You can help a child or another adult heal trauma by being a trusted, calm, competent person through listening, holding space for emotions, and turning them towards the strengths in their lives. There is true power in a relationship between a trusted adult and a child. It can make all the difference in a child’s outcome in life.Continue reading
Fall is always full of changes with the new school year starting and the leaves turning from a bright green to a golden brown, yellow or red. Change can be seen in nature, and I can feel it within me.
One of the biggest changes is that our house is so quiet after years of school kid-related activities that seemed to go non-stop. My life has completely changed, and the school-related notifications for activities have abruptly stopped. Last September, three of our four children lived at home. Now none! It’s a bit disconcerting to have a house where I can hear the squeaks and groans very clearly, both of the house and my body.
The other huge change I made over the summer was to let go of a 17-year relationship. No, not my marriage. That has lasted longer than 17 years. I am referring to my part-time work with a non-profit organization I have worked with for many years. It was an amicable break and a much-needed one. I found myself putting more time into the programming for the non-profit than into programming for Wildewood Learning. The non-profit and I do similar work; however, I felt it was time to move on and work with organizations on my own.
It’s hard to leave a work environment when you like the people and the work, yet in my heart, I knew that I needed to leave. The director and I parted ways through a short friendly email and an invitation to dinner sometime soon.
When I said “no” to working for the non-profit, I developed a space for myself to say “yes” to other opportunities that fit my values. I was on the lookout for invitations to gatherings of other like-minded folks. One of the gatherings I was invited to was a four-day train-the-trainer event in southwestern Wisconsin. This opportunity was to become a Sources of Strength provisional trainer. (Do you want to see me in action at the training? Watch the top video here.)
The vision of Sources of Strength is to empower a well world. How? Through training high school adult advisors, community members, and youth peer leaders to use their voices as agents of change and connectors to help. Sources of Strengths is a recognized suicide prevention program; however, suicide attempts are outcomes of a larger issue. Most suicide attempts are linked to substance use, bullying, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
What would happen if we flipped the sad, shock, and trauma script into a message of hope, help, and strength?
I have read many books and attended many webinars about adverse childhood experiences, trauma-informed strategies, and mental health issues. When the webinar or book ended, I was looking for some tangible program or action I could take to implement protective factors in my community. I was looking for a program like Sources of Strength.
The goal of Wildewood Learning is to create trauma-sensitive strength-based schools and organizations. It’s important to know about the effects of trauma and build best practices that acknowledge and support youth who have experienced trauma. It’s equally important to have strategies that acknowledge and supports resilience and strengths within ourselves and others.
Change is not just good; it’s necessary. Creating space to say “yes” has led me to places I feel I am called to serve, a quiet grounding that I need, and knowing that it’s okay to let go of relationships. Saying “no” allowed me to take action and move forward to create my own story of hope, help, and strength.
Take Action Now:
- To find out more about Sources of Strength, click here.
- Set up a short chat with Kathy about bringing Sources of Strength to your school or organization; click here.
Do you have teacher envy?
Do you look over into the other classroom, and as you walk by, you see a teacher smiling, students gathering around desks working together, and creating fantastic projects in their classroom. Do you think, how can they do all of this? What do they have that I don’t have?
Great teachers have self-awareness of what works for them as a teacher and what doesn’t. They know what comes easy for them and can manage the challenges. Great teachers know their strengths!
I taught for over ten years in a middle and high school science classroom. In my first couple of years of teaching, I would watch veteran teachers and believe that I had to teach just the same way. I often would learn new tools to add to my toolbox of strategies. However, when a method that I tried repeatedly didn’t work with students, I felt awkward and very uncomfortable in front of the class. I am sure the students could feel that too! I now see that I wasn’t teaching in a way that fit my strengths.
What has helped good teachers become great is being aware of their strengths. When they know their strengths, teachers can see their students’ strengths to build a classroom that honors diversity.
