professional development

Professional Development

Professional development is an important part of an organization’s growth. I once heard a podcast where the speaker said that some organizations worry that if they provide too much professional development, their employees will leave, and they will have wasted a lot of money building up their employees’ skills. But she then stated, “Organizations should be more worried that they won’t train their employees and that they’ll stay.” And frankly, if you treat your employees like your most valuable asset, they won’t have much of a reason to leave. Like Richard Branson said “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

Our training team is made up of educators, administrators, psychologists and a variety of consultants who are highly specialized and have many decades of teaching experience both with children and adults. Not only do we deliver professional development for schools and organizations, but we can also help you with the following:

  • Curriculum development
  • Capacity building for your staff on delivering effective presentations
  • Review of existing curriculum to ensure it is pedagogically sound, engaging and interactive

Following are the PD topics that we currently offer. Any training you select will be customized to your audience and their needs. As such, all PD delivery begins with a conversation where we explore who is in the audience, what precipitated the need for the session and what objectives should be met by the conclusion of the course. Custom requests will be considered so if you don’t see the topic you need below, call us anyway.

Conflict Resolution Strategies that Improve Workplace Culture

In the words of Ben Carson, “If two people think the same thing about everything, one of them isn’t necessary. We need to be able to understand that if we’re going to make real progress.” What he is referring to is the necessity for differing viewpoints in the workplace which inevitably lead to disagreements and conflict. But, often, the best ideas arise out of conflict, necessary change happens, and we move beyond the status quo. Because these disagreements and challenging situations can cause us a great deal of anxiety, we often avoid them missing out on the opportunities that conflict can create. This workshop will explore common sources of conflict in the workplace and what our natural tendencies are when dealing with conflict. We will delve into strategies that allow heated discourse to be productive and tools for ensuring that all parties feel respected and heard. Scenarios based on real like examples will be examined and attendees will contribute ideas from their own experiences. Workplace bullying can also be explored in this workshop if time permits.

Introduction to Cultural Competence in the 21st Century Workplace

Ongoing demographic shifts in the 21st century domestic workplace along with the globalization of business present a call to action for cultural competence. Cultural competence allows us to interact effectively with people whose backgrounds are different from our own. Cultural competence can be learned and practiced. It entails developing certain personal and interpersonal awareness and sensitivities, understanding certain bodies of cultural knowledge, and mastering a set of skills that bring out the best in those we work with. This workshop will introduce participants to culturally responsive principles that should be a component of the toolkit for employees in all industries. Participants will be introduced to the cultural proficiency continuum, the social identity wheel, the concept of implicit bias and the impact they have on the climate and productivity in the workplace. This workshop can be provided to all staff or customized for those in leadership roles.

Know Yourself to Grow Yourself

One of the best gifts we can give ourselves is the gift of self-awareness. A non-judgmental assessment of our own behavioral style can provide us with valuable insights into our everyday interactions with others and why some relationships are or are not successful and effective. Using the DiSC Assessment, this introspective educational program can be the catalyst that moves participants to a more mature, sophisticated, and effective level of professional mastery. This course requires both pre-work and post-work. Each participant will receive a comprehensive profile with recommended next steps. This profile coupled with robust discussion and activities will help participants develop a comprehensive understanding of their own behavioral style, including signature strengths and growing edges. Participants will be provided with options for improving interactions with those who have a different behavioral style as well as tips and techniques for making the most of one’s style, while shifting behaviors that are not productive.

Unlocking Your EQ to Enhance Personal and Professional Growth

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the capacity to recognize the impact that our feelings have on us; to tune into the feelings of those around us; to manage our emotions and our actions; and to interact skillfully with the people around us (Goleman, 2017). For decades, people assumed that those with the highest IQs would naturally be the top performers. But by the mid-1990s, we finally had an explanation for why people with average IQs often outperformed those with higher IQs – emotional intelligence is the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest – not the traditional measure of IQ. Numerous studies have also shown that a high EQ can result in an individual’s ability to manage stress and maintain healthy personal relationships. The good news is that these skills can be learned at any age. In this interactive session, participants will explore the field of emotional intelligence by unpacking key EQ principles. Participants will engage in self-reflection and discover strengths and opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Building an Accountability-Rich Organizational Culture Together

The dynamics of today’s business environment demand that we accept change as a business constant, operate at a blistering pace with ever leaner resources and navigate an increasingly complex and ambiguous landscape while delivering client experiences that are both better and different. These dynamics have far reaching and powerful implications. Today, each member of our team must understand that, in order to be successful together, we must all accept the universal responsibility of leadership. We must lead from our seat (or our position) within the organization. That simply means that each person makes a commitment to show up as the best version of themselves each day at work. While accountability has always been a relevant organizational expectation, in today’s high stakes environment, it’s an organizational imperative. This energetic and engaging educational program will challenge current habits of thought, behavior, belief, and attitude. Participants will have an opportunity to deepen their understanding of what’s at the core of accountability and how we make accountability a part of our organizational culture. Participants will also recognize and change habits that short circuit accountability and explore accountability performance levels, each paired with specific coaching skills/tactics.

