A Winner & A Gratitude Boomerang

Today I'm grateful and super excited about the chance to give away a copy of Carol Miller's Starbound. From the thirty-one comments, the random generator selected ... drum roll please ... comment #9.

Here's Amy's tribute to her Champion: My forever hero and champion was a special lady whose name was Amy Gilmore. She was one of the most genuine and loving educators I have ever worked with. She made school a safe place and gave her children experiences that made them want to come to school every day. Her room was warm and inviting, her love was unconditional, and her love of teaching led to love of learning by her students. She came to work even through chemotherapy and fought her cancer til the bitter end. She was an educational warrior, and she was one of my best friends. She is in heaven now, and forever in the hearts of many students, teachers, and me!!! She was and still is, a hero and an inspiration.

Congratulations, Amy, and thank you ALL for posting those beautiful testimonials about your Champions. They were touching and tugged at my heartstrings.

And speaking of heartstrings ...

Just look at the beautiful hearts and love that came in the mail from Sheila and her superkids from Pennies of Time. It made an ordinary day extraordinary to find these in my mailbox yesterday. It has been a gratitude boomerang between us ... I send them something ... they return the favor ... then the ball's in my court ... then theirs. It's like a ping-pong match that we're both winning. With each act of kindness, our hearts grow bigger because kindness begets kindness. And their warm affirmations make me want to do more, for them and for others ... 
because I'm left feeling ... inspired
To be better. 
To do more.  
Cape up!


Starbound Author Interview & Giveaway

Today I'm doubly delighted because first of all, I got to spend a glorious morning with the staff at Mossman Elementary. You've gotta love a faculty who will not only give up a day in July to learn and grow, but who will all-out Bunny Hop with me. I'm talking soul-train. Whoot, whoot. A special thanks to their school counselor Brenda for inviting me to dance with them. 

Secondly, I'm jazzed because my friend and counseling colleague Carol Miller has written an empowerment book for girls, and she has generously donated 
a copy for one of you. Yay!

Click book cover for more information.

From the YouthLight website: 

I recently chatted with Carol and she graciously answered these questions 
about getting this gem published.

You're a school counselor. When did you first realize you wanted to author a book? Was this your first idea?

I have wanted to author a book for as long as I can remember. I have started hundreds over the years, but have never finished most of the projects I start. This one was different, because it culminates the work I have been doing as a middle school counselor and the best of the activities I have used with my girls. The first book I ever wrote was published only for the local school counselors in our nearby districts. It is a guidebook to the NYS Graduation requirements. While it wasn't the most exciting of books, it contained much needed information.

How did you go about getting your manuscript published?

I sent my manuscript to two different publishers, both recommended to me by another school counselor author. One publisher was not interested because they said it was too much like another girls' curriculum they published and they did not want it to be in competition with that work. The second publisher, YouthLight, actually published my book. It was a lot of waiting for answers, but definitely worth the experience.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your book?

The most surprising thing I learned about writing was that anything is really possible if you keep your mind opened to it. I mean, this is what I teach the girls who I have in groups, and it is a motto I believe in. However, there are always things that seem bigger than humanly possible. Mindset is important.

Tell us about your first book signing. What are some special memories about that event? 

My first book signing wasn't that exciting.  I had 2 people that showed up and I wasn't sure what to do with my free time. My second book signing was at this summer's ASCA conference in Phoenix. It was very exciting. YouthLight had the first booth as you walked in to the exhibit center and the first thing you would see when you walked in was a picture of me receiving my NY School Counselor of the Year Award on a poster to indicate I would be having a book signing. 

I had several friends who entered the exhibit hall ahead of me and they kept texting me, "Did you see it yet?" I had no idea what they were talking about until I walked in.  Needless to say, it brought a few tears of joy to my eyes.  The book signing went well, and I had many more than just 2 books to sign.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I don't think anyone says as a child, I want to be a school counselor when I grow up. I personally did not like my middle school counselor, and, while I did really like my high school counselor, I thought he was a bit goofy.  When I was younger I really wanted to become a physician. I loved science, did well in school, and had a huge desire to help other people. It wasn't until college, and I had to give up sleep for the ambulance squad, that I thought I was looking into the wrong profession. My desire to help others was still there, and then I met an adviser on campus who I thought had an incredibly fun job. When I asked what she went to school for, she told me school counseling. I changed my major the next day and have been happy ever since.

