Ed Soul podcast

Being an educator is not like other jobs. You put your whole self into it – it’s soul work. Each episode, we bring you insights, techniques, and strategies rooted in research that you can put into practice in your K-12 classroom right away. Host Rachel Logan (in education for 16 years and counting) uses interviews, great questions, and stories from her experiences in the classroom to make content come to life. Produced by the Sourcewell Education Solutions team.

Listen to the podcast

Ed Soul is hosted by Rachel Logan, an Equity and Inclusion consultant on our Education Solutions team. She has spent the last 16 years in education. She has worked with students in grades K-12 in multiple geographic settings, cultures, and communities across the US and in Eastern Europe.

Sourcewell's staff collaborate to bring together decades of education and technical experience to record the Ed Soul podcast onsite in Staples, Minn.

Lisa Worden is in her fifth year as an education consultant. Much of her work centers around social and emotional learning, including trauma-informed care, mental health, and wellness; she is also trained in SEED and helps facilitate cultural competency training.

A podcast by educators for educators

Season 1

    Ed Soul premieres Friday, May 27, 2022! Meet Rachel Logan and her guest for series 1, Lisa Worden. Get a preview of our first series topic: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Follow us now on Apple Podcasts or Spotify to be the first to tune in. 

    Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

    In the pilot episode of Ed Soul, we explore belonging – what it looks and feels like and how you can create belonging with students and colleagues.

    Discussion Highlights:
    What makes a space, including a school environment, feel safe physically, emotionally, and psychologically? What does it mean to belong in a space?

    • Physical safety: Locked doors, security systems, protocols and plans, free of bullying 

    • Emotional and psychological safety: Free of bullying, people and content do not cause harm

    • Belonging is deeper than welcoming. When you belong, you:

      • Feel like you have efficacy, voice, and choice

      • Can better control emotions and stay focused and on tasks

      • Connect and feel connected with others

      • See people that reflect you and how you view yourself

      • The ability to bring your whole self, unapologetically

    Educators often focus on ensuring student safety and belonging. What about our colleagues?

    • Most educators had a positive school experience growing up, they felt like they belonged which is a big reason why they chose education as a career

    • The dominate culture perpetuates a cycle of limited diversity (79% percent of U.S. teachers are white females)

    • Systems make it difficult for people from historically disenfranchised communities to feel belonging

    • Ensure that adults also have connections during their day

    What happens when you feel you’re great at building relationships with students, EXCEPT for this ONE student?

    • Unmet relationship needs can create challenging behaviors

    • Don’t take it personally; remember, behavior is a form of communication

    • See Equity Triage Tree Activity

    • Know your tendencies. While you learn ways to better connect with all students, help them connect to other adults and students.

    Aside from educator-student relationships, what kinds of factors (visuals or experiences) make school environments feel safer/more inclusive?

    • Make space for a wider range of student voices in planning and shaping their school

    • Offer a variety of spaces, places, and instructional styles

    • Use inclusive practices and language

      • i.e., “families and caregivers” instead of “mom and dad”

    Tools to explore

    • Watch: Making Sure Every Child is Known (See resources below)

    • Equity Triage Tree Activity

      • Split your class roster into thirds

        • Bottom third, easy to connect with

        • Middle third, not as easy to connect with but can still build relationships

        • Top third, most challenging to connect with

      • What themes do you see? Is there a certain type of student you connect with, certain identities that are challenging for you to connect with?

      • How might your own interests and/or biases get in the way? How can you address this?


    Cook, C., Joseph, G., Fiat, A., & Thayer, A. (2021). Adult resilience curriculum (ARC) for educators. Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) Network. Retrieved May 26, 2022, from https://mhttcnetwork.org/centers/mid-america-mhttc/adult-resilience-curriculum-arc-educators

    National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2015). Supportive Relationships and Active Skill-Building Strengthen the Foundations of Resilience: Working Paper 13. http://www.developingchild.harvard.edu.

    Souers, K., & Hall, P. A. (2019). Relationship, responsibility, and regulation: Trauma-invested practices for Fostering Resilient Learners. ASCD.


    Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

    In this two-part episode, we discuss strategies to regain and retain regulation - improving conditions for learning and teaching

    What is social and emotional learning?
    Students and adults acquiring and applying skills

    • Being aware of yourself (feelings, tendencies)

    • Managing that (behavior)

    • Being aware of others and using that to build relationships & interact

    • Making decisions

    SEL boils down to how we are with ourselves, each other, and the world around us. SEL isn’t necessarily something extra; educators already spend time on behaviors. SEL can be a tool or support to manage behaviors effectively and efficiently, so even more learning can happen.

    Sometimes people ask, why focus on SEL when school is about academics?
    If students aren’t ready to learn and teachers aren’t ready or well enough to teach, learning is hindered. When SEL is implemented, there is an 11% gain in academic scores.
    How does regulation fit into our conversation about increased student incidents (school threats, self-harm, racism)?
    We’ll talk about adult regulation, but let’s start with students.