Two resources to help you create classrooms that develop strengths and honor diversity
Teaching to Strengths, Supporting Students Living with Trauma, Violence, and Chronic Stress by Debbie Zacarian, Lourdes Alvarez-Ortiz, and Judie Haynes
Classroom educators have the job of being one of the leading influencers on how a child views themselves and develop their unique set of assets and strengths. Teach to Strengths is written by three English Language Learner (ELL) instructors that approach the instruction of a diverse group of learners from a trauma-sensitive strength-based approach. As stated in the book’s introduction, the fastest-growing segment of U.S. school students is English learners, many of whom have experienced trauma, violence, and stress in very distinct ways. These learners come to the classroom with many unacknowledged strengths and resilience. The authors use case studies and many examples to help educators develop the strategies and skills for creating a strength-based inclusive classroom that capitalizes on the asset of the learner.
This book offers ways to bring strength-based approaches into the classroom, families, schools, and community. A strength-based approach to supporting students with trauma, such as EL learners, can be a way to help educators to see their strengths and values that helped them through adversity and build resilience. When classroom teachers can recognize students, who have suffered adverse situations, they have strengths that have helped them create resilience. We need to acknowledge that the flip side to trauma is resilience.
The teacher-student relationship is one of the most significant influences on student engagement and achievement. As stated in Teaching to Strengths, “the power of our influence in our interactions with students and the methods we use have a great deal of significance in student outcomes.”
The first step is to identify your strengths and values as a classroom teacher. “Our strengths, our assets, and our capacities to support our own well-being and that of others are based on our own uniqueness.”
If you are not familiar with your strengths, I would like to suggest the following books as excellent resources.
Teach With Your Strengths, How Great Teachers Inspire Their Students by Rosanne Liesveld and Jo Ann Miller with Jennifer Robison
Teach With Your Strengths is specifically written for the classroom teacher to know and develop their unique strengths. Teach With Your Strengths uses the Clifton StrengthFinder assessment to help teachers acknowledge their strengths and relate them to teaching strategies that can best help them be better teachers.
The book starts with what makes a great teacher. “Great teachers’ methods and intuitions are different. They don’t operate like other teachers, and they don’t believe everything they are taught or told.” In other words, great teachers know their strengths and weaknesses. They have developed their strengths to create successful relationships with their students. They have also developed successful systems to manage their weaknesses.
The first step in your journey is being aware of your strengths. The book comes with a code to the Clifton StrengthFinder so teachers can start by identifying their top five strengths. If you would like to know all 34 of your strengths in order, you can go to the website and pay a fee to access all 34 strengths and many resources to help you go deeper into each strength. Teach With Your Strengths ends the book with supporting teachers. The rest of the journey is learning to own and apply them in your professional and personal life.
Self-awareness has been a huge part of my journey as a lifelong learner. I have used the process of identifying, developing, and applying my strengths and value to become a better speaker, trainer, and coach. If you would like more support in identifying and using your strengths in your classroom, book a call with me, and we can talk further.
Today is my birthday!!
I will not tell you how old I am; however, I will say that the ’80s was the best decade of music!
My daughter and mom are planning a surprise mystery afternoon and evening of fun for me. I can hardly wait to see what they have cooked up. Whatever we do, it will be great because I am spending time with people I love.
I like spending time with people and having great conversations around a particular topic. One way I get that need met is through book discussions. Right now, I am in three different book clubs and reading a fiction novel. My friends gave me a gift certificate from a bookstore because, in my opinion, you can’t have too many books!
My Learner and Input strengths love the process of learning and digging deep into a topic. How about you? Would you like to learn more about your strengths? Would you like to find out how you can bring out the strengths in children? Knowing your strengths can help you to see the strengths within your child or learner.
My friend Monica Cochran of Learning Without Borders and I are offering the Strength-Based Parenting Book Club for parents and educators looking to help children find their unique brilliance. We made a short video for you explaining the book club:
If you would like more information about how you can join the book club, click here.
I look forward to seeing you at the Strengths-Based Parenting book club starting on April 28 at 7:00 pm CST.
Here is another cool thing about the Strength-Based Parenting book club; the group will be on the Workspace Sky platform. The registration fee includes a free month in Workspace Sky. Find out more about Workspace Sky at https://www.workspaceeducation.org/
Are you a parent, teacher, or leader?
