Monthly Archives: July 2018

Guest Post #5: Morgane Michael’s Journey Exploring and Sharing Kindness

I am very pleased to welcome Morgane Michael as my blog guest this week.  Morgane is an amazing educator from Vancouver Island and the creator of the SMALL ACT BIG IMPACT 21-DAY-CHALLENGE,and the producer of  KindSight 101 Podcast, in which I was honoured to have participated.  In this post she shares her kindness journey with us.

Journey to Small Act Big Impact

As an educator for over ten years, I’ve always cared deeply about making those around me feel valued and seen. Many people, including many of our colleagues, parents, and students, suffer from anxiety, depression, and the effects can be devastating. In my heart, I believe that the small ways in which we connect to others, whether through a smile or an off-handed casual conversation, can make all the difference. I enjoy finding creative ways to explore the concept of deep kindness, especially within the context of our school communities.

It wasn’t until a moment of personal reckoning, that I truly learned about the trans-formative power of kindness. It would be a turning point for me and for my career. With two children under the age of five, I suddenly began experiencing severe dizziness, began bumping into walls, and was so nauseous I couldn’t hold down food.  After a diagnosis of severe vertigo, I was hospitalized and spent over a week in bed, completely unable to care for my children or do virtually anything. During this difficult time, we received an enormous outpouring of help from family and friends.  It was then when I realized just how difficult it was for me to accept these acts of kindness.

Not only does our culture discourage receiving help and kindness (think of how difficult it is to receive and accept a compliment about our character, achievements or clothing without deflecting, when someone offers to pay for the bill at a restaurant, when someone offers you help in a time of need), but it values and rewards over-functioning independence. As Dr. Brené Brown, famed author of Daring Greatly asserts, “we fall prey to the myth that successful people are those who help rather than need, and broken people need rather than help.”

The Birth of the 21-Day Kindness Challenge

My experience sparked an inquiry project, of sorts. I began reading about kindness in leadership, schools, and communities. I learned that we are wired for kindness, that our brain rewards altruism by infusing us with a cocktail of happiness hormones that have been nicknamed the “Helper’s High,” and most incredibly, that kindness is contagious. I started thinking of ways that these concepts could be incorporated into my practice as an elementary school teacher. That’s when I came up with the 21-Day Kindness Challenge. Kindness literally has the power to change workplace, school, and community culture because of its positive ripple effects. What if we could positively influence a school or workplace culture as a result of making kindness a habit?

The 21-Day Small Act Big Impact Kindness Challenge starts with a conscious commitment from individuals to come up with meaningful ways to add value to their school, workplace, and community cultures throughout a dedicated 21-day period. Several exciting ‘spin-off’ projects have resulted as a result of this inquiry into kindness including my blog, podcast, and an upcoming book.

Throughout the course of 2017-2018, I spent time piloting the 21-Day Kindness Challenge across a number of Elementary and Middle Schools within the Victoria, Sooke, and Saanich Districts on Vancouver Island. Students from K-8 loved and resonated with the concept of kindness. The idea gained traction and soon I even heard from teachers who had embraced the challenge within their high-school classrooms through twitter and social media. I spent many Fridays going into schools for launch assemblies and teaching mini-lessons to dozens of classrooms. I have a number of resources including a short animated video, kindness trackers, and lessons that provide teachers with a additional resources to kickstart their own kindness challenge. A lot of the success of the challenge stems from the students taking agency over their impactful action.

This year, as I return back to school after an extended leave with my young kids, I will continue piloting the challenge in my own classroom and incorporating some important kindness metrics (developed by Dr. Binfet from UBC) to measure the effects of kindness on our overall happiness and kindness within the school. I’ll be sharing the roadmap and some of the “How-to’s” in upcoming Pro-D workshops and conferences in Victoria and at the CrossCurrents 2019 Conference.

Here are some of the ways our students have served their schools, communities, and world through the 21-Day Kindness Challenge:

  • Sock drives for the homeless
  • Creating art for senior’s homes
  • Musical performances in group homes for individuals with special needs
  • Baking cookies for local hospital family support centres
  • Engaging in recycling and other environmental projects
  • Raising money for peace-promotion and disaster relief through organizations like Red Cross and Peace Direct
  • Delivering care packages to children receiving chemotherapy cancer treatment
  • Sending letters and encouraging notes to on-duty members of the military
  • Dedicating themselves to small, intentional kindnesses on a daily basis that benefit their classmates, family, and school environment

KindSight 101 Podcast:Image result for morgane michael kindness

The Small Act Big Impact Kindness project led me to further explore the idea of kindness in our community.  I have had honour of interviewing over 40 individuals (including Adrienne Gear) for KindSight 101, the podcast designed for educators and leaders to accompany the Small Act Big Impact kindness mission. I’ve spoken to educators, principals, Nobel Peace Prize nominees, YouTube stars, authors, counselors, TED talk speakers, and parenting gurus. These amazing folks have taught me that everyone has a story and one single thread connects all of us…we all wish to be seen, heard and understood. They’ve also shared tangible actionable strategies and ways to infuse our classrooms and homes with authentic generosity. When we can lead with compassion, empathy, and follow-through with deep, intentional kindness toward one another, we are able to create deep meaningful lives with beautiful relationships.

