Empathy

Can we talk??

From Our Executive Director, Jacqueline Hicks (March 2017 Newsletter):

One of the things teachers identify as a reason for leaving their profession is that they don’t feel supported by their administrator/principal. I choose to interpret this as a need for relationship – a better relationship between the Leader and his/her Followers. (Check out our ‘10 Things Principals Don’t Tell Their Teachers But Should’ blog post. )

I am remembering my experiences as both teacher (follower) and administrator (leader), and I can share how I felt in both roles. As a teacher, I wanted my boss to support me in fulfilling the agreements of my teaching contract and allow me to participate and contribute my gifts. I wanted confirmation about the things I was doing well, and help with the things that were challenging. As the administrator, I wanted my teachers to enthusiastically embrace my vision and help me realize my goals for our students. I wanted partners who would let me know when they thought I was veering off track, and who would add their efforts and ideas to our joint success. I wanted relationships with colleagues who would be responsible and hold me accountable. In my conversations with other teachers and other administrators, they have expressed desires for a similar kind of rapport.

Unfortunately, I found the opportunities to discuss, reflect and improve upon our joint efforts were few and far between. Both as teacher and administrator, the lack of opportunities was disheartening. It wasn’t just lack of time, but also lack of courage and, more importantly, lack of skill. It felt risky to attempt to have conversations about my and other people’s performances. It seemed to me that not only did my colleagues find speaking […]

By | March 22nd, 2017|Adminstrators, Congruence, Empathy, PCA, Teacher|0 Comments

10 Things Principals Don’t Tell Their Teachers, But Should…

From our newsletter of April, 2016: Jackie offers this for a little perspective.  🙂

1. “I really do care how you feel about me.”
I want you to like me, and I know you don’t like everything I do.  When I come off like a hard-ass who doesn’t care about your opinions, it’s mostly because I’m insecure or uncertain of my authority.  I’m your boss; the school is at least partly an extension of myself.  So I want you to like your job.  And I definitely want you to like me.

2. “I don’t think I know everything.”
A few people stepped in, without being asked, and made a huge difference in my professional life.  I will always be grateful to them as mentors and coaches.  So I don’t offer advice to you because I think I’m all knowing or all-powerful.  I see something special in you, and I’m repaying the debt I owe to the people who helped me.

3. “I like when you’re having fun.”
You don’t have to lower your voice and pretend to be serious when I enter your classroom.  I know it’s possible for students to perform at a high level and have a little fun at the same time.  Busy, engaged students aren’t necessarily quiet and serious.  I used to work that way, too.  When you enjoy what you do it makes me feel a little better about our school and about myself.  I get to feel like I’m part of something more than just the administration.

4. “I really would like to pay you more.”
I have a budget based on the number of students in attendance each day.  The largest expenditure is teacher salaries, benefits, and payroll taxes. I am challenged all the time to […]

By | March 15th, 2017|Adminstrators, Education, Empathy, From the Staff, Teacher|0 Comments

A Teacher’s Point of View on the Current State of Education

Education Transformations received the following in an email from a teacher who found us online.  We thought it was so interesting, we got permission to share it.  We’d love to hear your perspective – do you agree, disagree, or how did this strike you?

I am Marco Franco, a fifty-nine year old high school teacher in Laredo, Texas, and I am planning to apply Carl Rogers’ Student Center Teaching, as well as his Humanistic Education theories, in my classroom throughout the Spring Semester, which begins [in January 2017].

For the past twelve years, I have been teaching English, ESL, Oral Interpretation, Practical Writing and mentoring college composition classes. Also, I made a brief stint facilitating leadership and team dynamics workshops at the local community college.

Nowadays the educational system is in crisis and rapidly deteriorating. When we learn about it in the newspaper or through the TV news, it just becomes another short-lived news clip to be buried again by tomorrow’s newest news. Witnessing the failure of the educational system day after day in the classroom, and going home knowing that we, teachers, cannot improve it becomes a daily frustration.

True teachers do teach despite all hindrances, while many others end up conforming to the state of affairs, resigning, or just teaching to the test. However, the elephant is in the room.