I understand you're working on your next book. Can you give us a little intel? 

I just proofed it over the final version last night. It is called Building Champions, and is a small group curriculum designed to help boys build trust, respect and peer connections while reducing classroom conflicts, discipline issues and anxiety. It uses many active learning activities and experiential learning models. If you are looking for a boys' curriculum, I think you will love this. I had a few friends try it out with their groups and it was a hit for their students as well as mine.

Congratulations and thank you, Carol. The title of your next book reminds me of Rita Pierson's inspirational TED talk and this Sylvia Sketchnote. 

If you'd like a chance to win an author-signed copy of Starbound, simply leave a comment telling us who your favorite champion {teacher, mentor, school counselor, coach, etc.} is or was. We'll draw a name from all the comments on Friday, July 31st, at noon {CST}, so come on back and see if you're our lucky winner.

This giveaway is now CLOSED. Congrats Amy M!


Monday Made It: Scrabble Tabs

Today I'm feeling crafty, so I'm linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics 
and sharing two things on Monday Made It.

Click image to see what everyone else is making.

Lately, I've had so much fun taking pictures and making them into inspirational minis. Last night I snapped this shot poolside.

My friend Jennifer Runde took this vacation picture and gave me
permission to use it as a slide in a workshop presentation.

You can create posters like these in Picmonkey or Powerpoint.

On Saturday I took a stab at making these Scrabble Tabs.

Here's a quick video tutorial.

John showed me how the edges of the tiles would serve as a tool to cut the magnet paper to the perfect size; we had the whole batch done in less than an hour. 
Easy Breezy, Lemon Squeezy! 

I took them to my classroom this morning, to try them out.

Here they are stuck on our Collaboration Station in Hero Headquarters.

I can't wait to play Scrabble. Or Boggle. Or Hangman.
We can also use the tiles to incentivize desired behaviors.
Students can earn letters for words like LEADERS;
move letters up to reinforce strong leadership choices.
When the whole word is in complete alignment,
it'll be time for a dance or some other fun.

Just for fun. Because fun is the ticket to engagement.
So that's what I've been up to, to beat the heat. 
What have you created lately?


Nature-Inspired Parenting Guest Post

After reading this inspiring post, I decided to invite Joanna to share her parenting wisdom with us. Please join me in welcoming her to the Corner.


How Nature Becomes Your Co-Parent In Raising Healthy Children

In times like this, our children have a lot of stuff that captures their attention—TV, Smartphones, internet, and video games. Because of this, children don’t necessarily go out too much these days, making them less active and more susceptible to lifestyle diseases like obesity.

This phenomenon has caught the eye of Richard Louv, a journalist who wrote Last Child in the Woods - Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder about the decreased exposure of children to nature in American society and how this "nature-deficit disorder" harms children and society.

What is Nature Deficit Disorder?

Nature deficit disorder refers to the phrase coined by Louv in his 2005 book. He indicated that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors, resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems. According to Louv, however, this was never meant to be a diagnosis, but a description of the human costs of alienation from the natural world.

Louv claims that causes for the phenomenon include parental fears, restricted access to natural areas, and the lure of the screen. Recent research has drawn a further contrast between the declining number of National Park visits in the United States and increasing consumption of electronic media by children.

What can we do about this?

In this modern world, it’s becoming increasingly hard to keep in touch with nature, with our roots. Nevertheless, there are still many ways to do this. The first activity that may come up is camping. Begin with planning a camping trip together with your children. Let everyone pitch in an idea or two on deciding where to go, what to do, and what to bring. They can be the photographers, navigators, food preparers, bonfire stokers. Just make sure they’re properly instructed and, of course, supervised.

