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An Educator's Time-Management Strategy: Just Say No

Related Tags: Teacher Development
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It's no secret that educators are often stretched thin. Here are some suggestions for saying "no" so you'll have more time to say "yes" to the things that matter.
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Sarah James's picture

Hey Elena. Thanks for the article. I am sorry that your mantra is changing to "NO". My time management used to be really bad and I couldn't find any time for my hobbies and projects. After few months I finally decided to dig into this problem and I easily discovered that I didn't have a work/life balance. I quit my job and decided to become a freelancer (I am working in the media industries) and be my own boss. I've also started to use a time tracking app (https://www.timeneye.com) that is currently helping me to manage different projects and clients. I have switched from saying no to a a more satisfactory YES!

Jennifer Ringo's picture
Jennifer Ringo
Training Specialist, University of Mississippi Writing Project

Wonderfully written and excellent advice, especially to new teachers. I became much happier when I learned to say "No" respectfully, and often!

Grant Lichtman's picture
Grant Lichtman
Author, speaker, facilitator, "Chief Provocateur"

Thanks, Elena, for bringing this into the language of the teacher. I find more and more senior administrators taking this path, but it is a skill or discipline that all leaders (and I absolutely believe that teachers must be every bit the "leader" as the CEO) can build on. I am halfway through reading "Essentialism" by George McKeown, recommend in a post by Dr. Brett Jacobsen (http://drbrettjacobsen.com/2014/12/29/designing-future/) , head at Mt. Vernon Presbyterian School in Atlanta via Lead + Design...all K-12 folks and organizations that I really respect in the areas of innovation, design, and leadership. The McKeown book is probably longer than it needed to be, but the "essential" elements of the discipline to say "no" to good ideas are there.

Anna Martino's picture
Anna Martino
Librarian for a school library

This is something I have been working on too. It is a good reminder and also good to know that I was not alone in my struggle to say "no." Honestly, just this morning, I was like "I can do it all!" But I can't and that's ok. Thank you for this reminder!

Andrea Hernandez's picture
Andrea Hernandez
Teacher, learner, parent, change-agent… Evolving.

I so super-relate. In fact, this reminded me of something I wrote (on my non-teacher, more personal blog in 2011: Yes or No? https://effortandease.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/yes-or-no/
I like how you have defined your simple criteria for saying yay or nay.
I think a downside of our connected world is just more life-clutter. And those of us who try our best to always do our best sometimes end up hurting ourselves by over-extending. I just read this short piece from Glennon Doyle Melton today about forgiving ourselves when we mess up, and I think this is related as well. http://momastery.com/blog/2015/01/13/parenting-and-life/
By the way, it brought me joy to leave this comment :-)

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Caring for Teachers Supports SEL for Students

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When school leaders offer such things for teachers as informal colleague mentoring and check-ins on staff wellbeing, social emotional learning for students increases in the classroom.

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Alex Shevrin's picture
Alex Shevrin
Teacher/leader & techie at independent, alternative, therapeutic high school

This sounds like a great book. I especially would love to pick it up to see more about the school culture assessment - seems like there are some great questions there to consider. When we're asking staff to support students in social/emotional growth, we have to make sure we're grounded and ready to do that work. Looking forward to your follow-up post.

JessiT's picture

I think this post is spot on; I recently attended a conference in which one of the sessions was focused on this topic. It seems like such an obvious concept, but I continue to find colleagues who are focused solely on teaching content or making kids follow rules. Some say they do not have time to build relationships with their students. It makes so much sense that staff need proper social-emotional support in order to foster SEL with our students. At the same time, I feel a bit discouraged as to how to help other educators see this link when so many are focused on other issues. This book might be an excellent resource to help explain the link between staff and student well-being--thank you for sharing!

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Teacher of Year Sean McComb Makes the Case for Optimism

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Sean talks with student Juliette German at Patasco High School.
As he makes his way across the country visiting classrooms and meeting policy makers, we catch up with National Teacher of the Year, Sean McComb, in this interview.
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Debunking Myths About Gifted Students

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Gifted students do not need scaffolding is just one of the misconceptions that doesn't help teachers or schools reach gifted kids efficiently.

