Big Idea: Just because Thanksgiving is over doesn't mean GRATITUDE falls off the list.
Let’s think about silver linings this week using the technique of ‘yes…and’.
Quote: "Gratitude is the attitude that keeps on giving." ~Me
Resource: Inclusive Language One-Pager. Language is key to, well, just about everything. Things don’t exist until we have a word for them. I heard a podcast one time where a group of people don’t have a word for blue, so they don’t see that color. Language also changes. Much of what what was common vernacular when I was growing up is now outdated and alienating to whole groups of people. This sheet shows some ways to change up how you phrase things.
Dad Joke: It was an emotional wedding. Even the cake was in tiers.
Have an excellent week!
Matt Weld, ROE #40 SEL Coach
Big Idea: It's Thanksgiving, the time when generations get together and differences jump out. Here are some things to think about before you go into those conversations.
This week, try this: If someone says something offensive like, “So, I hear you’re still teaching. Why don’t you find job that makes real money?” try this: take a breath and pause, and do NOT get defensive. Once blood is spilled, the piranhas feast.
Then you can respond with humor: “Oh, I have faith that someday one of my students will give me a cut of their earnings once they’re famous!”
Or maybe respond with honesty: “It’s not about the money for me. I’m fulfilled by how I can make a difference in kids’ lives. High fives and hugs mean more to me than some big house I’d just have to clean.”
You can then also redirect the conversation: “In what other career could I get to join 12-year olds in playing with scalpels? Could you teach me how to make this gravy? Mine is always lumpy…”
Quote: "Guilt and defensiveness are bricks in a wall against which we all flounder; they serve none of our futures." (Audre Lorde)
Educator Resource: Ethical and Moral Dilemmas Discussion Starters. One of the core competencies of Social Emotional Learning is Reinforcing Decision Making. Just having open conversations with kids about emotions and daily interactions is a great way to teach and model how to be a good human. These can be used to debate in social studies, as writing prompts in ELA, or as discussion starters when you have some time at the end of class, or as a regular thing, like “Moral Mondays” (yes, I just made that up!).
Dad Joke: What do Thanksgiving turkeys become after they die? Poultrygeists.
Have a great week! ~Matt Weld, ROE #40 SEL Coach
Big Idea: Two Thoughts this week: 1) If everybody showed up with their best self every day, the world would be amazing, and 2) If everyone was constantly working to improve themselves, number 1 would naturally happen (and remember that happiness is an inside job!).
Self-improvement requires that we know where we are and where we are heading. A final, measurable goal isn’t necessarily what we need here. Our self-care goal should be a process not a number.
For example, my goal shouldn’t be to weigh 180 pounds because then once I’m at 180, I’ll stop doing whatever good things made be get there. Instead, if I have a goal of a healthy lifestyle, that becomes permanent (and I’ll hit my ‘ideal’ weight in the process). Self-awareness is the number one most important skill that people can have.
This week, try this: Let’s normalize talking about our emotions. The next time you talk about emotions with students, ask them where in their bodies they feel those emotions. I did it with kindergarteners yesterday, and they were surprisingly aware.
Resource: New Episode on the Teachers’ Classroom Podcast! Episode 58 features Katharine Bensinger, founder/CEO of ParenTeach and developer of a unique, 10-day parenting/caregiving curriculum for HS students. It’s evidence-based with a goal of stopping ‘unintentional’ parenting mistakes. We tend to parent how we were parented since no one really told us any differently. What if every parent were aware of ACEs, child development, self-care, and how to effectively discipline (vs. punish)?
Dad Joke: Have you heard the one about peanut butter? Oh, wait. I can't tell you; you might spread it.
Special shout-out to Lisa Dinhofer of Koden, LLC. She and I had a catch-up call the other day for which she had saved up a Dad Joke to tell me in person (below), and in the course of conversation, dropped the Rom Dass quote (because that’s what happens when you talk with her). The plan is to update Administrator Academy 3693: Trauma-Informed Leadership, so stay tuned!
Big Idea: We've all had those days when just getting out of bed seems like tooo much...
…When going through our daily routines seems monumental. It happens.
When our kids were little, my wife and I viewed our days as happening in 4 stages: morning routine, work (we were both teachers and then administrators), after school routine, and then school work. Wash, rinse, repeat. It seemed endless.