    Sometimes we look at SEL as a way to fix students. Instead, we need to shift our thinking to view SEL as a way to support students. Consider supports we provide for students when they don’t know how to read, or do fractions, or play an instrument. We teach them how (we don’t punish them) and we provide additional supports if progress isn’t made. Sometimes we assume students should come to school knowing how to organize their stuff, handle frustration, manage time, and get along with others. Students need opportunities to learn and practice those skills, too.
    We want students to manage themselves – regulate their feelings. The first step is being able to identify their own feelings, both positive and difficult. Let’s be honest, we are especially interested in students regulating feelings that seem to cause disruptions, like frustration and anger, and behaviors like not handing in work, disorganization or disengagement.

    Let’s talk about the brain.
    To identify feelings, we need to talk a bit about the brain. Dan Siegel’s Hand Model of the Brain helps us understand the fight, flight, and freeze (FFF) response.

    • FFF is a natural process that happens in healthy brains with real danger.

    • Brains prone to anxiety, affected by trauma, or even stressed, can flip a lid (dysregulate) more easily.

    • Imagine a compromised, raised level of awareness - my lid isn’t flipped, but I’m closer to it than I want to be or should be. Many of us exist in this state, especially right now.

    Trauma is a big topic for another time, but a few disclaimers:

    • In general, exposure to trauma (real danger) wires the brain to protect but not connect, survive but not thrive.

    • The great thing about neuroplasticity is that recovery and healing from trauma is possible, even as adults.

    • Sometimes schools are the place where students experience trauma (institutional trauma).

    See all the strategies we discussed in Handout-S1 Episode 2.

    Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

    What else can schools be doing about behavior? 

    Multi-tiered systems of supports (MTSS) to prevent escalation. 

    • There are tier 1 supports that should happen in all classrooms. For example: 

    • Routines 

    • Proximity 

    •  We also need additional levels of support, allowing teachers do tier 1 well. For example: 

    • Small groups to support needs like friendship and anger, led by social workers or school counselors 

    • In 2020-21, Minnesota ranked in the bottom 4 states for school counselor-to-student ratio (1:592) 

    • SEL becomes support for behaviors that already exist. 

    • Students more equipped to learn 

    • Teachers more equipped to teach 

    You might be thinking, “SEL should be taught at home.”  

    • Circle of influence; I have no control around what happens or doesn’t outside of my space at school. 

    • Future Episode (#5) in this series is on family and community involvement. 

    • Positive intent about caregivers. 

    • Likely working to teach these skills 

    • There are other factors, like students being developmentally ready to learn the skill  

    • Might not have been taught regulation skills themselves, or realize their benefits 

    • Opportunities to learn and practice regulation is one of four factors proven to build resilience. We believe all students want to learn, but sometimes there are barriers. 

    You might be thinking“I’m not a mental health professional.” 

    • Positive behavioral intervention strategies are part of the Minnesota teacher license renewal process. 

    • Mental health professionals are a part of tiers of support; eventually, students might need access to mental health professionals. 

    • What supports can intervene before professional mental health care is needed? 

    See all the strategies we discussed in Handout-S1 Episode 2.

    References and resources from part 2 

    Graff-Radford, M. (2018, January 23). Stress Relief is Only a Few Breaths Away [web log]. Retrieved May 15, 2022, from https://connect.mayoclinic.org/blog/living-with-mild-cognitive-impairment-mci/newsfeed-post/stress-relief-is-only-a-few-breaths-away/.  

    Mood meter. MOOD METER APP. (n.d.). Retrieved June 8, 2022, from https://moodmeterapp.com/  

    Minnesota Department of Education. (n.d.). SEL implementation guidance. Retrieved June 8, 2022, from https://education.mn.gov/MDE/dse/safe/social/imp/  

    Terada, Y. (2022, April 21). We drastically underestimate the importance of brain breaks. Edutopia. Retrieved June 8, 2022, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/we-drastically-underestimate-importance-brain-breaks  

    Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

    Engagement can include behavioral, emotional, and cognitive. 
    The brain is soothed by sameness and engaged by novelty; we need to engage students in a way that is socially and emotionally healthy. For example, classroom games:

    • Competition and individualistic activities drive some, but shuts others down

    • Timed games can cause anxiousness

    • Losing can cause dysregulation

    • Binary grouping methods that might involve student identities

    Student driven is even more effective than teacher driven

    • Voice, choice, efficacy, peer-to-peer interaction

    • Appropriate level of challenge

    • Real-world problem solving

    • Community involvement

    • Content and activities that provide cultural mirrors and windows

    • Goal setting and progress tracking

    • Student roles and responsibilities


    • Brain’s motivation system develops over time

    • Most impacted by intrinsic rewards with positive feedback

    • In adolescence especially, social context and acceptance is a factor

    Disengaged or undesired behaviors?

    Teachers are trained to notice when students are disengaged; students can be engaged while exhibiting “undesired” behaviors. Sometimes the need is executive functioning or regulation:

    • Students who need movement might still be paying attention

    • Asking questions or blurting could be a distraction, but shows that learners are engaged

    • Coming to class without the materials can be interpreted as not caring

    • Withdrawn, shut down, or crumpling up papers communicates frustration but can be read as disrespectful

    • Difficulty transitioning

    Ultimately, we want systems that support students, rather than asking students to regulate in environments that are not set up with their needs in mind.

    Be careful in how we characterize students

    • Asset/strength-based mindset and language, not deficit 

    • A variety of processing times

    • In the references, see the handout, Safeguarding Inclusive and Respectful Communication: Students

    Disengaged or unmotivated adults?

