The Fascinating Science of How Trees Communicate, Animated – Brain Pickings

If you are thinking deeply about communication, collaboration or the environment, then you are sure to take away some good pieces from this post on “brainpickings.” Maria Popova delves into and shares many great resources through the post: The Fascinating Science of How Trees Communicate, Animated. For me, the communication and collaboration of what happens among trees underground is especially relevant. I see a metaphor in the secret and little understood support and connections between the trees and how a school culture works. The symbiotic webs that support and nurture are present in both and often unseen and not understood. In a school, I have heard the phrase that it’s a spirit, feeling, and/or intangible quality. And, while it might be hard to hold this piece in your hand, the communication and collaboration is real and present sharing, creating and supporting the whole network. Whether a forest or a school, the connections, relationships and care we take with each other benefits the greater ecosystem. Take a minute to listen to Suzanne Simard, the TED Talk linked in the post, about how it all works and to hear some recommendations for how we can better understand and help our forests and maybe take away some ideas of how we can better take care of each other.

“Trees are the foundation of forests, but a forest is much more than what you see.”

Source: The Fascinating Science of How Trees Communicate, Animated – Brain Pickings

Trainings – River of Life

With all endings, come beginnings! Looking ahead to school year 2019-2020, comes the opportunity to start fresh again with known and unknown colleagues. One transformational inclusion activity that focuses on building relationships and community is the ‘River of Life.’ The time and number of people can all be adjusted to fit your time frame. The experience will connect you more deeply to your team members by building your understanding and empathy.

Source: Trainings – River of Life

Unlikely Hero- Just in Time Advising

As advisors kick off the new semester and conversations turn to goals, this penguin video clip is rich with potential for social/emotional lessons.

Size of audience: large or small

Lesson length: short (video clip and discussion)

Connections: how you support someone, strength in numbers, bullying and bystander connections, unlikely leaders, and more.

One key question for your kiddo’s is: What can we learn from these penguins?

The Seven Most Powerful Words in Education

It doesn’t matter whether you are approaching this article from a teacher, administrator or school supporter perspective. These words… “What can I do to help you?”… are powerful.

Many articles talk about how to shift culture or dynamics, I believe these 7 words are a great place to start. In utilizing this simple question, you demonstrate support, concern and most importantly, a willingness to listen and hear what the other person. Are you afraid of what you might hear? Then, all the more reason to start asking.

Be A Marigold: Essential Advice for the Returning Teacher

What do marigolds have to do with teaching and preparation for the year?

“Be A Marigold” is a corollary post to Find Your Marigold: The One Essential Rule for New Teachers by Jennifer Gonzalez. Gonzalez uses the nature of the marigold as a metaphor. Here’s a quick summary of the article in 95 words:

Marigolds are one of the best “companion” plants for gardens. Experienced gardeners utilize the marigold to help other plants nearby flourish and improve the overall health of the garden. The connection for new teachers is to seek out and surround yourself with veteran marigold teachers who will help you improve and thrive. In contrast, Gonzalez talks about the marigold’s anthesis – the walnut tree. The walnut mindset or walnut tree “…give off a toxic substance that can inhibit growth, wilt, and ultimately kill nearby vegetable plants.” Gonzalez’s point and sage advice: “surround yourself with good people.”

We all know the marigolds and walnut trees on our staff and at times, even the most true marigold colleagues can demonstrate attributes of the other. In truth, it’s much easier to be a marigold thinker and teacher when you are rested and refreshed. The question is where will your thinking lie this year when time is short, feedback on student work needs to be given, and multiple meetings are scheduled? Once the school year gets into full swing, how will you check your default setting to marigold?

Here are some ways to cultivate a marigold mindset:

1.  Be a good listener. Listen without judgement and without trying to solve the problem. Sometimes all that is needed is to listen. If requested for feedback, ask questions and share honestly. You are offering, if invited, to give the person a different perspective.

2. Be a doer. Be a role model to others by supporting action and next steps. If you are working to manage your time, stop talking things to death and take action. Nothing is set in stone and almost anything can be adjusted. Your ability to help ideas run efficiently is at its greatest when you are helping drive the action.

3. Give encouragement.  When giving feedback, start by highlighting the positive attributes of the idea and share constructive comments in support of your colleagues thinking. It is easy to be critical which can feel disrespectful and shut ideas down. Sharing thinking and putting ideas on the table is risk taking. Do you support and encourage risk taking by the way you respond?

Whether you are a new or returning teacher, most of us want to surround ourselves with  marigold colleagues AND most of us want to be one. By being a good listener, a doer and an encourager, you can contribute to a supportive culture and add value to the team.

Will you be the plant in the garden that supports the new teachers and all of your colleagues to flourish? Or are you going to be the walnut tree and slowly drain the rich nutrients from the soil around you until the plants nearby wilt. Among all of the preparation you can do this year, deciding who you want to be and taking steps to live that ideal is perhaps one of the most important.

Be a marigold!