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LynneTS's picture

I agree with most of this, but am disturbed by the implication that students whose perfectionist tendencies make it hard for them to submit their work should not be in GATE programs. This is indeed a problem that needs to be addressed, but it is best addressed within the GATE program. Barring them from the GATE program could be emotionally devastating and certainly would not help them. On the other hand, addressing the question of when is your work "good enough" is critical for all the students, whether they are overestimating the quality of their work or underestimating it.

Heather Wolpert - Gawron's picture
Heather Wolpert - Gawron
Middle school teacher by day, educational author/blogger by night

Hey Lynne!
Thanks so much for your input on this. However, I wasn't insinuating that they should be barred from the GATE program. On the contrary, the post was meant to addresses the reality of those designated GATE and encourage teachers to support those students by recognizing that even a GATE student has struggles. I don't think that there are any issues that should only be addressed in GATE programs, however. I think that all teachers (as I say in the end of the post) should have experience and awareness of all demographics.

I hope I've clarified this, and I really appreciate your concern over these kids!

-Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Heather A.'s picture

Don't Know much re Gate but what you are saying resonates. As a K5 teacher the need to individualize is overwhelming. I am stuck, however, in a preset program that basically dictates every minute of my day with my kids. Children with learning styles that widely vary from the norm are to be "tutored". Yet at K level no one is yet "id'd" so instead of using my training and varying my program until they are id'd to allow tutoring and placement or accomodation I spend all my time coping and trying to complete my scripted program and filling out checklist for the future. What a waste of a child's best learning time!!!!

Alex Kluge's picture
Alex Kluge
Dedicated to bringing the best in design and visualization into instruction.

> They might be so compulsive with their work that they never feel it's worthy for submission.
Something else to be on the lookout here, at least with the older students, is the imposter syndrome
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome
The work may be fine, or their performance may even be great, but they may be hesitant to share their work, or make public displays or presentations. They just think it isn't as good as everyone else's because they are beginning to understand, and be uncomfortable with, how much they really don't know.

Heather Wolpert - Gawron's picture
Heather Wolpert - Gawron
Middle school teacher by day, educational author/blogger by night

Alex, what a great point! It's so true that as the years to by, some students who clearly comprehended at a higher level from the get-go find it challenge ging when they reach levels that demand more mental sweat equity. Some students who always find academics a challenge can learn strategies of coping with struggles far sooner than those who hit walls later. And you're right, with that can come insecurity that can chip away at confidence enough to feel like an imposter in their own skills. All these points prove that GATE students have struggles, sometimes different struggles, but struggles nonetheless, that make a teacher have to recognize their needs too. Thanks for reminding us about this very important point!

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Education Equity: Tackling the Term "At Risk"

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Given the opportunity, any student will rise to the level of expectations. Providing students with many opportunities to do so is the key.

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Scott I. Goldsmith's picture
Scott I. Goldsmith
School psychologist, licensed counselor, author, blogger, facilitator, trainer and owner of Outside the Box Experiential

Great read! It sounds like something I would have written. We work with the same populations and I share your feelings!

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After Ferguson and NY: Holding Space for Sadness, Anger, and Hope

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How do we find courage and motivate colleagues to look inward, look outward, and do something about injustices -- in our classrooms, schools, justice system, and society?
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Why Reading Matters: An Interview with a School Leader

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An instructional development director from a charter schools network in the San Francisco area shares his plan for acquiring 300 donated digital reading devices for students.
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Karen H.W's picture

In addition to subbing K-12 I also tutor reading. I've debated whether to use devices during my sessions instead of books that I have checked out of the library. I have a 7th grade boy who is struggling with reading comprehension. I meet with him once a week at the San Leandro Main Library where he is surrounded by silent readers and hundreds of books. Am I being " old school" in believing that being surrounded by readers as an incentive trumps the advantages that gadgetry can bring.? I'm willing to find out for myself. Using the Kindle Project as a model .

Farah Najam's picture
Farah Najam
Teacher Trainer and write on education

The kids were basically voting with the mouse, and they were voting for digital. I realized that this is the medium for their generation. It's the medium of the future. I have noticed as a teacher that digital reading products can personalize learning for struggling students and help interest young readers in nonfiction books, an excellent form of personalized learning because students have their own choice of content and access to a library of thousands of books anytime, anywhere. In my class boys are reading more than ever. From the science of basketball to the workings of the human body, young boys have been choosing nonfiction books that spark their interest.