After this, you can plan a hike on the next trip, and maybe have a picnic at the stops along the way. Do fun outdoor activities like scavenger hunts. And when the night settles in, tell stories with the family while cuddling up on the bonfire you made.

Another nature-inspired activity you can do with the family is fishing. Your children will surely love this. Take them to an angler’s workshop and guide them in choosing their own fishing rod and lures. If your children are older, try to consider kayaking.

Like kayaking, there are other water sports that will up the ante of coolness. Try windsurfing, tubing, water skiing, scuba diving, surfing, and paddle boarding. Or you can just tow them on a boat and lug around the lagoon for some rest and relaxation. Do these, and they’ll look forward to every outdoor adventure to come.

On the safer and more domestic side, planting in your garden is also a simple outdoor activity that’ll teach your children about the beauty of nature and why everyone must protect it. If you and your children are not too squeamish, you can go bug hunting.

Lastly, air up those tires and enjoy a family bike ride. Take your wheels to the nearest park and kick it!

Outdoor activities shouldn’t be a tough sell to the children because the world is filled so many amazing things. You just have to go out and start looking for them. It’s a win-win situation for your family. You get to bond, enjoy, and be active with your children. These are lessons that they’ll bring with them as they grow up.

About Joanna:

Blessed with 3 lovely children, Joanna’s love for her children gives her inspiration in sharing her parenting experiences with Afterschool.ae - the leading after school children activities planning platform for parents in UAE.


Opening Doors

Today I'm excited about a $5 purchase I made at Half Price books.
It's a doorstop for the heavy door at the entrance to Hero Headquarters. 
Perfect, right?

And, if you know me, you know that I see more than just a doorstop. I see an acrostic for four critical aspects of leadership.

S is for service.
               T is for trustworthiness.
                   O is for open-mindedness.
 P is for passion.

Effective leaders start with the heart. They're on the lookout for ways to make things better because they're all about serving others. Effective leaders are also trustworthy. We can count on them because they are honest in their dealings, they keep their promises, and they show integrity by being in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing. Effective leaders have a growth mindset. They're lifelong learners who firmly believe that anything is possible. Anything. And effective leaders live life with great passion. They go to great lengths to enthusiastically and wholeheartedly transfer energy and light to others.

But those are just my thoughts about what STOP might stand for.
I'm so eager to hear what my superheroes at Bales think when I pose the inquiry: What leadership skills will open doors for us?

If you're in the area, please stop by Hero Headquarters; 
we'll keep the door opened for you!


Because Of Carlos

It has been forty years since he stepped into my story on my family's farm, that young man from Mexico who traveled to the frozen tundra to learn alongside of us how to farm the Wisconsin way, forty years since I signed up for Spanish as a high school freshman so that I could speak his language and help him better understand and be understood, forty years since he helped me become a global citizen who would wholeheartedly connect to and fall in love with another culture and its beautiful people. Four decades; that's a very long time. 

I joke that he stole my heart; truth is I did have a little crush on him. 

And though it has been forty years, I firmly believe that it's because of Carlos that I just spent four glorious days with some of the kindest, gracious, and most passionate people around. 

Here's how it worked:

Carlos moved to our place right before I registered for high school; I decided to learn Spanish, because of Carlos. And even though the winter was too harsh and he returned to his home down south before I could say much more than Hola and Me llamo Barbara, it's because of Carlos that I was determined to master the language. Because of Carlos, I crossed the border as a sophomore, traveling to Mexico City, Guadalajara and Guanajuato and racing up the pyramids of Teotihuacan with a small group from my high school. Because of Carlos, I continued my studies in college and, after ten years of studying the language, I earned a minor in Spanish. And because of Carlos, I taught Spanish for ten years.

Flash forward twenty years; if Carlos hadn't taken that step into my story, I'm not sure I'd have even learned Spanish, much less moved to Texas to teach it. From there, who knows if I'd have studied counseling and become so interested in character education. And if not, then I likely wouldn't have given the keynote address in D.C. at last year's Forum, where members of the Secundaria Tec de Monterrey school family first met me and extended the invitation to join them as a presenter this past weekend at their Character Congress in Juarez.