Nothing is permanent, however. As my mom always reminded me, “This, too, shall pass.”
Simply showing up is sometimes the best you can do. It usually seems, however, that once you start moving, momentum takes over, and it’s all OK.
When you’re stuck, try one of these techniques:
This week, try this: When you need to refocus into the present moment, try picking up something and spend 30 seconds really studying it with all your senses. Find details you never noticed before. What does it sound like when you flick it or drop it on your desk? Try closing your eyes and really feeling it with your fingertips.
Quote: "Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up." (Brene Brown)
Resource: Let’s Dance! Get Your Students Moving Another great article by JumpStart reader Kristin Rydholm. She writes, “I bring up the benefits of dance breaks not as models for music and movement instruction but as celebratory events that address physical and social and emotional needs.”
Dad Joke: Don't throw sodium chloride at people. That's a salt.
(The science teacher in me couldn't resist!
Big Idea: If the spirits of your ancestors could talk, what would they say?
About a week ago, I had the privilege of attending some training for the teachers of Chicago (as well as catch up with friends and get completely stressed by traffic), and I literally stopped everything I was doing about half-way through the morning.
One of the presenters asked the question, “If your ancestors could reach through time and talk to you, would they be proud of you?”
For the sake of illustration, let’s say there are 4 generations per century. That would make ~10 generations since the Revolutionary War, if your lineage in America goes back that far. Since everyone has 2 biological parents, everyone has 1,023 ancestors that have struggled since 1772 to give you what you have today. It has taken over a thousand lives’ worth of struggle and dreams to put you where you are right now.
Are you living up to that sacrifice?
This week, try this: You can also look the other direction. The next time you’re with your family, ask yourself, “Am I setting up my (yet unborn) descendants to have the best life possible?” Teaching your own children to prioritize mindfulness and self-care is a great first step!
Quote: "Your ancestors did not survive everything that nearly ended them for you to shrink yourself to make someone else comfortable. This sacrifice is your warcry, be loud, be everything and make them proud." (Nikita Gill)
Resource: Read-Alouds Grouped by IL SEL Standard With all the sugar about to get injected into all of us in the next few days (OK, maybe until January 2nd), it’s probably a good time to read stories, especially ones that can teach kids about themselves at the same time. I created this resource to help teachers find books that can be used as time fillers, lesson anchors, or just to stock in their classroom libraries. Enjoy!
Dad Joke: I taught a werewolf to meditate. Now he's aware wolf.
Haha! Go on, you have to admit that it’s the perfect joke for this newsletter’s Halloween issue. ;)
Big Idea: In your life, you can really only control two things: 1) how you mentally respond to things (predictions, judgement, etc.), and 2) how you physically respond to things (what you do or say).
The trick is to find the ‘Gold in the Gap’. In between the time something external happens and the time that we respond, there is a gap. For some people, it’s very small - they get punched in the face and they punch right back, regardless of consequences.
For others, the gap is much wider. Someone punches them in the face and before they respond they take a moment, process what happened, identify emotions and motivations from both sides, and examine probable consequences for all their possible responses.
Mindfulness helps to build this self-awareness muscle.
This week, try this: The next time something good or bad happens, take a full belly-breath in before you respond. Did your response change?
Quote: "Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it." (Charles Swindoll)
Resource: FREE BOOK STUDY in NOVEMBER! TeachIllinois.org is offering 9 PD Hours for participating in a 4-week, asynchronous book study over “Educating Mindfully: Stories of School Transformation Through Mindfulness". It’s a collection of 40 essays/stories of how people transformed their classroom or their school to be more mindful. I’m also setting up a virtual author chat for the end of the month where you can ask the editor and one of the authors questions.
Dad Joke: I was wondering whey this frisbee kept getting bigger and bigger. And then it hit me.
It may be the week before Halloween, but at least it’s not a full moon.
Big Idea: Some people worry more than others.
Worry is anxiety over what may or may not happen. It’s 100% manufactured by us.
Brene Brown writes in Atlas of the Heart: “Worrying and anxiety go together, but worry is not an emotion; it’s the thinking part of anxiety…What really got me about the worry research is that those of us with a tendency to worry believe it is helpful for coping (it is not), believe it is uncontrollable (which means we don’t try to stop worrying), and try to suppress worry thoughts (which actually strengthens and reinforces worry)…we need to dig in and address the emotion driving the thinking.” (p. 11)
I also read somewhere that worry is really the manifestation of your distrust of something/someone. I’m still not sure how I feel about that. I’m worried (!) that might be to harsh, but maybe I feel that way because it’s true. What do you think?