Beverly Choltco-Devlin's picture

Your bashing of libraries and librarians is completely uncalled for, unprofessional, and exhibits an unfounded bias based on decades old stereotypes. School librarians ARE teachers (and your colleagues!-would you say the same about the science classroom or teacher? ) and public librarians play an extremely important role in developing readers, establishing a lifelong love a reading and helping students with reader's advisory. In fact we are trained to do just that. You do a huge disservice to students by dissing libraries and librarians. In fact, in most schools and public libraries, librarians ARE the access point for teaching people how to download e-books and select materials of interest to all patrons. School librarians TEACH information literacy and often provide a safe haven where students can ask about topics they may be afraid to ask their parents or how to evaluate what they find on the web. In addition today's libraries provide a center and safe haven for many students. I would suggest you check your biases and stereotypes at the door before posting such patent untruths and actually visit a dynamic school or public library.

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Ayyoub's picture

Dear Mark Isero; I'm not sure when was the last time you visited a library but your comments about libraries and librarians are just false and offensive.
Your students can benefit a lot more from their public libraries than you may think. While-readers are great and perhaps the future as you describe it, there is still place for everything and remember they are just a tool to access knowledge.

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Amy Young-Buckler's picture
Amy Young-Buckler
Librarian, Meade Heights ES, Anne Arundel County Public Schools

"They don't have to worry about stepping foot in a public library or dealing with old fines, or being talked-to by a librarian. They don't have to check anything out. They don't have to get a library card, or return a book, or take care of it, or worry about losing it."
As a librarian in public schools for the past 18 years, I don't appreciate this bashing of the valuable role that a librarian plays in a school. Libraries give students access to a fuller world than a device. Not all books are available in electronic format. Depending upon the device, they also don't get to see all of the great features that traditional text can provide - illustrations, photographs, design choices that make some books great. I would rather have a student lose a $12 dollar book than a $200 device.

Mark Isero's picture

I am sorry for my comments about librarians and should have chosen my words more carefully. In fact, I value librarians very much and appreciate their role in promoting independent reading.

Here is what I meant to say: My students -- from a few schools in the Bay Area, nearly all of them African American and Latino, nearly all of them the first in their families to go to college -- have told me over and over again that they do not feel comfortable in most libraries. They have felt judged. They have felt fear. They have felt unwelcome. Many libraries, my students have told me, are white spaces for white people.

Therefore, there is a gap between the hard work that librarians do and the lived experiences of some teenagers of color. My ill-chosen words have widened that gap, and for that I apologize. There is more work to do to bridge the divide, and I look forward to contributing to that effort.

Peter's picture

Mark, thank you for this valuable work that you're doing to get kids to read more!! As an urban educator for the past 13 years, I have also heard from my students about how library space is perceived. That is a perspective that is real and while it's also important to shift that narrative, this conversation shouldn't create an issue that really isn't there. Bashing is done deliberately and with ill-will, which is definitely not what is happening here. It's obvious from your Kindle project and the impact that it has had, you have tremendous passion for reading. Thank you for your work and keep it up.

Michele's picture

I thought your words were great.

I am a school librarian at a school with predominately Black and Latino kids. I check books out, ask kids to return books, charge fines when they lose books, check in with kids about what kinds of books they like - things librarians do. Some kids avoid seeing me by staying away from the library. That bums me out, because I think I'm pretty nice and I would enjoy talking to me if I were them. But some of them stay away, for whatever reason.

I don't read your description as vilifying librarians. Not at all! I read your description as understanding that, for some students, there are hurdles to walking into certain institutions that some of us (maybe white folks?) just can not understand. Institutions have always served me well; I'm 100% comfortable walking into a library and asking for help, or looking for a book I need, or looking for something new that might pique my interest. I know how to communicate with people who work at libraries, I have strong reading skills, and I have enough money to pay for something if I lose it or damage it. Other institutions have served me well, too: when I've had to walk into a police station, I've been treated with the respect; when I have attended public school, my administrators and teachers made it clear that they were there for my success.

