long is my homework “really” taking?
    2. Reflect: What would I do with an extra 7-10 hours of free time per week?
      1. Create opportunities in the classrooms to build these skills… think of it like a muscle.
      2. Use productivity apps to build self-awareness and compartmentalization (forest, Flipd, moment)
      3. Build digital detox opportunities daily/weekly
    3. Decide: I can compartmentalize my time so I get my work done faster and have more free time.
  3. Overall safety
    1. Identify: What feels safe and unsafe online? What is appropriate and inappropriate?
    2. Reflect: Where can I turn (or my students turn) when something doesn’t go as planned?
    3. Decide:What is our school mission statement around how we maintain social emotional and physical safety?

Social, Emotional, and Physical – social manipulations on Popular Apps, location sharing on apps – live 360, Yubo, snapmaps, Shame, stigma, and safety, parents are responsible for what kids do on their phone.

Does every teen have a team?  People they go to when something bad happens.

Sleep, stress-management, addressing problematic overused, addiction

Nothing good happens at a sleep over after 10 pm with a bunch of phones.  

Tip: You need to curate your feeds or how you use your social accounts.  Students need the awareness that they have choices.

John Medina says it takes up to 20 minutes to refocus after task – switching.

What are our schools social emotional social media policies?  Have community council talk about new apps what policies do we need?


Sent out a letter every year to parents, to state that your behaviour affects your students school experience.  Make your parents be on your team.


Shame Nation: Having Teens Choose Kindness in the age of Trolling by Sue Scheff


    1. Online Behavior- conduct, content and caring, rethinking how we share online
      1. “I can’t believe they posted that”  Mean Memes.
        1. Two words changed Sue’s life “google yourself”  Do you know what google is saying about you? Trolls can ruin your life.
        2. Influence of Google
          1. Google is not a god
          2. Google is a machine
          3. Google is unforgiving
          4. Google can dictate the direction of your career, job and life both financially and literally.  
        3. Online reputation is an extension of your online behavior which is a reflection of your offline character.  Website called Reputation Defender.
      2. How to improve our online behavior:
        1. Conduct – self-awareness, check-in with yourself,
          1. Never put a temporary emotion on a permanent internet
          2. Think twice, post once
          3. Is it a tool or a weapon? Help, heal, hurt harm
        2. Content: Will it embarrass you or someone else?
          1. Tweet regrets or post remorse
          2. Know your emojis
        3. Caring: respect, care enough about yourself to know when to click-out.
          1. WHEN IN DOUBT, CLICK – OUT.
    2. Digital Resilience – prepare for ugly-side, report, online is not reality, use critical thinking, help teens unplug
      1. 5 ways to build Digital Resilience
        1. Prepare them for the ugly-side of social media – online hate, cyberbullying, sexting scandals, revenge porn, ugly poll contests, sextortion, online predators.  It is not the apps, it is HUMAN behavior.
        2. Show how to report abuse – who to tell and when?
        3. Online is not always reality – understanding online deception:
          1. Filtered selfies
          2. Social media envy
          3. Catfishing – people disguising their identities
          4. Think of instagram as a movie preview, it is all the best parts or not even what the movie was about.
        4. Critical thinking –
          1. CRAP Detection:
            1. Currency- how recent or up to date is the information?
            2. REliability – is it content opinion based or balanced? Does it provide reference or sources for data?
            3. Authority: Who is the author or source and are they reputable?
            4. Point of View: Does the post have an agenda or are they trying to sell something?
          2. Consequences of what they post: 70% of business use social media to screen candidates before hiring.  75% of colleges preview applicants online behavior before accepting them.
        5. Encourage off line socializing. – socializing in real life develops empathy for others.  Ways to cut screen time:
          1. Create device free time.
          2. Mealtime is for eating and engaging not emails
          3. Set boundaries for cell phones