Co-Creating a High Performing Team

Perhaps one of the best ways for an organization to distinguish itself from its competition and promote high levels of performance and successful outcomes is to work regularly on co-creating team excellence. Whether co-located or virtual, high performing teams can act as the portal for innovation and creativity, advanced problem solving and enviable engagement metrics. Indeed, a reputation for strong teams can increase an organization’s ability to attract, cultivate and keep top talent. In this robust educational program, based on Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, participants will receive a thorough overview of the five dysfunctions that can thwart a team’s performance as well as strategies to overcome each dysfunction. Participants will explore the concept of trust as the foundation of high performing teams and what techniques build, maintain and restore trust.

Crucial, High Stakes, Coaching Conversations

Having a difficult conversation with a colleague and/or team member is both inevitable and necessary. No one looks forward to these interactions. Typically, emotions are running strong, the stakes are high, opinions and interpretations vary and the issues are tough. If the full, unvarnished truth is told, some of us dread them and put them off until we have no other choice. This program offers participants the opportunity to do a deep dive into this specialty skill area and develop mastery and boost confidence. Best practices, both structural and behavioral, are highlighted, common traps are exposed and a simple framework for these types of conversations is offered. Participants should already have mastered basic communication and coaching skills prior to the program to maximize its value. NOTE: This workshop is an excellent supplement to “Manage Things…Coach People.”

Introduction to Culturally Competent Leadership in the 21st Century Workplace

Ongoing demographic shifts in the 21st century domestic workplace along with the globalization of business present a call to action for cultural competence. Cultural competence allows us to interact effectively with people whose backgrounds are different from our own. Cultural competence can be learned and practiced. It entails developing certain personal and interpersonal awareness and sensitivities, understanding certain bodies of cultural knowledge, and mastering a set of skills that bring out the best in those we work with. As leaders, we must strive to create culturally competent work environments where all employees can thrive. This workshop will introduce participants to culturally responsive principles specifically geared for leaders in the workplace. Participants will be introduced to the cultural proficiency continuum, the social identity wheel, the concept of implicit bias, and the impact they have on the climate and productivity in the workplace.

Manage Things…Coach People

When it comes to fostering effective workplace relationships and building high performing teams, the framework and language of coaching can be a game changer and contribute to a fully engaged organizational culture. Coaching is truly about exploring new possibilities and thinking in radically different ways. Often it calls on us to abandon old patterns of thinking, believing, and acting. This dynamic, results-oriented education program challenges participants in exactly this way. In addition to providing an overview of the coaching model, including its history and a review of relevant research, the program will comprehensively introduce the art and science of coaching and allow participants to develop all of the core competencies necessary to practically apply the learning to help build and grow others. In the process, participants will discover specific ways to use coaching to elevate their own professional mastery level of skills such as active listening, collaborative inquiry and optimistic thinking.

The Power of Feedback/Feedforward

One of the most powerful development skills that we can cultivate in ourselves to successfully grow others around us is providing frequent, real time, high quality feedback and feedforward. Deeply rooted in the coaching philosophy, feedback and feedforward are direct, focused conversations intended to provoke thoughtful reflection, challenge habits of thought and behavior, enhance solution-seeking abilities and elevate overall performance. To be done well, such conversations require courage, art, confidence and first-class communication skills. Participants in this workshop can expect a practical approach to master the art of feedback/forward that includes self-assessment, best practice review, mini skill building, situation analyses and role play. NOTE: This workshop is an excellent supplement to “Manage Things…Coach People.”

Tips and Strategies to Create a Welcoming, Collegial and Productive Work Environment

Employee satisfaction and engagement are crucial components that contribute to a productive and efficient workplace. According to the Gallup Organization, “engaged employees produce better business outcomes than other employees do — across industries, company sizes and nationalities, and in good economic times and bad.” In today’s workplace, an engaging work environment is not optional and many employees simply won’t stay in organizations that don’t make this a priority. While there are several factors that contribute to satisfied and engaged employees, a great workplace culture and climate ranks among one of the top contributors. Individuals in leadership roles are key to creating work environments that bring out the best in staff. Too often, staff surveys reveal areas of opportunity, but managers and supervisors are left to figure out how to make those changes in order to improve the climate and boost morale. This workshop moves beyond the theoretical and addresses a variety of practices and strategies that leaders can use to build supportive teams, address challenging situations, support a growth mindset and cultivate a workplace that honors a work-life balance.

The Transformational Power of Servant Leadership

The phrase “servant leadership” was first coined by Robert Greenleaf in 1970. “A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the ‘top of the pyramid,’ servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible (www.greenleaf.org).” Most of us as leaders fall somewhere along the “servant first” and “leader first” continuum. While the concept has been around all throughout history and the phrase has been in use for decades, the research to support this philosophy is relatively new. It does show evidence that links servant leadership with organizational commitment, employee engagement and a sense of organizational justice which promotes positive behaviors between peers. This workshop will explore the ten characteristics of the servant leader. Attendees will engage in a variety of group discussions and activities designed to promote self-reflection and to provide new tools that can be used right away in the workplace.

