The Wednesday Surprise

Happy Wednesday. Can it really be mid-July already?
I've been waiting for tomorrow night for quite some time now 
because I've been invited to host #EduAR on Twitter.
Here are the details . . .

Click the graphic to read the transcript of the July 20th chat.
and a sample teaser question.

You'll have to join us to share your answer
and read all about what other people are doing to
supercharge the habit of collaboration.

When I saw Dr. Borba's keynote in Austin this summer, she recommended 
The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting as a must-have to give our learners the empathy advantage. So I ordered a copy, and she was right. With empathy to spare, this little superhero collaborates with her Grandmother to give her Dad 
a very special gift.

Click the image to hear Debbie Schatteman read this gem aloud.
I'm not going to spoil the surprise, so give it a listen.
Then order a copy or two for your character building.

It makes me think about this character clipa powerful story about a grown man who works diligently to learn to read to make his adult author son proud, but beware: It's a commercial for Bell's Whiskey, so share it responsibly.
That reminds me of this funny shirt with a serious message. 

But I digress. My idea is to share it with the educators in my learning session audiences, making sure to stop the clip right before the son buys his Dad that celebratory shot of Bell's. And, just like I wouldn't wear this t-shirt to school, I won't be sharing the clip with my intermediate students. Would I share it with tweens or teens? Maybe so, but only along with a stakeholders discussion about responsible decision-making. What are your thoughts about sharing the clip?

Don't forget; set an alarm to set sail on the 7 Cs with us
tomorrow night, July 20th, at 8:30 pm {CST}.
Haven't used TweetDeck yet? Click {here} for a tutorial.
It will be a real tweet to see you there. 


Fighting Fearona

Today's post will be a busy one; first, I'm excited to announce the winner of 
Bubble Gum Brain. Our random generator selected comment number 4. 

So if this is your reflection, congrats!
 Please email your postal address so I can get your signed copy on its way. 

Secondly, I'm excited to share another Vlog with you; 
in it, I ask an important reflection question about what hydrates you. 
Click the Magic Beadz image below to watch it on You Tube.

You'll also hear me talk about the book Unmapped Potential by Julie Hasson and Missy Lennard. Click the image below to download the educator's guide to this treasure that tackles those mental maps that we all have, some of which might threaten to keep us from reaching our potential if we're not willing to ask ourselves some serious map-changing questions.  

The authors, also known as the Purposeful Principals, suggest that we admit and become personally acquainted with our negative attitudes and fixed mindsets because we there's benefit in not only claiming them, but naming them. 

Then as an exclamation point on their suggestion, mindset guru Carol Dweck said the same thing in her ASCA keynote and went on to explain their function:

So I've decided to name my fixed mindsets Fearona.

Since I find myself fighting Fearona a lot lately, it really helped me to know that Fearona is only trying to protect me. I need to recognize what she's doing when she's doing it so I can step in and care-front her about it. I'm working on a script to self that goes something like this: Fearona, I appreciate that you're looking out for me, I really do, but I can't possibly grow to reach my potential if you keep getting in my way. Kindly step aside; we've got this. 
I promise to let you know if I need you. 

And then, as if the cosmos were trying to fuel my fight with Fearona, 
Joshua and I spied this banner in Aggieland yesterday. 

Most days, that's him and not me, but I'm working toward integrating that ideal into my mental map, for sure. Have you named your fixed mindsets? What's your most promising practice for unlocking those negative scripts so that you can tap into your greatest growth and become the best version of yourself?

Finally, this month's Free Spirit Press guest post went live this morning, so click the graphic below to go and read my mindfulness suggestions for all students, but especially to assist our learners with ADHD.

Happy 7/13/17; 
don't you love that this week's dates are palindromes?


Growth Mindset Sticks

Today I'm excited because this special delivery made its way
from Nebraska to Texas from my friend Julia! 