  • Limit notifications on your gadgets


        1. It can wait don’t text and drive.
  1. Being Upstanders – this actives our empathy. Don’t perpetuate hate, reach out to people struggling , reflect on your own behavior
    1. Don’t perpetuate Hate
      1. Report & flag abusive content
      2. Don’t forward or retweet cruel content
      3. Liking a harmful post is a equal to endorsing it.
      4. Don’t engage in cyber-combat
    2. Reach Out to Someone Struggling Online
      1. Private message them
      2. Send a text
      3. Write an email
      4. Call them, leave a message
      5. Let them know they’re not alone
      6. follow @SupportiveDude He is an anti-troll.
    3. Who is the Digital You?
      1. What does your online reflection say aobut you?
      2. Look at your posts from the 20 yo, 40 yo, 60 yo   – 20/40/60 challenge
      3. You are what you post
      4. Words and tone matter
      5. Be interested others
      6. Kindness is contagious – it starts with us

5 ways to rethink your online sharing habits:

  1. Is it necessary?
    1. Social sharing for your platform or oversharing for your ego?
    2. Avoid sharing in haste.
  2. Emotional sharing: Having a bad day?
    1. Social media should not be used as a diary.
    2. Avoid using cyber friends and cyber therapist.
  3. Inappropriate Sharing
  4. Constructive Sharing
  5. Know your audience

When in doubt, click out.

Watch the Amanda Todd Video


Paula Prentis @YSSconnect/ Instagram @yourslefseries


We created a team  – introduce yourself and find a captain and a scorekeeper

You are a brain architect

Met Katie from Missoula, MT, originally from Joliet Illinois

How does the self evolve?

  1. Experience
  2. Nature – genetics
  3. Nurture – attachment theory – We develop defense mechanisms to defend against the self and others

Fundamental Human Needs – Sense of Self  we need safety and security needs with food, water, shelter, love, belonging, nurturing, and success in work, love, play and spirit

Early attachment predicts drop out rates.

Behavior is often a system of the thoughts and feelings we have about who we are.  We never asked about the A we always ask about the F.

All behavior is motivated.  A strong sense of self + motivation = positive behavior

When we don’t feel good about who we are, we make bad choices.

We have a human need and motivation to belong, we seek connections.  If accepted, we embrace who we are we make more connections. We develop a strong sense of self. We choose positive behaviors.  If rejected, we protect who we are. We push people away. We develop a weak sense of self. We choose poor behaviors.

Punishment reinforces negative self-concepts at a cellular level.  We are reinforcing the negative sense of self.

How have i connected with my students today?  How have i contributed to possible disconnection?

Teens use distraction, suppression, reappraisal.

Steps to emotion regulation:

  1. Recognize that an emotion is happening – awareness, mirroring  -”it looks to me like you are feeling really frustrated right now, what might help?”
  2. Label the emotion
  3. Find the source of the emotion
  4. Use strategies to manage the situation

Do you hear me?  Do you see me? Does what I say mean everything to you?

Connect using Validation – there is a difference between self and concept. The math problem is the source of the problem.  The student is not the source of the problem.

We are instriscial

  1. Connect with Kindness
  2. Connect with Icebreakers – how do you make them smile?
  3. Connect with Choice – perceived control is a good thing
  4. Connect with Dopamine
  5. Help them make their own connections

“Brain development requires social relationships, emotional experiences and cognitive opportunities”

“Reach before you teach” – book that is free for all educators.


Jeff Swiers – The Power of Academic of Conversations for Agency, Voice, Identity, & Equity

Jeffsziers.org  jeffswiers.org/february16

  1. Building Ideas Mindset –
    1. What new ideas can I start building today?
    2. What ideas am I building this week and how do these tasks and texts help?
  2. Academic Conversation Skills
  3. Structured Interaction Activities – gives time to think and talk
  4. LEFT


What activities increase gratitude?

Gratitude Journal Prompt – reflect on events in your life. Large or small .  think over this past week and write a journal entry about what you are grateful for.  

Developing brain systems are vulnerable to negative experiences but highly changeable with positive experiences.


The power of growing, gratitude, forgiveness, and resilience in education by Janeen Antonelli, Jesse Fuller, and Dr. Joelle Hood

From Jim Doty’s book

  • Compassion
  • Dignity
  • Equanimity
  • Gratitude
  • Humility
  • Integrity
  • Justice
  • Kindness
  • Love

“We cultivate the climate. When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which ist grows, not the flower.”