On a personal note, after having had one of the most incredibly rewarding, gold-mine podcast interviews with Adrienne, my computer glitched, the software we were using to stage and record the interview crashed unexpectedly, and I lost the full hour-and-a-half interview!  Cue panicked hyperventilation! With Adrienne’s generous nature (and some re configuring of technical equipment), we were able to reschedule and rerecord the interview. I’d like to say that it was even better than the first!  You can check out Adrienne’s podcasts here:

Episode #9 Hmmm…Huh? Aha! Tangible Proven Ways to Develop Powerful Understanding P1   https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/9-hmmm-huh-aha-tangible-proven-ways-to-develop-powerful/id1412489005?i=1000416027246&mt=2

Episode #10 Hmmm…Huh? Aha! Tangible Proven Ways to Develop Powerful Understanding P2   https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/10-hmmm-huh-aha-tangible-proven-ways-to-develop-powerful/id1412489005?i=1000416027298&mt=2

Episode #35 But, I’m not Indigenous: How to Explore Indigenous Ways of Learning  https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/35-but-im-not-indigenous-how-to-explore-indigenous/id1412489005?i=1000416027254&mt=2

My New Book Kindness and Homelessness – Inquiry for the Middle-School Classroom   I am very excited to be in the process of writing a book about homelessness and kindness for middle school classrooms.  Through first-hand stories, my goal is to invite young readers to discover the realities, profiles, and causes of homelessness.  Readers will be encouraged to step outside of your own experience and gain a deep understanding of what it means to live without a home. Most importantly, I hope to educate youth to learn about actionable ways to use kindness to help those affected by homelessness. The book is set to be released in early 2020 through Orca Publishers.

Final Thoughts:

At the end of the day, we must ask ourselves daily whether we are proud of our interactions. It comes down to choosing integrity over what feels easy. Taking care of the members in our communities reinforces that they matter. When we can lead with compassion, empathy, and follow-through with deep, intentional kindness toward one another, we are able to create deep meaningful lives with beautiful relationships.

Image result for morgane michael kindness

Morgane Michael has been a teacher for over 10 years and is the founder of the not-for-profit Small Act Big Impact 21-Day Kindness Challenge (started in August of 2017). Through professional development workshops and within her Grade 2/3 classroom in the Greater Victoria School District, she teaches kids, parents, and educators how to harness the mobilizing power of kindness to make a big impact on the world, one small act at a time. When she isn’t teaching, reading, writing, or interviewing fascinating new guests for her podcast, KindSight 101, you can find her at boot camp, camping, catching up with friends, playing with her two kids, or enjoying some down time with her husband.  She lives with her family in Victoria, BC and feels tremendous gratitude for the beautiful nature that surrounds them.

Connect with Morgane and explore more of her Kindness Journey :

Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Mq3lAU1TQ4 

Website: smallactbigkindness.com

Blog: smallactbigimpact/blog.com

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/smallactbigimpact/

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/smallactbigimpact21days/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sabi21days?lang=en

Linked-In: Small Act Big Impact (Teacher)

YouTube Channel: https://youtu.be/3Mq3lAU1TQ4

Suggested hashtags: #vulnerability #kindness #smallactbigimpact #smallactbigimpact21days #21daykindnesschallenge #momsofinstagram #momblogger

 

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Filed under Guest Post, Kindness, New Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?Summer 2018 Picture Books – Part 1: Understanding Identity and Feelings

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Yes, I know…it’s actually Tuesday!  But it’s summer and it feels like Monday!  Ahhh…. summer!  A time to rest, rejuvenate, re-connect, and reflect!  And while some may be binge-watching a few Netflicks series, I will have my head buried in a pile of new picture books!   There are so many I want to share so I have tried to “group” them into themes.  This week, I am featuring picture books that would work very well with lessons from my new book Powerful Understanding – understanding identity and emotions.  These would also be excellent anchor books for making connections.

One Of A Kind by Chris Gorman

One of a Kind – Chris Gorman

Celebrating all that makes you unique, of being oneself and how finding “your people” – a tribe of your own kind – can lead to something special.  Upbeat, rhythmic text and gorgeous illustrations.  I liked the stark black and white line drawing illustrations with bright yellow and pink highlighting the words.  I would use this book to spark a conversation about “unique” qualities:  What are the traits that make you unique? What unique trait are you most proud of?   What are the common traits do you and your friends share?