Unlocking Your EQ to Enhance Personal Growth and Leadership

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the capacity to recognize the impact that our feelings have on us; to tune into the feelings of those around us; to manage our emotions and our actions; and to interact skillfully with the people around us (Goleman, 2017). For decades, people assumed that those with the highest IQs would naturally be the top performers. But by the mid-1990s, we finally had an explanation for why people with average IQs often outperformed those with higher IQs – emotional intelligence is the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest – not the traditional measure of IQ. Numerous studies have also shown that a high EQ can result in an individual’s ability to manage stress and maintain healthy personal relationships. The good news is that these skills can be learned at any age and they are particularly important for individuals in leadership roles because these skills have a significant impact on the culture of the workplace and subsequent factors such as employee engagement, satisfaction and turnover. In this interactive session, participants will explore the field of emotional intelligence by unpacking key EQ principles. Participants will engage in self-reflection and discover strengths and opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Advancing as Culturally Responsive Educators

Culture plays a role in everything we do – it is an essential part of how we learn. It plays a role not only in communicating and receiving information, but also in shaping the thinking process of groups and individuals. Culturally responsive teaching that acknowledges, responds to, and celebrates fundamental cultures offers full, equitable access to education for students from all cultures. As culturally responsive educators, we recognize the importance of including students’ cultural identities in all aspects of learning, thereby enriching classroom experiences and keeping students engaged. This training will provide participants with opportunities to examine culture – their own culture and the cultures of the students they serve.

Beyond Bullying: Preventing and Responding to Protected Class Bullying and Harassment

As schools work to successfully prevent and intervene in acts of bullying, they are often challenged by bullying behaviors that cross the line into civil, civil rights or criminal law violations. Guidance from The United States Department of Education and United States Department of Justice will be viewed and discussed. Participants will examine federal statutes that prohibit bullying and harassment based on protected classes, such as race, color, national origin, gender and disability. Participants will also receive information relative to possible criminal law implications when bullying behaviors cause mental or physical injury to targeted students. Finally, this session will examine the legal ramifications of “deliberate indifference” with regard to failure to address bullying in their schools.

Building Resilience: “Upstream” Approaches for Suicide Prevention

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 24 (cdc.gov) and rates have been increasing in every state over the past decade. Suicide is complicated and is rarely caused by one factor or event. It is a serious public health problem which affects families, schools and communities and has a long-lasting impact on the people left behind. But suicides are preventable. Suicide prevention efforts have largely focused on strategies to identify and get help for those who are at risk for suicide or who have shown warning signs of concerning behavior. There is a growing focus on prevention efforts that are more proactive. This “upstream” prevention approach involves working to reduce risk factors and enhance protective factors prior to the onset of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. This workshop will move beyond the basics of traditional suicide prevention workshops in order to provide practical strategies and tools that inoculate students well before suicidal thoughts or behaviors ever emerge.

Bullying as an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) and its Lasting Impact

In past generations, bullying was considered a “rite of passage” into young adulthood; a normal part of adolescence that helped “toughen up” children. But today, we understand that no child should be afraid to come to school and that anxiety and fear in the classroom only prevent learning from taking place. Decades of research has brought new levels of understanding about the detrimental short and long-term effects of bullying on all students involved including those who aren’t active participants but who are bystanders in the process. Bullying is a potentially traumatic adverse childhood experience (ACE) that can have lasting impacts well into adulthood (stopbullying.gov). Conversely, children who report more ACEs are also more likely to exhibit bullying behavior. This sad truth has led to the often used phrase that “hurt people hurt people.” This workshop will explore the connection between bullying and ACEs and offer ideas and strategies to help educators promote and support student resilience. Tools and best practices in bullying prevention will be shared along with resources that can support a multi-tiered and comprehensive prevention program that brings together schools, families and communities.

Conflict Resolution Strategies that Strengthen the School Community

According the National School Climate Center’s Lessons from the Field, “Dealing with conflict is an inevitable element of school life, and the manner in which it is done has a significant bearing on students’ experiences of their school. Students must be provided with the appropriate tools to effectively deal with discord.” No matter what type of school you work in, conflict is bound to arise and we can view it as an opportunity for growth and stronger connections. This workshop will begin by clarifying the difference between conflict and bullying/peer abuse. While conflict cannot be avoided in school and in life, bullying must not be confused with conflict and allowed to infiltrate the school experience. Once we have established a common understanding of conflict, why it often arises and what common responses are to conflict, the workshop will delve into a variety of strategies that can be used in the classroom to address challenging situations in a healthy manner. Examples from a variety of resources and curricula will be explored as well as research-informed tools that are age appropriate.

Creating Safe Digital Learning Environments

How do you continue to create a safe and positive school climate in a virtual environment? Amid the stress and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, it’s never been more critical to stay connected while supporting the social and emotional needs of students and educators. In this interactive virtual session, participants will explore ideas for establishing a safe, welcoming virtual classroom and discuss how to promote social connection with physical distance. The workshop will delve into considerations for safeguarding students, online safety, and positive online interaction. Recognizing and reporting if a student seems to be in distress or struggling while being particularly observant of vulnerable populations will also be discussed. Tools and resources for maintaining communication and connection will be provided.

