Category Archives: Kindness

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? Spring into Third Term with New Books (part 1)

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

With Spring Break quickly coming to an end and third term quickly approaching, I thought I would focus my IMWAYR post on some new releases for sharing in your class this spring.   There are too many to include in one post so look for Part 2 next week!

Florette – Anna Walker

Loved this whimsical and wonderfully illustrated book of a young girl who searches for a way to bring the green life of her country garden to the new city she just moved to. Simple, elegant text.  Great for making connections to change, adjusting to change and urban gardens.

Harry’s Hiccups – Jean Little

Lots of connections and plenty of giggles will emerge from this laugh-out-loud story by the amazing Jean Little.  Vibrant, colourful illustrations and a surprise ending make this a must share read-aloud.

Buttercup’s Lovely Day – Carolyn Beck

A day in the life of a grateful-for-the-simple-things-cow named Buttercup.  With lyrical, rhyming prose, Buttercup takes us through her day describing everything she loves about being a cow and the world around her. Gorgeous and bright illustrations. A great anchor book for inspiring writing about life’s simple pleasures.

Dr. Coo and the Pigeon Protest – Sarah Hampson

Pigeons unite!  When the pigeons in the city feel disrespected, they decide to stage a protest and disappear until the people acknowledge their importance and decide to treat them with kindness (in exchange for less bird droppings on their heads).  Lovely watercolor illustrations by Kass Reiss.  I liked the historical background about the relationship between people and pigeons. This book is longer so I would definitely use it with middle grades to prompt discussions about protests, getting along and respecting others.

I Walk With Vanessa – A story about a simple act of kindness – Kerascoet

Looking for a new book about bullying, empathy and kindness?  Here it is!  This is a simple, powerful wordless picture book about being the new kid, bullying, stepping up and not being a bystander, and simple acts of kindness that can make a difference.  Based on true events.  I love this book and perfect for inferring and making connections.

Wordy Birdy – Tammi Sauer

Wordy Birdy loves words and she talks – A LOT!  Hilarious, fun, fast-paced read-aloud (you have to talk really fast when you read it!) with an important message about the importance of listening.  I really loved Birdy’s friends – Squirrel, Rabbit and Raccoon. Even though she annoys them and can’t be quiet, they are extremely patient and tolerant of their friend.  Large, colorful illustrations and great speech bubbles give it a graphic novel feel.

Elmore – Holly Hobbie

Holly Hobbie, author of the Toot and Puddle series, has created another adorable character in Elmore.  Elmore is a happy porcupine who longs for a friend.  So he put up a sign on a tree saying “Friends Wanted.” But then he overheard the other animals talking about how prickly he is.  Endearing story about making the most out of your circumstances, loving yourself, and different forms of friendship.  Expressive illustrations will prompt many collective “Awwwww’s” from your class!

I Am Enough Grace Byers

An affirming celebration of all sides of us – the hard and soft, the peaceful and wild, the right-side-up and the upside-down. This book is an invitation for every girl (child) to be herself and love herself, while honoring her differences from others. I love the positive message it sends all us and reminds us to be kind to each other and that we all have a special place in the world.  Lovely song-like rhythm and lively illustrations.

If I Had a Little Dream – Nina Laden

Beautiful folk-like art in this book about appreciating the world, through the eyes of a child.  A wonderful celebration of the wonder of the world – the joy, love, and beauty that is part of each and every day.  Rhyming text, this book is intended for the younger readers and would make a wonderful anchor book for K-2 to inspire writing and drawing about things in the world we are grateful for.

Be Kind – Pat Zietlow Miller

What does kindness look like?  This thoughtful, introspective look at what it means to be kind and empathetic toward others, from the viewpoint of a child.  This is definitely one of my new 2018 favorites because it’s such a fresh look on kindness.  I leave you with these three words:  SHARE THIS BOOK!

Ebb and Flow – Heather Smith

One summer,
after a long plane ride
and a rotten bad year
I went to Grandma Jo’s.
It was my mother’s idea.
Jett, what you need is a change of scenery.
I think she needed a change of scenery, too.
One without me.
Because that rotten bad year?
That was my fault.

And so begins this poignant story, in free verse, about 11 yr. old Jett who has made a terrible mistake and is spending the summer with his Grandmother in Newfoundland to get some perspective and hopefully forgive himself.  Fresh, engaging voice – this is a lovely, sad, ultimately hopeful story.   I was surprised by how captivating and emotional I felt reading this book.  Would appeal to both reluctant and avid readers, as well as make a great read-aloud for middle grades with an opportunity for classroom discussions about empathy, resilience, courage, and responsibility.  I loved Jett’s voice and fact that the reader does not know the mistake he has made until well into the story, leaving space for questioning, predicting and inferring.  Surprisingly powerful read.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found a book that caught your eye!

Watch for New Picture Books for Spring – Part 2 next week!

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Filed under 2018 releases, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Kindness, New Books, Picture Book