It’s Too Late to Go Back to Sleep

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thQjk33wHTI I must have listened to twelve-year-old Beau Dermott sing, “I’m through with playing by the rules of someone else’s game,” a dozen times now, and each time the power of her words and voice take my breath away. In them I hear not only echoes of my own attempts to defy gravity, but a reminder of what is at stake if we continue to accept the rules and limitations of an education system that is focused on corporate profits rather than what is best for our kids. Each day I log onto Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and see brilliant posts by educators who clearly understand the importance of teaching the whole child, taking down the walls of our classrooms, incorporating PBL into our curriculums and making social-emotional learning a priority. But intellectual understanding is not enough. We must find ways to implement change; to challenge what we know doesn’t work and begin experimenting with techniques, programs and approaches that we believe will work. As the song says, we must be “through accepting limits because someone says they’re so.” So where do we begin? We begin by asking – by making our beliefs, concerns and values as trained professionals known to those who hold the purse strings.  We  enlist the aid of our students, who after all should have a say in what and how they learn, and need opportunities to create presentations, write persuasive letters, and practice the research and math skills needed to hire and pay for programs. We create and sign petitions, write to our government officials, speak to our PTAs, parents, boards of education and community...

The Science of Kindness

Social-emotional skills are vitally important to the health and well-being of our children, but for decades they’ve been labelled “soft skills” and all but ignored in most classrooms. This despite the fact that any teachers worth their salt will tell you that how a student feels dramatically affects his/her ability to learn. Happily, neuroscience is finally providing scientific proof that students who are anxious, fearful, hungry or angry are unable to learn well – literally. This is because negative emotions provoke the fright-flight-freeze response in the lower part of the brain, and shutdown higher cognitive functions.  But don’t take my word for it, watch this simple, two-minute video explaining how it works by a pioneer in the field of neuroscience, Dr. Daniel Siegel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gm9CIJ74Oxw The other exciting development in neuroscience has to do with the brain’s plasticity, meaning its ability to change in response to experiences and training. Dr. Richard Davidson (the William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, Director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, and Founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison) does a superb job of explaining neuroplasticity in this presentation entitled, “Well-being Is a Skill.” However, it all boils down to four scientific discoveries: The Brain Changes and Shapes Itself in Response to Experiences Even though the brain is malleable and responds to training, most of us are simply reacting to the world around us. It’s important to realize that we can teach and give our children opportunities to practice healthy responses to adversity. A challenge then becomes a chance to learn rather than something...

Terry Stoufer – Reflections from the NPHC

This week’s guest blogger is Terry Stoufer, a gifted and inspiring second grade teacher in Florida whose students took part in this year’s Not Perfect Hat Club global reading and blogging challenge, also known as NPHCBlogIt.  Here is the first of two posts written at two different times in the journey. Thank you Terry for your words of wisdom and willing to learn and share with us. The Heart of the Matter (Original Post -Tuesday, November 3, 2015) This weekend I tweeted out my excitement for the latest project we would be joining in on. A book, a generous author,  a blog and a world of students to connect with…what could be better?I was speaking of the kick off to the “Not Perfect Hat Club Blog It” project (#NPHCBlogIt). You can check out the project here . And you SHOULD! The author Jenaia Morane has written a wonderful children’s novel with a delightful dog named Newton as the main character and narrator of the story.I was excited to have another means to connect my students with students around the world, to have a purpose for blogging, and I am always ready for a new book to read.But what I didn’t expect was the impact it would have on me, only two days in. Before we read the story the students were asked to brainstorm what words came to mind when they heard these two words: Not Perfect. Here are some of my 2nd graders words: math, mess up, bad, wrong, horrible, mad, mean, not neat, try harder, work better, erasing, angry, clothes, glasses, writing and not great. These are just a...

Jena Ball – Every Author’s Dream

Every Author’s Dream by Jena Ball This Wednesday, September 23rd I had the good fortune to be invited to share my new book, The Not Perfect Hat Club, with the 600+ students at Pine Valley Elementary School in Wilmington, NC plus an additional 15 classes from five countries around the world. I read, fielded questions, signed books and held some Not Perfect Hat Club drawing and discussion sessions with 2nd. 3rd and 4th. graders. The kids knocked my socks off with their honesty, insights and creativity, proving yet again that given the chance they’ll shine. But the most wonderful moment of all occurred almost 24 hours after my visit. It arrived via Twitter and was posted by the grandmother of the little boy in the picture above. “Mason fell asleep last night with his treasured signed book!” said Amy Riggs.  The book he is holding close to his heart is the  The Not Perfect Hat Club. There’s no greater compliment for a writer than the love of a child, and in this case it was doubly sweet because I had met and chatted with Mason during my visit to Pine Valley. It was also a reminder that the message I am sharing in The Not Perfect Hat Club is one that children respond to and need to hear. I hope you will all read The Not Perfect Hat Club and share its message with your family and friends. Let’s help raise a generation of kids who understand that there is no such thing as perfect, but each and every one of us has something special to share with the world. Read...

Greg Curran – The Not Perfect Hat Club

Get your copy of The Not Perfect Hat Club HERE “For all the talk of being okay with failure and learning from it – the pull towards perfectionism is undeniable. The desire to fit in and not stand out too much as different is strong. Getting it right each and every-time. Going above and beyond, and then some; forever striving for something more. Yep they’re some mighty pressures and they underpin the lives of all the characters – human and dog – in the Not Perfect Hat Club. Everyone within this world is wrestling with doubts and insecurities but they’re not alone. They have a support squad and a support space (through the Not Perfect Hat Club) – where they can openly talk and just be – where they can give things a go and be okay with the results whatever they may be. But there’s so much more about this wonderfully affirming world that make it worth your while investigating. Here opportunity, possibility and potential bubble beneath the surface – breaking through as characters come to know that they’re so much more than they thought they were, that they have capabilities that they’d never dreamed of, and that they can proudly stand up for who they are.”   – Greg Curran, Innovation Coach, lecturerand creator of the “Pushing the Edge”...