Looking for a way to support your child, motivate your students, or maybe bring out the best in your employees?
I am a certified Strengths Communicator, and I know that your strengths are the first place to do just that!
I have created a special offer to help you begin on a path to knowing your unique talents. The offer includes the Clifton Strengths assessment, a 60-minute strengths conversation, and supplemental materials to support you!
It all begins with you! You need to know your talents and strengths before you can help bring out the best in others.
Let’s dive into your strengths.
Here are the details to Deep Dive into Your Strengths conversation package.
Happy Valentine’s Day 2021!!
Now that my children are older, Valentine’s Day is not as celebrated in years past. No heart pancakes tinged in pink, no candy hearts, and small boxes of chocolates. Instead, I share a quiet “I love you” and a text with the same sentiments are with them.
I try to tell or show the people in my life that I love them daily. Isn’t that more important than showering love on just one day a year?
One way that I use my strengths is to create a positive connection with each person I encounter in my day. Creating a positive connection is so important when most of my relationships are virtual.
I have the strength of Connectedness; being connected to something larger than myself is essential. I treat each encounter with the idea that we are meeting for a reason. There is a larger reason as to why this person is in my life.
Today’s video is about why strengths are vital for us to know and that a deep dive conversation is a great way to get to know your strengths at a deeper level. Studies show that the more connected you are with your strengths, there is an increase in positive well-being, improved work engagement, and better relationships.
This time of year can come with a variety of emotions. I am sure many emotions have popped up over the last few weeks for you in some way. As a former science teacher, the study of the brain and the connection to resilience is fascinating. When we are dealing with our emotions it’s important to know why and how our brains are reacting to that emotion.
In the video, The Learning Brain v.s. The Survival Brain, Dr. Jacob Ham explains how stress can affect learning for our students. We need to create safe environments in the classroom that assists children in learning. One of the ways we can do that is through using tools that you can teach to your students that will calm the brain down.
In my recent video, I demonstrate five tools you can use with your student to help them feel safe and access their learning brain.
I love it when I receive questions from followers. Last week I had a really big question from a follower,
How do you help adults overcome
childhood trauma and toxic stress?
Wow! Big question! This is too big of a question to cover in a ten-minute video or even in a blog post. However, I can give you a few tools to start on a path that will decrease your toxic stress response and increase your self- regulation. Once your nervous system is regulated, tapping into your strengths to build up your resilience is key.
You can build your self-awareness toolbox as an adult and tap into those tools when stress enters your life.
This is a journey where each new tool you use and practice can help you along your path of resilience.
Strength-Based Resilience is a four-part course for educators, parents, and caregivers. A new session starts on September 9, 2020.
More information about the course can be found here.
Stress, overwhelm, and anxiety are the words I use to describe my emotions during a time of crisis. What are the words that come to your mind when we talk about the current world situation?
Luckily for me, I can reach into my toolbox of resilience tools and pull out one of my favorite tools, strengths! My resilience tools are tools I can use to help myself and others bounce back in times of crisis.
In the last video, I shared about the four areas of strengths (Relating, Thinking, Executing and Influencing) and how you might see one or more of those areas in yourself. If I can see my strengths then I can also be intentional about calling upon one or more of those strengths to see my situation differently.
Today I share a short exercise for you to call upon your personal strengths and focus on using them throughout your day.
I encounter new challenges that enter my life on a daily basis, especially now. I think we have all experienced changes that come unexpectedly.
How do you handle the challenges you encounter? What do you do to overcome obstacles?
When a challenge confronts me, I remind myself of my strengths. I reflect on how each strength can be used to help me through my day.
This video is the first of a three-part series on using your strengths to overcome challenges.
Part one is about one of my favorite tools to use, the StrengthFinder assessment. If you haven’t heard of the StrengthFinder assessment then this short video will give you some insight into identifying your strengths.
Strengths can be just one of the tools to build resilience in yourself and others.
Watch here to see how….