    In everyday life, adults might need

    • A quick check-in on our phones

    • Sidebar conversation with a colleague during training or meeting

    • Standing up, moving, or going to the bathroom without asking permission

    Can we treat kids like people too?


    • Increase intrinsic rewards with a focus on constructive feedback and coaching

    • Build in student reflection time

    • Set goals and track progress

    • Encourage student voice and empowerment

    • Plan for engagement

    • Remember, engagement looks different for different individuals

    Start with an environment where students feel safe, settled, known; this is foundational to engagement.


    • Logan, R. (2020). Safeguarding Inclusive and Respectful Communication: Students. Staples, MN; Sourcewell.

    • Lortie, D. C. (2007). Schoolteacher a sociological study (2nd ed.). University of Chicago Press.

    • Muhammad, A. (2018). Transforming School culture how to Overcome Staff Division. Solution Tree Press.

    • National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2018). Understanding Motivation: Building the Brain Architecture That Supports Learning, Health, and Community Participation: Working Paper No. 14. Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu

    • Toth, M. D. (2021, March 21). Why Student Engagement is Important in a Post-COVID World – and

    Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

    Support is accountability. The goal of SEL is developing young people into adults who are thriving intellectually, socially, emotionally, and professionally.

    Unpacking the story 

    Rachel shares a story that begins with a student sleeping in class and ends with them in handcuffs.

    • Why? What’s going on that they are falling asleep in the middle of the day?

    • When woken, the student is likely to feel some form of dysregulated; how can I support this student? How would you want to be approached in this situation?

    • “Are you okay?” instead of using accusatory language.

    • Adjust your physical approach to be trauma-informed, and consider the other young people in the room.

    Be careful of discipline/behavioral labels, they can be vague and subjective

    • Noncompliant

    • Defiant

    • Disrespecting authority

    • Aggressive behavior 

    • Truant

    • “Inappropriate” language, behavior, gestures, etc.

    • Disruptive

    Prevent escalated responses

    • Create spaces and systems where students are safely and appropriately thinking critically, asking questions, speaking up for injustices.

    • Small behaviors can escalate quickly; every interaction with students has potential to either build or damage relationships. Responses to undesired behavior either help solve the problem or trigger the next level of escalation.

    • Avoid power struggles; are behaviors wrong or unexpected?

    • Discipline “wrap” and juvenile records; predetermined idea about “good kids” and “bad kids”.

    • Rethinking healthy and unhealthy behaviors.

    • Give a second chance and do not require eye contact when having difficult conversations.

    Seek training for you and your fellow educators in restorative practices. When we know better, we can do better.

    Examine polices for discipline and code of conduct

    • Are responses punitive or supportive?

    • Hats/hoods/dress code policies

    • Removal, shame, and humiliation do not improve behavioral or academic outcomes

    What about the adults?

    Students and adults, alike, need systems of support in place. The school environment improves for everyone with the implementation of SEL. Student outcomes, especially reduced discipline referrals, suspensions, expulsions, mental health needs, and drug use. It increases academic outcomes, attendance and graduation rates, post-secondary enrollment and completion, engagement and attitudes about school, and abilities to manage stress and depression. 

    Questions or comments? Contact us as education@sourcewell-mn.gov 


    References and resources

    Álvarez, B. (2021, October 9). School suspensions do more harm than good. NEA. Retrieved July 5, 2022, from https://www.nea.org/advocating-for-change/new-from-nea/school-suspensions-do-more-harm-good

    Long, N. J., Wood, M. M., Fecser, F. A., & Whitson, S. (2021). Talking with students in Conflict: Life space crisis intervention (third). PRO-ED, Inc.

    Minnesota Department of Education. (n.d.). Restorative Practices. Restorative practices. Retrieved July 6, 2022, from https://education.mn.gov/MDE/dse/safe/prac/

    National Commission on social, emotional, and academic development. (n.d.). Social, Emotional, and Academic Development Fast Facts. The Aspen Institute. Retrieved July 5, 2022, from https://www.aspeninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/NCSEADInfographic_Final2.pdf

    What does the research say? CASEL. (2022, May 26). Retrieved July 5, 2022, from https://casel.org/fundamentals-of-sel/what-does-

    Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

    A key factor known to help young people build resiliency is “…mobilizing sources of faith, hope, and cultural traditions.” Without promoting a singular faith or culture, we can recognize and make space for students to lean into these key parts of their lives.

    For data on engaging caretakers, see the Flamboyan Foundation’s Family Engagement Matters handout in our references.


    • Culture of school communication and content can be a one-way street of schools sending information, but not often gathering information from caregivers.

    • Adjusting the way we speak and think about caregivers is key; see this handout: Safeguarding Inclusive and Respectful Communication: Caregivers.

    • Young people are largely influenced by those who caretake for them. They may be influenced by their caretakers’ experiences in schools. Those experiences could include:

      • As students, they did not feel safety and belonging

      • Institutional trauma and/or historical trauma

      • School-to-prison pipeline 

      • Building relationships and earning trust and respect with caregivers can create new pathways for future generations. 

      • Sometimes a shift in norms and expectations between home and school (one example is mealtime). 

      • Some hesitation when the education system requires navigation. Not all families are familiar with these systems. Examples include post-secondary options and filling out forms to register students.


