Some people are still going to work each day as their jobs have been classified as "essential" while the rest of us are at home every day. Some of us can work from home but many of have jobs that don't really allow for working from home. Regardless, we all still have to parent and homeschool our children, cook, clean and run our households.
It can be hard to find and pay for childcare when you are still working but school classes are cancelled. And it can be hard to be at home self isolating and feeling like you aren't contributing to your community. There's no winner in this game.
Here are some thoughts about what happens to our community during this pandemic (https://bit.ly/2YoOML8) :
What happens when community is declared unessential? Most of us comply. The extreme introverts celebrate. As COVID-19 spreads we know the physical act of community is not good for us, and so for those most vulnerable in society, we give up physical community to overcome a threat to all of us.
And then… we just cannot do it anymore. Some broke down after just one week. We are hardwired to connect. But we want to stay safe. So, we start to get creative. Individual acts of caring emerge as we buy groceries for our neighbours and call those shut in. But our children are going stir crazy and so we make up games by posting pictures in our windows and then encourage others to do the same leading us to walk with our children to find them. We are delighted by the neighbours that join us.
Some people sing to their neighbours and then post this on social media where we listen and imagine that we were there on the balcony beside them and clap with those neighbours to congratulate this act of community building.
How long can we postpone the physical act of community? I know the simple answer is, “as long as it takes.” But that is just a few more weeks, right? Some say the first step out of physical distancing is that we will be allowed to select 2-3 households to interact with for awhile – as long as each one of those households commits to physical distancing from everyone else. Others say we will be tested daily before we enter a workplace getting an instant response (assuming such a test will exist) and should we pass we can work together. The economy desperately requires us to open stores and restaurants. Will that be next as we learn to eat our veggie burger with a mask?
I am an eternal optimist. I desperately want to believe that the online communities we have formed and the virtual dinners we hold are enough. I want to believe we can do this physical distancing thing as long as it will take. I want to believe that our emotional and social well-being will be okay – we can heal. But I am not so sure. I really want us to declare community essential. I want us to invest in community and find new ways of engaging together. Could we spend a little less on saving the economy and a little more on saving ourselves?
If we were to declare community essential, we would find ways to connect safely. We would learn to do so. We would have the emails of all our neighbours. There would be a block captain. We would all be trained on how to engage safely. We would have access to a database of “assets” neighbours have and the gifts they are willing to share. One neighbour would swing by your porch with a guitar and sing you a song from 20 feet away, another would come to mow your lawn because you are too elderly to do it yourself. We would learn to barter freshly baked bread for a favourite bean casserole. We would learn to drop off produce from our garden safely.
Let's start finding more ways to declare our Communities essential!
What Makes a Good School Culture?
Leah Shafer, Usable Knowledge
Jul 29, 2018
Most principals have an instinctive awareness that organizational culture is a key element of school success. They might say their school has a “good culture” when teachers are expressing a shared vision and students are succeeding — or that they need to “work on school culture” when several teachers resign or student discipline rates rise.
But like many organizational leaders, principals may get stymied when they actually try to describe the elements that create a positive culture. It's tricky to define, and parsing its components can be challenging. Amid the push for tangible outcomes like higher test scores and graduation rates, it can be tempting to think that school culture is just too vague or “soft” to prioritize.
That would be a mistake, according to Ebony Bridwell-Mitchell, an expert in education leadership and management. As she explains, researchers who have studied culture have tracked and demonstrated a strong and significant correlation between organizational culture and an organization’s performance. Once principals understand what constitutes culture — once they learn to see it not as a hazy mass of intangibles, but as something that can be pinpointed and designed — they can start to execute a cultural vision.
At a recent session of the National Institute for Urban School Leaders at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Bridwell-Mitchell took a deep dive into “culture,” describing the building blocks of an organization’s character and fundamentally how it feels to work there.