The gap between the academic curricula and the student population is widening every year. On one side we have the state education agencies enforcing End Of Course Tests (EOCs), assessing and ranking school districts according to their test performances, and complete school districts teaching to the test to get the coveted “Exemplary” status and more federal money.

On the other side, there is the student population emerging from dysfunctional […]

By | February 15th, 2017|Education, Empathy, PCA, Teacher|0 Comments

Circle Up with Empathy!

From our Sept. 2016 Newsletter, by Jackie Hicks:

Start the School Year with Circle Time

I’m hoping that you are starting the new school year with excitement, energy and enthusiasm, armed with fresh ideas, confidence in your curriculum, and eagerness to meet your new students.  This is the time of year when possibilities are abundant.  How you deal with the first two to three weeks is crucial in getting off to a good start with students and establishing your classroom culture.  If you are willing to invest in building relationships amongst you and your students as the priority for those first weeks of school, you will reap the benefit throughout the school year.  For that purpose, I suggest you provide regular time and guidance practicing CIRCLE TIME with your students, starting on the first day of school.

CIRCLE TIME can be extremely effective in establishing rapport among students and teachers, while also developing a classroom culture that teaches and strengthens social-emotional skills. Kindergarten is a good place for students to begin experiencing sitting in a circle facing each other as they get to know themselves and each other by listening and sharing their thoughts and feelings.  HOWEVER, Circle Time isn’t just for Kindergarten.  In fact, at every grade level there are important social and emotional developmental growth goals that can be addressed during CIRCLE TIME.  Parents, teachers and community members want to see children develop character, which is becoming more urgent as we see the lack of empathy, kindness, and personal responsibility occurring in our society.

What is CIRCLE TIME?  It is special and regular time when everyone in class (students and teachers) sits together in a circle on the floor or in chairs facing […]

By | September 28th, 2016|Education, Empathy, PCA, Teacher|0 Comments

Let Students Make Mistakes! by Serena Pariser

Making Mistakes Represents a Critical Element of Comprehensive Learning —Let Students Make Mistakes

Can you think of a time in school when you made a mistake? Was it a learning experience or just humiliating? The title of this blog may make some of you cringe, recalling some of your biggest mistakes in your own classroom experiences. Allowing for mistakes to be made is much different from how many of us were taught growing up. A friend once told me of a horrifying memory in 5th grade when she raised her hand to answer a question, incorrectly, and had to suffer the embarrassing laughter of her classmates. She remains fearful of raising her hand in a class-like setting to this day. Mistakes, handled improperly, can be scarring.

The flip side is that mistakes can also, should also, be opportunities to strengthen and empower students. When I say mistakes, I of course don’t mean letting them get the answer on a math problem wrong and telling them “good job”. Give your students a non-judgmental forum for trial and error.

Making an attempt at active participation should always be encouraged, and it is in the students’ trying where much of the learning happens. Let them feel safe and confident enough to leap knowing they may indeed fall. You’ll be surprised at how much student engagement and interaction will soar once they realize that nobody is going to laugh or be angry with them, including the teacher, if they get the answer incorrect.

How to make your classroom a safe-zone for making mistakes:

  • Teach your class that mistakes are part of learning. (You may wish to reference one of Thomas A. Edison’s more famous quotes: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 […]
By | January 7th, 2015|Congruence, Education, Empathy, Teacher|1 Comment

One Exceptional Math Teacher!

This post was first published on Glennon Doyle Melton’s blog, Momasteryon Jan. 30, 2014. In less than a day it was shared more than 1 million times. It is inspirational, and we wanted to share it with you.

Every Friday afternoon Chase’s teacher asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student whom they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.

And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, Chase’s teacher takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her and studies them. She looks for patterns.

Who is not getting requested by anyone else?
Who doesn’t even know who to request?
Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?
Who had a million friends last week and none this week?

You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down — right away — who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.

As a teacher, parent, and lover of all children — I think that this is the most brilliant Love Ninja strategy I have ever encountered. It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of […]

By | December 10th, 2014|Bullying, Education, Empathy, PCA, Teacher|1 Comment