Alma and How She Got Her Name – Juana Martinez-Neal

Exploring identity is one of the focuses in my new book.  In one of the lessons, I encourage students to discover the story of their nameWho named you?  What does your name mean?  What connection does your name have to your family or culture?  So of course I was VERY excited to read this delightful anchor book about a little girl learning the meaning behind her six names:  Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela.

The Day You Begin – Jacqueline Woodson

“There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.”  And so begins this poignant, powerful story by the amazing Jacqueline Woodson (Each Kindness, The Other Side, Brown Girl Dreaming).  If there is only ONE book you read this summer – this is it.  This is a must-own book for teachers,  librarians, and parents, and a must-share for all kids, no matter their ages.  I am absolutely in love with this story of pride in self, fear of not fitting in, and ultimately belonging.   A PERFECT book for sharing at the beginning of the school year to help build a welcoming community in your classroom and a perfect reminder that we are more alike than different.  My favorite book of 2018 so far!

Moon – Alison Oliver

A young girl who is overwhelmed by her daily “To Do” checklist learns how to embrace her inner wild child after meeting a wolfy friend one night.  A great message for us all to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of our lives,  get out, and enjoy play time in nature.  The illustrations are beautiful, with lovely hues of “night” colors and great expressions.

Crunch the Shy Dinosaur Greg Pizzoli

Very cute, unique interactive picture book that encourages readers to coax a very shy brontosaurus out from its hiding place.  I could see this as a great read-aloud in a Pre K or K class as the story invites readers to greet and speak softly to Crunch as well as introduce themselves to him.  Also a great book for providing calmness.

I’m Sad – Michael Ian Black

A simple, honest story about feeling sad. Every child needs to know that emotions don’t last and that it’s okay to let ourselves be sad sometimes without feeling the need to constantly put on a happy face for everyone.  Michael Ian Black and Debbi Ohi do an excellent job portraying that in this book.  I loved their first book I’m Bored and, while this one may not be as humorous, I think I liked it even more.

I Hate Everyone! Naomi Davis

Another great read-aloud for primary students.  A heartwarming story of a young girl who is overwhelmed with confusing emotions on her birthday.   Great for making connections and inferring that “I hate you” often really means “I need you.”   A wonderful “connect” book with such an accurate depiction of different emotions.  Great artwork.

Small Things – Mel Tregonning

Exceptionally-powerful, heart-breaking wordless picture book/graphic novel depicting childhood anxiety and worries.  Reading this book is an emotional experience, and one that would spark a lot of discussions, connections and inferences.  Beautiful, haunting and the back story to this book will break your heart.

The Rabbit Listened – Cori Doerrfeld

Get your Kleenex ready.  With spare, poignant text and adorable illustrations, The Rabbit Listened is a tender and deeply moving exploration of grief and empathy for very young children.  Simple message that sometimes what we need most is  a quiet, thoughtful listener. SO much to love about this book.  I especially liked that Taylor’s gender is never mentioned or indicated by the illustrations.

Grumpy Monkey – Suzanne Lang

Everyone has their grumpy days, and you know what? A grumpy day now and then is absolutely okay.  Picture books are deceiving. They hide big stories within their little bindings.  This is a story we all need to hear: it’s okay to feel your feelings, own them, lean into them as long as you don’t hurt others in the process.  Great read-aloud for a primary classroom – funny, silly and important all mixed together.

Whale in a Fishbowl Troy Howell, Richard Jones

While on the surface, this is a gentle story of Wednesday – a whale who lives in a giant fishbowl in the middle of the city but yearns for a life beyond her bowl.  But metaphorically, it is a universal story of belonging, about possibilities, and finding one’s perfect place.  Stunning illustrations.   This could be read to a primary class to discuss animals in captivity, or with older students to practice inferring.

Ocean Meets Sky – The Fan Brothers

I am a huge fan of this bother author-illustrator team.  I loved The Night Gardner and this new release is equally as whimsical and stunning.  While an imaginative journey of sorts, I included it here because of the emotional, dream-like journey that young Finn embarks on as a way of remembering his grandfather, who has recently passed away.  I love stories with multiple layers – kids will most likely see it as a story about adventure, and adults will recognize it as a story about loss, grief, and remembering.  Stunning.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hoping a title (or more) has caught your eye!  Next week, I will be focusing on new picture book about friendship and inclusion!

Have a great reading week, everyone!

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Filed under 2018 releases, Connect, Feelings, Grief, Identity, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Powerful Understanding