Fostering A Can-Do Spirit

Today I'm excited because I was invited to talk about empathy, compassion and kindness on this Kindsight 101 Podcast. It was such a delight to visit with Morgane, the interviewer, who crafted insightful inquiries and totally knew her stuff. Grab some coffee or tea and click the image below to listen in.

I'm also tickled because my stuff is almost completely out of boxes from my move out of our Leadership Central learning lab. True story, it's very hard for me to let go of things, especially the hand-made cards of gratitude and love in my Smile File from my superheroes and ideas I thought I might need one day, like this ring that we picked up over a decade ago, when the kids and I took a Developmental Assets Walk with the Bay Area Alliance through Challenger Park. 

I'm pretty sure there were eight beads, because the idea was to stop at eight stations along the way, one for each of the Asset categories, and collect beads while talking with the person at that station about that Asset. I figured we could easily adapt this to our six-pillars framework, so I saved the beads that most closely aligned with our true colors and put it in a box with so many other treasured ideas, to try it one day. I advocated for a Pillar Power Walk many times, but to no avail. Still I kept this idea, perhaps for such a time as this. 

How would you use it in your character building? Could you give out beads as students go through your core values lessons? Could you host a Family Character Night and give families an opportunity to make these together? Could students collect beads with every stop on campus (classroom, library, music room, STEAM lab, etc) that they visit at Open House? Could there be a certain colored bead to align with the emotions or skills they've attained? Unlimited possibilities for these colorful rings that students can hang on their backpacks or use as a keychain. 

Today's picture book pick of the week by Julia Finley Mosca and Daniel Rieley came in the mail yesterday and I'm pretty jazzed about it, possibly since I always figured I wasn't a math person. {Turns out there's no such thing.} 
And probably because it's such an inspirational read.

Meet Raye Montague.
She's a woman.
She has dark skin.
And she's a whiz at math.
Back when she was growing up, 
those three things didn't add up.
It was during a time when inequality was amped up.
In fact, her genius was over and over again passed up.
But this can-doer never gave up.
This is her success story, spotlighting her big big dreams, how hard she worked to become an engineer, and what she endured and overcame to get the recognition she'd earned as the first person to design a ship using a computer. Check out this growth-mindset title; it'll inspire your can-doers to reach higher and never give up.

Our chapter book of the week was buried in my boxes
of stuff because I'd taken it to school to share it with
a few of my students and suggest it as a summer sizzler.

I even had this bookmark that my friend Paisley made for me
hanging out on the title page, to remind me
to share it with you, dear reader.

  But it got lost in the move, until yesterday.

It's a Fantรกstico race in a Grand Prix of the Food Truck kind,
which I struggled a little bit to explain to one of my
students on the autism spectrum as I was recommending it.
He couldn't understand how Food Trucks could go fast. At all.

Anyway, in this tasty treasure by Richie Frieman, 
Maddy dreams of buying herself a bike
and sees entering the Food Truck competition
with her brother Cole and her grandfather Pop Pops 
as an avenue to make that dream come true. 
This savory intergenerational tale finds the trio overcoming incredible odds and slowing down to go fast over 
those proverbial speed bumps in the road of life
to reach the finish line and realize those dreams.
Maddy finds out that it's going to take 
a can-do attitude,
a whole lot of perseverance and grit, 
and a little bit of magic.
Even unkind Kenny, one of Maddy's obstacles,
 might soften and sweeten a bit on the Prix path.
Check out this book; I predict it'll win a spot on your heart.

What are you go-to strategies for helping cut through I can't

and fostering a can-do spirit in your learners?



Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Today I'm excited because I started the day swimming with this little superhero, who's now going in to 8th grade already, and reconnecting with her mom. Allison is a climate changer, making the world better with that huge heart and kind smile.

I was so grateful to see her again and spend time with them.

I'm also thankful to Prosign Design for partnering with me to help support caregivers as they work with intention to build character in their children. Click the lemonade-stand image below to read my latest guest post. 

After swimming, I stepped way out of my techno-comfort zone and recorded my first Prosign Design-sponsored Podcast. What fun it was to interview Amanda Symmes and find out how a School Adjustment Counselor walks the talk by nurturing healthy relationships. It'll post next week, to stay tuned for details.

