Compassionate Conversions

Oh, how I love learning.
I am so on fire for new ideas
and eager to grow and be better!
Conferences do that for me;
so do conversations with colleagues.
And I've had both this week.

First, I went to Austin to speak at TEPSA. 
We started with a riveting game of my favorite icebreaker.
Click the image to watch for a few seconds.
We had a blast in this learning session and I was delighted to grow alongside one hundred elementary school leaders while we worked on inspiring grit, perseverance, resilience and a growth mindset.

Equally as amazing later that morning was seeing my friend and edu-hero Michelle Borba on stage doing what she does best:
Elevating empathy!

She shared so many strong ideas for infusing that glorious virtue into the heads and hearts as well as routines and rituals of our students and staff. The one that resonated with me was having students in conflict write down on their think-sheet reflections what they think the other person will say about what happened. Brilliant, right?

After she walked us through the 9 habits of empathic children
from her book UnSelfie, I asked talented teacher Julie Woodard if she'd make a SketchnoteAnd she did.

Isn't it fantastic?
A cellfie of Dr. Borba's suggestions.
My suggestion is that this be a poster. 
In every school.
In every state.
In every country.
To help our selfie-absorbed world come back.
But Michele is quick to remind us that
empathy by itself doesn't do much good.
She urged us to work to intentionally mobilize it to become
compassion which in turn turns into actionable kindness.

Click image for a transcript of our #FamiliesOfCharacter Twitter chat.

She shared several examples of compassionate conversions,
when children who have been hardened by life
are tenderized with empathy
 so that they embrace compassionate
and show kindness despite life's hard knocks.
Each one more poignant than the next.
Each one bringing us close to tears.
I truly feel like I could listen to her all day!

So I came home excited to collaborate at our Poolside PD event.
Check out the alternative seating options:
a wobble seat,
lounge chairs,
camp chairs,
towel mats,
pool noodles,

Each counselor made a Sensory bottle as a take-away,

a metaphor for how we need to hydrate to grow.
We swapped ideas and shared goals, dreams and plans
for the 2017-2018 school year.
It was so refreshing to sit with those passionate colleagues
and soak up their compassionate ideals.
We even role played an activity that I picked up from Kevin TuttIt's called The Hitchhiker. Here's how to play.

Set four chairs side by side and round up four volunteers. Ask one of the volunteers to take a seat in the first chair and pretend she's driving to her dream location. Have the other three stand off to the side. Ask the driver to think of their dream car. Ash the audience to name four emotions that they see every day at school. Say the emotions are happy, scared, angry and sad; each player will own one of those emotions. The objective is for the driver to start with her emotion then each time she picks up a hitchhiker, she picks up his her her emotion. At the end of the role play, they all exit one by one and go back to the emotion of the last person in. Check out their amazing job with the role play {here}. How could you use this in your professional development to raise emotional literacy with your staff? With your students? With their parents? How could it be a springboard for embracing empathy?

I can't wait to try it with my school family
and see how many compassionate conversions we can spark.
Happy weekend.

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