Culture Is Connections
A culture will be strong or weak depending on the interactions between the people in the organization, she said. In a strong culture, there are many, overlapping, and cohesive interactions among all members of the organization. As a result, knowledge about the organization’s distinctive character — and what it takes to thrive in it — is widely spread and reinforced. In a weak culture, sparse interactions make it difficult for people to learn the organization’s culture, so its character is barely noticeable and the commitment to it is scarce or sporadic.
Within that weak or strong structure, what exactly people believe and how they act depends on the messages — both direct and indirect — that the leaders and others in the organization send. A good culture arises from messages that promote traits like collaboration, honesty and hard work.
Culture is shaped by five interwoven elements, each of which principals have the power to influence:
One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.
He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.
A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.
As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.
This article was recently posted by The World Economic Forum
5 ways to step up and become a moral leader
27 Aug 2019
Avery Blank Contributor, Forbes
Moral leadership is providing values or meaning for people to live by, inspiration to act and motivation to hold oneself accountable. When you don’t see someone stepping up to provide purpose and doing what is best for the greater good, step up.
Leadership is a responsibility. It’s also a power, not to be taken for granted. The late author Toni Morrison said, “If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.” Your best self is when you use your power to lead others. Here are five ways to develop moral leadership:
1. Identity a set of values
Moral leaders guide themselves with values and ethics that they develop over time and with experience. Examples of values include integrity, respect, accountability, community, inclusion, fairness and service.
What experiences have shaped your thoughts and views? Be introspective. Think about the principles by which you live your life.
2. Manage your ego
Moral leaders have a sense of self and are not threatened by others. But they also recognize that their self is not the most important thing and that leadership is not about them. Leadership is about serving others. It is not about you or your interests. True leaders value other people and put the interest of others first.
3. Consider diverse groups of people, and include their views
Leaders do not impose their values on others. They consider other people’s values. They interact with and understand others. The combination of their values and the values of diverse groups inform a vision for a better future.
4. Embrace change
People seek moral leadership when they want change. Leaders don’t fear change. They have the courage and conviction to share a vision to try and bring about positive change.
5. Build consensus, and establish unity
It is rare that everyone will be onboard with your opinion or views (learn about the 20-60-20 rule). A leader listens to people with different views. A leader knows not to try and win everyone over.
Leaders also know not to create divisions. Moral leaders do their best to communicate a purpose that can inspire as many people as possible to want to take part in enacting positive change for the greater good.
Moral leadership is something everyone can strive for. It can be difficult to attain, but it is worth the challenge for yourself and those around you. Know your values, check your ego at the door, embrace others, be transformative and seek unity. Take responsibility to build a better world for all.
There has been a lot of conversation about how our technology focused lives are impacting our character and most of it suggests that the impact is negative. That may not be true after all... And since technology is clearly here to stay, this is an interesting discussion.
Research about the impact of technology in empathy development in children this isn’t clear. A Dutch study of 10-14 year olds found that their use of social media was not actually damaging their empathy, but improving it. The study suggests that social media may be helpful for kids in this age group by observing interactions and feedback from peers, and allowing them to practice skills related to social competence.
When the class of 2018 started school, they were coming into classrooms that already had SmartBoards, laptops, and smartphones. They came of age online, and studies are showing that this is changing the way that these students behave. Sarah Conrath and a team at University of Michigan reviewed data samples from 94 studies of undergraduate students between 1988 and 2011. The studies showed that during that time period, there was a 40% decline in empathy among college students. This aligns with the fact that Howard Gardner and Katie Davis call current college students members of the “app generation”, and this affects the way that they have conversations and build relationships. Technology and apps are designed to respond quickly, and they respond to actions in a predictable way. People, on the other hand, don’t always respond predictably or quickly, especially in person, so it can be easier to take those interactions online.
On the flip side, some of the positive accepted behaviours online are not as accepted in person. The anonymity of some online spaces can make it easier for people to present a more true version of themselves than they might in the real world, or self-disclose information about challenges or difficult situations. This reflecting in public can be a powerful tool to get support from others, and allows people to build an understanding of the experience of others. But if we’re all reflecting in public more, we’re also spending less time reflecting alone.
