One of my weaknesses that I want to work on this year is consistency. I would consider myself a big picture thinker, I love dreaming about what could be and sometimes that gets in the way of the taking action piece to make those dreams happen. Anyone else find that tricky?
So this post is as much for the audience to give you an insight into the exciting things coming up this year at Empathetic Educators as it is for me, to hold myself accountable.
Before moving forward to the future I just wanted to recap on where we have come from, incase we have any newbies onboard today or as a reminder for those who have been part of the whole journey so far.
For many, you will already know Empathetic Educators was created out of a need I felt in my own life. In my first year of teaching I didn't cope very well with the transition into 'adulting'.
And that was somewhat down to the shock of how many hats teachers/adults wear but it was mainly down to the unrealistic expectations I was setting for myself and the lack of tools I had in my toolkit to deal with adversity.
At my worst, I ended up getting migraines on a daily basis and I became my own worst enemy, saying things to myself that I wouldn't dream of saying to a peer, partner or stranger.
One day, I caught myself as I was looking in the mirror and I didn't recognise the person looking back. This got me on the path of why... Why was my body reacting this way? Why was my brain thinking thoughts I had never thought before? Why was I closing myself off to people? Why was I showing certain emotions externally but feeling very different emotions on the inside?
So since then, for the last 7 years, I have been on a personal and professional journey to find out more about the human body, especially the brain. As I believe the more we can understand ourselves and others, the more we can move forward and grow together.
I was looking back through photos to prepare this post and I am so grateful for all the people I have met along the journey to far, especially to my #SEA19 family from our Google Innovator Programme in Singapore and my #MIT team at Manaiakalani who have all played a big part in my thinking for this project to date!
Empathetic Educators was founded in 2016 with the aim of weaving topics like Neuroscience, Empathy, Relationships, Design and psYchology together. And I can't believe where this dream has gone so far.
I have spoken with educators inside and outside of the school system from around the world, made global friendships in the digital and physical space and learnt so much about myself along the way.
Connections is at the heart of our mission here at Empathetic Educators, with Twitter chats, Podcasts, You Tube lives and beyond. Aiming to create areas where we can learn, discuss and grow together.
I believe better learning experiences for our children starts with better learning experiences for our adults so I am on a mission to learn how we can create engaging, fun opportunities for development at all levels.
The visual above shows a sneak peak into Empathetic Educator's first large scale attempt at designing PD for adults that happened in July this year (2021) - #EEConQuest. It was a fabulous 12 hour day of learning with participants from across the world, discussing different areas of Education, past, present and future. You can catch up on these conversations and their resources here.
So that is where we have come from.... now where are we going to next?
Over the last 7 years I have had three main areas that I have focused on within my career so far:
- Learning design (especially for learners who find learning challenging)
- Literacy (looking at ways to weave reading comprehension, design thinking and gaming)
- Empathy (exploring ways to having understanding for our learners and ourselves to add tools to our toolkit)
And as you can see in the visual above I plan to use this background to create different learning opportunities where we can learn together in different mediums to give you options on how you would like to take part in the learning from podcast sessions to weekly twitter chat and ideas for lesson design.
So I am very excited for Empathetic Educators to bring you:
Weaving Empathy - an active inquiry into understanding, connection and engagement.
One of the main tag lines at Empathetic Educators is:
'Our power is within our G.R.A.C.S.P'
Within our: Growth. Relationships. Accountability. Challenge. Systems. Perspectives
Throughout my research these 6 themes have come up as the main areas that help me better understand Empathy and Education.
This year I have given myself a goal to put all of this together to create interactive learning experiences to continue my inquiry into what engaging learning opportunities could look like for adults and children.
So without further ado I would like to welcome you to #EEConQuest on T.O.L.A.N.D, where we will look at Teaching Opportunities through Laughter, Adventure, kNowledge and Discovery.
I just love taking a break from focused thinking and letting my mind wander. This is when my most exciting 'brain farts' happen. When my brain has time to just take in all of the things around me.
Since #EEConQuest '21 I haven't 'produced' anything online... unless you count some delicious food diaries on my instagram stories from my time in Quarantine, which were amazing but not quite Empathetic Educators related....
Instead, I have been making connections and I am so excited to share with you where my brain took itself off to.
