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Personalizing Student’s Educational Experience. Yes!!

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Asheville Youth Voices & Leadership

Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 2.39.15 PMOur youth deserve dignity and respect as they ARE our leaders. The premier issue of the Word on The Street/ La Voz de Los Jovenes teen magazine just came out. I’ve met some of these youth and they are AMAZING. These are the voices of leadership we need to be listening to NOW. Read. Learn. Share what touches your mind or heart.

This is Asheville.

Our youth deserve dignity and respect and one way we can show that to them is by being real with the conditions they are facing right now, recognizing that some youth do not have access to some opportunities as fairly as others do. We must face how opportunities do or don’t prepare youth to navigate the world. We can shift that narrative that is playing out and create a new reality… This is Asheville.

 

Footage for the film, Beneath the Veneer, a documentary currently in production about opportunity, success and inequity in America?

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Gifted and Creative Individuals

I would love to hear your thoughts on this perspective of gifted and creative individuals.

The article is The Application of Dabrowski’s Theory to the Gifted by Kevin J. O’Connor and was published in the book Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know?.

Here are a few quotes from the article to give you a taste of its content:

Dabrowski observed that gifted and creative individuals are often in conflict with the demands and expectations of their environment…

Many in the gifted community believe Dabrowski’s overexcitabilites, as they contribute to developmental potential, are a measure and indicator of giftedness.

Overexcitabilities are enhanced modes of being in the world. The word ‘over’ used in connection with ‘excitability’ connotes responses to stimuli that are beyond normal and often different in quality. Dabrowski identified “psychic overexcitability” in five forms: psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginational and emotional.

While the concept of developmental potential emphasizes the positive aspects of experiencing life with greater intensity and sensitivity, these same characteristics may also be experienced in negative ways. Individuals with elevated overexcitabilities are more susceptible to being misunderstood and alienated by those who don’t share or understand their unique personality traits.

Parents of gifted children and gifted individuals themselves may find that Dabrowski’s ideas provide a useful “framework for understanding and explaining the developmental patterns and challenges that occur for those of high ability.”

Photo source

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The Power of Collaboration

Whether you’re the CEO of a company, the super mom of a household, or the wide-eyed 7-year old in a room, you know the power of being in a group that plays well together!

Think of a time when you were working on a project or creating a family experience and the group was cooperating beautifully. I imagine ideas were sparking, people were curious about one another, everyone was contributing, it was fun to be together, and smiles were flashing from face to face. Isn’t it true that being able to do the dance of successful collaboration brings joy, inspiration and unimaginable opportunities into companies, families, classrooms, and groups of all types?

So what makes a group collaborate well? And how does collaboration connect with performance or individual happiness? A recent study led by Anita Williams Woolley from Carnegie Mellon University looked into what makes groups perform better, studying what they called the intelligence of groups. Her team recognized that in today’s world, such skills are critical. “More and more, people need to collaborate to solve problems,” she says.

The study found that a group’s intelligence is highly influenced by the quality of interactions between the individuals. Opportunities for equal participation, distributing turn-taking, and how socially sensitive the group members were proved to be the key factors in predicting a group’s intelligence. -source

This leads me to think about how we develop the skills for social sensitivity. How do we learn to better understand what other people are thinking and feeling in a moment? How do we become more graceful at allowing other people a chance to talk and genuinely valuing the contributions that they make?

One tool that I’ve been using lately and loving comes from The Center for Collaborative Awareness and is called The State of Grace Document. This is a collaboration process used to establish healthier, more resilient business and personal relationships. It is a practical way to learn more about the people you’re relating with, understanding what makes them tick. It gives you a window into their thoughts, feelings, habits and ways of interacting and allows you the opportunity to specifically desgin your relationship. I’ve found these practices potent for increasing social sensitivity.

Sedona, age 14, participated in the Milestones ProjectWise at Heart, and she notes that “people get angry at each other because they don’t understand each other.” So why not invest our energy in understanding one another better? Not only can it make us feel happier and more connected, but as teams and families we can actually become more successful!

You can also watch this 3 minute video to learn more about The State of Grace Document, also called the “Blueprint of WE”.

