Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Courage to Choose Well

Listen, if you don't do it because you're scared, that's your choice. You are an adult with the right to self-determination.

If you don't do it because you're scared and there are children depending on you to do it - well that's another matter entirely.
Whatever you do, don't say you can't - because that's just not true.

Accurate Appraisal of our Skills

Sometimes we have skills and don't know it. We underestimate what we know and can do, leaving us feeling insecure.

Sometimes we don't have the skills and don't know it!

An excellent teacher I know and love sent an article to me that I thought you might enjoy, here is the abstract:

Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments
Justin Kruger and David Dunning, Cornell University

"People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although their test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of participants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities."

So if we leave a Professional Development thinking, "Wow, I didn't know as much as I thought I did," then our metacognitive competence is improving!

Love this quote from the article:
"It is one of the essential features of such incompetence that the person so afflicted is incapable of knowing that he is incompetent. To have such knowledge would already be to remedy a good portion of the offense. (Miller, 1993, p. 4)"

There is no cost to not knowing if we are willing to ask for help or consultation. There is a cost to not knowing and not asking for help/consultation. Besides our own, who else's opportunities are we limiting when we don't know that we don't know?

Education does not make us educable. It is our awareness of being unfinished that makes us educable.
-Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom

Are you learning with a beginner's mind (open and curious) or do you already know it all?

Reflection Questions

Do we feel sorry for and try to rescue our clients/others? What is our story? Do we see our past selves as helpless victims in need of rescuing? Do we then proceed to see our clients as such?

Do we believe in our client's/others inherent capacity and natural thrust to grow and develop? Do we hold high expectations that they can accomplish their goals with our support? Si Se Puede and Yes We Can.

Are we enabling or empowering? What is the difference? What do these concepts mean in terms of what we do with and say to clients?

If we take a look at what we are doing - are we colluding with clients or being honest and courageous, and ultimately, loving?

If clients or friends come to us with the core belief, "I am incompetent" - do we agree with them and proceed to try to rescue or save?

My 2nd year MSW field instructor, Elizabeth, taught us that rescuing only leads to resentment for both rescuer and rescuee. The rescuer grows weary of the one-way giving, giving, giving (burnout, compassion fatigue, etc.). And the rescuee tires of feeling infantilized/babied or being rescued (I can do it myself! Don't you believe that I can do it myself? Do you think that you are better than me because you do it for me?). She talked about taking a stance of not rescuing with a vengeance as a counterpoint to the longstanding urge.

If we were parentified children, then do we continue this pattern into adulthood? Do we take on inordinate amounts of responsibility whenever there is an absence of leadership? In childhood this meant survival. In adulthood, what does this mean and do to our bodies/selves? If we let the system fail, would that usher in a transformation of the system? Are we enabling a dysfunctional system that needs to die/fail and change? Why do we insist on plugging up the damn with our own thumb? Why do we insist on carrying the world on our shoulders? No wonder our shoulders hurt. Why is taking care of ourselves and doing our part not enough? If we did this, would this leave some space for others to step in and do more? Would this allow an opening for more of us to feel the pride of achievement and contribution?

Do past experiences with our own parents color our expectations about whether our clients parents will care, pull through, participate in treatment, take responsibility and claim their child? Do we make assumptions about parents before picking up the phone to give them a chance? How do we approach parents? Is it engaging? insecure? hopeful? blaming? avoidant?

If we say we value the strengths perspective, then how many minutes or what percentage of time during any client interview do we spend talking about strengths (vs. pathology and symptoms)? 1 minute? 5 minutes? 30 minutes? 10%? 50%? 75%?

Mindsight with Dan Siegel, Part 5: Empathy

"Equanimity & Equilibrium = managing all affective states, flexible flow."
--what a pretty little pearl from Dan

"Attachment is only part of the story. Genetic vulnerability is linked bipolar disorder. It is possible to make sense of your life after the first born child."
--Do mothers get closer by the 5th or 6th child?

"Intimate relationship is rewarding. Regulating emotions in a balanced way is related to maximum intellectual potential. "
--No wonder Second Step, teaching social-emotional skills in the classroom, leads to increased school-wide test scores in addition to decreased discipline referrals.

"Observation of parent-child interaction = 45% attachment prediction.
Coherent narrative = 85% attachment prediction.
We don't know the impact of the coherent narrative. What is the transmission agent?"