It's Julia Cook's latest treasure and it tackles one of my favorite topics, mindset. It's Bubble Gum Brain v. Brick Brain in the ring of life and you'll never guess who has the best chance of success. Okay, maybe you will, but, in true Julia fashion, it's a creative, clever social story that is sure to help facilitate your growth mindset message with the children (and grown ups) under your care. Grow with Bubble Gum Brain as she helps Brick Brain unwrap his fixed thoughts and enjoy savoring the flavor of life with more gusto.

As a school counselor and mom, I especially connected with the Ready, Get Mindset ... and Grow tips in the back of the book.

For fun, I'm going to put this sticker on sticks of bubble gum
and give them away at one of my future learning sessions!

And, as you can see, here's the cool thing: Julia sent two giveaway copies. One way to win a signed copy is to leave a comment telling us your favorite book to stretch the growth mindset ideal between now and Thursday, July 13th, at noon {CST}. We will use a random number generator to select the winner, so check back Thursday afternoon and see if it's you!

The second way to win is to head over to my book's Facebook page and leave a comment over there telling us your favorite book with a growth mindset theme to win. Again, we'll use a number generator on July 13th after noon to choose a winner.

Thank you, Julia, for your generosity.
I'll keep strumming as long as you keep those stories coming.

This giveaway is now closed;
click {here} to see who won Julia's mindset book.


Gatekeepers & My First Vlog

This morning, I tried something new.
I made a video blog.
A Vlog.

Basically it's a four-minute explanation of how I plan to combine this game

with the Inner/Outer Circle activity

for a staff learning session about the services that a school counselor provides. We'll focus 
on belonging, 
on mattering,
on connections, 
on empathy and emotions, 
and on the power of the circle, 
so you can imagine my joy at remembering that Spot It! cards are circular. Anyway, here it is.

Did you catch my cat's cameo?

My friend Lisa in VA, who sent me this game years ago, is going to be field testing the activity in a week or two and I can't wait to hear how it goes. 
If you try it, please post details in the comments below.

I'm thankful to my friend and colleague Gary Smit from the Character Counts! National Faculty for encouraging me to record and share.

And now for today's book recommendation: 
Gatekeepers by edu-hero Tammy McMorrow.

Although I've not met first-grade teacher Tammy McMorrow in real life ... yet ... she is a cyberspace collaborator of mine through our shared love for writing, passion for education, and our commitment to raising character kids. She blogs over at Forever In First and wrote a guest post at the Corner once a long time ago {here}. I'm tickled pink that she decided to publish a book and share her thoughts and reflections. She starts each essay with a quote, something to think about, just like she does on her blog's weekly special, Saturday Sayings. Her words of wisdom invite the reader into a conversation as if you're sitting right there with her, trying to sort things out together. I know that Tammy is a lifelong learner because a few times over the years she has reached out to me for guidance with hurdles or challenges that have come her way. One of them was the exact time she writes about in Essay #36, Learn, Not Pay

She probably didn't really need my help,
but she sought out my counsel anyway.
Her follow-up essay about it is spot on.
She just wanted them to learn.
To be better next time.
To do better next time.
These learners are blessed to have a Gatekeeper like Mrs. McMorrow and I'm blessed to have her as a friend. Check out her book and you'll be blessed by her insights and reflections.


Fully Present, Mindfully Aware, Incredibly Blessed

Right now I'm feeling cheerful and grateful ... 

and incredibly blessed.

But the morning didn't start out like that. Our son came home from his two weeks of service at Camp with an outbreak of poison ivy. We treated it and took him back to Camp for his week of Discovery but this morning we got a call that he didn't sleep at all last night and was on his way to the hospital for a steroid shot. Enter worrisome thoughts like "What if the rash gets to his eye?" and then the berating ones like "What kind of a mom am I?" and I started to head back to Camp to pick up him and make things right, but then Kaitlyn, who's at Camp volunteering called us to say, "We've got this!" They'd gone to the hospital up there for treatment and were waiting for his prescription at the local pharmacy. They'd call us, she added, if they need us. We may have to head that way, but, for now, we're on standby.