Because of Carlos, I said yes to Juarez ...

where I left a huge piece of my heart yesterday.

When I was in Mexico, this ad came across my Twitter feed.
It basically says, "After they washed me, nothing was the same."

It gave me the idea to turn the dial slightly and change it from a negative experience to a positive one, from a fixed to a growth mindset. 
I closed my presentation with this photo from Friday night's dance:

After the 5th Character Education Congress, nothing was the same.

I am not the same ... 
I am better ... because of Juarez ... 
and because of Carlos.

And whose Carlos will I be?

So today I'm wondering this: 
Who in the world is your Carlos? Who has taken a significant step into your story and made it betterDo they know just how far their influence has positively rippled? Have you thanked them? And how will you repay the favor?


Raise A Hand For Teachers

It's mid-July, and you know what that means.
We'll be headed back to school {gasp} before we know it.
That's why today I'm excited to announce that 
ThredUP (my favorite online like-new clothing stop)
is celebrating by honoring our favorite teachers.

Why? From our friends at ThredUP:
  • According to AdoptAClassroom.org, teachers spend an average of $500 of their own money each year to equip their classrooms. 70% of teachers have even purchased apparel items like jackets, socks and shoes for their students. Teachers are extremely generous with their time as well as their money.

  • How? From today until August 23rd, nominate a teacher who has positively impacted your world. Then go back every day to vote!

    Who am I nominating? you ask.
    Well, that's a tough one!
    We have been blessed with great teachers too numerous to count,
    both with our own children and in my Westwood family.
    But for this #raiseahand campaign, 
    I've selected first-grade teacher Jennifer Quigley.

    Mrs. Quigley truly has a heart of gold.
    I know this because I have been blessed with an office right across the hall and, for fourteen years, I've watched in awe as she nurtures hearts while stretching minds and sparking curiosity and creativity.
    I've stopped in to sing along as she and her firsties proudly proclaim what they firmly believe, that they've got the power to change the world. 
    And I've experienced the warm and welcoming climate in which her can-doers plant, blossom, bloom, grow and thrive. 
    Moment by moment,
    year after year. 
    Like magic. 
    Only better.
    Because it's real.
    Thank you, Jennifer, for using your superpowers
    to change the world ... for good!

    Now, it's your turn. 
    Go ahead; pick someone.
    That favorite teacher.
    The one who changed your world ... forever.
    Click the graphic above to nominate him or her. 

    Then join me in sharing the good news about this #raiseahand campaign with all of your social media connections so that we can honor and celebrate the world's 
    amazing superheroes, our teachers.


    Perfectly Imperfect

    It's Friday and it just feels like time for a book review.
    {Am I the only one who misses PPBF?} 
    Yesterday I went to Barnes & Noble to pick up a book I'd ordered, 
    and here's the bonus find that made its way home with me. 

    (As an aside, I was going to be named James had I been born a boy).

    Anyway, this little treasure is packed with valuable gems ready for mining. 
    Here's my favorite page, where the problem begins:

    The beauty is ... this is so so real.
    And, just like in real life, the story morphed.
    It wasn't that James said she thinks she's perfect.
    It's that James said he thinks her artwork is perfect.
    But you know how misunderstandings go ... and now ... 
    they're in a fight ... or at least ...  
    in our narrator's heart and mind they are. 

    Check out a review {here} and {here}.

    I see this jewel as the perfect springboard to target and help stop
    rumors, gossip, and distrust in their tracks.

    The protagonist never does go to the source, to James, to get the truth, which is perfect, because it allows the reader to arrive at that solution by him or herself.

    For enrichment, the Telephone Game? What a perfect idea!
    Or adapt this lesson and let the glitter represent rumors instead of germs. 
    You might want to also treat yourself to this intriguing article:
     Just for fun.

    Compare and contrast this book to The Secret Olivia Told Me.

    Get yourself a red balloon and inflate it to show how
    quickly rumors grow before they eventually explode.

    Then ask your children to draw something perfectly imperfect. 
    To stretch them.
    To nurture their creativity. 
    And grow their mindset.