"Truths exist not established by science yet."
--Can't wait until it is proven that walking around barefoot in the house during winter or going out in the cold with your hair wet leads to colds or flus. Germ theory is limited and doesn't explain the whole story! Pardon my tangent, let's continue...

"Dan's opinion about the transmission agent: It is mindsight, metacognition, menalization. Do you see the internal world? To achieve level of neural integration, parents need a mindsight lens to allow differentiation of child's internal life."

"Integration explains gap in transmission agent. Child feels felt."
--this reminds me of Thich Nhat Hanh's teaching to ask your loved one (I asked my daughter), "Darling, do I understand you enough?" I started asking two summers ago and her answer was a quick and resolute, "No." The follow up question, "Am I making you suffer?" yields an equally terse, "yes." Then, "I don't want to make you suffer, and if I do so because of my ignorance, please tell me so that I can love you better, how can I love you better?" This of course elicited a laundry list of complaints that I can actually hear because I am an adult, they are child-specific concerns, I really do want to know, and I love her. I ask these questions regularly (but not too often because she finds repetitive questions annoying) and now she answers in softer tones. The other day, in the car on the drive home from school, I was very proud of the tender, "maybe" response to my "Darling, do I understand you enough?"

"Resilience is nurtured/achieved by one relationship with a teacher, neighbor, religious leader or parent. Internal world seen by/feeling felt was the source of resilience. Mindsight teaching is a source of resilience."

"Child experiences empathic attunement. How do you scientifically measure internal world? Neural integration is at the heart of children who thrive."

"Rudder's 10,000 hours study: Two schools, two headmasters. One school doing well, one not. Switched headmaster. School previously not doing well is now doing well. One headmaster allowed teachers to use individual approach and took teacher opinions into account. Then teachers, in turn, empowered students."

"When a leader inspires integration, there is a possibility to make healthier systems."

"All levels of systems: individual, family, school, community, society, world."

Sculpture Garden on a Sunny Winter Morning (and late for class)

Friday, February 26, 2010

First Year, Second Quarter, End of Week 8

Statistics - We are deep into multiple regressions with quantitative variables, categorical variables and interaction terms. Two more homework assignments and a take-home final. Thank goodness for a good textbook, weekly homework to keep me on task, Dr. Bridget Freisthler offering stats support, and good ol' Yool, our TA, and his homework review in lab.

Intervention Research - a lit review and two designs (randomized control trial and quasi-experimental design) addressing relevant internal and external validity threats and some other stuff. I will get to writing this paper very soon. It is marinating in my head, sort of.

Policy - Two written assignments about a social problem (I chose the achievement gap and education reform) under my belt. Now I am looking forward to a policy analysis paper and preparing for a debate about the pros and cons of entitlement reform. In the debate we are to: define the problem, develop two macro questions, argue the position from a rational approach avoiding value statements, create a schematic diagram and make 30-40 year predictions.

My daughter (8 years old) wants to be on the swim team. I take her to classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It is cold outside but the water is warm. She looks so happy and confident in the water. It makes it so worth it to sit and shiver on the metal bleachers trying to study.

At work, a team of us submitted two federal proposals to develop multi-tiered school social work services at three elementary schools and two middle schools in South LA - two million dollars over three years and six school social workers. What a difference that will make.

Last Friday, I presented at a UCLA Resiliency Symposium about my experiences with universal screening and trauma-informed/trauma-specific evidence-based group interventions at South LA's Harmony ES. On the drive over, I wondered: Why do I get myself into these fixes? I was very intimidated by the line up of presenters (psychiatrists, researchers, clinical scholars, etc.). I made a valiant effort not to cry when talking about working with students and their parents - trying to offer alternatives to avoidant coping by facilitating their communication, attunement and connection. I got through it and received positive feedback from audience members and other presenters. A RAND researcher said my stories made him want to go back to school to become a school social worker! He was being nice I am sure, but I'll take it.

No wonder I need self-care. Things are scheduled - hair color, massages (yes, plural!), tennis on Tuesdays. I am also setting limits.

Good night, it's time for milk and girl scout cookies. Oh yea, my daughter sold 74 boxes and we're nearly done with deliveries. Whew. Thank you, Yesus.

