Monday, March 20, 2017

Sharing Ideas, Sharing Knowledge

Nowadays everyone wants to be a blogger. I, on the other hand, never wanted to be one. It happened by accident when I was studying Early Childhood Education at UCLA and my final assignment for a class was creating a Teacher Book. It was meant to be a collection of the most valuable resources and information for my teaching career. As I started putting it together, I realized this wasn't meant to stay on my hard drive or in my teacher's inbox. It was meant to be shared. That's how this blog was born.

I had a similar feeling after my son was born and the strategies I used as a teacher made my life easier at home. For that reason, I decided to put together a workshop for parents.  I know parenting is hard. I know you want to read the books and the articles but the life of a parent is a busy one. Here is the information in case you are interested and want to take two hours out of your busy day to get valuable strategies for your parenting journey.

To sign up go to

See you there!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Lead by Example

People say babies only cry, sleep and poop. But if you intentionally observe them you notice they are really busy. They discover the world and they are immersed in a very intense social study. They watch the light coming through the blinds. They delight looking at the leafs in the tree moved by the wind. They learn by example, it is proven. Our brains are powered by mirror neurons.

"A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of the other, as though the observer."

They watch us make faces.  They listen to us talking to strangers and they watch us using out phones and computers...all day. I've heard many people say children are born tech savvy in this generation. My theory is they are born in a world with tech-savvy parents and adults, that is why they are so skilled at it.

If you want your kids to spend more time off the screen start yourself. It's easier said than done.

"Whether a child is 8 months old or 2 or 7, we need to teach children how to process things, make transitions, comfort themselves, deal with feelings and shift gears. We are becoming more and more reliant on computers, whether it’s a game or book, to function for kids in that way. "

Here is the full article about screen time recently published in the Washington Post

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Kinds of Thinkers

I love finding articles that are relevant to the business world, the classroom and/or life at home. Even though we often regard these worlds as different and separate, they are more alike than we think. Working with small groups of children - ages 2 to 5 - I often found the conversations resembled those in the boardroom or business meetings I used to attend in my past life in the corporate world or as a business consultant. Leadership is about understanding ideas and group dynamics. Whether you are a manager, a teacher or a parent; understanding how others think is an important tool to relate and work with others.
In the same way that the theory of Multiple Intelligences developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner helps us understand a child strengths and weaknesses; this article by Mark Bonchek and Elisa Steele at the Harvard Business Review website helps us identify what type of thinkers children might be. Understanding how others thinking is similar or different from ours empowers us to collaborate more successfully with children or adults.

"For example, on the big picture or macro orientation:
  • Explorer thinking is about generating creative ideas.
  • Planner thinking is about designing effective systems.
  • Energizer thinking is about mobilizing people into action.
  • Connector thinking is about building and strengthening relationships.
Across the micro or detail orientation:
  • Expert thinking is about achieving objectivity and insight.
  • Optimizer thinking is about improving productivity and efficiency.
  • Producer thinking is about achieving completion and momentum.
  • Coach thinking is about cultivating people and potential.
When you know your thinking style, you know what naturally energizes you, why certain types of problems are challenging or boring, and what you can do to improve in areas that are important to reaching your goals."

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Back to Basics: Don't forget to be human.

Great advice for teachers and parents...and non-parents!

"To be a caring person, though, an educator must first be a person. Many of us are inclined instead to hide behind the mannerisms of a constantly competent, smoothly controlling, crisply authoritative Teacher… To do so is to play a role, and even if the script calls for nurturance, this is not the same as being fully human with children. A real person sometimes gets flustered or distracted or tired, says things without thinking and later regrets them, maintains interests outside of teaching and doesn't mind discussing them. Also, a real person avoids distancing maneuvers such as referring to him or herself in the third person (as in: “Mr. Kohn has a special surprise for you today, boys and girls”).

Here, again, what initially looks like a common sense prescription reveals itself as challenging and even controversial. To be a person in front of kids is to be vulnerable, and vulnerability is not an easy posture for adults who themselves had to strike a self-protective pose when they were growing up. Moreover, to reach out to children and develop genuine, warm relationships with them may compromise one's ability to control them. Much of what is wrong with our schools can be traced back to the fact that when these two objectives clash, connection frequently gives way to control."