We typically think that empathy is built when we spend time with other people, but time alone for reflection is also critical to building empathy, and we’re doing less of that than ever before. “We turn time alone into a problem that needs to be solved by technology,” says Sherry Turkle, and we’re finding lots of solutions to this “problem”. In fact, a University of Virginia study found that college students have a hard time thinking in enjoyable ways when left alone in an empty room with no cell phone. In fact, they found that students would rather voluntarily give themselves a light electric shock than just sit and think. The time to reflect alone helps us build skills like concentration and imagination, which are skills that help us be fully present in a conversation.
So if the bad news is that the impact of technology on empathy is happening early, the good news is that it isn’t universally bad, and it doesn’t take much to counteract the negative effects. A 2014 UCLA study of 11-13 year olds found that after just 5 days at an outdoor camp with no devices, the campers were able to read facial expressions and emotions significantly better. This may have been a study of kids, but there are device-free spaces and retreats popping up for adults as well. As a college junior pointed out, the connections that we have through our devices aren’t inherently bad. “Our texts are fine, it’s what texting does to our conversations when we are together that’s the problem.”
These are a few things that anyone can try!
Here is something to think about now that the kids are back to school...
I just finished reading a book with some interesting ideas to ponder on bullying... the book, written by Emily Bazelon, is called Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy.
Here's thought #1
"Even though it's normal for adults to want to protect them from all meanness, or to rush to their defense, there's a reason why Mother Nature has promoted the existence of run-of-the-mill social cruelty between children. It's how children get the practice they need to cope successfully with the world as adults." Bazelon argues that dealing with cruel kids teaches you not to take goodwill for granted and teaches you what kind of behaviour you appreciate and want to give. Being bullied helps you understand what someone else might be feeling when you see them treated badly.
The flip side, she admits is that not everyone bullies and when kids understand that cruelty is the exception, not the rule, they respond and bullying drops and students become more active about reporting it. (p13)
"By prying too far into the lives of teenagers, we impinge on the freedom they need to grow. We stifle development when we shut down unstructured play at recess or censor their every word online, in the name of safeguarding them from each other. We risk raising kids who don't know how to solve problems on their own, withstand adversity, or bounce back from the harsh trials life inevitably brings."
Adults always want to see the bully get punished but is it fair to hold a child to the same standard of accountability as adults? Adolescent brains are still developing, especially the parts that govern impulse control and judgement. Shouldn't we be focused on giving kids a second chance?
Bullying online is a huge issue. "In a 2009 study, researchers asked middle and high school students what would deter them from bullying other kids online, and the and answer the teenagers ranked first was parental discipline in the form of taking away access to social networking sites. Second was taking away their computers or phones." (p263). Point to be made is that parents have a duty to intervene to limit bullying. Parental monitoring should be seen as a form of caring, not interference.
We want to keep our kids safe and free from bullying but that's probably never going to be completely possible. At the same time, make sure that your kids have the skills and understanding of the situation so that they can respond themselves and not totally rely on parents.
"Do not judge by appearances; a rich heart may be under a poor coat." —Scottish Proverb
“Do not judge from mere appearances.” —Edwin Hubbel Chapin
For too long our world has measured success incorrectly. We have championed, promoted, and followed some wrong people along the way. We’ve judged others on the symmetry of their cheek bones, salary package, neighborhood of residence, eloquence of speech, designer of clothing, or model of car. We’ve been focused on the wrong things. And have made some terribly awful judgments along the way—both personally and collectively.
Might I take a moment and recommend some new measurements? Some new measurements that are not external in nature, but are internal—measurements that weigh the very heart and soul of humanity. And begin to give us a far better sense of who to trust, who to follow, and who to champion.
