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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

fish

“The pressures of inequality and of wanting to keep up are not confined to a small minority who are poor.”

~Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level, 2010

“While preparing for a presentation, I start a conversation with the custodial worker assigned to our room. He tells me that my type of work is important, but no matter how much we try to perfect the school and the teacher, nothing will change until we realize that a perfect school in the middle of an impoverished ghetto can never amount to anything. I look up from my neat binder and pile of handouts. The African American man leans over with a squint in his left eye and asks, “What message are we giving a child when we invest in the school but neglect his parents and his community?” I think about this for a long time and I am transformed.” 

~Ríos, Teacher Agency for Equity, 2017

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

woman flying

“Look upon the world as you would upon a bubble” said the Buddha in the Way of Truth, “look upon it as a mirage.”  

In a good dream, I am flying. Soaring high and free. In a not-so-good dream, my flight is wrought with struggle. I go up and down, my arms flailing. It's the inevitable pull of gravity. In a nightmare, I am paralyzed and stuck entirely.

In education we are so serious, so grounded all the time. We don’t tolerate lightheartedness either. Perhaps it’s because we think effectiveness is serious business.

DISCIPLINE. ACHIEVEMENT. ADVANCEMENT.

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

Authentic teaching is magical balance. A good teacher knows how to reveal the essence of our existence so that we are moved to compassion, so that we respond with kindness and humanity even in the face of adversity, so that we are aware of the beautiful now, while our eyes are wide open to the potential of tomorrow.

How do we find this magical balance and inspire students in an age of uncertainty? This has been an intense year for all of us. I wonder a lot about the long-term impact of world events on our individual and collective well-being. How will social, political and environmental upheaval influence how we approach teaching for the future?

My work with teachers this week gave me joy but also concern. I was reminded how vulnerable teachers are in our collective struggle, loss and disappointment. I admire how teachers continue to find humor in any situation and courageously inject honesty at unexpected moments.

I met a kind teacher who does outstanding work. Sadly, she faces an overcrowded class of special education students every day without any support in the classroom. This is not unusual. Still, I get impatient. I want to embolden teachers like her to advocate for themselves, to challenge the conditions of their schools and classrooms, to believe in the possibility of a balanced, healthy life and professional working conditions.

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

I had a conversation with my oldest son last night. He and his family live in Denver, so we chat or FaceTime every Sunday. The conversation turned to sharing our thoughts about recent, sad events going on in our country and elsewhere in the world. He lamented that besides being advocates and trying to make our feelings known, it seemed sometimes we have very little impact. But, he continued, he felt the very best he could do was to raise his sons to be loving, to care about other people, to do the right thing, and to respect women. “Mom,” he said, “You taught me those things.” (sigh)

Before I had children, I thought having a girl might be easier, given the fact that I had been an only child. I was a girl and I had a basic understanding of the game plan and the obstacles. But, listening to my friends who had daughters made me wonder if, in today’s society, I was ready to take on all that comes along with raising a girl… the rape culture, the princess culture, struggles with body image- Oh my!

princess2

Well, I ended up having three boys and, as it turns out, raising children of either gender is challenging. Boys deal with different kinds of pressures and have to live up to different expectations.

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

sad child

Living in a neglectful home can have devastating effects on a child. The way he is treated, responded to, or ignored provides a strong undercurrent of messages that become part of his identity. He will lack self-confidence, self-esteem, and a basic understanding of himself.

What this child has learned will follow him throughout his life, affecting his relationships with others, his ability to make good choices, and even his capacity to function on a day to day basis.

Furthermore, if he has children of his own, there is a good chance they will be treated as he was, because it is all he knows.

These are the things he has learned so well from those who he expected would love him:

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