We are the decisive element”  I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom.  It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my mood that makes the weather.  As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.” –Haim Ginott

The teacher is the loudest curriculum in the room.


Velcro for the negative and Teflon for the positive.  – we have to switch this.


Jamil Zaki – Building Empathy in a fractured world

  • Survival of the kindest
  • Empathy is a key a driver of human kindness.
  • The modern world makes empathy more challenging
  • What is empathy?  – Adam Smith – the father of modern capitalism. “Theory of Moral Sentiments” the fellow feeling was described as a crowd watching a tightrope walker
  • Empathy benefits to self:
    • Reduced depression
    • Social connection
    • Improved adolescent adjustment
    • Professional and organizational success
  • Empathy benefits to others:
    • Patients of empathic doctors
    • Employees of empathic managers
    • Empathic Partners
    • Generosity towards strangers
    • Greater open-mindedness
    • Interest in sustainability
  • Empathy’s primordial soup – has similarity, familiarity, visibility, accountability.
  • Modern barriers to empathy – we are alone in a crowd.  More people are living in cities but are living by themselves.  We don’t have to go to church, shopping, bowling alley for essentials. It is harder to have empathy with statistics.  If we see a face or hear a voice, we are more empathetic.
  • Meditation on Gratitude to gain empathy
  • Zaki believes you can change your level of empathy.
  • How to we motivate people to use empathy.  
    • Conformity  – when shown that others are empathic, individuals choose to act more empathic.  VR to show what it is like to be homeless.
    • Visibility –
    • Mindsets – When people believe empathy is a skill and not a trait, they are more likely to be open to race and political difference.


Dr. Paul Bloom – “The Case Against Empathy”

  • Empathy means concerns, compassion, kindness, love and morality.  But others say- the capacity to judge what others are thinking and feeling. (Cognitive Empathy)
  • Empathy can be used for good or for bad.
  • The more empathy you feel for someone the more likely you will be kind to them.
  • Evil is nothing more and nothing less at empathy reduction.
  • Why do you give empathy this power?
  • Empathy gives a spotlight to certain things which gives a bias to certain things
  • One reason for atrocity is empathy. We make it US vs. THEM
  • Isn’t empathy essential for some relationships?  Are you best when you are empathetic?
  • The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
  • Don’t enwrap yourself in the suffering, just help them.  Buddhist teaching.
  • Sentimental compassion can burn you out.  Just be a good person.


The Power of Mindfulness by Shauna Shapiro

  • Mindfulness = see clearly.  We want to see clearly so we can respond effectively
  • Health benefits – stronger immune system, decreases stress, helps innovation, creativity, productivity, memory, focus & Attention, academic performance and test scores, reduces burnout, increases emotion regulation, increases positive emotions and strengthens relationships.
  • Meditation – increases ethical decision making, reduces cultural bias, and strengthens compassion.
  • Model of Mindfulness
    • Intention  – Why? The compass of our heart. This is the direction.  The most important thing is to remember the most important thing. Be clear about your intention.
    • Attention – bringing our attention to the present. The mind wanders 47% of the time.  (Harvard)
      • “What you practice grows stronger”
      • If I judge during meditation, then i am practicing judging.
    • Attitude – we need the right attitude
      • What we permit, we promote.
      • Our brain on shame is completely shut down.
      • The opposite is the attitude of kindness
  • The power of practice – the discovery of neuroplasticity shows us that we can change our brain.  What you practice grows stronger. We all have the capacity to change. We can rewire our brain to be happier.  There is a happiness set point in our brain.
  • Drshaunashapiro.com