Differentiated Instruction: Theory into Practice

Gone are the days when the instructor stands in the front of the room lecturing and hoping that students are absorbing new content. Educators today must use a variety of techniques and approaches to meet the needs of diverse learners. To do this effectively, teachers need to learn to divide their time and resources, to consider new and creative approaches to pedagogy and to create materials that cater to students with different readiness levels. This workshop, which contains five modules, explores the what, where, why, when, and how of differentiated instruction (DI), the language of DI, and the importance of assessment. Practical low-prep but high–impact strategies will be shared. Educators will learn how to differentiate content, how to manage the differentiated classroom, and how to action plan to ensure curricular requirements are met and that students are actively engaged in learning.

Discipline Strategies that Build Responsibility and Respect

Many of us experienced traditional education systems where the compliant students were rewarded and the “troublemakers” were punished or removed altogether from the classroom. Schools believed it was easier and more fair to students who worked hard to rid classrooms of distracting students who just didn’t belong. Traditional approaches too often relied on rewards, threats, punishments and reduced choices, and they were not only ineffective but they also disproportionately affected minority students. Decades of research has helped us to understand that student behavior is a form of communication so by simply shutting it down, we do not address the unfulfilled need that led to the inappropriate behavior in the first place. Not to mention, when we silence or remove students, we miss the opportunity to teach them socially appropriate behaviors, how to mend damaged relationships and how to make better choices in the future. This workshop will provide various interventions and strategies that can help create a different kind of learning environment – one where expectations are clear, where everyone has a voice and where students behave responsibly, not out of fear, but out of respect for their peers and teachers.

Emotions Mixtape: Building Emotional Intelligence

What exactly are emotions? Participants will define emotions in terms of mind and body (recognizing emotions) and build emotion vocabulary (labeling emotions), important aspects of emotional intelligence. Educators apply emotional intelligence in all they do, from supporting students to managing their feelings to interacting with parents to collaborating with colleagues. Because music is so important to young people AND listening to music activates large areas of the brain associated with a wide range of emotions, participants will build a better understanding of emotions through music. Participants will explore which types of music evoke different emotions (regulating emotions) by tuning into their minds and bodies (recognizing emotions) when listening to music. All activities are replicable with students to build emotional intelligence skills.

Five Keys to Enhancing School Culture and Climate

While most education reform and school improvement efforts have historically focused on curriculum and pedagogy, progressive schools today realize that school culture and climate are equally as important for academic achievement. Based on the best-selling book, “How to Create a Culture of Achievement in Your School and Classroom” by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and Ian Pumpian, this workshop delves into the five main areas identified by the authors as the critical pillars to building a school culture where students can thrive. The five pillars focus on 1) noticing and welcoming all students, parents and visitors 2) ensuring that the school rules bring out the best in students and do not, inadvertently, harm them 3) choosing words that consistently demonstrate our belief that all students have potential 4) acknowledging that it’s never too late to learn and 5) striving to make our schools places where teachers want to come to work and where students want to come to learn. Each of the pillars is brought to life in this workshop with real-school examples and a variety of activities that will spark discussion and a creative exchange of implementation ideas.

Helping Students Focus on Solutions that Turn Mistakes into Learning Opportunities

 The word “solution” comes from the Latin solvere: to loosen, free or release. Students gain a sense of freedom and accomplishment, when they are empowered and successful in repairing their mistakes and resolving challenges. Students must take risks in order to learn. Mistakes are inevitable when we push ourselves to try new things. In fact, fear of making mistakes or “failing” keeps many students from stretching to attempt new skills, inhibiting their growth as learners at school and in the wider world. By focusing on solutions that are helpful, not hurtful, students recognize they can support others, learn from their mistakes, and learn from the mistakes of others. This interactive workshop will explore the differences between solutions, logical consequences and punishment and the gained value of focusing on solutions. The workshop will cover the “Four Problem Solving Suggestions” and the process of bringing the “Wheel of Choice” into the classroom. Depending on the length of the session, other useful tools may also be explored which can help students view mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow.

How to Speak Up and Respond to Biased Language

Many of us have found ourselves in the uncomfortable situation where someone – a student, parent or colleague – uses biased language or stereotypes in front of us at school. When this happens, we can be caught off guard or unsure how to respond which results in our silence. The famous quote, “what we permit, we promote,” helps us understand that by remaining silent during these difficult situations, we convey our acceptance of inappropriate language and behavior. When someone makes a biased statement, we must act quickly and be consistent in responding regardless of who has made the offensive statement. This workshop, based on Teaching Tolerance’s publication, Speak Up at School: How to Respond to Everyday Prejudice, Bias and Stereotypes, is designed for educators who want to develop the skills to speak up themselves and who want to help their students find the courage to speak up, too. Using video scenarios, participants will learn to use four techniques (interrupt, question, educate and echo) to respond to biased language in the moment, from any source, in any situation.