    • Positive communication first! See Flamboyan Foundation’s “Connecting with ‘Hard to Reach’ Families;” This resource includes strategies and sample templates.

    • Ask preferred communication method and ideal time; be persistent and consistent.

    • Ask for input from caregivers: What are your child’s strengths? What works at home? What support(s) does your child need? Tell me about _____.

    • Know students beyond academics.

    • Consider situations where homework may stress the relationship between school, students, and caregivers.

    • Provide equitable homework experiences.

    • When possible, provide multiple resources for multi-household families.

    • Make space for caregiver voice and decision input: representation on advisory committee and hiring boards.

    SEL is a broad topic. Young people and educators need systems that support their social and emotional skills and wellness. Let’s keep the conversation going. Questions or comments? Contact us at education@sourcewell-mn.gov


    • Family engagement matters. Flamboyan Foundation. (2021, July 29). Retrieved July 13, 2022, from https://flamboyanfoundation.org/resource/family-engagement-matters/

    • Kliment, K. (2019, August 30). Connecting with "hard to reach" families. Flamboyan Foundation. Retrieved July 13, 2022, from https://flamboyanfoundation.org/resource/connecting-with-hard-to-reach-families/

    • Logan, R. (2020). Safeguarding Inclusive and Respectful Communication: Caregivers. Staples, MN; Sourcewell.

    • National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2018). Understanding Motivation: Building the Brain Architecture That Supports Learning, Health, and Community Participation: Working Paper No. 14. Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu

    • (Video) PMC (Public Media Connect). (2021, February 24). Authentic family partnerships: Social-emotional learning. PBS LearningMedia. Retrieved July 13, 202

    Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

    Season 2

      Common school practices 

      • Beginning of the year prompts. Instead of: “What happened this summer?” Try: “What goals or dreams are you looking forward to this year?” 

      • Discounted Yearbooks at the beginning of the year  

      • Thanksgiving is a day of mourning for some  

      Speaking up 

      • It doesn’t have to be political, it is humanistic  

      • Lean into tough conversations about race 

      • Work to recognize the ways students feel marginalized and advocate for them 

      • When students report incidences ask, “Has this happened before?” 

      Moving past defensiveness 

      • Keep it student focused 

      • Called in vs. Called out 

      • Feedback is a gift 

      • Focus on the impact, not the intentions 

      • Normalize and humanize conversations around race, socioeconomics, and gender, etc.   

      Advice from our youth 

      • Adults, please speak up and use your voice 

      • Inaction by adults, hurts more than the incident   


      Gorski, P. and Pothini, S. (2018) Case Studies on Diversity and Social Justice Education Second Edition. Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 

      Humanize My Hoodie:  Educators As Allies  

      Stay connected with Seema! Seema.pothini@gmail.com  

      Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

      Many U.S. states, including Minnesota (via proclamation), focus on Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday of October in place of what was historically Columbus Day. I sat down with Charles Black Lance, an educator and community leader in Brainerd, Minn., for some insights on this holiday.  

      Why the change?  

      • Not necessarily anti-Columbus, but we need to enhance the whole conversation by honoring and respecting histories and traditions of Indigenous people that were here long before Columbus and are still here today. 

      • When traditionally celebrating Columbus Day, we don’t always include the deeper realities of what his coming to North American meant for Indigenous people. 

      • When we clean up histories for children, we lose context that help us understand why and how. 

      What should stop? 

      • Stereotypical representations or caricatures of Indigenous people.  

      • Placing Native people only in the past. 

      • Honoring nostalgia for some, over harmful experiences for others. 

      What should I do? 

      • Look harder, adjust your lens. 

      • Educate yourself with books, documentaries, and podcasts.  

      • Critically consume information. 

      • Do something with your learning. Speak up, take action, and positively influence those around you. 

      • Ask! Conduct internet searches, consult media specialists or curriculum directors.  

      • Listen and learn from people that are experiencing “it” for example, your local American Indian Advisory committee.  


      Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

      Why a Student-Centered Approach? 

      • Children are respected, rather than seen as problems to fix 

      • Too many students are still disproportionately marginalized, misunderstood, misrepresented, and micromanaged through punitive forms of discipline 

      • Shame based (public and private) approaches do not change behaviors and are harmful 

      • Flip from compliance to connection 

      What makes this difficult? 

      • Education is a hard job  

      • We do what we know or what was done to us 

      • We assume that motivation is what is lacking; this is not always the root cause  

      • What we look for, we will find. If we are looking for kids to be wrong, we will find it. 

      • You may undervalue your skills; “there’s nothing I can do.” Or inflate yourself; “I’ve done everything there is to do.” 

      • A dysregulated adult cannot help a dysregulated child 

      What should I do? 

      • Prioritize connection over compliance  

      • Widen your lens as you consider behavior  

      • Include student voice 

      • Invest in yourself through coaching, professional learning, self-development, and building new habits  

      • Create predictable circumstances for students that support high quality work  

      • Let students feel success   

      Connect with Jacki and Lisa:   


      Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

      Anticipating a break 

      • Anticipation impacts regulation (positively and negatively) 

      • Teach students what it means to be in a regulated, compromised, or dysregulated learning state 

      • Model and create atmospheres where we get to have feelings and learn how to express them in a way that doesn’t disrupt learning 

      • Every behavior is an expression of a need 

      • Be mindful of what anticipating the holidays means for us (the adults) 

      Sending students off well 

      • Create consistency and predictability while students are away; provide students with journals, scavenger hunts, picture books, etc. 