The good news about bad behavior” by Katherine Reynolds Lewis

  • Why won’t kids do what you want?
  • 1 in 2 kids have mood behavioral disorder by 18 – national institutes of mental health
    • 32% have anxiety
    • 19% have behavioral disorder (ADHD, ODD)
    • 14% have mood disorder (depression, bipolar)
    • 11% have substance use order
  • You can’t over-diagnose dead bodies – Dennis Embry PAXIS
  • What helps kids self-regulate
    • Connection – when kids had moms near them during an MRI, the brains presented with less agitation. As a TEACHER, remember to be present with the students, especially when they are stressed.  Adult’s presence – eliminated anxiety symptoms, Physical touch showed a level of self-regulation. Empathy – limit social isolation, modeling – how do i model stress?
      • Classroom meetings, playing games, inside jokes, creating traditions, eye contact and shaking hands, connect before you correct.
    • Communication – ways to communicate that will building their self-regulation. Challenge their problem solving skills.  Help the students meet the needs of the situation. They need to be self disciplined, not complaint.
      • See, Hear, Do,  Feel Chart
      • Things to do:
        • Encouragement and positive language – don’t say “no running”, say “please walk”
        • Giving them information
        • Asking questions
        • Planning and thinking ahead
        • Signs and notes
    • Capability building
      • Classroom jobs (linked to happiness)
      • Anchor positive traits
      • “Try three before me”
      • Ask for help
      • Teach emotional awareness, role play
      • Offer self-regulation tools


Teens & Mindful Self-Compassion by Karen Bluth, PhD

  • We are raised to be compassionate about others, but we are not raised to be self-compassionate to ourselves.
  • Situation where a friend was in need:  When Brittany thought FVS was just now where she should be.
  • Situation when I was really down: when juan told me that food was wasted from last Thursday.  I was frustrated. I felt like it was my fault. I wanted to cry. I felt like I can’t do my job.
  • Self compassion:  Treating yourself the way you would treat other friends when they are coming through
    • Mindfulness vs. over-identification or catastrophizing
    • Common humanity (understanding that whatever we are experiencing is part of being human) vs. isolation
    • Self-kindness vs. self-criticism
  • Self Touch – touching heart with one hand, touching heart with two hands, touching heart and belly, two hands on belly, hugging yourself, touching check, Fist in front of heart with other hand.
  • Use self – talk as though you are speaking to a friend.


Learning Workshop #diversity #designthinking

January 9, 2019 Leave a comment

On Friday, December 14th, 2018, I went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  Tom Thorpe and Paul Kim who teach at Colorado Academy led the workshop with Vanessa Schwartz, a University of Colorado professor.  They started by thinking of teachers as individuals and teachers need to be vulnerable.  Kim had taught in China for some years and realized that Confucius there had taught students not to stand even on your teacher’s shadow, respect your teacher and give them space.

Community Building Norms from NAIS:  1) be present, 2) challenge, 3) lean into discomfort, 4) take risks, make mistakes, 5) be crisp, say whats core, 6) honor confidentiality, and 7) suspend judgement.

Research shows that teachers feel frustrated, overwhelmed and stressed.  Independent teachers feel frustrated, joyful and excited.  Harvard Educator Richard Elmore talks about School culture by stating that it is like a very thick rubber band.  Reforms stretch it out, but sooner or later we snap back to where we were before.  Todd Rose talks in his book “The End of Average” about how no one is average – everyone is just different.  Learning and teaching profiles are jagged, not average.  Harvard President recommends that you “Make your child interesting.”  As always we must unlearn what we have learned.

Activity: clasp your hands, then switch the thumb and fingers.  How does it feel?

Design-Thinking is Human – Centered Design – impact could be similar to that of the scientific method. Stanford even created a “Designing Your Life” class – it quickly became the most popular class there.  DT is not a linear process, always starts with empathy, it is not a one-night stand, it is a relationship.

Activity:  Make a triangle with your hands, look at one object, close your right eye, then open, close your left eye then open.

We must overcome assumptions. We all have different perspectives.  Have a beginners mind, clear your head. Think of Montenashi – Japanese hosting code – always anticipate the guest’s needs.

@KyleSchwarts started #Iwishmyteacherknew . Try to get the student perspective.

DT is a lot of brainstorming.  Try to use Sticky notes because they are small and you can’t put too much on it.

“When we are open to criticism, we hear advice.” by Simon Sinek

Feedback Stems to use:  I like……  I wish….. What if…….