Mindsight with Dan Siegel, Part 4: Integration

"What is emotion? Energy in motion. Emotion has no shared meaning! There is no common definition. Emotion links the body to the brain (neuroscientist definition). Emotion also links people in groups and people across generations."

"Linkage of different elements = Integration. Linkage of differentiated parts."

"Emotional distress = not linking; stuck & stagnant (rigidity); chaotic, unpredictable and random behavior; or both chaos and rigidity."

"Complexity. Complex system is flexible, adaptive, coherent, energized and stable."

"Self-organization moves toward maximizing complexity."

"The example of a human chorus:
1) all singing one note together = linkage without differentiation (monotony)
2) all singing own song = chaos, differentiation
3) all singing same song = integration, flexible, adaptive, coherent, linking differentiated parts leads to a feeling of harmony, integration and well-being."

"Promote integration in self, family and community. Shape internal world toward integration."

"Chaos or rigidity (in self, family or community) = integration impaired; information/energy flow is stuck; where is differentiation needed?; promote linkage."

"Focus flow of energy and information to catalyze integration."

" - organizational consultation and explains the science of integration."

Mindsight with Dan Siegel, Part 3: Attachment

"cultural evolution = changing meaning"
--this sounds like a social constructivist epistemology, that is, things have meaning because we give them meaning in our exchanges. Can we change the world/ourselves via reflection? By examining how we think about things and then choosing how we want to think about things?

"Compassion makes the brain healthier"
--spread this around!!! As if compassion weren't cool enough, it's good for you too!

"Everything on the planet is energy."
--I remember the wow factor in science class when I realized that even metals are moving constantly.

"Energy flow is data. When we communicate deeply, we share energy flow."
--can you feel it?

"If we are blind to the inner world/information of someone else, then when they cry it is just annoying."

"Attachment research went from studying children to studying parents. The coherent narrative was the best predictor of attachment (Mary Main). That is, the way the parent told the story of his or her life predicted 85% of future attachment security of their children which underlies social-emotional skill development."
--the lottery of connections. Check out the Adult Attachment Interview published in 1985. Also check out A Secure Base: Parent-Child Attachment and Healthy Human Development by John Bowlby.

"What is going on in the brain when you makes sense (deep visceral sense) of your life?"

"When crappy things happen to you, making sense of your internal mental world (mind) allows you to tune in clearly and responsively to your child."

"If horrible things happen to you and you don't make sense of it, then your child will suffer."

"Social membership is the best predictor of health."

"You relax knowing there is a being taking care of you."

The Epistemology* and Ontology** of RTI***

How will we know that a few, some and all students are in need of something? What is that something and how will we know it?

How will we determine what a few, some and all students need and receive?

How will we know or measure if what we chose to do worked in helping students to accomplish their goals? What social-emotional and academic goals do we have for students?

We get to answer these questions. No one out there has all the answers. Collectively, we can approximate the best answers. At least, that’s what I think.

*Epistemology = the philosophy or science of knowledge (how do we know what we know?)
**Ontology = the nature of things (what is real?)
***RTI = Response to Intervention

Monday, February 22, 2010

More Mindsight with Dan Siegel

Part 2:

"Fear leads to decreased compassion."
--if fear closes us off, then does faith, hope and optimism open us up to each other?

"Cultural practices change synaptic connections."
--this makes me wonder if the rules and routines we hold so dear actually support our brain development from the cradle to the grave? Is the way we build our lives supportive of our brain and human connections?

"The mind is more than the activity of the brain and relationships shape the mind."
--are our relationships brain healthy and wise?

"The mind is a process that regulates the flow of energy and information. It is embodied and relational. Synaptic connections are formed by human connections. Relationships shape neural firing."
--the power of relationships never ceases to amaze me, it is everything.

"Mindsight - the ability to sense, within the body and relationships, energy flow and information. It embeds every branch of science, religion or art."

"Emotional Intelligence (EQ) - capacity to know one's own emotions and share them."

"Social problem solving requires knowing other people's emotions."

"Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) tells us that when you teach these skills to kids, they do better, across socioeconomic status (SES)."

"Individual therapist looks for the nut in the group. The family therapist looks for the process."

"Reflection = flashlight in that dark place."
--more reflection! need more light!