Alfie Kohn

Friday, May 10, 2013

Starting points when interacting with children: Challenging but rewarding work

"....What I’ve come to understand is that the most important work I do to see a child in positive ways is within me. I must continually work to transform my own view of children’s behaviors, see their points of view, and strive to uncover how what I am seeing reveal s the children’s deep desire, eagerness, and capacity for relationships. There is no more important or rewarding work than this."

Deb Courtis

"Seeing Children’s Eagerness for Relationships
Exchange Essential: Observing Children - Part II."

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Problem Finders: Design Thinking for Genuine Epic-Scale Problem-Based Learning by Ewan Mcintosh

Another ICOT 2013 keynote speaker worth seeing.  Ewan McIntosh explains the process many creative professionals use and explains how this can be used to create dynamic and deeper thinking that will better equip students for their future. Being passionate about ways the business community and the education system can be integrated I had to share this. I love the idea of the importance of creating problem finders, not only problem solvers!

To watch the talk go to The problem finders | EDtalks

Forty years of teaching thinking - revolution, evolution and what next? | EDtalks

An interesting talk from David Perkins at the International Conference on Thinking ( ICOT 2013). From past to future. Glad to be part of this movement!

"40 YEARS OF TEACHING THINKING -Revolution, Evolution, and What NextToday, national and international educational frameworks commonly include a range of thinking skills, often as part of 21st century skills or competencies. Although policy probably promises more than practice delivers, teaching thinking in some form has become a presence in many classrooms. All this began with revolutionary zeal in the thinking skills movement of the 1970s and 80s, including the first ICOT in 1982. Over the decades, skepticism about teaching thinking emerged from IQ advocates (‘people can’t get smarter’), the back-to-basics movement (‘no time for frills like thinking’), and the notion of situated learning (‘good thinking requires saturation in a discipline’). Meanwhile, both research and practical classroom experience have deepened our ideas about what thinking skills are, whether and how they can be taught, and what place they might take amidst competing educational agendas. I along with many colleagues have been involved throughout. This overview follows the journey of findings and changes in practice that have led us to today, and then looks to the decades ahead." From

To watch the talk go to  Forty years of teaching thinking - revolution, evolution and what next? | EDtalks

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Social Constructivism vs. Personal Constructivism

"Some see social constructivist perspectives as putting the teacher back in the picture, in contrast to the personal constructivist position, which many felt was writing the teacher out of the learning process. A social constructivist view focuses on the teacher interacting with their class, whereas a purely personal constructivist view focuses on what is happening in individual students' minds. A personal constructivist view suggested personalised learning programs based on probing students' prior conceptions—a very difficult project for a teacher."

The Art of Teaching Primary Science
By: Vaille Dawson; Grady Venville

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Teach Leadership: Maximize the return of the experience

The article Who can teach leadership? by the HBR published last week states that we learn to lead through the experience of leading and following. It is a great read where Gianpiero Petriglieri shares his experience as a professor of a leadership course for business professionals.

In a recent study "Jennifer Petriglieri, Jack Wood and Gianpiero Petriglieri found that working with professionals who espoused different perspectives and values helped managers question, and learn more deeply from, their own experience — building the personal foundations required to lead mindfully, effectively and responsibly. Whatever qualifications and work history a teacher (or a coach) may have, then, matters less than their ability to help you maximize your return on experience. Will your course, your teachers, your classmates, help you approach, examine and draw meaningful lessons from your experience past and present? Will they take your experience seriously without taking your conclusions literally? Will they challenge you to take a second look at things you usually take for granted, or rush over? Will they provoke you to articulate, broaden or revise the views you have of yourself, leading, and the world? Will you be open and committed to that work? These are the questions you should ask anytime you're enlisting someone to help you become a better leader."

Again, these are great practices to learn when you are getting an MBA. But, I am grateful to work at a preschool based on social costructivism that supports the learning of many of these practices at an early age. How would the world look like if we lead and follow from a young age? If we reflect of our own teaching/parenting and we focus our daily interactions on giving children different perspectives instead of the correct answer? If we challenge them to take a second look at things that we take for granted or rush to teach because that is what they are supposed to be learning right now?  Let's maximize the return on the experience on a day to day basis. Let's teach leadership.