Activity – We played the American Dream Life board game.  It was featured in “I am not a racist, am I?” movie.  You get a name and identity in the game and have to play with those prejudices.

What is culture?  It is our background, our parents, our location, our education, etc..  Use brainstorming because all students come to us with some knowledge and a view of the world.  What do you think about when you hear culture?  nationality, how we celebrate life. Culture is Complex – Shared – interactional, dynamic, identifying, emergent.  Culture is the water we swim in, the things we do, how we do them and the things we use to participate in life.

Books: “Is Everyone Really Equal?” . and “For White Folks that teach in the Hood & the rest of you too.” The Righteous Mind by Haidt. The Wizard and the Prophet by Charles Mann.  Immunity to Change by Robert Kegan. The Self Driven Child. The Dreamkeepers by Gloria Ladson-Billings

ESL students should be called “Emergent Bi-Linguals”.

The Hodja and the Foreigner on Vimeo

Activity: Have a notebook with two lists: “Racist Things I saw today” and “Racist things I thought today”

Big 8 social identifiers:

  1. Ability
  2. Age
  3. Ethnicity
  4. Gender
  5. Race
  6. Religion
  7. Sexual Orientation
  8. Socio-Economic Status/Class
  9. Others: Language/dialect, family composition, geographic background, introversion/extraversion, body image, political identification

Ask yourself: Who am I?  Where do I come from? How does my identify really affect my teaching?

We need to change from a deficit mindset to an asset approach.  Students are not ESL, they are emergent bi-linguals.

DeRay Mckesson was a teacher but went to Ferguson to become an activist.  “Hope is the belief that tomorrows can be better than our todays.”


#tedxmilehigh Conference

December 11, 2018 Leave a comment

Tedx MileHigh did not disappoint.  The range of ideas was amazing and surprising. This summary is only a small bit of awesomeness that was this day.

The first speaker was a tattoo technologist.  Carson Bruns is from University of Colorado Boulder and is researching ways tattoos could be helpful in heath.  He has tested UV ray sensitive tattoos that would allow you to know if your sunscreen has been worn off.  He has also tested temperature sensitive tattoos that would be able to tell you if you have a fever or not.

Matt Vogl was from University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus working on Mental Health issues.  He developed Augmented Reality sessions for prisoners in Alaska to be able to assimilate back into society after years of solitary confinement.

Alejandro Jimenz performed poetry out loud with three dancers who told of his family history in Mexico and the United States. He talked about Implicit Bias. Josh Dunn from University of Colorado at Colorado Springs discussed the importance of opposing views. Sabine Doebel discussed the need of teaching executive function and how it can change your life. Susan Cottrell discussed her faith and her family and how she ended up having to choose when her daughter came out as gay.  She felt like the family made her choose her church or her child.  But she has started other Christians in this same problem. Christoff Keplinger was a robotics Innovator who compared Rosie the Robot from the Retsons to the 180 artificial muscles to the hasel artificial muscles.

They also announced the upcoming Ted Talk Adventures which are free and usually hosted by a Ted Speaker.

Apryl Alexander from University of Denver talked about how in college she volunteered at a Women’s Shelter.  1/3 of sex offenders are under 18.  4% of youth never commit another sex crime. Sex Ed needs to be required in all schools. Sex Consent Education is only required in California. Ethan Mann is a microbiology maverick. He studied fowling shich is when barnacles and algae get on ships.  They stick to ships, whales, but not sharks.  Sharks have denticles that are diamond shape. Sharklet Technologies started because the surface energy allows textured surface to have repelling abilities.  Using a catheter for first testing on humans to see if the technology will lower infectious disease.  Laura Rovner from the University of Denver works fro the constitutional rights of prisoners. No one deserves to be tortured by the USA, but solitary confinement is torture. The prisoners use dog runs for exercise. Their vision changes because they don’t ever look more than 10 ft away.  Human identity is socially created.  Prisons are not transparent and they should be.  We have an obligation to bear witness.  Go to solitarywatch.org. Prisons must switch from vengeance and solitary confinement to something more human.

