I am pleased to announce that I will be presenting at the International Festival for Positive Education. This festival is the Largest Festival on Positive Education in the World! THE FESTIVAL IS A THREE-DAY EVENT FOR ALL PARTIES INVESTED IN EDUCATION WHO SEEK TO HELP CREATE AND APPLY A NEW KIND OF EDUCATION THAT PROMOTES BOTH ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT AND CHARACTER VIRTUE DEVELOPMENT. I will be presenting on teen grit, as well as having 2 poster presentations. Come see me!
This month I had the opportunity to participate in one of my favorite activities as a school psychologist: working with my fifth grade student leaders to turn-key important school wide messages to our younger students. Specifically, fifth grade students partnered with me to teach “ways to achieve happiness” to fourth grade students.
The three elements we focused on were 1) bucket filling, 2) developing a positive and growth mindset, and 3) engaging in activities that make us happy.
1. Bucket Filling – First, we discussed bucket filling, a concept originated by Carol McCloud. We discussed the importance of being a community of “bucket fillers” and not “bucket dippers.” The fifth graders demonstrated for the fourth graders, how you can use your own lid for your own protection by not overreacting. You can also use your lid to protect others, when someone tries to dip into another person’s bucket.
2. Positive Mindset and Growth Mindset – The fifth graders also led a discussion about how you can’t always change a situation, but you can always change your thinking about it in a positive way. Furthermore, we discussed growth mindset, a concept developed by Dr. Carol Dweck. Specifically, the students learned that their brain can “grow.” They learned that when they work hard and challenge themselves, their brains get stronger and smarter. They learned to see the word F.A.I.L as a “first attempt in learning,” and that mistakes can be their friends.
3. Activities that Lead to True Happiness – Lastly, the fourth graders participated in an activity that spread joy and smiles throughout our building. The students were asked to pick one adult from our school and to let that person know how he/she positively touched their lives. For example, the students wrote notes to their teachers, the lady who makes them sandwiches, bus drivers, and the principal (people who don’t always get to hear positive feedback from students). It was rewarding for me to hand deliver these notes to the recipients and to see the students’ notes hanging proudly in the recipients’ rooms.
Being part of this work made me feel proud of working at Harrison. Even writing this article brought a smile to my face. We should all take a moment to let the people who have touched our lives know how important they are for us. Let’s maintain this chain of good feelings even after Valentine’s Day has passed by filling someone’s bucket today and every day.
Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day.
Best, Caren Baruch-Feldman
A growing body of research is finding that grit, self-control, and a growth mindset can have a strong influence on the academic achievement and emotional well-being for children and teens. Furthermore, these qualities have been found to be the “secret sauce” to their success. In this interactive workshop, participants will learn the latest research, as well as practical strategies, that promote these characteristics.
Stress is all around us. We as adults feel it, as well as our children. In this talk, participants will walk away with both thinking and behavioral strategies to address the stress and worry in the lives of their children.
I recently saw the movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you are in the 1 percent of people who haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend you see it, and DON’T READ FURTHER because serious spoilers will be revealed in this blog.
However, for those of you who have seen it, I was wondering if you gave any thought to R2D2’s miraculous awakening? R2D2 is seen in a coma-like state midway throughout the movie, presumably because he misses his master, Luke Skywalker. So the question is, why did R2D2 wake up and, more importantly, how was he able to wake up right on the heels of Han Solo’s death.
Although I read an article indicating that the writers chose to have R2D2 wake up in order to lighten the dark mood following Han Solo’s death, I think this is only a partial explanation. On a psychological level, I believe what caused R2D2 to come back to life was his drive to connect. This desire to connect with others is hard wired in all of us during times of stress or challenge.
I often see during times of sickness or death that individuals and communities come together and create a sea of caring and connection. It is through this sea of caring that resilience follows. How does this play out in Star Wars? It is only after the death of Han Solo that R2D2 comes alive, and the necessary part of the map to finding Luke Skywalker becomes available. Then, the final mission of finding Luke Skywalker can be and is accomplished.
So what can we take away from Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Not that you’ll be fighting intergalactic missions, but rather that when faced with stress or a challenge, our body has a natural mechanism that drives us to turn to others. And, through this social support, we actually grow and become stronger, allowing us to ultimately cope effectively with stress and accomplish the missions we set out for ourselves.
If you are interested in learning more about the power of social support and the upside of stress, I highly recommend Kelly McGonigal’s Ted Talk on “How to Make Stress Your Friend.” https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend?language=en. This Ted Talk has been viewed by over 9 million views (less than the number of people that saw Star Wars, but still quite sizable). Dr. Kelly McGonigal in her Ted Talk summarized Dr. Poulin’s important work on how caring creates resilience.
Also, if you are interested in learning more about resilience and caring, I highly recommend, Dr. Robert Brooks’ “Continuing Thoughts About Resilience: What We Can Learn from Military Veterans.” This November blog as well as many other terrific blogs can be accessed by going to www.drrobertbrooks.com.
May the force of “social support” be with you, Caren
Please check out my website at drbaruchfeldman.com for additional blogs and upcoming events.