Your work is helping get young people reap the benefits of reading, without having to clear some hurdles I've never experienced. I'm grateful that someone is looking out for those kids who don't make it to the library. You keep doing your work and I'll keep doing mine, we can continue to help spread the joys of reading.

Beverly Choltco-Devlin's picture

Thank you, Mark, for your reply. I understand that perhaps in your specific situation students may feel uncomfortable in a specific library, but their perceived treatment is an issue for that library and the correlation should not be drawn, as was done here, that all libraries are like that. I am the manager of the Main Library of the Tacoma Public Library in Washington. It is an urban library and we are very welcoming to people of all ages and ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. To paint all libraries with such a broad stroke is actually doing exactly what you are chastising libraries for doing. If a library is not welcoming to everyone, that specific library is not doing its job. I encourage those students to contact the library manager and the library board of the specific library. I encourage you to seek examples of how the majority of public and school libraries are having a positive impact on young people regardless of background. There are countless examples. You can start by checking out our StoryLab at the Tacoma Public Library on YouTube. Here is a link to our website and our YouTube channel. (Scroll down on the website page) http://storylabtacoma.org/page/2/ and https://www.youtube.com/user/StoryLabTacoma. I do understand how easy it is though to make inferences based on local situations and project those as being universal.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Manager

Mark, thanks for the clarification. Growing up, I lived in walking distance of two public libraries, and they were both second homes to me. You've opened a window for me into the lives of your students.

I wonder if maybe the Kindles in your classroom can be a bridge to the libraries in your community. If your students learn to love books and learn to love learning, then they'll want to know about the tremendous resources available through their local library.

Folks interested in the future of libraries may find this post interesting: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/21st-century-libraries-learning-commons-be....

Ayyoub's picture

Dear Mark Isero; I'm not sure when was the last time you visited a library but your comments about libraries and librarians are just false and offensive.
Your students can benefit a lot more from their public libraries than you may think. While-readers are great and perhaps the future as you describe it, there is still place for everything and remember they are just a tool to access knowledge.

(1)
Beverly Choltco-Devlin's picture

Your bashing of libraries and librarians is completely uncalled for, unprofessional, and exhibits an unfounded bias based on decades old stereotypes. School librarians ARE teachers (and your colleagues!-would you say the same about the science classroom or teacher? ) and public librarians play an extremely important role in developing readers, establishing a lifelong love a reading and helping students with reader's advisory. In fact we are trained to do just that. You do a huge disservice to students by dissing libraries and librarians. In fact, in most schools and public libraries, librarians ARE the access point for teaching people how to download e-books and select materials of interest to all patrons. School librarians TEACH information literacy and often provide a safe haven where students can ask about topics they may be afraid to ask their parents or how to evaluate what they find on the web. In addition today's libraries provide a center and safe haven for many students. I would suggest you check your biases and stereotypes at the door before posting such patent untruths and actually visit a dynamic school or public library.

(1)

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SEL and the Common Core, Part Two: Why Emotion Vocabulary Matters

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No matter what age student you teach, or for parents, the age of your child, helping children build their emotion vocabularies will help them be more successful in and out of school.
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Miss Valencia's picture

give the students a list of emotions/feelings (with pictures), then read a book and have the students yell out a word from the list that could be used instead

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Fred Mindlin's picture
Fred Mindlin
writing teacher, digital storyteller, creative computing coach

When I work as a substitute teacher, I usually tell the class right away that I'm not going to use their teacher's discipline system, I'm just going to ask them to be kind to each other so we can all have a good day. I explain the etymology from kinship, and ask that we be a learning family together. This usually works, and your piece makes me think I should add some emotion words that we elicit around a discussion of what family means, to deepen the experience. Thanks for the insight.

Maurice Elias's picture
Maurice Elias
Prof. of Psychology, Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab, Director, the Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service

Wonderful suggestions! Expanding emotion vocabulary is only going to become more and more important. Attaching the vocabulary to an ethic of kindness, or to the operation of a classroom discipline system, is a way of adding to those frameworks while also fostering greater generalization of the use of emotion words!