      • Give them something to look forward to during the break and set them up for an exciting return: “Fun to Come!” 

      • Include their voices: what do you want to learn about when you get back? 

      What about the adult?  

      • Work towards creating a manageable, realistic day every day so we don’t have to rely on breaks to recharge 

      • Redefine time; how do we want to use the time we have (there will never be enough time!) 

      • “If I can name it, I can tame it” – Dr. Dan Siegel  

      • How is my mindset impacting me, who can help me reframe my mindset? 

      What does reentry look like? 

      • What is my anticipation heading back?  Anticipating Awesome? Feeling dread?  

      • Our mindsets influence outcome 

      • Manage the return and share out so kids don’t feel pressured to share or disclose what happened over a break 

      Needs that drive behavior  

      • Physical: sleep, healthy food, limited screen time, etc. 

      • Emotional: practicing getting into and staying in my upstairs brain 

      • Relational: Needing and thriving from human connection 

      • Manage the return and share out so kids don’t feel pressured to share or disclose what happened over a break. For some, breaks are challenging.   


      Relationship, Responsibility, and Regulation:  Trauma-Invested Practices for Fostering Resilient Learnings  

      Fostering Resilient Learners  

      Stay connected with Kristin! https://www.fosteringresilientlearners.org/ 

      Reflection Questions 

      • How do you keep human and kindness at the forefront? 

      • What is one strategy you’d like to try? 

      • How will you anticipate awesome as you and your students return from a break? 

      Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

      Whether you are a coach and you are engaged in sharing feedback with other colleagues, you are an administrator that evaluates, a teacher that delivers feedback to students, parents, or caregivers or a human being; we are all tasked with engaging in difficult conversations from time to time. Jacki shares about how having the hard conversations, that ultimately impact students, is our responsibility.  

      What makes a conversation difficult? 

      • Lacking confidence to articulate on a topic (articulation does not equal intelligence)  

      • Topics around students that are misrepresented, marginalized, or misunderstood (based on preconceived ideas) 

      • Inaccurate definitions operating as facts, including ideas that are misrepresented or misunderstood  

      • Conversations that involved boundaries; advocating for yourself can be hard 

      • Perfectionism 

      • Providing feedback to the person in a power position or hierarchy  

      What should we avoid? 

      • Using common words without common definitions  

      • Thinking someone else should have the conversation (“Passing the buck”) if it is our responsibility to own; however, if the harm did not involve you, keep yourself out 

      • Centering or prioritizing your feelings or the feelings of the person receiving the feedback, over the impacts that the topic is having on students (or other affected groups) 

      • Ignoring hard topics (bystander effect)  

      • Taking others’ reactions or emotions personally  

      • Jumping to conclusions, assuming how people will react, or what they may be thinking 

      • Letting our past experiences put us on guard or on the defense before engaging  

      • Only having deep conversations about things that need to change vs. ongoing deep conversations about practice  

      Strategies that support difficult conversations  

      • Creating a culture that encourages feedback, learning, and growth  

      • Consider the reason for your feedback, the timing, and the relationship with the receiver  

      • Focus on the impact over the intention  

      • Recognize if you’re dysregulated (in your head, body, emotions)  

      • Pause to find your words, “break and breath”  

      • Listen, don’t speak to be heard  

      • Know your own tendencies or fears and how they may impact your ability to give or receive feedback 

      • If you’re in a position of power, create avenues where it is safe to both give and receive feedback 

      • Think about the next engagement:  don’t avoid people and don’t “overdo it” 

      Helpful Reminders 

      • Initial reaction isn’t always the long-term thought; sometimes people just need time 

      • Behaviors are not only an asset or a liability; they might be both; consider your “why” for engaging  

      • Sort out whose feelings you’re prioritizing and protecting 

      Connect with Jackithecatalystapproach.com 


      Brown, B. (2018). Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. Random House Publishing Group 

      Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

      December is a busy month and let’s face it, being an educator can be tough year-round!  I want to share 5 things to try when stuff gets tough in this bonus mini episode.  These are strategies that have been helpful for me, and I hope you find something helpful here as well.  If you have a strategy you’d like to share, email us at education@sourcewell-mn.gov and we will share out your ideas in our Educators Facebook Group. 

      1. Change your password or passphrase 

      • Make it inspirational, encouraging, or funny! 

      • This helps sends a positive message every time you log into your device 

       2. Write self-affirmations  

      • Handwrite self-affirmations and read them aloud! 

      • Counteract the negative narrative in your brain 

      • Use a journal, stickies on a mirror or bath crayons in the shower! 

      • Consider the stories you are telling yourself, about yourself  

       3. Say Yes! 

      • Prioritize the people in front of you 

      • Rachel’s example: Emergency class meeting!  

      • Don’t forget about the fun 

      • Rachel’s example: Dance party! 

      • Pay attention to the needs of others and yourself  

       4. Say no. 

      • Set boundaries, and know your limits 

      • Create a culture where it’s ok for other people to say no 

      • Everyone has a different capacity level; don’t compare! 

       5. Use a visual to prioritize your needs 

      • List everything that is stressing you out from the big to the little 

      • Create a target with a center and two outer rings 

      • In the center: people and relationship (don’t forget about yourself!) 