    And play this clip to seal the deal (thanks, Lauren!).

    Check out this book; I think you'll be perfectly pleased.


    A New Frequency

    Today I'm thinking a lot about empathy and mindset.

    This clip really stops me in my track.

    Every. Time.

    It's probably because my first thought, belief, mindset ...
    is that she's going to be in trouble. 
    Big Trouble. 
    For cutting her hair.
    Who among us hasn't had this very scenario play out
    in our very own bathroom, or bedroom, or classroom?
    Those beautiful locks chopped by a certain young somebody 
    armed with a scissors and lots of curiosity.

    But then the frequency moves ever so slightly down the dial,
    totally switching the sound and feel of the station,
    and our emotions take that roller coaster free fall
    that at once thrills and terrorizes.

    I like that in a film clip and I can't wait to show this to
    my middle-aged leaders.

    I think I'll couple with with a reading from this book:

    Click the graphic for the Teachers' Guide

    It's the graphic-novel memoir of CeCe Bell's life as a child 
    with a hearing impairment and a funny look at how a young CeCe navigated through what must have been at times painfully difficult to find a friend and soar to new heights.

    Click {here} for a NY Times review.
    Click {here} for an author interview.

    My questions for both the clip and the reading will be:
    How do they feel?
    What do they want?
    What do they need?
    How do they use their superpowers to persevere?
    How might having a growth mindset change things?
    How could you use your superpowers to help?

    And my question for you, dear reader, is this: 

    How might your life be different better if you take a new look at something, 
    move that dial up or down, to find a new frequency today?


    It's About Heartset

    Today I am super grateful for summertime.
    My day started at Starbucks with my friend Deanna. Then we did some yard work before lunch at the German Restaurant. After a really good nap, I read and relaxed some more and we just got back from an icy treat, shaved ice at SnoBeach. Summertime sure tastes good.

    While I was with Deanna, she let me tell her all about my presentation at NAESP yesterday. Every detail. Like how I woke up at 4 am and shuttled from LA to Long Beach at 6 am and got to the Convention Center at 6:30 for my 9 am center. How I got it all set up and put a book on each of the tables as a door prize for the one brave soul who would volunteer . . .

    for the uplifting balloon activity we'd be starting with.

    I also told her how I was greeting guests in the hallway when a man stopped by to tell me that I'd have a better chance of filling the room if I had a better title for my session. In his defense, it was 20 minutes to start time and there was only one participant in the room so far. His advice caught me by surprise, because I thought my title was pretty good, albeit a little long in comparison to the others.

    Empathy, Compassion & Kindness:
    Success Skills That Will Change School Climate For Good.

    It wasn't the length that he was referring to; his suggestion was that I choose my words more carefully, to draw more people in. He said words like grit, motivation, or mindset would be better. I'll be honest; it hurt my feelings a little bit.

    As I was sharing that with Deanna, she wondered out loud, 
    But what you do is more about heartset than mindset, right?

    That's it! YES. It's about the 4-Hs.

    My session was about how 
    head (empathy), 
    heart (compassion), 
    hands (kindness) and 
    health (culture and climate).

    Just like in the Pledge I learned when I was 9.

    To a counselor, the heart piece is pretty important, for sure.
    But mindset, grit, motivation and lots of inspiration 
    were definitely woven in. I promise!

    It occurred to me while he was mentoring me that I could flip through my slides and show him that I love mindset and grit, that it's totally in there. At least three times, including the info on this slide from Sylvia Duckworth,

    on this slide that I created, 

    and on this one from Andrea Stephan (click it for source).

    But I didn't. I just listened, and thanked him. He asked me for a business card, and we ended up trading books. Do you know his book? It's definitely got mindset written all over it. Click the picture for a You Tube read-aloud.

    I've thought a lot about what he said and I feel blessed that he would take the time to stop by and connect with me before the room started filling up.

    And out of my processing and reflecting, I learned the word
    From Deanna. Because I have the summer off. 
    And the luxury of meeting my friends for coffee and conversation.

    What did you do today that grew your heartset?