Miss Valencia's picture

give the students a list of emotions/feelings (with pictures), then read a book and have the students yell out a word from the list that could be used instead

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Brown and Garner: Courageous Teaching in Times of Crisis

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Following the grand juries decisions in Ferguson and New York to not indict police officers in the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, educators may think it important to keep their opinions out of discussion so students can form their own.
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Joshua Block's picture
Joshua Block
Humanities teacher at Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia

Thank you for this wonderful, thoughtful, timely post! It makes me think of Howard Zinn's book (and the film), You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train.

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SoundMind's picture

Using phrases such as "what are essentially, as I see it, criminal acts." or comparing the acts in Ferguson and New York to "genocide or the holocaust" indicates a passionate stance on the issue. In this instance I think it would be prudent, and the right thing to do, to take a neutral stance. That is not to say do not discuss the incidents but tread lightly.
What this article seems to advocate is Politics from the Platform (desk). This a dangerous and deplorable thing which should not occur in a classroom. Just because you happen to believe, based on what you have read, that things are a certain way does not mean they are. The word "informed" in the article seems to actually mean "informed and think like, and believe, what I do." Other men and women read the same things and formed other opinions which are no less legitimate than yours. An attempt to sway kids over to "your side", because that is what it is, is not the right thing to do. When there is too much opinion inserted, such as, these are criminal acts, then it becomes the wrong thing to do. Grand Jury may have been wrong but they heard more evidence than anyone else. Should have the two cases gone to trial? I think so but, it is not my place to tell a student that this is the way he or she should think and believe.

Parents? Well, what if parents hear of attempts, in our classrooms, of a teacher who is directly influencing the political opinions of THEIR children. I would suggest that Not being neutral when it comes to racism and intolerance is the right thing to do. The wrong thing to do however, is to sway student political opinion toward your personal side; this has no place in the classroom. Just a thought.

Stacey Goodman's picture
Stacey Goodman
Artist and educator from Oakland, California.

This blog post is not about the specifics of this case, but the decades of, yes, criminal acts by police officers against African Americans and people of color in general. This phase of our history has been thoroughly documented by Michelle Alexander in her book The New Jim Crow http://newjimcrow.com/praise-for-the-new-jim-crow. What is clear in this book is that segregation and the treatment of African American as second class citizens is comparable to other historic atrocities in our history.

This is not about swaying kids to my side or another, but also being clear about what is just, and standing up for what is right. And if teachers only taught what they directly experienced and did not teach what they've read, that would not be considered what most of us would consider an education.

So I ask you, at what historic moment, or what year in our nation's history would you drop the pretense of neutrality? That is not a rhetorical question, but a question directed at you. Would you allow students to debate the merits of Jim Crow? Would you allow students to defend Nixon's bombing of Laos? Would you allow the students to defend the use of chaining and beating naked people without a trial or due process as cited in the recent Torture Report? I mean, really, which side are you on?

Stacey Goodman's picture
Stacey Goodman
Artist and educator from Oakland, California.

Thanks for the positive feedback. I need to see that film - thanks for the recommendation.

Farah Najam's picture
Farah Najam
Teacher Trainer and write on education

The resulting anxieties students--and teachers--take into the classroom in response to a crisis can affect student learning, as documented by psychological, cognitive, and neuroscience research. Individual crises, such as managing with the loss of a family member or recovering from a difficult break-up with a significant other, can affect an individual class member's learning and performance. College students who took part in a journal writing exercise or who listened to a story that addressed themes relevant to the terrorist attacks showed greater improvements and fewer signs of trauma.

Joshua Block's picture
Joshua Block
Humanities teacher at Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia

Thank you for this wonderful, thoughtful, timely post! It makes me think of Howard Zinn's book (and the film), You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train.

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Setting Intentions: A Powerful Tool To Help Us Learn

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When teachers set intentions before a workshop or professional development, and then reflect at the end, it helps them learn in a much deeper and more authentic way.
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Sue J's picture

I LIke this, tho' it would take confidence to pull it off, lest I wonder whether some folks' sincere intention would be "get through this lame session without openly looking disgusted or bored or saying something insulting." I know that's been my best at some meetings ;)

(I'm thinking that if I'm going to present I need to be prepared enough to summon that much confidence ...)