      • In the middle ring: important tasks that need a plan 

      • In the outer ring: not urgent, what can I let go of? 

      Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

      Common adult behaviors that trigger the blues   

      • Fatigue 

      • Mindsets: struggling to focus on strengths 

      • Hesitant to do things that bring us joy 

      • Hyper focused on (having) control 

      Healthy, resilient responses for adults  

      • Building a healthy culture within our setting to vent, uplift, share ideas, approach difficult things together 

      • Consider how others experience us; what we say and how we say it 

      • Take a break before a tough interaction 

      • Get the 10,000-foot view – most things aren’t as urgent as we think 

      • Hit the pause button; what do we want to accomplish here? 

      • Don’t underestimate our own value, we are all essential to the culture  

      • Keep it simple: balance your love and your loath  

      • Reestablish our definition of time: how do you want to spend the time that you do have?  

      How can we help students regulate through long winter months? 

      • Build in regulation resets throughout the day   

      • Use common language: are we learning ready or learning compromised? 

      • Make school a safe place: I see you, you matter, you belong here, we will meet your needs  

      • Shift your language from “have to” to “get to”  

      • Pay attention to language and framing; invite students into consent  

      • Celebrate successes even when they appear small 

      • Notice the stories students are telling us, as well as the stories we tell ourselves 

      Strategies for all: 

      • Tap in, tap out 

      • Field Tripping 

      • Resilience building strategy: Appreciation, A-ha, Apology or Connect, Celebrate, Commit  

      • Keep human at the forefront 

      • Be present and acknowledge when things are hard; we don’t always have to solve or fix  

      • We get to reset and reprioritize education; we are never going back to 2019! 

      What Kristin is reading:   


      Reflection questions: 

      • When have you found yourself feeling stuck? Which resilient strategy resonates most with you? 

      • Which of these student strategies were affirming to you? What new strategy will you try? 

      • What can you do to build a culture of support within your own context? 

      Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

      Ways to revitalize and diversify curriculum 

      • Apply a good filter; watch for what explicit and implicit messaging in the content

      • Include a broad array of perspectives

      • Don’t sugar-coat hard things

      • Make sure students can students see themselves in the curriculum

      • Teach larger concepts of justice, democracy, human growth, and development using all kinds of people that have contributed to these concepts  

      • Identify and include absent narratives

      What gets in the way of revitalizing and diversifying our curriculum? 

      • Tradition, or personal affection or nostalgia for a certain topic 

      • Assumption of what students should learn: the cannon, college ready, standards and testing 

      • Educators feeling like they don’t have the knowledge or time to make changes 

      • Parents critiquing changes in the curriculum

      • Assuming students are too young to talk about difficult things or current events 

      An example of revitalized curriculum: MLKJ 

      • Learn about his values and think about how would he apply it to current topics?

      • Give a full and accurate representation of who he was; not just dreamy 

      • Include MLKJ and other BIPOC leaders in the curriculum all year long

      Dos or Don’ts for Black History Month

      • Do add stories of whimsy, love, friendship, and creativity; Don’t limit your discussion to stories of trauma, oppression, or overcoming adversity 

      • Do involve you students by making stories relevant to their lives

      • Do expand complexity and context, not just history but current events as well; Don’t limit yourself to single heroes – what are the stories of the people, the area, the geography?

      • Do expand the context where these stories live (math, science, tech); Don’t limit it to the humanities

      • Do balance our stories so they aren’t all victim-focused; who is the focus on? 

      Resources & References 

      Connect with Marceline: www.dueeast.org; @dueeast

      Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

      Each of us may have a different idea about what student engagement looks like or how we increase it in our classrooms. In this episode Sourcewell consultants, Julie and Maggie, share their expertise around learning targets and scales and technology to help your students feel connected to their learning. 

      How do you know when students are engaged?

      • Engagement looks and sounds different for everyone, never assume!

      • Engaged students

        • can articulate what they are learning and why

        • know their learning progression and path

        • know the target and can self-evaluate progress

      • Student agency and personalized connection to the content creates engagement

      Who is responsible for student engagement?

      • It’s a collective effort that must include student and family input

      • Educators must clearly present the learning path and progression of learning

      • Educators must balance the needs of the variety of students

      • Center your students and the learning outcomes; de-center yourself (teacher)

      What are common reasons that students disengage?

      • No relationship to the adults or to the content

      • Not feeling welcome or included in the class or school

      • When there is a singular (teacher selected) way to show learning

      • Not seeing themselves in the content or how it connects to their life

      How can we proactively address disengagement?:

      • Create a safe space for students to share how they’re feeling

      • Provide multiple opportunities to support around content

      • Greet students at the door

      • Positive check-ins, observations, and sharing with families and caregivers

      • Specific positive feedback

      Strategies to engage all students:

      • Use technology as an option to access and connect with teachers

      • Intentional and personalized conversations with each student or matching to other adults in the building

      • Using a seating chart to ensure that students are getting a check-in

      • Set clear and visual learning targets and proficiency scales

      • Use pre-assessments to match learning to a variety of skill levels

      • Use turn and talks, collaboration, and group work

      • Include student voice and choice in learning decisions

      • Recognize when a topic may be dry and invite students to weigh in on how to show learning

      • Help students see themselves and make connections to the content

      Reflection Questions:

      • What is your one next step?