 Now. Here. This. 
The perfect time for some mindfulness.
Do a body scan and see where the tension is.
{Um, everywhere!}
Practice some mindful breathing to relax.
Inhale deeply: Smell the flower.
Exhale fully: Blow out the candles.
Use a mantra to center compassionately:
May I enjoy forgiveness, wellbeing, and peace. 
Walk into a happy memory.
Savor the emotions of a wonderful time.
Go back in time and feel the positivity again.
Am I feeling relaxed yet? Restored? Ready for the day?

Such a blessing that I went to that mindfulness learning session two weeks ago at the Wisconsin conference; huge thanks to counselors Mauria Turkowski and Amber Hill for sharing their wisdom.

Mindfulness is paying attention, 
on purpose, 
without judgement, 
in the present moment.
It's a great way to practice self-care and compassion.
It's important to get to know our brains.
Because besides just feeling really good,
mindfulness benefits our brains.
The amygdala, in charge of the fight, flight, or freeze reactions to fear, shows less activity and gray matter density after mindfulness is practiced. The hippocampus, which controls the amygdala and acts like the bank which stores our memories, see increased activity after mindfulness exercises. And the prefrontal cortex, which controls our thinking, our memories, and our emotions because it's the boss of our brain, also sees an increase in activity after mindfulness.    

They gave each educator a Hershey's Kiss
 so we could do this mindful eating exercise.
Go get a Kiss; I'll wait.
Don't eat it yet.
Look at the Kiss with curiosity.
What do you notice?
Weight? Color? Texture? Temperature?
Peel one side and focus on the sound.
Listen. Then smell what's inside.
Move it closer and breathe in deeply.
Open up the rest. 
Place it on your tongue without biting it.
Hold it on your tongue. 
Move it around.
Don't bit it yet!
Pay attention to urges.
Trave flavor down as far as you can.
Can you feel the texture of the warm, melting chocolate?
Savor. Just savor.
Now go ahead and eat it. Slowly.
Open your mouth slightly and breathe in.
Pay attention to the flavor.
Try closing your eyes. Does it taste better?

They said once they learned about the benefits of mindful eating,
they stopped eating fast food in the car. Interesting ...

Then I met Wisconsin educator, Susan Baumgartner, on Twitter and she sent me a copy of this Mindfulness treasure that she wrote. 

I felt so peaceful and pensive as I read through her thoughtful essays, all of which are paired with a picture-perfect photo by Marlene Oswald on a page with a prompt for your reactions and reflections.

Dr. Patricia Jennings reminds us that it's important to be mindfully aware of our own thoughts and feelings so that we can be fully present for our kids. Our emotions, both positive and negative, influence our teaching and are a big part of our classroom environment and our relationships. Mindfulness practices help us recognize the subtle signs of our emotions and model regulation and mastery for our students. 

Check out these rich mindfulness resources:

And now I have this book on order; I'll review it once it's in.

Click image for Kirkus review 

How do you incorporate mindfulness into your home or classroom? 


Growing Success

Today let's start with a reflection: How do you define success?
And once you've defined it, how do you grow it?
And once it has grown, how do you measure it?

It's something keynote speaker Thomas Hoerr asked last week at the True Colors Conference, and it has me thinking. A lot. About that one little word. Success. 
He told us that what we measure is what we value. So the question becomes, 
"What do we value?"

I'm reading his book about cultivating success skills now; 
click the image for more information.

I took a lot of notes of the key points he made:

1. IQ contributes 20% of the factors that determine success.
2. Willpower is a skill that can be taught.
3. Scholastics should be the floor, not the ceiling.
4. Honesty is reactive; integrity is proactive.
5. Who you are is more important that what you know.
6. He suggested brushing our teeth with our non-dominant hand, 
to see how it feels and what it takes to change a habit.
7. Look up this story about Walt Bettinger. It's not one I'll soon forget.
8. He referenced the Stanley Miligram study of obedience. Wow.
9. He said to ask kids what someone else might want for a birthday gift, to get them stepping into another's shoes and to elevate empathy.
10. "Empathy is the most important back-to-school supply for teachers." 
~Homar Tavangar 

His wisdom continued to point to the important, life-changing power of connections and relationships.