The Impact of Privilege and Implicit Bias on School Climate

School culture and climate (SCC) are the personality and environment of a school community. Climate is based on patterns of students’, parents’ and school personnel’s experiences of school life and reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures (National School Climate Council, 2006). Culture embodies the beliefs, relationship, and rules that influence every aspect of how a school functions (Hidden Curriculum, 2014). An equitable school climate refers to the quality and character of school life that fosters children’s, youth’s, staff’s, and families’ full access to: (1) emotional and physical safety; (2) high expectations for teaching and learning; (3) caring interpersonal relationships for all; and (4) multiple pathways for meaningful participation. SCC are adaptive, and in order to adequately create an equitable climate we must address adaptive factors, such as privilege and implicit bias. This session is designed to look reflectively at privilege and implicit bias to advance educators from constructing SCC with good intentions to positive impact.

Introduction to Cultural Competence in 21st Century Schools

Ongoing demographic shifts in the 21st century present a call to action for cultural competence in educational practice. Culturally competent teachers are able to interact effectively with students whose backgrounds are different from their own thereby, making the classroom a place where all types of students can thrive. Cultural competence can be learned and practiced. It entails developing certain personal and interpersonal awareness and sensitivities, understanding certain bodies of cultural knowledge, and mastering a set of skills that tap into students’ strengths and make educational strategies more effective (NEA.org). This workshop will introduce participants to culturally responsive principles that should be a component of the toolkit for all educators. Participants will be introduced to the cultural proficiency continuum, the social identity wheel, the concept of implicit bias and the impact they have on the academic and socio-cultural learning. While cultural competence is gained slowly over time, this workshop will trigger valuable discussion and curiosity that can lead to a thirst for even further research and learning on the topic.

The Power of Self-Regulation

As much as we try to protect them, children experience stressors in their daily lives—and right now there are many! In this workshop, we will learn about the importance of self-regulation, which is the way people respond to, and recover from stress. Aimed at helping teachers consult with parents, and arming teachers with tools for classroom re-entry, we will explore what affects a child’s ability to self-regulate, gain new insights into how to calm a stressed child, and learn tools to help children eventually regulate themselves.

Practical Strategies for Encouraging a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset embraces the idea that regardless of who you are and what abilities or talents you are born with, you can always get better at something with the right conditions and support for learning. This mindset is crucial for academic achievement – students with a growth mindset welcome challenges, view setbacks as opportunities for improvement and are more likely to persist in the face of adversity. While these concepts have been around for years, educators still struggle with how to bring this mindset to life in the classroom. Beyond just a bulletin board and some encouraging classroom signs, what else can be done to cultivate a growth mindset in all grade levels? In this session, unique and practical research-informed strategies will be shared which include everyday rituals, routines, grading practices, and creative approaches for engaging students of all ages. In addition, suggestions will be provided to help participants think about how these strategies can be customized for a variety of learning environments.

Professional Learning Communities That Produce Results

The term “professional learning community” (PLC) is used widely to refer to a variety of group activities – everything from school committee meetings, to teacher book clubs to professional development in-service days.  Yet, most of these group activities aren’t reflect of a true PLC nor do they produce the same types of outcomes. Professional learning communities are a collaborative approach in which small groups of educators meet regularly to focus on continuous improvement in performance as well as student learning.  They explore new concepts, share expertise, and engage in collective problem solving. PLCs take time to develop and sometimes encounter conflicts on that journey. But effective PLCs are well worth the effort – they not only produce a culture of collaboration but lead to better results for students, classrooms and the overall school climate. In this introductory workshop, participants will explore the components of a true professional learning community and what initial steps can be taken to form and cultivate effective PLCs. A variety of examples will be shared of PLC meeting schedules, agendas and topics of exploration; strategies for overcoming group challenges will also be introduced.

Purposeful Youth Involvement to Promote Equity

An environment that welcomes student voice is one where students identify problems, generate possible solutions, and feel safe offering opinions about issues affecting them and their peers. Participants in this workshop will discuss the characteristics of an environment that welcomes student voice and will identify the skills youth need to feel empowered to share thoughts and ideas. This workshop will provide opportunities to promote equity through purposeful youth involvement that incorporates collaborative dialogue, decision-making, and shared contributions to improve the school community.

Reaching our Full Potential by Understanding our Stress Responses

Stress is often referred to as the difference between the way things are and the way we think things should be. At a very young age, we develop patterns of behavior in response to stress. These patterns can serve as assets or liabilities when it comes to thriving both personally and professionally. Most of us are not completely aware of our natural response to stress and how that interfaces with those around us. Based on the work of Lynn Lott and the theory of Alfred Adler, “Top Card” is a fun and engaging activity that helps us gain insight into our stress-related behaviors. Participants will take part in this activity and then reflect on and discuss how to utilize these responses to meet our fullest potential. Because stress can often affect us and others with whom we interact, participants will also gain understanding about how their stress responses are similar to or different from others and how we can face stressful situations together and find ways of complimenting each other’s strengths.