      • How has (or how would) using a clear progression of learning skills engage your students?

      • How have you (or how will you) used technology to help students better connect to their world?

      Resources & References

      Connect with Julie or Maggie via email education@sourcewell-mn.gov

      Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

      February Celebrations: Black History Month & I Love to Read Month 

      • Flood the classroom library with texts from various cultures and backgrounds

      • Be mindful of “windows and mirrors”

      • Read authors from a variety of racial backgrounds

      What’s “hot” in literacy? 

      • Early literacy skills or foundational skills

      • Effective instructional strategies for struggling readers

      • Equity, access to high-quality, diverse books, and content

      • Science of Reading

      How should we respond?

      • There will never be a one-size-fits-all for every student 

      • Encourage critical thinkers and readers 

      • We grow, change, learn, and take the best of what works with us

      • Sometimes implementation is the problem, not the original intent of the work

      • Know better, do better 

      The truth about Teacher Preparation Programs

      • Minnesota teacher licensing standards, including systemic, explicit phonics, has been in place for 10 years 

      • What is taught and what is implemented isn’t always the same

      • Minnesota higher ed faculty is continually learning, including participating in LETRS (Language Essentials for Teacher of Reading and Spelling) training

      • Terminology changes, but many ideas behind them are consistent.  

      What isn’t changing?

      • Using student data to guide decision making  

      • Diverse student populations with diverse needs

      • Teacher read alouds 

      • Collaborating with our colleagues

      • Time for professional learning 

      Strategies & Advice:

      • Decrease teacher talk, increase student’s ability to think, talk, and write in response to text 

      • Keep good company that remembers their “why”

      • Once we get into the profession, our learning is truly just beginning

      Resources & References: 

      Reflection Questions:

      • Which of the “what’s hot” literacy topics are you currently studying? What is affirming? What is challenging?

      • How are you supporting critical readers and thinkers with exposure to a variety of texts?

      • Would your colleagues identify you as “good company?”  Why or why not?

      Connect with Deb and Mary:

      Email Dr. Debra Peterson peter328@umn.edu or Dr. Mary Jacobson at education@sourcewell-mn.gov 

      Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

      February Celebrations: Black History Month & I Love to Read Month

      What’s happening at the state policy level?

      • New ELA standards will be fully implemented fall of 2023 and assessed in ‘25-26

      • MCA IV criteria and decision making is currently taking place

      • LETRS training

      • Emphasis on the teacher licensing standards and backgrounds

      • Licensure requirements around professional development in reading is changing for more veteran staff

      • Minnesota Department of Education -- policy, guidance, and support on dyslexia

      Get Connected!

      Literacy re-envisioned:

      • Consider the ways we organize children for learning; competency-based vs biological age

      • Rethink how we organize and staff our human resources

      • How the teacher uses the tool (including technology) is the differentiator

      • Collaboration around data analysis should involve multiple perspectives and roles 

      • Ensure instructional tools are being used as intended (i.e. Levels and Lexile numbers)

      • Consider the (enabling) context of literacy practices

      • Get familiar with implantation science; one resource: National Implementation Resource Network (NIRN)

      • Recognize and respond to preconceived bias about what child can or can’t do

      • Restructure systems that create barriers to maintaining effective literacy practices

        • Frequent initiative changes

        • Revolving door of resources

        • Leadership changes that shift the focus

      Strategies & Advice:

      • Don’t underestimate the impact you have on others

      • Thank one of your mentors

      • Invite a school board member into your classroom

      • Give yourself permission to give up practices that are no longer effective

      Connect with Deb and Mary:
      Email Dr. Debra Peterson peter328@umn.edu or Dr. Mary Jacobson at education@sourcewell-mn.gov 

      Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

      Educator Connection

      As Educators, it is important that we continually expand our knowledge and understanding around multiple ways of being.  This episode helps us build that muscle!  Whether you teach in an area that has a high Ojibwe or other Indigenous population, or not, today’s episode will help build your own culturally responsive toolbox.

      Who is The Cultural Toolbox written for?

      • Ojibwe people who are interested in reclaiming, relearning, or reconnecting with their own culture

      • The rest of the world to get a sense about one way of being

      • We need respect, hold space for and allow the thriving of many different ways of being

      Gender Roles

      • Men and women each own half the lodge

      • Traditional gender division of labor that favors balance over equality

      • Caution around romanticizing or denigrating any one culture

      School practices

      • Everything humans do is a cultural decision (i.e., the bell system or music in choir programs)

      • Modern education is for the most part still colonized (i.e., English is prioritized)

      • Majority of students in schools are students of color, only about 60% of Native students are finishing high school

      Education goals worth pursuing

      • Foster positive identity development no matter your identity

      • Create spaces where students know they are valued, sacred, and important; not just for being “good at whiteness” or “properly colonized”

      • Engaging in acts of kindness

      • We all need healing

      Dos and Don’ts for Non-Native

      • Do be curious, ask questions, hold and open space for everyone to learn about themselves and one another

      • Do read a variety of Native perspectives and voices

      • Do participate in Indigenous led activities (i.e. pow-wows, Native art, etc.)

      • Don’t buy/participate in “Native-inspired” (i.e. “Sweat-lodge experience for a fee”)

      Terms and references from today’s episode:

      Connect with Anton

      Reflection Questions:

      • What did you find new, interesting, or challenging about today's episode?