Now, on to the Won't You Be My Neighbor? part of this post;
have you seen the Mr. Rogers documentary yet?

It's on my to-do list, but my friend Tanya cautioned maybe not going alone to see it, so I'm waiting until I can see it with a friend.

I ran into my neighbor at the grocery store on Saturday.
Not my neighborhood neighbor, 
but the teacher from across the hall,
on Respect Route, 
at Westwood Elementary
for fourteen years until three years ago.

I came across a dozen or so notes in my Smile file that she wrote during our days togetherHere's one she wrote after I brought back some Wisconsin cheese and then visited her first-grade class as a guest farmer during their farming unit.

Can't you just feel the empathy and love in every word?

Everybody loves Mrs. Quigley, so time stood weirdly still when I saw her coming my way. It was as if we were the only ones in that store, she in her It Is Well With My Soul shirt, I in my Be Where Your Feet Are shirt. Catching up with her for those few moments in time felt like going home. I can't wait until she comes home to the family farm with me one day.

Jennifer Quigley is the kind of neighbor that everybody deserves to have.

She's warm and welcoming,
compassionate and caring,
generous and grateful.

She's the real deal, just like Mr. Rogers . . .

Click image for source.

because she knows what he knew
about being a good neighbor and friend.


Post Traumatic Growth

Happy Friday the 13th; July is just zooming by. This week, I've been learning about Post Traumatic GrowthClick the quote card to hear Roberto Rivera talk about it; I loved his explanation about how resilience brings us back to baseline but post-traumatic growth takes us higher, deeper, and wider.

Roberto is a self-proclaimed hope dealer; don't you love that? According to author and speaker Scott Kaufman, hope is the number one predictor of resilience. Couple that with the info on this poignant picture from edu-hero 
Katie Perez that took my breath away and gave me pause yesterday.

Such a strong wake-up call for Social & Emotional Learning
for every child, in every school, every moment of every day, 
with every breath, every interaction, and every single word.

Speaking of words, as I was dusting in the Texas Room this morning, 
I came across this blast from the past, three year's worth of words from our daughter's UIL Spelling and Vocabulary Team days. She worked so hard to learn all of these words, what they mean, and how to spell them. 

And it paid off, too, because in May of her senior year,
she was crowned the Spelling & Vocab 4A Texas State Champ.
That, dear reader, was a tearful mommy moment,
because not only am I her proud mom, which is huge, 
but I'm also an English major, a writer, and a wordsmith,
so to see my daughter following in my footsteps
was an incredibly joyful experience.

So when I finished dusting, I went to my bookshelf of treasures,
found my new favorite Peter H. Reynolds masterpiece,
disrupted Kaitlyn's alphabetized stacks of words,
and put the two side-by-side in this special shot. 

Click the picture for a read-aloud of our picture book pick of the week. Better yet, order yourself a copy and step into the story of young Jerome, a word collector whose decision to share his collection than keep it leaves him satisfyingly speechless. Click {here} for some amazing curricular integration ideas. Then compare and contrast it with this other Word Collector

Then encourage your word collectors to start a Joy Journal
to jot down, illustrate, and share the words that bring them joy.

Our chapter pick of the week for our older learners is one that you'll have to pre-order since it's not due on the market for another month. Just Breathe is filled with ideas to help practice mindfulness with all its relaxation and restorative empowerment. Click the poolside picture for an author interview.  

Pair it with this Jonny Diaz's ballad by the same name.

Who needs you to be a hope dealer today? 


My Personal Bill Of Rights

Today I'm excited because I met one of my Twitter peeps in person; she treated me to lunch at Sweet Tomatoes. As we visited, I felt like we'd known each other forever, even though we were just now meeting for the first time.

Her name is Jessica Chandler; I've talked about her before. She just finished her 7th year teaching first grade and now she's headed out of the big city to a smaller, more rural school to grow alongside some very lucky fifth-grade learners.

We initially connected because, after purchasing some of my recommendations from our Books That Teach list of faves, this passionate, connected educator reached out to me on Twitter and invited me to read one of my favorite books to her class via Skype. We ended up connecting three times, her super-safe-keepers and I, to enjoy Dream Big, Little Pig, King Calm, and Flight School together.