I was listening back to some of the Empathetic Educators sessions and I noticed how many times I said phrases like 'and, and' ..........'it doesn't have to be either or.'
So, this got my brain creating that in visual form. I have heard and been part of so many conversations talking about Knowledge/ Skills, Independent Work/ Collaboration, Nature/ Nurture. And a lot of the time it can create polarising points of view as one party may believe one side is more important than the other.
So instead of either/or thinking I am on a mission to inquire into what and, and thinking could look like through this weaving process.
Weaving: The act of making something by combining different parts, in a complicated or skilled way.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, in my first year of teaching I couldn't believe how many hats we wear as teachers/adults and I didn't have the tools to deal with this.
So, as you can see in the visuals above. We are going to explore these different hats, these different areas and these different themes through the lens of 'and and'.
(Boundaries and Balance, Independent work and Collaboration, Goals and Next Steps, Taking Risks and Knowing Limits, Knowledge and Skills, Nature and Nurture)
I did an audit last year of how many hats I wore in just a small 30 minute window -
There I was, sitting in one of my teacher led workshops for reading, in the process of trying to help learners with the skill of visualising,
- when I noticed one learner threw their pencil across the class,
- then as I was dealing with that situation another learner from a different group got a nose bleed,
- as I was sitting back down I noticed a learner who can get very easily distracted, getting on with their learning so I praised their effort.....
- and eventually I was able to complete my workshop which had many more hats I had to continue to wear.
My point is, in that small window of time, in one small part of my day I wore the hats of a nurse, a counsellor, a guide, a manager to name but a few.
So many trainings I have taken part in look at different areas in silo which can be very important but I want to look at weaving these areas together now through the and and approach with "The Orbit of Opportunity" .
As I was taking a break and letting my mind wander I started to explore the idea of this 'loop de loop' (as my partner calls it).
One of the ideas I had in my head growing up was if I take one step it will lead to the next step and if I tick that box then I should get on to the next stage but once I entered the 'real world' it made me realise that's not how life goes many times in life we can take one step forward and two steps back!
One of my favourite phrases I refer to often is from the great Ronan Keating - 'Life is a Rollercoaster' because life isn't a ladder we can climb where the next step neatly leads on from the last one.
It is a series of ups and downs, rounds and rounds, forward and backward movements.
So I came up with this visual for my thought process. I like the idea of infinity because it represents the unending joining of different things but you will notice the Orbit of Opportunity has an extra loop in the middle.
This represents the 'opportunity' part. If we bring two things together it is the space in the middle that makes all the difference.
If we have knowledge on one side and skills on the other, it is the weaving of those things and what we create in the middle that gives us the opportunity to move forward.
If we have Independent work one side and Collaboration on the other it is how we weave these two states to create opportunities for ourselves and those around us.
This has been a bit of a longer blog post today because I wanted to give an overview and background thinking of the upcoming learning opportunities I hope to create for the Empathetic Educators platform this year.
I have really tried hard to get the ideas out of my head into practical ways so we can make it come to life. Don't worry if you feel it is a wee bit of information overload! Over the next few weeks we will dive deeper into this adventure and explore "The Orbit of Opportunity' together.
We will have a book focus each week which will be the inspiration behind the daily activities available, aiming to weave research with practical applications.
The activities will also aim to weave the four pillars you can see above - SEL Curriculum, Sustainable Development Goals, Reciprocal Reading and Design thinking.
I hope to have you on this quest looking at the G.R.A.S.C.P themes through missions where our light is our power and where we will be adding tools to our toolkit so that the evils of darkness can't take that light away!
I have partnered with the fantastic platform that launched last month - EduSpark as part of this journey. This is a grass roots space created by educators Craig Kemp and Andrew Mowat. Who are also looking into the possibilities to personalise professional development and make it more accessible and I can't wait to see where that partnership goes!
I can't believe where #Empathetic_Educators has come from in recent years all thanks to our Global community! Thank you so much and I can't wait to see where we go next!
Stay tuned! Because I am so excited to keep learning in this space and having you on board this active inquiry, growing together!
Our live sessions and twitter chats will be starting up Sunday 26th September so you can subscribe to this blog or get connected to the following pages to stay up to date:
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For now remember;
Our Choices have an impact, what impact are you going to have?