"Mind goes from unhealth to health when you teach your patients to monitor with more clarity and modify with more strength."

"Energy - the capacity to do work/stuff."
--this reminds me of Mr. Cordova's definition of Power = the ability to get things done.

Mistakes & Creativity

"If you're not prepared to be wrong, then you're not prepared to be creative. Mistakes are essential in the creative process."

"Creativity is just as important as literacy in education and should be treated thusly."

"Some people have to move to think." (speaking about dancers)

--Sir Ken Robinson (check out his video - hilarious, insightful and inspiring)

A Note About Teachers

Teachers who enjoy their work...
...make clear presentations students hard
...treat students with respect
...are witty and humorous not talk over student's heads
...are patient and understanding
...return work promptly
...are interested in students outside of class

(yikes, can't remember source reference)

Always Working on Empathy & Compassion

Now, I understand that people have a very good reason for doing what they do. I just don't understand what it is sometimes. Figuring out the story can be interesting work. Knowing there is a story is always reassuring.

Taking the First Step

Which of the following requires the most energy output...
...moving matter at rest (for instance, a ball that is standing still)?
...keeping a ball in motion?
...accelerating a ball in motion?

Taking the first step feels hard because it is the hardest! That is why 90% of success is just showing up. Avoidance is the killer. What step have you been avoiding that you can safely take now?

The rest is nowhere near as hard - energetically speaking, that is. Just ask a physicist.

The most important thing is being willing to try. If you are willing to try, then you will learn from practice and mistakes and eventually achieve competence.

You never start out being competent, so waiting to be competent before you try, well I think you can see how that would be problematic – you will never make it out of the gate. Why box yourself in this way?

Science and Ethics

Sometimes scientific logic doesn't make moral sense.

Cool Quote About the Power of Art

"Arts challenge people cognitively, encourage collaboration and responsibility, and encourage persistence despite fear and anxiety."

(Fiske, 2000)

(I got it from Dr. Ken Wells)

Adoption-Specific Psychotherapy

"Facilitating kids and parents talking about important things."

"Average age at adoption is six years old."

"Adoption-specific psychotherapy developed for 7 to 12 year olds. Manual developed by bringing together the experts, looking at the literature and asking, what are the issues to help families? and finally getting feedback at a conference."

"I get her vs. where did that come from?"

"Claiming the child."

"Adoptive families with higher SES (socioeconomic status) tend to have poor outcomes."

--Dr. Jeanne Miranda

High Burden of Mental Illness After Hurricane Katrina

"1/3 experienced symptoms of PTSD and depression since hurricanes Katrina/Rita."

"Primary care clinics, social service agencies and neighborhood associations may be the most accessible and acceptable to persons with mental health needs (especially if there are only 19 psychiatrists in the area)."

"Mental health services capacity in Haiti was nearly non-existent prior to the earthquake."

"Trauma experienced by community providers and aid workers themselves is a major problem."

"Does building community efficacy make a difference for future threats? That is, are communities more resilient with subsequent threats?"

--Dr. Benjamin Springgate

The Brain

"The story about the brain is all about connections."

"Being an active participant in leisure activities can cut in half the risk for dementia."

"Magical ideation is associated with creativity."

-- Dr. Robert Bilder, Director for the Center of the Biology of Creativity, UCLA

Health Care Reform

Social Responsibility vs. Personal Responsibility

"What is our social contract with providers and patients?" -- Dr. Kavitra Patel

"California is undergoing a complete renegotiation of the social contract." -- Dr. Bowen Chung

"What, ultimately, is the responsibility of government and the responsibility of individuals in addressing their perceived social needs?" -- Dr. Fernando Torres-Gil

Collective Action

A community doing the same set of things for a common goal.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cohort & Social Support

There is no way to get through any stressful experience soundly without social support. Social support shows up in many ways - here is one incarnation: the 2009-10 first year Social Welfare PhD cohort. It's so reassuring to know there are other lovely women who know exactly what you are going through. Cocktails at noon at Palominos in Westwood to celebrate birthdays help too.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hope & Optimism

“While they were saying among themselves it cannot be done, it was done.”
--Helen Keller

For anyone with questions about who Helen Keller was, my daughter offers the following information: She had an illness which made her blind, deaf and mute. As soon as her parents discovered this, they got her a tutor named Ann Sullivan. In one day, Helen learned 60 words with Ann. As Helen grew up she learned Braille and sign language.