20 New Ways to Measure Success.
1. Character in solitude. Our character is best revealed not in the the public eye, but in private. What we do when nobody is looking is the truest mark of our character. And those who display character in the dark will always reflect it in the light.
2. Contentment in circumstance. Often times, contentment remains elusive for both the rich and the poor. It is a struggle for humanity no matter their lot in life. Rich is the man or woman who can find contentment in either circumstance.
3. Courage during adversity. Courage can only be revealed when it is required. And only those who have displayed it and acted upon it during adversity can lay claim to its possession. This adversity can take on many different forms, but courage will always look the same: action in the face of fear.
4. Faithfulness in commitment. Those whose words are true ought to be highly lifted up in our world today. Whether our word is given with a handshake, a contract, or a wedding ring, those who hold true to their oaths are worthy of commendation.
5. Generosity in abundance. To those who have received much, much should be given away. Often times, this abundance comes in forms other than material possessions. And in that way, we each have been given much—and each ought to be generous in our use of it.
6. Graciousness towards others. Those who routinely extend grace to others are among my greatest heroes. They have a healthy realization that this world is largely unfair, that people come from a variety of backgrounds, and that nobody is truly self-made… even themselves. As a result, they are quick to extend grace and mercy to others.
7. Gratitude despite circumstance. Those who can find enough good in any circumstance to express gratitude are typically focused on the right things. And those who are focused on the right things tend to bend their lives towards those things… and draw others along with them.
8. Honesty in deprivation. It is when we are deprived of something desired that honesty is the most difficult. Whether we are deprived of something physical or intangible (like a desired outcome), dishonesty is often used to quickly take gain of something. Those who show honesty during deprivation reveal how highly they esteem it.
9. Hope during heartache. When heartache cuts at such a deep level that simple optimism is not enough… only hope can emerge. When it does, it is undeniably from a source far greater than ourselves. And those who find it, discover one of the greatest powers in the universe.
10. Humility in accomplishment. Those who are quick to deflect praise in accomplishment ought to be first in receiving it.
11. Inspiration in relationship. We are all in relationship with others – sometimes in person, sometimes in print, sometimes in other ways. These relationships should not be used solely for personal gain but for bringing out the best in others. And those who inspire others to become the best they can be should be gifted with more and more and more relationships.
12. Integrity in the details. Integrity is found in the details. Those who show integrity in the little things of life will typically display it in the bigger things as well.
13. Kindness to the weak. It is usually the weakest among us that are in most need of our kindness… and yet they receive it the least because they have no way to immediately repay it. When kindness is only shown for the sake of repayment, it becomes an investment and is no longer true kindness. Our true measure of kindness is shown in how we treat those who will never repay us.
14. Love for enemies. Anybody can love a friend. Anybody can love those who treat us well… and everybody does. But it takes a special type of person to extend love towards those who treat us unjustly.
15. Optimism towards others. See the good in everyone. There is simply no way to bring out the best in others if you haven’t seen it first.
16. Perseverance in failure. Failure reveals much about our heart. It reveals our character, our humility, and our perseverance. We will all at some point face failure. And those who get back up and try again ought to be esteemed in our mind.
17. Purity in opportunity. While character is revealed in solitude and integrity is revealed in the details, purity is revealed in the face of opportunity. When dishonest gain (money, power, sex, etc.) presents itself, those who choose purity ought to be praised. Not only do they personally sleep better at night, but they make this world a better place for all of us.
18.Respect for authority. Authority brings order to a world of disorder. Certainly there are numerous examples throughout history (and today) of proper timing in overthrowing authority that oppresses its subjects. But in most cases, authority brings reason and order… and it should be allowed to do so.
19. Responsibility for mistake. From the weakest to the strongest, we all love to pass the blame. I can see it in my 5-year old daughter and I can see it in my government leaders. We are a people that are slow to accept responsibility for our mistakes. This is unfortunate. Because only those who can admit their mistakes have the opportunity to learn from them.
