Creating Kindness

Finding a positive outlet for outrage and pain It’s the day after the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case and I’m seeing pain, heartbreak, and outrage in post after post on Facebook. I can appreciate each one of these comments, and frankly think they say a great deal about my Facebook friends. Of course I’m…

Thumbs up, thumbs down

The importance of meaningful feedback My husband just came in to read a bit of consumer feedback on a product he was researching. The book received rave reviews but the reviewer gave the author three out of five stars because “the box was dented.” We’ve all seen this kind of feedback. Excellent restaurants downgraded because…

“Magic” Sentences for Effective Communication

Positive language for avoiding conflict, negotiating agreements, and taking care of yourself “Magic Sentences” are key phrases that offer practical ways to use specific language to prevent, minimize, or de-escalate conflicts with others. Different sentences will be useful in different situations. These examples represent a win-win approach to relationships, and while they were originally developed for…

Improving Student Behavior through Positive School Climate

It’s not about the rules! From the January 2013 newsletter: There is a strange myth around kids’ behavior that if we just have enough rules (and severe enough punishments), the misbehaviors will disappear. What I’ve observed, however, is an even stranger reality in which the opposite tends to be true. In schools, the longer the…

Ways to Improve the School’s Social Culture

Practical strategies for positive change • Pay attention to peer-to-peer interactions. Increase awareness, advocacy, and a willingness to take immediate, positive action (regarding how kids treat one another). • Advocate for the underdog. Encourage kids to connect with children who seem isolated. Emphasize the value of inclusion. • Interrupt any instances of meanness, name calling,…

Picking up the Pieces

Reclaiming our essence “I can never read your writing.” “That was awful. Maybe you should leave the athletics to your sister.” “I can’t tell what this drawing is supposed to be.” “You’ll never be any good at…” Do any of these sound familiar? I know very few adults who grew up without at least some…

Staying Positive in the Face of Negativity and Horror

Staying positive in the face of negativity and horror I am, by nature, a positive person. For my own sanity, and for the sake of maximizing my potential contribution to the world, I try to look for the good in all things. That said, I am also extremely sensitive to violence and cruelty, and seem…

15 Ways to Live Optimistically

Increasing positivity, hope, and optimism in your life and the lives of your loved ones Some of us are wired to be optimistic and cheerful, even in the face of unrelenting challenges and obstacles. Others have to make a conscious effort to focus the positive. Wherever you are on this continuum, here are a few…

The School as a Dysfunctional Family

And some healthy, functional alternatives Similarities between schools and dysfunctional families are reflected in the beliefs or rules that can compromise the emotional climate of any system. Included for each category are alternatives which, when chosen, can have a positive impact on this climate, as well as on the relationships and performance of individuals functioning…

Presentation: Climate and Connectedness

Keys to Successful Teaching Presentation by Dr. Jane Bluestein It takes more than a well-planned lesson for learning to happen. Even in schools with all the best equipment and the latest technology, the school climate and students’ sense of feeling connected to others in the building has been shown to be