SEL 101 for Out-of-School-Time Professionals

Out-of-school-time (OST) programs have the distinct advantage of working with students in a more relaxed environment that is often less prescriptive when it comes to curriculum and content. Often, smaller group sizes allow for a level of interaction that can be harder to achieve during the regular school day. As such, OST settings are the perfect place to support the social and emotional development of young people. This workshop connects the field of SEL to positive youth development, behavior management, character education, and more. Grounded in a dominant framework from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, Emotional Learning, better known as CASEL, attendees will explore the five SEL competencies outlined by CASEL and what skills make up each competency. Understanding of SEL basics will enable youth-serving professionals to amplify what they are already doing to develop SEL competencies and build knowledge and access to resources to integrate evidence-based strategies into their practices. Drawing from guides like Preparing Youth to Thrive: Promising Practices for Social & Emotional Learning and Navigating SEL from the Inside Out: Looking Inside & Across 25 Leading SEL Programs: A Practical Resource for Schools and OST Providers, participants will leave the session with concrete strategies to try with all grade levels.

Self-Care Strategies for Educators

Educators play an important role in shaping the lives of students and helping them develop academic, behavioral, social and emotional skills. Yet, as rewarding as this career path can be, it can also be incredibly stressful and can take quite an emotional toll over time. Increasing demands in the classroom and high stakes testing coupled with chronic exposure to the traumatic experiences often shared by students, can lead to job dissatisfaction, a lack of engagement, emotional and physical exhaustion and even, an early departure from the profession. Just like most other prevention efforts, understanding the risk factors and warning signs is key to dealing with this stress effectively. Taking preventive action and making simple life changes that promote health and wellness, pave the way for us to be our most creative, compassionate, and best selves. Based on the latest research about emotional intelligence, dynamic mindfulness, and social and emotional learning (SEL), this interactive workshop will introduce evidence-based strategies to build our personal toolkits for self-care.

Social and Emotional Learning as a Bridge to Mental Wellness

Mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder. It is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community (WHO.int). Maintaining mental wellness can be challenging at all ages and our current pandemic is accentuating this challenge. As educators, we are not expected to meet every student need nor are we qualified to diagnose mental disorders. But we are in positions where we can nourish and support protective factors that can buffer the negative effects that can result from stress and trauma. One of the ways in which educators can do this is by focusing on the social and emotional development of students which can be a powerful bridge for creating safe, supportive, inclusive and healthy learning communicates – even virtual ones! In this interactive session, participants will explore emerging insights into the field of social-emotional learning with a specific emphasis on mental wellness and neuroscience. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the protective factors grounded in SEL and best practices to foster prosocial behaviors and coping skills that help support both mental and physical wellness.

Social and Emotional Learning Fundamentals and Academic Integration

Educators today are continually hearing about the importance of social and emotional learning (SEL) in our schools. Yet, many of us are still unsure about what SEL is and how it’s similar or different from concepts such as restorative justice, school climate and empathy. Schools also struggle with how to fit SEL into classrooms that are already embracing other programs or curricula. Is this really just one more thing required of schools? Does it apply to all teachers or just the school counselors? This workshop will begin by building a common understanding and shared language of SEL by introducing the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)’s five competencies, or CASEL wheel, as a foundation. Research will be highlighted which establishes the impact of SEL on academics, employability and overall life outcomes. The workshop will then delve into practices that can be used across the curriculum to support SEL and the development of the five competencies. Every setting in the school, from the bus ride in, to the chemistry lab, functions better when students have the skills to manage themselves and their interactions with others. This workshop brings us together as a school community and establishes the fundamentals that support all other learning.

Strategies to Increase Student Engagement and Sense of Belonging

Russian teacher and psychologist, Lev Vygotsky, asserted that social interaction plays a fundamental role in the process of cognitive development and suggested that learning takes place through the interaction students have with their peers, teachers, and others. Research has also demonstrated that students learn better when they participate in the process of learning. Engaging students increases their attention and focus, motivates them to practice higher-level critical thinking skills, and promotes meaningful learning experiences. If learning is such a social process that requires a high degree of engagement, how do we best respond during this time of social isolation? Teachers can still create effective learning environments that maximize engagement and a sense of belonging but it does require using new strategies and techniques. This interactive workshop will offer ideas for virtual classrooms (live), virtual learning (asynchronous), and even ideas for those who are sending home learning packets.

Strategies to Support Students Who Experience the Toxic Stress of Poverty

Millions of children in the United States grow up in poverty, which can have long-lasting and far-reaching effects on a child’s development, particularly when poverty is experienced during early childhood. Research has shown that growing up poor can affect cognitive development, some of which can be attributed to experiencing toxic stress. While moderate or short-lived stress responses in the body can promote growth, toxic stress is the prolonged activation of the body’s stress management system. Living in poverty often involves exposure to chronic adversity, including violence, drug abuse, and home or food insecurity, and the resulting toxic stress can impact areas of the brain needed for learning — memory, problem-solving, and controlling impulses. While we may not be able to change a family’s socio-economic situation, schools and educators play an important role in providing children a safe, supportive environment where they can form stable, responsive, and nurturing relationships. This workshop explores the impact of poverty on child development and how these differences may show up in the classroom. Building on this foundation, participants will learn research-based practices for supporting students who have experienced the toxic stress of poverty. Participants will learn about creating a safe, supportive learning environment; forming positive relationships; and teaching coping skills, helping all students to thrive.