Gary Garcia's picture
Gary Garcia
An Educator

Its similar to goal setting but you have explained it very well. A good way to start an encounter with students, or training/workshops/seminars. Thanks Elena for sharing this.

Chris Davis's picture
Chris Davis
Teacher, Tech Innovation Project Coordinator

I'm fascinated by this focus on setting a mindset separate from the projected learning outcome. As teachers we aspire to move students past mere declarative knowledge, but often neglect in our own collaborations to move beyond the "what" of the doing. Priming for the "how" and the "why" seems so... logical. And yet we often don't do it. In fact, reviewing David Jonassen's catalogue of human cognitive architecture, a mindfulness of feeling doesn't seem to be present.

Recently I have borrowed a Design Thinking mindset of close observation and method of using photographs for research (d.School Mindset and Method Cards). We spend time with students discussing what is going on in the photograph, how it is happening, and why it is happening. Teaching this kind of media literacy keeps the students more mindful of the digital media surrounding them. In that discussion the feelings surrounding an observed process often come out and an empathy for the subject is projected. What I haven't thought through as closely is a simultaneous inner projection. "How do you feel about this?" is probably an equally valid question.

In Goleman's Emotional Intelligence he establishes emotional well being as a greater indicator of success than all of the other forms of intelligence. Reflecting on your article urges me to think we have choice in the direction of our emotional being. Framing that emotional stance prior to acting ensures a greater potential for maintaining a positive emotional presence in the here and now, a mindfulness of the current process, and a greater potential for learning.

Finally I think you have addressed the marriage between our reasoning and our gut feeling. Do we reason towards a gut feeling we already have, or is our gut feeling a result of experience and reasoning? Leveling the two and understanding their relationship seems to be at the core of setting out a mindful intent before a learning session. (See TED: The Long Reach of Reason)

My questions for you are...

How do you present this to your teachers without sounding like Mace Windu in Star Wars, The Phantom Menace, "Be mindful of your feelings"?
What kind of feedback do you get from teachers on this practice?
We have used Restorative Practices before but I found that getting this kind of mindfulness between feeling and reasoning requires a critical mass of "believers" to implement across an institution. Any thoughts, recommendations, methods for promoting this?
In your mindfulness of intent approach, do you engage the teacher learning community beyond sharing your intent with someone?

Thanks for the inspiration!

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program

"How do you present this to your teachers without sounding like Mace Windu in Star Wars, The Phantom Menace, "Be mindful of your feelings"?"

LOL! I can see how this could come across as a little too kumbaya if one weren't able to facilitate it with absolute sincerity. Because so much of my work is rooted in Critical Friends and Mindfulness (with a heft dose of Parker Palmer), I think participants would blink an eye if this kind of activity were presented in a class or session I was running. We sometimes use a Connections protocol to help folks transition from out "there" and into whatever work we're going to be doing together. The think I like about what Elena describes here is that it's 90% internal- no one *has* do participate- but it invites the individual to ponder a bit.

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Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program

Elena, I particularly love the way that you transition from the expected and concrete parts of a workshop day or class (welcome, agenda review, etc) to this abstract idea of setting an intention- and the way you root that in neuroscience.

I'd love to hear more about the specific neuroscience and how you present it, if you have a minute!

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Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program

Elena, I particularly love the way that you transition from the expected and concrete parts of a workshop day or class (welcome, agenda review, etc) to this abstract idea of setting an intention- and the way you root that in neuroscience.

I'd love to hear more about the specific neuroscience and how you present it, if you have a minute!

(1)
Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program

"How do you present this to your teachers without sounding like Mace Windu in Star Wars, The Phantom Menace, "Be mindful of your feelings"?"

LOL! I can see how this could come across as a little too kumbaya if one weren't able to facilitate it with absolute sincerity. Because so much of my work is rooted in Critical Friends and Mindfulness (with a heft dose of Parker Palmer), I think participants would blink an eye if this kind of activity were presented in a class or session I was running. We sometimes use a Connections protocol to help folks transition from out "there" and into whatever work we're going to be doing together. The think I like about what Elena describes here is that it's 90% internal- no one *has* do participate- but it invites the individual to ponder a bit.

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