Cultural Awareness by Pronouncing Names Correctly #mynamemyid

December 15, 2016 1 comment

I cam across this website where you can take a pledge to say other people’s names correctly. As someone with a difficult name it is surprising how many people I correct and they stil pronounce it incorrectly. I could not imagine my first name being hard to pronounce. Take the time to do this. Get your school or community involved.

from the site:

Did you know that pronouncing students’ names correctly is a signal that their names and identities are honored? This can foster a sense of belonging and build positive relationships in the classroom, which are crucial for healthy social, psychological, and educational outcomes. Help us build a culture of respect in our school communities.


Hour of Code #hourofcode @codeorg

December 5, 2016 Leave a comment

This week is the official Computer Science Week and with that comes the push for every student to participate in one hour of coding. This all began as a hobby for Hadi Partovi.  It became a job.

Have you never coded? Want to try something new from the comfort of your own room? Check this out:

This week is Hour of Code week. Find time to try it. If you are thinking it is not for you, check out these famous people who want you to try:

As a teacher, it is amazing to watch students and other teachers experience coding. Of course this is a very small introduction to coding and can help ignite excitement in your students for learning.

Coverage in the Media on Global Projects

September 30, 2016 Leave a comment

The beginning of the school year has been extremely busy and I have gotten some publicity from the local Colorado Springs Gazette and MeriTalk.

Meritalk Article “Colorado Students Discover World through Mystery Skype“, September 2016
Gazette Article “At Fountain Valley School, students learn, interact with global ‘classroom’“, September 2016


What is Happening in Education?

August 23, 2016 Leave a comment

Here is an interview I did for MBS Direct about education and the amazing things we are doing at Fountain Valley School of Colorado.  I hope you enjoy.


“Thanks for the Feedback” @sheilaheen and Doug Stone

August 17, 2016 Leave a comment

This summary is some highlights from the book, I apologize for  the brevity of this one. This is an amazing book.  For more info, read the book or visit

Three feedback triggers:

  • Truth triggers – the feedback is wrong, unfair, unhelpful
    • separate appreciation, coaching and evaluation
    • first understand
    • see your blind spots
    • Ask these
      • What my purpose in giving/receiving this feedback?
      • is it the right purpose from my point of view?
      • is it the right purpose from the other person’s point of view?
  • relationship triggers – I can’t hear this feed back from you
    • don’t switch-track – disentangle what from who
    • identify the relationship system
  • identity triggers – the feedback is threatening and I’m off balance
    • learn how wiring and temperament affect your story
    • dismantle distortions
    • cultivate a growth mindset

“Each form of feedback- appreciation, coaching, and evaluation – satisfies a different set of human needs. We need evaluation to know where we stand, to set expectations, to feel reassured or secure.  We need coaching to accelerate learning, to focus our time and energy where it really matters and to keep our relationships healthy and functioning.  And we need appreciation if all the sweat and tears we put into our jobs and our relationships are going to feel worthwhile.” (p. 33)

To understand your feedback, discuss where it is: coming from: their data and interpretations and going to: advice, consequences, expectations.  Ask: What’s different about the data we are looking at and our interpretations and implicit rules.  Ask what’s right about the feedback to seek out what’ legit and what concerns you have in common.  Working together to get a more complete picture maximized the chances you will (both) learn something. (p. 76)

Another good tip in the book was asking: “What do you see me doing, or failing to do, that is getting in my own way?” On page 97, the authors write, ” we all have blind spots because we can’t see our own leaky faces, can’t hear our tone of voice and are unaware of even big patterns of behavior. . .  Invite others to be an honest mirror to help you see yourself in the moment.” (p. 97) Humans have a need for appreciation, autonomy and acceptance.

“Each us sees only part of the problem (the part the other person is contributing).” (p. 124)  One Step Back refers to you and me. Two steps back is the role clashes . Three steps ack is  the whole situation.  Everyone needs to look at their role in the situation.  Take responsibility for whatever role you have.  Investigate whether the differences between people are creating the friction.

Some good tips:

  • be prepared, be mindful
    • know your feedback footprint
    • inoculate yourself against the worst
    • notice whats happening
  • separate the strands: Feeling/story/feedback
    • accept that you can’t control how others see you
  • contain the story – make a chart of what this is about and what this isn’t about

“Most people are simply too obsessed with themselves to be obsessed with you.” (p. 179) “Their views are input, not imprint.” (p. 180) ” Give up simple identity labels and cultivate complexity; and move from fixed mindset to growth mindset” (p. 185)  “It’s helpful to break evaluation down into three constituent parts: assessment, consequences, and judgment.” (p. 201)

Three kinds of boundaries

  • Thanks and no
  • Not now, not about that
  • No feedback

“When turning down feedback, use “And” to be appreciative, and firm.” (p228) “There are four skills you need to navigate the body of the conversation: listening, asserting, “process moves,’ and problem solving.” (p. 233)  “Positions are what people say they want or demand. Interests are the underlying “needs, desires, fears and concerns.”” (p. 247)

The authors constantly asked people to use the question: “What one’s thing I could change that would make a difference to you?” (p. 260) “Coaching is a relationship, not a meeting” (p. 299)  “Need people who can be honest mirrors to help them see themselves when they’re not at their best, and supportive mirrors to reassure them that they can get better.”(p.299)  “Modeling is the most powerful thing you can do as an individual to improve the culture.” (p. 305) “Withholding important coaching because it might be painful – to them and to us- can do them real damage over time. We all need empathy and encouragement – supportive mirrors. But we also need clare and accurate information – honest mirrors.” (p. 307)

For more reading try “Getting to Yes” written by William Ury and Bruce Patton or “Difficult Conversations” by Stone, Heen and Patton.