Tips for Facilitating Effective Virtual Class Meetings

Many educators today are incorporating class meetings into their classroom routines. Class meetings are a time when students and their teacher come together to collaborate, exchange ideas, deepen connections and jointly solve problems. They provide an arena for students to be seen, heard and understood along with opportunities to contribute, listen and empathize – skills that fall into the realm of “social and emotional learning” (SEL) which we know, today, to be equally as important as academic learning. Current circumstances have shifted interactions into virtual settings and the class meeting, which was a time of connection, is now more challenging. Yet, having that connection is still crucial for learning, a sense of belonging and mental wellness. This workshop will explore best practices for developing virtual class meetings that strengthen bonds with students – and theirs with one another – while building social and emotional competence and helping participants take steps toward healing their school communities.

Trauma-Sensitive and Healing-Centered Schools

Childhood trauma can have a direct and immediate impact on the social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive development of children. Creating a trauma-sensitive school requires a culture that promotes safety, trust, choice, and collaboration. To that end, any adult that interfaces with children must learn about the prevalence and impact of trauma in the lives of students. This awareness not only motivates but guides the examination and transformation of the school environment to one which enhances social and emotional well-being. Workshops in this category can be customized based on the level of experience that attendees have working in trauma-sensitive environments. Beginner workshops will focus on building an understanding of the universality of trauma, the groundbreaking ACE study, the impact of trauma on childhood development, and the shift that must occur in our approach with children; a shift that moves from “what’s wrong with you?” to “what happened to you?” Workshops for educators with an established understanding of these beginner concepts can move into practical interventions that can be implemented to regulate the brain, promote positive brain growth and ultimately improve academic performance and social interactions. More advanced workshops can be offered that move from “trauma-sensitive” to “healing-centered.” Advanced workshops will identify healing practices such as embodied movement, breathing, and mindfulness exercises and how they can be embedded into program routines to support the healthy social and emotional development of the young people in our programs.

Unlocking Your EQ to Enhance Personal and Professional Growth

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the capacity to recognize the impact that our feelings have on us; to tune into the feelings of those around us; to manage our emotions and our actions; and to interact skillfully with the people around us (Goleman, 2017). For decades, people assumed that those with the highest IQs would naturally be the top performers. But by the mid-1990s, we finally had an explanation for why people with average IQs often outperformed those with higher IQs – emotional intelligence is the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest – not the traditional measure of IQ. Numerous studies have also shown that a high EQ can result in an individual’s ability to manage stress and maintain healthy personal relationships. The good news is that these skills can be learned at any age. In this interactive session, participants will explore the field of emotional intelligence by unpacking key EQ principles. Participants will engage in self-reflection and discover strengths and opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Building a Productive and Engaged Organization Through Purpose and Connectedness

Educational leaders can affect great change and impact many lives which can be rewarding but also stressful. The field faces obstacles that often create a sense of powerlessness. Leaders have to juggle the interests of all stakeholders and meet requirements while ensuring that the needs of a diverse student body and their families are met. Leaders who find ways to support and build their personal dispositions as well as that of their staff find that morale and organizational climate can change for the better. This workshop will uncover research on the benefits of mindfulness as it relates to leadership and to teaching and serving others. Simple implementation strategies will be shared and participants will be invited to consider how this approach might fit into their own leadership philosophies. Ultimately, attendees will leave with new tools that enhance their own health and well-being and allow them to serve others most effectively.

Introduction to Culturally Competent Leadership in 21st Century Schools

Ongoing demographic shifts in the 21st century present a call to action for cultural competence in educational practice. Cultural competence allows us to interact effectively with people whose backgrounds are different from our own. Cultural competence can be learned and practiced. It entails developing certain personal and interpersonal awareness and sensitivities, understanding certain bodies of cultural knowledge, and mastering a set of skills that tap into students’ strengths and make educational strategies more effective (NEA.org). As educational leaders, we must strive to create culturally competent school environments where all students can thrive. This workshop will introduce participants to culturally responsive principles specifically geared for school administrators. Participants will be introduced to the cultural proficiency continuum, the social identity wheel, the concept of implicit bias, the impact they have on the academic and socio-cultural learning and best practices in culturally proficient leadership.

Professional Learning Communities That Produce Results

The term “professional learning community” (PLC) is used widely to refer to a variety of group activities – everything from school committee meetings, to teacher book clubs to professional development in-service days.  Yet, most of these group activities aren’t reflect of a true PLC nor do they produce the same types of outcomes. Professional learning communities are a collaborative approach in which small groups of educators meet regularly to focus on continuous improvement in performance as well as student learning.  They explore new concepts, share expertise, and engage in collective problem solving. PLCs take time to develop and sometimes encounter conflicts on that journey. But effective PLCs are well worth the effort – they not only produce a culture of collaboration but lead to better results for students, classrooms and the overall school climate. In this introductory workshop, participants will explore the components of a true professional learning community and what initial steps can be taken to form and cultivate effective PLCs. A variety of examples will be shared of PLC meeting schedules, agendas and topics of exploration; strategies for overcoming group challenges will also be introduced.