No matter how hard you size up the situation to be, and Helen's was pretty difficult, there is hope, there is always hope and sometimes, hope seems to be all you've got.

I get really activated and emotional when I hear people say or imply things like:
"It's too hard."
"It's impossible."
"I can't do it."
"You can't do it."
"It can't be done."
"It just isn't done."
"Don't rock the boat."
"It is wrong or impolite to disagree or speak up or have an opinion or challenge the status quo or confront or negotiate..."

I am grateful that Rosa Parks, the Reverand Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President Obama, Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez (Si Se Puede) and Mahatma Ghandi didn't buy these negative thoughts or limiting beliefs and managed to inpire others to challenge them too. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker (Helen Keller).

Both are true - it is hard and we are up to the challenge. I am trying to not pathologize my experience when people ask me about school. Now I reply that school is appropriately challenging.

If you have ears to hear, then listen because I want to scream: It is possible, you can do it and I believe in you! Who told you otherwise and what makes you believe it still?

Helen Keller says it best in her following quotes...

Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.

No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.

We can do anything we want to if we stick to it long enough.

Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.

We may have found a cure for most evils; but we have found no remedy for the worst of them all, the apathy of human beings.

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.

It's wonderful to climb the liquid mountains of the sky. Behind me and before me is God and I have no fears.

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.

Knowledge is love and light and vision.

Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.

When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.

Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.

People do not like to think. If one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.

All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.

One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Closing the Achievement Gap

In the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress results, the gap between Black and Latina/o fourth graders and their counterparts in reading scaled scores was more than 26 points. In fourth grade mathematics, the gap was more than 20 points. These gaps persist over time (Ladson-Billings, 2006).

Without genetic or other immutable traits that could conceivably be the cause of the gap, the problem is one that can and should be solved (Singham, 2003).

Addressing the historical educational disparities is important because it has implications for the kinds of lives we can live and the kind of education the society can expect for most of its children (Ladson-Billings, 2006).

Gloria Ladson-Billings proposes understanding the achievement gap using the metaphor of national debt versus national deficit. She sees some "metaphorical concurrences between our national fiscal situation and our educational situation." The achievement gap is tantamount to the national deficit, defined as spending exceeding income over a period of time. She asserts that what is actually happening to students of color is really more like the national debt, defined as the sum of all previously incurred annual federal deficits. The educational debt is an accumulation of the historical, economic, and sociopolitical disparities and moral debt. Specifics include laws forbidding students of color from learning to read and from attending colleges. Before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Black, Latina/o and Native communities had little to no access to the franchise, so they had no true legislative representation. Indeed, a major aspect of the modern civil rights movement was the quest for quality schooling - a great show of passion and effective action toward addressing a social problem. Taken together, these debts amassed toward minority youth may seem insurmountable. Ladson-Billings quotes, "just because something is impossible does not mean it is not worth doing."

Important questions remain: Why then has the problem not been solved? Will the gap between minority and white students inspire groups of people to engage in an effort to effect change?

If a universal education reform policy can improve the achievement gap, then it is a win-win situation politically and pedagogically. The challenge is that it takes a serious effort to provide all-around good teaching and black students receive a disproportionate amount of poor teaching. Good teaching requires intensive efforts of professional development over ten years (Singham, 2003).

Ladson-Billings (2006) asks us to imagine that an examination of the achievement performance of children of color provoked an immediate reassignment of the nation's best teachers to the schools serving the most needy students.

Personally, I have seen such schools in South Los Angeles. South Los Angeles and the excellence at these schools inspired me to work towards being the best school social worker I could be. The students and families in South LA merit our very best and brightest selves, staff and schools, community organizations and infrastructure, and good jobs with a living wage.

It is possible.

How We Learn and Make Decisions

I think President Obama is an INFP and Bill Clinton is an ENFP.

What are you? Take the test at


"Greater than the tread of a mighty army is an idea whose time has come." --Victor Hugo

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Newton's Laws of Motion (for Human Behavior)

This is not so hard when I get myself to do it. It is just so hard to get myself to do it.

This reminds me of the laws of physics.