Kimberly Corban was raped in her own apartment and left for dead at age 20.  Somehow she survived.  She is Pro Gun for protection.  6 out of 1000 rapist get convicted. She released her name so that she can turn herself from a victim into a survivor.  In 2013 went to Colorado Legislators to tell her story. IN 2015 NRA wanted her as a spokesperson. In 2016 she was on CNN with O’Bama.  She hates this idea that you are either with us or against us.  Her story was hijacked for political gain.  Most people do not fit in one political box.

Mark Martin is a beat boxer whose mom was a special ed teacher.  When Mark found out how boring speech therapy was, he decided to see if he could make it more fun. When he learned about International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) he realized he could use it with Beat Boxing to teach speech.

Maytham Ashadood was a combat interpreter in Iraq for the US Army.  The combat interpreters were also cultural interpreters.   Then suddenly combat interpreters were targets and so were their families.  He applied for American citizenship for many years and was finally granted it.  He moved to Denver but they would not recognize his college credits, he would have to start over.  Maytham then realized that refugees don’t have instate tuition, but they don’t have any state.  So he worked until he gained instate tuition and has fought for those refugees coming over that have no state, so that they can receive instate tutition.

Reflections of an English Class

November 19, 2018 Leave a comment

As part of the Global Scholar Diploma Program, all students must reflect on the classes they have taken with a global emphasis. Adeline Thames reflects on her sophomore English class with Mr. Reynolds.

“In Honors English, we read literature set in a melangerie of countries, cultures, and time periods and delved into themes that remain prominent across literary settings. The class discussions were very passionate and intriguing, and they allowed me to see and understand parts of a text that I may have missed otherwise. Our teacher, Mr. Reynolds, helped to cultivate a fun and intriguing environment for literary analysis, particularly of “zesty” novels/phrases, as he liked to put it. Each day, I looked forward to the class because the individual perspectives of my classmates coupled with interesting themes and motifs that we read about helped me to try and comprehend fascinating concepts, in literature and in life. Mr. Reynolds helped to foster my already grand love of reading by encouraging passionate discourse and intellectual dialogue, sprinkled with “juicy” new vocabulary words and “delicious” motifs (He really liked to describe books with appetizing adjectives). We read books such as Brave New World, Into the Wild, Frankenstein, Macbeth, The Swallows of Kabul, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Where the Bluebird sings to the Lemonade Springs, and Heart of Darkness. I loved reading such diverse, beautiful texts because they each presented unique characters, places, ideas, and challenges, all of which led to a deeper understanding of struggles or themes beyond what I have myself experienced. The struggles endured by literary characters serve as lessons to me and help me better understand the world around me and its vast diversity.

Possibly my favorite part about reading is that through a book, poem, or story, I get to have a glimpse into another world—a chance to live a life different from my own. Literature is a portal for the imagination, a time-travel machine, and a cheap international flight all in a thick stack of ink and paper. Being surrounded by other lovers of literature in Honors English furthered my passion for it, and I still crave books every day. Reading satisfies part of my soul, and books have immensely helped me become a more well-rounded person. I love stories from around the globe, and I hope to one day experience much of what I can read about.”

Adeline Thames ’19 is four-year senior from Flagstaff, Arizona. Adeline’s GSD research will focus on Eating for the Environment: Food Sustainability . Adeline is an active student leader as a Resident Advisor in the Penrose East girls dorm and president of the Environmental Protection Club and the French Club.

#1angryblackman @mumba50

November 12, 2018 Leave a comment

On November 7th, 2018, Menelek Lumumba, a Colorado College alumni visited the college to show his film “1 Angry Black Man“.  Mr. Lumumba opened by telling us that the film is a love letter to a liberal arts education and a tribute to continue with open conversations.  The film’s setting is college English class where they discuss life and books. The writers featured changed the world by writing down their experiences.  Education is a tool, a resource, a weapon, but it is not a protection.  Open conversations with those who you disagree with allow you to sharpen your intellectual sword.   Lumumba also discussed how you write the script, you shoot the script and then you re-write the script while you edit the film.  If you have a chance to see the film, it is worth it.  I can’t wait to see what else Lumumba creates next.

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