The Leader’s Guide to Comprehensive SEL Implementation

In recent years, extensive research has shown that in schools where social and emotional learning (SEL) is a priority, students feel safer and feel a greater sense of belonging and purpose. They demonstrate higher academic achievement, display less disruptive or risky behavior and have an increased ability to manage stress, anxiety, and depression. Systemic schoolwide SEL implementation requires an infrastructure where all stakeholders understand the value of SEL, where SEL is woven into the fabric of every aspect of school life and where existing programs are honored but enhanced by this new emphasis. In this hands-on intensive learning session, participants will examine the process for creating an infrastructure in a district/school to initiate, guide, and support the systemic implementation of SEL. In addition to exploring the impact of SEL and the neuroscience of learning, participants will be offered the opportunity to explore their own SEL competence and how to amplify those skills for the adults in the district – a key ingredient in a district where SEL thrives. Specific examples and discussions of challenges and opportunities will be elements of this informative and engaging training.

The Transformational Power of Servant Leadership

The phrase “servant leadership” was first coined by Robert Greenleaf in 1970. “A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the ‘top of the pyramid,’ servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible” (www.greenleaf.org). Most of us as leaders fall somewhere along the “servant first” and “leader first” continuum. While the concept has been around all throughout history and the phrase has been in use for decades, the research to support this philosophy is relatively new. It does show evidence that links servant leadership with organizational commitment, employee engagement and a sense of organizational justice which promotes positive behaviors between peers. This workshop will explore the ten characteristics of the servant leader. Attendees will engage in a variety of group discussions and activities designed to promote self-reflection and to provide new tools that can be used right away in the workplace.

Unlocking Your EQ to Enhance Personal Growth and Leadership

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the capacity to recognize the impact that our feelings have on us; to tune into the feelings of those around us; to manage our emotions and our actions; and to interact skillfully with the people around us (Goleman, 2017). For decades, people assumed that those with the highest IQs would naturally be the top performers. But by the mid-1990s, we finally had an explanation for why people with average IQs often outperformed those with higher IQs – emotional intelligence is the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest – not the traditional measure of IQ. Numerous studies have also shown that a high EQ can result in an individual’s ability to manage stress and maintain healthy personal relationships. The good news is that these skills can be learned at any age. In this interactive session, participants will explore the field of emotional intelligence by unpacking key EQ principles. Participants will engage in self-reflection and discover strengths and opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Bullying Prevention and Intervention Tips for Parents

Previous generations downplayed bullying behavior and often viewed it as a rite of passage, helping kids to “toughen up.” But bullying is a serious and widespread problem that has lasting negative implications not just for the recipient of the abuse but also for bystanders and the individuals demonstrating the bullying behavior. Bullying is linked to depression and anxiety, social isolation, health complaints and decreased academic achievement. This behavior can be equally challenging for parents particularly if they are uncertain how to intervene and address bullying behavior. This interactive workshop will help parents recognize the warning signs that bullying may be taking place and offer suggestions for getting the conversation started. Parents will learn what distinguishes bullying from conflict and what bullying behavior might look like based on gender. Research-based prevention and intervention strategies will be explored as well as tips for empowering children and teaching them safety strategies. The workshop will also offer suggestions on how parents can support the efforts of their school to create and sustain safer and more caring learning environments.

Parenting with Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

While strong cognitive skills such as comprehension, memory and reasoning will help your child perform well academically, they will only take your child so far in life. Research shows that emotional intelligence (EQ), the ability to recognize and navigate our own feelings and the feelings of those around us, is a much better predictor of life success. Young people with high EQs not only earn higher grades, but they stay in school longer, make healthier choices, are able to maintain friendships. They go on to become adults who are more likely to experience success in the workplace, in relationships, and to have an enhanced quality of life. Parents can play a large role in helping to boost a child’s EQ and fortunately, EQ skills can be taught and learned at any age. This interactive workshop will provide parenting tools and techniques that can be used at home to help your child communicate and cooperate more effectively, develop and nurture meaningful friendships, enhance their empathy for others and manage anger and frustration.

Raising Kind and Caring Children

Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, is gaining attention as an important and essential component of children’s social and emotional growth. Empathy is essential to human connection and is the foundation for pro-social behavior, teamwork and strong leadership. Our capacity for empathy is innate and some children naturally display more empathetic behavior than others. But there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the environment in which children are raised can significantly impact if empathy will flourish or be suppressed over time. This workshop will explore how to create a caring home environment that fosters empathy, self-awareness and kindness. Specific emphasis will be placed on how to promote perspective-taking, how to tune into the feelings of others and how to effectively communicate an understanding of that person’s feelings.

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