yes, please: my reflection on the learning and the brain conference

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to represent Graded at the Learning and the Brain Conference in San Francisco. The focus this year was on Educating with Empathy. Yes, please. If one of the goals was to make my brain hurt, it worked. Terms like neurons and amygdala and periaqueductal gray and neuroplasticity and vagus nerve and lizard brain and lions and tigers and bears oh my are just running around my cererbral cortex. Ouch. But it was all worth it. Ultimately, I left this conference feeling validated, inspired and concerned. It’s always a good feeling when you’re listening Read More

#barkenport: our first time hosting friends overseas

In the days when Dave was getting paid to hike (it wasn’t all a walk in the park, ha), he made a friend. Chris and he shared military backgrounds, formative religious experiences, and a love of music and craft beer–not to mention all the ups and downs that came with the trails (#trailpunsfordays). It’s not often Dave connects with someone on this level, so naturally, I was curious to find out what his wife was like…and more importantly, would we connect? We did. Allison is a teacher, so there, the end. Just kidding. I also discovered we share the love of Read More

a year abroad: 2018 adventures

2018 marks the first full year Dave and I have lived abroad. And what a parade of adventures it has been! Of course, my plan was to blog extensively about each and every one. But alas, time–and a stupid Iphone photo configuration issue {GRRRRR}–has prevented that. But as I look back on the year and get excited for the next, I can’t help but revisit the places we’ve…well…visited. We spent January in Rio learning Portuguese. I wrote about that here and here. For carnaval in February, we road tripped through Curitiba (cool little Brazilian city) to Florianopolis (Brazilian island) to Read More

creating positive adult culture

The post that appears below is the original draft I submitted to Edutopia, an amazing website of all things education! (To all my readers working in schools, it is highly valuable and worth following.)  Some of the best professional advice I keep coming back to is designate time to what you want. If a teacher wants a stronger classroom community, he/she needs to “sacrifice” instructional time to accomplish this. If leadership wants more collaboration, they must allot time in the master schedule. If a school wants a strong adult culture, this goal must be given proper time and attention. And Read More

weight and Light

My heart has been heavy recently. As Timehop likes to remind me, this week’s history carries its own weight. Three years ago: our cat died. Five years ago: we were cleaning out my Mom’s house to put it on the market after she died. Six years ago: one year before she died, she had part of her lung removed to combat cancer. I carry all this with me, in my bones, in my blood, viscerally, almost as if the years are on parallel planes. And…in the future, this week will now carry the weight of a heavy diagnosis for someone Read More

mindfulness in high school

The post that appears below is the original draft I submitted to Edutopia, an amazing website of all things education! (To all my readers working in schools, it is highly valuable and worth following.) Some classrooms have a certain “aura,” don’t they? Upon entering, there is a sense of peace, community, clarity and active presence from all stakeholders. That is the kind of classroom I want to create. One way I have sought to accomplish this is by taking a course in mindfulness for educators. Since then, I have lead daily mindful moments in all of my classes. It has Read More

grace: microscopic new beginnings

There is something so dramatic about New Year’s Eve, isn’t there? Even the fireworks declare, “hey, even you can start anew?” I like those kinds of new beginnings. They are easy. They are believable. Not so easy when it’s, say, minute 4 of meditation and I’ve been struggling to be present for the last 3. I just want to quit. Escape. I don’t want a minute 5; I need a New Year’s Eve: a dramatic restart, a new year, a grandiose gesture that I can start over. But I realized on my most recent meditation retreat that it is minute 5–not Read More

gates and guardians: a reflection on the state of a sorrowful heart

Dave and I have spent the last seven days in silence. No, we’re not in a fight. Well… Not with each other at least. Rather, we have spent the last week at a six-night meditation retreat. I did something similar a few years back and wrote about here (in prose) and here (in verse). This retreat was a completely different experience and style, but no less impacting. Reflecting with Dave on the way back (finally out of silence!), I remarked on the oddest thing: to see forty people sitting in various states of stillness–some on cushions, some on chairs, some Read More

taking attendance (or practicing presence: part 2)

Present. I sit this morning in stillness, reading a soul book a soul friend gave me. Present. I sit this morning listening to the song of birds. One little fellow is having himself a good ol’ time: a solo act of twirps and tweets and toots among the branches. I practice mindful listening, acting as a conscious port of entry for guest-sounds that come and go. I don’t attend to this mental door enough. Just recently on the way to school, I asked Dave a question. Next thing I know he’s saying something vaguely in the background. And by background Read More

tri it on: my first open water swim

Last November, Dave and I were in Guaruja when there happened to be a triathlon. Fascinated, we spent much of the morning watching swimmers, bikers and runners compete and transition from one event to the next. A little seed was planted that day. And now, I’m registered for my very first sprint tri! Gulp. One piece of advice I kept finding in my research was to practice an open water swim before the actual event. And so, last month on a beach trip to Boicucanga, I did just that. Of course, it wasn’t quite that easy. It took quite a bit of courage-mustering, if you Read More