20. Self-control in addiction. We are a people that too often give control of our most precious asset to another. We fall under the influence of substances, possessions, or entertainment. When we do, our life is no longer our own. And those who retain self-control in the face of addiction ought to be recognized as unique and judged accordingly.
And when we all begin to properly esteem, champion, and follow those who lead from the inside, we will make far less mistakes in choosing who to follow.
You don't realize how much your kids learn from you until you hear them repeat the one thing you wish they hadn't heard (like an F bomb from the backseat after you get cut off in heavy traffic). Kids really do learn from adults - and that includes parents, grandparents, older siblings, teachers, neighbours... We are all mentors.
If you want to have "emotionally intelligent kids", what can you do?
1. Regulate Yourself
Conflict in inevitable. No matter how well behaved your child may be, you're going to get angry or frustrated with them at some point. But it's important to slow down and model emotional regulation. Don't be tempted to threaten punishment just to get an immediate behaviour change because that short cut won't give your child the long term understanding of why good behaviour matters. Make sure your child feels heard and understood so that you can understand what might be causing the bad behaviour. It might take longer at first but the payoff in the long term will be worth it. Don't treat the symptoms, look for the cause of the problem.
2. Connect with Your Kids
When kids feel safe, they don't need to act out to get attention or to feel that they have power over others. Give your kids a hug, look them in the eye when they speak to you and make sure to have some one-on-one time with them every day, even if it's only a few minutes.
3. Treat your Kids with Respect
Kids are people too so don't rely on dominance to make your kids act appropriately. You wouldn't want to be treated that way and neither do they. "Because I said so" isn't a good reason. Set clear limits and explain why you have those limits in place.
We can't be with our kids 24/7 so we need teach them recognize their own moral compass and have the courage to make their own independent decisions. Kids really do Learn What They Live so make sure you're doing you part to show them what living with character is all about.
It won't be long until it's time for the 8th Annual Character Run (Thursday May 30, 2019!)
It's often been said that having a training partner is a great way to stay accountable, push yourself and reach your goals. Now, there is even more research to support this theory.
The Benevolence Boomerange
Experts say that women are especially good at reaching out to the people around them and offering them support. And experts also say that these compassionate exchanges can have a powerful impact on a person's mind and body - not just the receivers, but the giver's as well. They call it the "Benevolence Boomerang effect".
One landmark study found that roughly two-thirds of people who help others report a distinct physical sensation. Researchers coined the phrase "helper's high" to describe the immediate surge of physiological changes that stem from genuine goodwill. The physical symptoms -which can range from feeling exhilarated and euphoric to stronger and calmer, as well as noticing fewer or less intense aches and pains- are all associated with increased levels of your body's feel-good happiness hormones. These same hormones have also been linked to improved health markers such as lower blood pressure and weight loss.
This is the future: ambitious women chasing down aggressive goals and major dreams while supporting, encouraging, and celebrating the women around them who are doing the same.
Get on the bandwagon - set a goal to walk or run in the Character Run, find a partner to train with you, and make that dream happen!
Read more in the July 2018 issue of Women's Health magazine
Jack Ma is the founder of Alibaba Group and one of the richest men in the world. He spoke at the World Economic Forum in 2018 about education. A quick summary:
In some ways I agree. Why memorize facts if you can quickly google the answer? However, what if google gives you the wrong answer? Would you even know? The internet isn't a fact-checked source of information; it's full of misinformation and untruths, misrepresented facts and lies designed to make you think a certain way. And who will create, program and develop the machines that are going to do all this work for us?
I know research in Artificial Intelligence is developing new areas that most of us can't even begin to imagine but I still think that a machine can never feel the way a person can. We need our kids to understand what empathy is and why it matters, to question with respect, to have the courage to voice an alternative opinion. Character matters and our kids need to learn it.
Do you agree with Jack Ma?
The Community of Character is all about recognizing and appreciating the good stuff in life. This blog will share some thoughts on how we can be the best version of ourselves.