He also encouraged us to look up the Values Card sort.
So I did. Here's a digital version.
How might you use this activity to get to know yourself, 
your students, your staff, and your stakeholders better?

Don't you just love a thought-provoking keynote?

So back to success. Every seed he planted was meant to grow us. To help us get just a little bit closer to our personal success. To be the best version of us that we can be. He challenged us to move from me to we to maximize our growth. 
To cultivate and harvest success. 
Because together we're better. 
No question.

Have you seen this Make Defeat Your Fuel Gatorade commercial?
You won't want to miss it; it's a powerful example about the power in sharing our disappointments and failures. That's how we develop grit, by persevering through the challenges to come out successfully victorious. So we can go on to the next challenge. It has to challenge us in order to change us.

So, I'll end with a growth challenge:
Define success.
Plant seeds of success.
Nourish, fertilize, and grow your success.
Plan then write down how you'll measure that success.

'Water' you waiting for?; 
here's to a swimmingly successful new year of growth and grit.


Growth Plans

Today I'm thinking about these two words: Growth Plan.

What feeling does those words in concert conjure up? Is it negative or positive? Do you have a personal growth plan? How about a professional one? Do you want one? Do you need one? Do you have one? Might you benefit from one? Not one that's imposed on you, but one that you've adopted for yourself.

Today I'm excited about two upcoming Twitter opps that might help encourage your digital growth plan. If you've been wanting to try Twitter but just haven't taken the plunge yet, then this slow chat, led by edu-hero Julie Woodard, is for you. Sign up, log in and join the fun using the hashtag #fantabulosity. 

Inspired by the passionate Principal of Change, George Couros, we talked about innovation today. We were so blessed to have him in FISD two summers ago. 

The next two days we'll be discussing two of my favorite topics: kindness and empathy. On Thursday, we'll be talking about all things pirate! Won't you join us?

Then, on Tuesday night at 8 pm {CST}, we will be celebrating three years of our #teacherfriends chat. Can it be three years already? There will be thousands of dollars in prizes; two of them will be signed copies of my book. Again, all you have to do is log in and join in the chat for guaranteed growth and a chance to win. 

Have I mentioned that I won a wobble seat from the chat just a few weeks ago?

Click image for more info from Debbie Clement, proud distributor! 

Not on Twitter yet? What are you waiting for?
And once you get comfy on Twitter, download the Voxer app
and join our Poolside Peacemakers Voxer group!

Speaking of a growth plan and not putting things off, today we welcome 
Jeff Tierney from Boys Town with his thoughts on procrastination.

Why do today what you can put off 'til ... whenever?: 
How to help kids stop procrastinating

How many of us have had the joy of being told that science project, you know … the one with the flour plaster volcanoes … is actually due tomorrow? Yes, your child knew when it was due three weeks ago and even mentioned it once to you in passing, but did you really imagine that you would be reminded about it at 8:00 p.m. the night before it had to be done? I know you weren’t expecting it because my wife and I were never expecting the same sort of surprises when we became victims of our son’s procrastination.

Let’s see what tools in our parental arsenal we’ve tried up to this point to get our kids not to put off every important task until the last possible moments: Endless reminding hasn’t worked. Even threats of taking away privileges that will never be seen again didn’t fix it either. Some of our kids are just so good at procrastinating they’ve become pros at it. And it doesn’t just apply to schoolwork. There are always the bedrooms that never get cleaned and trash to be taken out despite solemn oaths that they will all get done “in just a little while.”

If our kids could articulate what their behavior has already told us they would say “But I can’t do it now, not when there are so many other things that I could be doing that would be so much more fun.” And that’s a big part of the problem. Kids are often distracted by opportunities to engage in more immediately rewarding activities than doing schoolwork or cleaning their rooms. Our task as parents becomes teaching them a strategy that allows them to do both.