1) In the absence of a net force (like a parent or personal trainer), a body either is at rest (like on the couch or surfing the net) or moves in a straight line with constant speed (going through the motions).
2) A body (me, in this case) experiencing a force (me again, in this case) experiences an acceleration (yikes, better get that Stats homework done).
3) Whenever a first body exerts a force on a second body, the second body exerts a force on the first body (getting pushed and pushing right back). Both are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction (sounds like the definition of ambivalence or like a fight).

Summary of Newton's laws came from wikipedia.

Notes on Authority

Reevah said we all feel ambivalent about everything, including our parents - our first experience with authority and authority figures.

Nobody wants to be the "mean mommy."

Fred Jones, clinical psychologist and author of a classroom management book called, "Tools for Teaching," came up with a word to describe the refusal by authority figures (parents, teachers, supervisors) to use their authority appropriately, weenie-ism.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, likes to be told what to do. We all want to do what we want, when we want. Most of us deal with this pretty well by doing things before we are told.

Consequently, we don't like telling anyone else what or what not to do. Our dilemma is that sometimes it is our responsibility, as authority figures, to do so (no! you can't make me act like a grown up!):

  • Your child doesn't want to...(fill in the blank, but homework for example)
  • Authority figure(s): parents, caregivers, step-parents, foster parents, etc.
  • A student is bullying another student in class.
  • Authority figure(s): teacher, administrator, law enforcement (depending on the severity of the bullying!)
  • A parent is abusing their child.
  • Authority figure(s): Department of Children's Services (DCFS)/Child Protective Services (CPS), judge
  • Spouse is abusing their partner.
  • Authority figure(s): law enforcement, judge
Authority gets a bad rap because it can be misused or abused - everyone has a story or vivid memory of an experience like this. So is authority all bad and always to be avoided? That doesn't sound very integrated or balanced, either.
What if instead of refusing to make and enforce firm and appropriate rules consistently (as a parent, teacher, SW, supervisor, etc.), we agreed to use our authority judiciously and assertively for the common good? What would our relationships, families, classrooms, schools, organizations and communities look like then?
What if, like Fred Jones describes, all of us in authority "weenied" out?
Is it time to make peace with our own authority?
It takes a whole lot of courage to do the right thing - nobody wants to be the "mean mommy" - especially if we feel ambivalent about what is the "right thing." So maybe this is a moral crisis? We don't know what is the "right thing" to do?
As a Child Protective Services Worker, I was very ambivalent about my role as an agent of social control versus agent of social change. Then I realized that the abusive parent might not "change" without coming under the "control" of the court. When this dawned on me, I was able to embrace my institutional power to act for the common good.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Teacher Resilience

"it is unrealistic to expect pupils to be resilient if their teachers do not demonstrate resilient qualities. The focus on teacher resilience comes at a time when the emotional dimension of teaching has gained increasing recognition and the impact of work reforms and the continuing and continual need for change impacts on teachers’ abilities to cope."

Le Cornu, R. (2009). Building resilience in pre-service teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25, 717–723.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Power and Necessity of Confrontation

"It would seem (given the inertia in people and societies against altering patterns of behavior) that confrontations are a necessary consequence of any effort to bring about change."

From my Policy course reader, Chapter 2: What is a Social Problem? (sorry, no author or publication year listed)

Artists Can Make a Difference

Another inspiring nephew reports:

I'm excited about this year! Jordan and I had the after-school art program approved for ----- Middle school, and so now we are working on a name and getting our guest speakers lined up. I really feel strong about this. I'm pretty much pursuing my dream to be an artist and entrepenuer. I'd love to see this after-school art program become a non-profit organization or something down the road with scholarships, and intern-type programs.

So proud of you, Brandon! Happy 24th birthday!

Teachers Can Make a Difference

On of my nephews is an English teacher at a middle school in Los Angeles. What he said about his relationship to students and his work inspired me, here it is...

Because of a major schedule shift and the release of some new teachers at semester, I was given all new students.

I was told bad things about my new students."They are the worst," "classroom behavior management will be your greatest challenge," and "the students don't care."

I was honest with them from day one. I told them I did not believe what I had been told and I assured them that I expected a lot from them.

It has been great. I love my students. Teaching has many challenges right now, but as long as I spend more time with young people as opposed to adults at work, I am happy and not stressed.

Happy 24th Birthday, Jordan! I am so proud of you!