“Switch” by the Heath brothers

August 9, 2016 Leave a comment

I have already read their book “Made to Stick”  (see blog posts about the chapters) over three years ago, I thought I should read Dan and Chip Heath’s book about change.

The authors use the analogy of the rider, the elephant and the path. The rider is our rational people or sides to people and the elephant is the emotional people or sides to people.  You need both of these people and sides on board before change can happen.  The path is the situation and we can shape the path so that it is easier for the rider and the elephant.  “The people who change have clear direction, ample motivation, and a supportive environment.” (p.225)

You can direct the rider by finding the bright spots, scripting the critical moves and point to the destination.  You can motivate the elephant by finding the feeling, shrinking the change and growing your people. You can shape the path by tweaking the environment, building habits and rallying the heard. There is a chapter on how to overcome common obstacles.

Great book for anyone working in groups of people.

The Way of the Mindful Education #mindfuleducation

August 2, 2016 Leave a comment

This was one of the books staff from my school could read last summer for professional development.  I had found the other two books first so I read those, but I finally got around to this one.  I really believe that most of the world is not living mindful or conscious so for me this is an interesting read.  The author is Daniel Rechtschaffen. There are three parts to this book bolded below.

Why Mindful Education Matters.  “When we don’t listen to our students, we are in a perpetual battle against them” (p14) Social Emotional Learning (SEL) has been around since the late 1960’s.  We need to make sure that students have self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.  Before you can do that you do need training and self-care for teachers, direct service to students and curriculum-based teaching.

The proven benefits of mindfulness research has been:

  1. Body – reducing pain and high blood pressure and improving symptoms of physical conditions such as psoriasis. Correlated to slowing the rate of cellular aging.
  2. Mind – improving sustained attention, visuaospatial memory, working memory and concentration, decrease in stress and anxiety
  3. Heart – promote ability to feel in control, make meaningful relationships, accept experience without denying the facts, manage difficult feelings and be calm, resilient, compassionate, and emphatic. proving effective in addressing substance abuse, stress, anxiety and recurrent depression and improving sleep.
  4. Interconnectedness – enhance empathy, auditory focus and make music more enjoyable.

Begin with Yourself. Find your own mindfulness practice. Start each school day thinking about sending empathy and kindness to co-workers and students.

  1. Remember to care for the caregiver.  It is the similar idea of put your oxygen mask on first before securing a child’s because if you can’t breathe you won’t be much help to others.
  2. Find 15 minutes a day to devote to mindfulness.
  3. “Mindfulness helps us cultivate the balance, patience, and attention we need to wad through the muck of mind chaos.” (p58)
  4. Remind yourself these things:  “May I be happy. May I be safe. May I be healthy. May I be peaceful.” (p64)
  5. “No one has every existed without the sun, without water, without the trees that exhale the oxygen we breath.” (66) Think about the interconnectedness.
  6. Try not to judge or project. Keep the dram to a minimum.
  7. Learn to listen deeply and consciously to others.

Cultivating a Mindful Classroom

Qualities of a Mindful Teacher

  1. Compassion – students won’t listen to you if you are cold or uncaring.
  2. Understanding – open your eyes to your assumptions and create a good relationship.
  3. Boundaries – “boundaries offer space in which students can feel secure enough to learn, be creative and thrive.
  4. Attention – paying attention
  5. Intention – don’t just expect, make an intention
  6. Authenticity – ” When teachers are able to admit their own humanity, the students enter a room in which it is safe to be themselves.” (p.94)

Essential Ingredients of a Mindful Classroom

  • Mindful mornings – great students at the door
  • Schedule Mindful Moments (preferable throughout the day)
  • Create a Peace corner
  • Use mindfulness language such as heartfulness
  • Make Agreements with Students
  • Mindfulness is Always Optional
  • Council Practice using deep listening.

The Layout of a Mindfulness Lesson

  • Opening Mindful Moment
  • Check-in and Report Back
  • New Lesson Introduction
  • Practice
  • Sharing/Council
  • Journaling
  • World Discovery
  • Closing Mindful Movement

The author lists many curriculum ideas such as Language of the Body, Playing Mindfulness, Mindful Movement, Mindful Eating, Mindful Listening, Mindful Seeing, Stream of Thoughts, Heartful Phrases, Roots of Emotions, Destructive Emotions, Generating Gratitude, Mindful Communication, Natural Word Lesson, Practicing Distraction, Mindful Engagement, Personal Practice and Integration Exercises.

This is a must read for educators.


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