Award winning children’s author Julia Cook addresses this very issue in her recent book The PROcrastinator, published by the Boys Town Press. The lead character Norman David Edward, better known as Noodle, finds it so hard to feed his cat, take out the trash, and (especially) get his homework done when there are a lot better things to do instead. So Noodle puts them off until he is hopelessly behind on homework and has a very hungry, angry cat. Noodle’s mom says he has become so good at procrastinating that now she considers him a pro at it. A PROcrastinator.

In the end, Noodle’s mom teaches him a strategy to manage his days and all of his responsibilities, all while still having plenty of time to play new video games with his friends. The trick is in figuring out what can be accomplished in under two minutes and getting those things done before anything else. Noodle also learns how to break bigger tasks into smaller parts that are easier to get done as well. This is a great strategy that all parents can use with their children who may be inclined to put things off until the last minute.

Of course, one of the most important things we parents can do is recognize when our kids are taking care of their responsibilities right away and really praise them for their efforts. This is especially true when we see them making steady progress on long-term goals such as working on a school project, studying for an upcoming test, etc. Parents can even set up rewards to be earned for their kids’ consistency in completing household responsibilities without being asked repeatedly. What happens when we use these sorts of strategies for encouraging responsibility and good planning? Less reminding and frustration on our part as parents and better teaching our children the skills they’ll need to be successful in school and out in the “real world.”

About the author: Jeff Tierney, M.Ed. has worked with children and families for over 35 years. He has been at Boys Town in Nebraska for the past 28 years working in the staff training and evaluation areas and, most recently, as Director of the Boys Town Press. Jeff is the author of Teaching Social Skills to Youth, Basic Social Skills for Youth, and articles in professional journals on reducing aggressive behavior in children and teens.

Click {here} for more information about the Boys Town’s award-winning resources for families, schools, and communities. 

Is procrastinating less part of your growth plan?


A Plane Full Of Yes

Today I'm grateful for this beautiful, kind review
and freebie reflection sheet from Wendy over at Kidlutions blog.

Wendy is one of the authors of Bloom Parenting
I admire her work and have learned so much from her over the years, 
so her thoughts about my work make my soul sing.

Know what else makes me happy?
This plate, that a friend of mine recently gave me.

It begs the questions: Was it that? and What are you waiting for?

This welcome mat at the Hampton Inn also brings me joy.

But when I told my Dad about it, he was quick to ask with what I know about emotions if I think it's really possible to make someone else happy. No, Dad, technically probably not, but I think it's really good customer service to try.

And speaking of customer service, look what I saw in the St. Louis airport earlier today. I think it's so cool that they're on the lookout for people who work hard to make our day, have a joyful attitude, solve problems, provide great service, take pride in performance, show us respectful attention, exert exceptional effort, and go above and beyond. On purpose. With intention. And I'm happy that the airport leaders want to recognize and publicly affirm them. 

Affirmations just feel good ... 
and we all know that energy flows where attention goes.
Simply put, we get more of what we focus on. 

I love that they're encouraging their peeps to keep on crusading ...
for good!

And then, there's this; the napkin on our flight.
I love that John pointed it out to me,
and I laughed because he knew that I'd take a picture of it.

It reminds me of what I encouraged at this year's
National Honor Society induction:

Find your YES - Yearn, Embrace, Share.

Not only has Southwest Airlines found their YES,
they are a plane full of yes!
They yearn for it,
it's important to them so they've embraced it,
and they're committed to share it.

Such an intriguing slogan; what does it mean to you?


Restoring Circles

So earlier this week, The Corner was selected as a Top Counseling Blog of 2017 by Online Counseling ProgramsI'm so grateful for their kind affirmation:

Being a blogger is such a gift to me because I get to share what's going on in my corner while I collaborate with passionate caregivers around the world. One of those is school psychologist Julie Gordon-Buccitti. You might remember her guest post about Bucket Filling; well, today she's back to share about her school's experience using Restorative Practices. Welcome Julie! 


Hello from Momauguin Elementary School in East Haven, CT.  We are a grade K-5 school that has just completed our first year with our “new team” after a consolidation of schools within our district. Our school, which was previously a grade 3-5 school, acquired three new grade levels this year (K-2) along with new students, new staff, and new administration. With all of these changes that took place, we had much work ahead of us to establish and build positivity within our brand-new school community.