This week, try this: When you find yourself worrying, do 2 things: a) notice that you’re worrying, and b) see if you can name the anxiety behind the worry. For example, if you are worried about an upcoming conference, maybe you are feeling anxious about your fear of being seen as incompetent or not compassionate.
Quote: "Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength - carrying two days at once. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength." (Corrie Ten Boom)
Resource: 11 Books to Help Young Students Manage Their Worries: JumpStart reader Kristin Rydholm sent me this article that she wrote for Edutopia in August (nice work, Kristin!). It lists and then summarizes each of eleven read-alouds that can help kids understand their worries.
Dad Joke: Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon? Great food, no atmosphere.
Sure hope this week is smooth sailing!
Big Idea: I really needed this week's quote.
I met a lot of people this week. I talked to a lot of people this week. I constantly compared myself to all those people this week.
Not a great game plan.
It seemed like everyone was more accomplished, had a better handle on life, was healthier, blah, blah.
Then I was driving friends to the airport and they asked about my childhood. My stories - which seem so banal to me - were riveting to them. “I feel like a need a notebook to remember all this cool stuff!” one of them said. It’s often difficult to remember that your history, your skill set, and your personality are unique and offer something to the world that no one else can.
This week, try this: When someone else has a skill or attribute that you don’t, be happy for them and grateful that you are in the world together. You have something they don’t and that could add value to their life, too.
Quote: Every human is like all other humans, some other humans, and no other human. (Clyde Kluckhon)
Resource: Dear Abby Library: Remember the Dear Abby column in the paper? This is based on that premise, where a student has written a letter to Dear Abby and the class then gets together to discuss the problem. There are ones for K-2 and ones for 3-6, although I think the 3-6 ones could be tweaked for older students. There are questions the teacher can ask, and read-alouds that support that particular concept. The link above is to a PDF of front/back cards for easy printing.
Dad Joke: I've been thinking about selling all my John Lennon memorabilia on eBay. Imagine all the PayPal...
I’ve been smiling all week about this Dad Joke; I’m not even sure why! Have an excellent week.
Big Idea: I’m sure there are whole books written on dissecting this idea but let’s just go with this one idea: Because we are emotional creatures, because we don’t like unresolved questions, and because 80% of self-talk is negative, we make up negative sh*t as answers to what we don’t know.
If we are having a text conversation and the bouncing dots that indicate a reply is being typed suddenly go away, what do we think? They think I’m stupid, they don’t really want to be having a conversation with me, they don’t know how to tell me some uncomfortable news, or they basically just hung up on me - right?!
Or was it because they were called away by someone else, maybe their phone rang, or maybe they got to the checkout lane and their attention was diverted.
This week, try this: Try being aware of assumptions you make about other people’s intentions. Assume the good, because it’s most likely closer to the truth than whatever lie you just told yourself.
Quote: The greatest sources of suffering are the lies we tell ourselves. (Elvin Semrad)
Resource: Mindful Mondays are back! Take a moment for yourself this semester. Join Registered Yoga Teacher and Area 5 SEL Coach Matt Weld on Mondays as he takes us through an hour of intention, breathwork, mindfulness, yoga, and a guided meditation. It’s the perfect way to start your week out right! FREE virtual workshop 3:30 - 4:40 pm. Attend as many as you'd like! Register here: https://forms.gle/h9qHTofd5EqgNDgh7
Dad Joke: Just opened my water bill and electricity bill at the same time... I was shocked!
Happy October! If you have a favorite dessert recipe you’d like to share, please reply to this email (today IS my birthday after all)
Big Idea: It’s also now officially Fall. This time of year always makes me wonder, “Where did summer go?” “Why is it pumpkin spice when there’s no pumpkin in there?” “Is it too soon to start wearing jackets?” (I have a *small* obsession with coats/jackets)
Quote: "Waiting can be hard. Seeing what's real can be harder. Waiting to see? Often the best advice is the hardest to follow." (Matt Weld)
Resource: Yoga for Kids with Animals (Video)
Dad Joke: When my wife told me to stop impersonating a flamingo, I had to put my foot down.