Meet Oscar the Great

Hello. My name is Oscar, and I am a very special cat. My job it to educate my person, which can a BIG challenge! My Story My mother was a large, sleek orange tabby cat. We lived in a barn with horses and cows, who would let us sleep on their backs at night to keep warm. My mother was an excellent mouser, and taught me everything I needed to know about people and the art of time shifting. When the farm was sold, the new owners tore down the barn and put me in an animal shelter. The people at the shelter were kind and fed me fine food. They also introduced me to my person, Ms. Jenaia. My one complaint was having to share a smelly room with some cats who didn’t understand how to use a litterbox. But never mind. All of that is behind me now. My person and I are currently writing my life story. If you have questions of suggestions, we would love to hear from you. Please Tweet to me at: #NPHCOscar You can also talk to my person by sending an email or Tweet, or posting to Facebook or Instagram: Email: JenaBall@CritterKin.com Twitter: @JenaiaMorane Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jenaia.morane Instagram: msjenaia Oscar You may also subscribe to The Not Perfect Hat Club mailing list, so that we may stay in touch (no spam, we...

Maslow in the 21st Century – An #AussieEd Chat

Maslow in the 21st Century Classroom Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who is probably best known for his hierarchy of needs. The hierarchy is based on his theory that children’s psychological health (and ability to succeed as adults) depends on having innate human needs met. Maslow divided these needs into six categories based on priority, starting with basic physiological needs and culminating in self-actualization (see image above). Although many of these needs seem self-evident, many education systems today tend to place less importance on categories such as “love and belonging,” and esteem,” labelling them as “soft skills.” Ongoing research being done by psychologists and neuroscientists such as Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Richard Davidson are providing hard evidence that a child’s emotional well-being is as if not more important than traditional academics. In fact, children who do not feel safe, supported and empowered have a difficult time learning. In our chat on June 19th. we propose to probe a little deeper into Maslow’s hierarchy and discuss practical ways we as educators can address the needs of the “Whole Child.” Come prepared to think outside the box and to share your favorite Maslow quote. Some of our favorites are listed below.  See you Sunday! – Jena and Brett “All of life is education and everybody is a teacher and everybody is forever a pupil.” “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” “The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” “What is necessary to...

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...

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”...