Colorful puzzle piece image from LuMaxArt and all other images from Center for Collaborative Awareness

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Risk-taking and Creativity

“Fostering risk-taking and creativity in children can ensure that they learn the basics of economics and independence—and develop a mentality of innovation.”

How do you foster risk-taking and creativity in your own life and/or in the lives of children or other adults? Please share.

A couple of organizations focusing on entrepreneurship with youth referenced in this article:

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Baking Cookies for the Neighbors

When is the last time you baked cookies for a neighbor or cooked some extra dinner and took it to a friend who is struggling to find time to cook? Did you know that doing such activities for others is actually a way to increase the health and well-being of your own children and family? I read an inspiring newsletter this morning on social capital and the value of reaching out to our neighbors. While the newsletter was not intended strictly for parents, it reminded me of the 5 Protective Factors that parents need in order to parent effectively, even under stress, and to diminish the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. This is according to extensive research conducted by Strengthening Families. One of the protective factors is Social Connections. Parents need “friends, family members, neighbors and other members of a community who provide emotional support and concrete assistance to” them.

“Social connections build parents’ “social capital,” their network of others in the community—family, friends, neighbors, churches, etc.—whom they can call on for help solving problems. Friendships lead to mutual assistance in obtaining resources that all families need from time to time, including transportation, respite child care, and other tangible assistance as well as emotional support. Helping parents build constructive friendships and other positive connections can reduce their isolation, which is a consistent risk factor in child abuse and neglect. Isolation is a problem in particular for family members who are in crisis or need intensive help, such as victims of domestic violence.” (source)

With that in mind, below are some ideas from the newsletter: Engage in Dough Diplomacy – Bake Cookies for a Neighbor from Center for a New American Dream

Taking action by supporting legislation or greening your home is important, but don’t forget that we can also take action in our social lives. New Dream has always believed that change begins with our everyday choices: investing in relationships builds happier people and a stronger community–and may be good for your health. Which is why we’re asking you to bring a neighbor some cookies.

Between the mid 1980′s and the 1990′s, Americans’ openness to making new friends declined by about a third. A 2000 Harvard study found that one-third of Americans no longer participate in social activities like inviting people to their home or visiting relatives. Reaching out to others doesn’t just add meaning to our lives–it’s part of what makes up social capital, the shared values and trust that keep a society together and running smoothly.

Luckily, it doesn’t take a lot of your own capital to simply bake some cookies (or any other treat) and share them with a neighbor you don’t know. Think of it as the most fun and delicious way to make the world into what you want it to be: an open, trusting place full of people who will wave to you on the sidewalk. As a family activity, making and sharing homemade goodies is a way to have more face-to-face time and less screen time. So go ahead–knock on that door and then tell us what happened and how it made you feel.

cookies photo by emilybean

This post originally appeared at Community of Mindful Parents.

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Children Keeping it Simple, Teaching Simplicity


A few inspiring comments from my teachers in simplicity, children.

  • I was participating in Seattle’s Martin Luther King, Jr., March and Rally this year with some of the faculty, students and parents from the school I work at. During the march one of our first graders looked up at me and said, “Oh, I know why you’re here today, Ashley.” “Why?” I asked. “Because this is all about friendship… and you’re the friendship teacher.”

    (fyi: I host Friendship Groups, a class that all the students in the class participate in just like math or reading. The aim is to help students deepen their ability to connect with and understand themselves and others. It’s all about friendship… with ourselves, others and the world around us!)

  • During Obama’s presidential inauguration Rev. Joseph Lowery was talking about love,
    “And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.”

    I looked in front of me as a Kindergartner was staring down at his little hands, shaping them into a heart. That image summed up where my hope for our future lies… in love.

  • After the inauguration we hosted an Open Space with the 3rd graders. One child’s closing remarks, “I learned that when everyone pitches in just a little bit, it can make a giant difference.”
  • Words of wisdom that a 2nd grader told me over lunch one day that I am practicing and trying to better embody, “Just listen until your mind gets deeper and then you’ll understand.”

I am so grateful for all the gifts that are bestowed upon me by these wise humans who are so willing to share their world.

heart photo by samantha celera

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