Earlier this year, our principal, several staff members and I were given the opportunity to attend a two-day workshop on Restorative Practices, one of the most helpful and informative workshops I have been to in some time. Right away, we returned to school and began implementing some of the techniques we had learned. We were so pleased with the responses from our students, and with the results we were seeing! At the workshop, we learned that Restorative Practices is a process that needs to be introduced one step at a time. This way, we can better achieve buy-in within the community and not overwhelm students or staff.
We also learned how to conduct Restorative Circles. In a Restorative Circle, all stakeholders involved or affected by a given situation gather and work together to repair the harm that had occurred and restore relationships. Using a series of carefully thought-out and non-threatening questions is key to conducting these practices. One of the most important things we learned in our workshop was to refrain from beginning a circle by asking, “Why did you do that?” Not only are we unlikely to get a definitive answer by using this type of question, but it also starts the circle on a defensive or even accusatory note. Instead, we used these types of questions from the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP). 

Click image for source.

We began by using Restorative Circles to address student conflicts. It was wonderful to see how the students responded once they were informed that our discussion wasn’t so much about “being in trouble” but rather looking for ways to work with them to repair the harm that had been done and move forward in a positive manner.  The focus was removed from being punitive and turned toward being restorative. Students then felt more comfortable and became very honest in their responses. They gained greater understanding of how their actions impacted others. Not only did these techniques help us to solve problems and decrease the chances of them reoccurring, but they also taught our students coping skills, listening skills, and empathy. Using Restorative Practices has helped our students learn to conduct better conversational exchanges, and it has given them an avenue in which to be heard and feel supported by peers and adults alike.

Having opportunities to listen to peers or adults express their feelings about how they felt as a result of others’ actions was a new experience and an eye-opener for many of our students. Not only was it helpful for those with hurt feelings to be heard, but it was also helpful for those who did the hurting to hear how their actions made others feel. This gave students an opportunity to think about and reflect upon their actions. It was also helpful for students to be able to share that it wasn’t their intention to hurt someone’s feelings and to have an opportunity to express remorse to the person whose feelings they had hurt. This was beneficial for all sides of any given situation.
We found that the more we used these techniques, the more we noticed that we weren’t seeing the same students returning with the same issues or concerns repeatedly. Through use of these practices, we have been able to observe teaching, learning, problem-solving, and increased understanding and empathy toward others. It has been a rewarding experience for children and adults involved, and it has helped us to build positivity within our school community!  
The students have responded so well to these techniques, that they have even requested Restorative Circles when challenging situations have arisen.

Moving forward and planning for next year, our amazing principal, Diane MacKinnon, has suggested expanding on our initiatives by incorporating a Restorative Circle time into our schedule for the upcoming school year. Our entire school will be starting each day with Restorative Circles, first thing every morning. We also decided as a staff that we would like to have all of the specials teachers and support staff go into different classrooms daily. This way, there would be opportunities for the non-classroom teachers to participate in circles in all of the classrooms over the course of the school year. 

I can’t wait to see how the students and staff will enjoy using these techniques, the sharing that will take place, and the building of connections and relationships. With positive relationships and connections in place with children, peers, and adults, our students will be ready to start their school day in a positive and supportive way and, in turn, will be better able to access academic instruction.  It truly is a win-win for all! 

If you would like to learn more about Restorative Practices, you can go to Facebook and like IIRP’s page here.  

You can also visit the IIRP website here.

To read more about Restorative Practices, check out these two excellent books from IIRP. Click on each book for more information. 
Thank you, Julie. 

We are looking into adopting Restorative Practices as well, so I have started reading these and am really enjoying them. Interestingly enough, when I was a teenager, the younger brother of one of my friends gave me a black eye and instead of press charges to punish him, my father invited him to remedy what he'd done by working alongside of us on the family farm, so restorative practices were actually modeled during my upbringing. I can't wait to unleash the power of the circle on our campus. Need more Restorative Practices resources?

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