Thank you, Jessica, for a wonderful lunch;
I recognize and am inspired by your grace, grit and growth.

I'm also pretty jazzed about a reflection exercise I've been working on, this personal Bill of Rights that I wrote as a part of the #nowitsup2me campaign.

What would yours say if you took the time to write one?
What do you have the right to . . . and to be free from?
Start with twenty rights or so, then whittle it down to 15-ish.
I have the feeling that mine is going to be a work in progress
as I've already edited it three four five times.

For fun, superimpose it onto a favorite picture that you snapped,
like this one from that stormy sunset last Saturday.

I used PicMonkey.com but you could also create it as a powerpoint slide.

When you're done writing, share it out and invite
your mentors, role models and friends to do the same.
Ask your teammates or your students to write one.
It might even be a fun idea for your immediate family,
first everyone's individual rights, then your collective rights.

Once you've completed the challenge, take a moment to enjoy this Mindful Minute. Listen to the cicadas while you imagine the heavy humidity hanging eerily in the air. Breathe in the remnants of the storm that just blew through and exhale any stress your body may be experiencing or holding on to.

I'm so thankful and blessed to live in a place where 
I have the right to sit by my pool and watch 
as God paints His beautiful canvas
over my home and onto my heart.


The Dog Days of Summer

As we cruise into July and wade knee deep into the dog days of summer, 
I'm thinking about, well, our best furry friends.

It started when my friend Tanya sent me this picture of Milo.

Don't you love this?
For some reason, it reminded me of this essay I found years ago:
It's whimsical, sure, but also kind of fun to imagine.
Dogs do have a lot to teach us, after all.

Then I remembered I'd promised to share 
the story of Digger, The Hero Dog.

It tells the real-life tale of Digger, who
saved his friend Kilee from a burning building. 
Click {here} for a video clip about 
his heroic rescue and her determined recovery
and {here} to read a review by Maria Dismondy.
Use it to talk about fire safety, loyalty and friendship.

It also reminded me that I've never told you about
this Maribeth Boelts (of Those Shoes fame)
treasure I found at the half-price store awhile back.

It is the sweetest story, one you can use
as a springboard for a discussion on adoption, 
friendship, and unconditional love.
Click {here} for a Humane Society lesson plan idea.

Finally, I realized I've never showcased this title, one of our Joshua's 
childhood favorites about fairness, starring Pinky and Blue.

Blue puts up with a lot from his little friend Pinky, including sharing almost everything. One non-negotiable, however, is his favorite toy rabbit. Will the squabble over that squishy rip their friendship apart? The brilliant illustrations and hilarious text make this one a delightfully engaging read-aloud for your young dog-lovers.

Want some more dog-gone good read alouds?

What are your go-to faves for the dog days of summer?


Listening Is {Heart} Work

Today I'm joyful because of this new Trudy Ludwig release:

I got so excited about its birth day that I drove to our Barnes & Noble 
to pick it up in person. And it was well worth the special trip.

This gem tells the story of outgoing Owen McPhee,
a talkative tyke whose mouth goes non-stop
and whose chatter simply can't be stopped
(believe me, they've tried!) 
even when his talking keeps him from listening,
even when his talking gets him in trouble,
even when his talking sends classmates running.

Nope, the only thing that can stop Owen is ... 

Okay, that's all I'm going to say, except that you will not want to miss the clever way in which this expert storyteller and her brilliant illustrator help Owen experience the gift of listening.
Really listening.
Listening to hear.
Listening to connect.
Listening to understand.
And listening to help.

After talking through the reflection questions in the back of the book, 
compare and contrast the adorable Patrice Barton illustration above
 with this eye-catching Julie Woodard dragonfly sketch.

Then, teach students this SOLER model that we learned
in our Capturing Kids Hearts training.

Finally, carve out some time for them to practice,
perhaps with an activity like this one from my archives.

Whatever the medium,
whatever the strategy, 
whatever it takes,
your students will benefit from learning
that listening is {heart} work
with a huge payoff in
and friendships.

We just need to get quiet, like Owen, and ... 

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