      • How do you ensure you're affirming your students' identities in school?

      • What is one resource you plan to dig into a little deeper?

      Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

      March is Women’s History Month, and this episode focuses on how education can build confidence, provide mirrors, and demystify pathways for our young girls and women to follow their dreams and take a seat at the table. Teresa Kittridge, founder of 100 Rural Women, shares personal stories, advice, and supports for each of us to lean into as we work to remove barriers and illuminate possibilities through the power of education.

      Why women in leadership?

      • It’s an equity issue, we need women to have a seat at the table

      • Most women tend to work collaboratively, individual recognition is not often a priority

      • Women want to “get stuff done and go home!”

      • We don’t have enough women in leadership, it’s a crisis in rural right now

      Advice for educators

      • Connect young girls to the many options and positions they have available to them. 

      • Keep girls believing in themselves, having those visions, seeing themselves in the future

      • See kids as individuals with individual gifts and talents

      • Highlight women in a variety of roles and throughout the curriculum

      • Advocate for library collections with a broad array of people, culture, and topics

      • Demystify the path, remove barriers, and help women see themselves in leadership roles

      Advice from Teresa

      • Find your passion and take some risks, believe in yourself

      • It’s ok to make changes

      • Anytime you have an opportunity to continue your learning, take it!

      • You can’t change everything at once

      • Don’t forget about appointed positions as pathways to other leadership or elected roles

      • Not everyone wants to be out front, but how do you support the women that do?

      Reflection Questions:

      • Which educators (if any) do you recall elevating women in leadership and showing you examples of what is possible for women in leadership?  What do you do as an educator?

      • Reflect on your own curriculum and classroom libraries; do you have enough representation?  How could you make it even better?

      • What is the most important take away from this conversation and how will you use it to impact your life and the lives of those you serve?

      Resources and References

      Connect with Teresa:

      100 rural women website and on social media @100ruralwomen

      Learn more about the podcast and browse resources, programs, and upcoming trainings and events for educators at www.mn.sourcewell.org/education

      What's going on?

      • Minnesota is growing in population (National average 7.4%; MN 7.6%) 

      • Minnesota continues to increase in diversity; all population growth is from Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) 

      • Rural schools are also seeing an increased number of immigrant students, especially in southwest MN 

      • The aging population and retirement range has increased from 13% to 17% 

      What does this mean for schools?

      • Demographic change includes the overall population; kids are the vanguard of demographic change  

      • Schools must be prepared to serve a more diverse student population including cultural and linguistic needs for students and families  

      • Law makers aren’t necessarily equipping schools with the tools they need to serve the rapidly changing population because it’s not as visible to them 

      • Demographic changes directly impact funding amounts and its distribution 

      • Many funding formulas are inherently unfair which perpetuates educational inequalities and exacerbates achievement gaps  

      What should I do?

      • Advocate for policy change at all levels (local, state, federal) to change funding models and policies that promote equitable distribution and resource allocation 

      • Tell your legislator what is important to you; they need to hear from more educators 

      • Conduct a needs assessment for the school district; identify key areas and priority issues from the community 

      • Analyze data to identify trends and patterns; use this to create a strategic plan based on your community’s input 

      • Invest heavily in teacher training, development, and coaching 

      • Partner with community organizations and businesses to problem solve and prioritize common needs 

      We are all connected:

      • Demographic shifts impact everyone 

      • Shared resources are deeply interconnected – transportation, healthcare facilities, public utilities, etc. 

      • When we use the data to work together to address challenges and promote equity and inclusion, we have stronger and more resilient communities.

      Resources and References:

      Connect with Megan!

      Reflection questions:

      • ​​​How does understanding data and trends at a state and local level help you as an educator? 

      • What are ways you can get involved in advocating for change? 

      • How will your school prepare for changing demographics? 

      Educator Connection:

      Preparing our students with 22nd century skills that connect student abilities and interests to in-demand careers is largely tied to a solid career and technical education (CTE) planning model.  Troy Haugen and Tami Martin share the importance of CTE, acknowledge common misconceptions and barriers, and leave us with actionable advice and strategies to get your district on the CTE path!  

      What is Career Technical Education?

      • Teaching students about careers by aligning academic skills and technical skills around career pathways 

      • Connecting students to high-skill, high-wage, high-demand sectors that are regionally appropriate  

      • A 3-legged school (secondary education, post-secondary education and the business/industry component) 

      • Introductory courses taught in middle school; 9-12, prepares for a high-wage, high-demand career  

      • Includes work-based learning and internship programs  

      What do you wish more people knew about CTE? 

      • By the time students graduate high school they can have a certificate and be on the pathway towards a career 

      • Students are ready and excited to get into their career fields 

      • Generally, schools with strong CTE programs see a correlation between increased attendance, graduation rates, and a healthy community because people  feel like they have a purpose  

      • CTE makes education contextual and relevant as opposed to the traditional mental model of courses taken in isolation  

      • By the times students are juniors and seniors, they need to know where they are going next 

      • Successful CTE programs are full; student demand is there 

      • Gone are the days where we train on a specific task for a specific job; we are now preparing for long-term careers with multiple entrance and exit points 

      What are the barriers? 

      • Perception; not valuing or recognizing the careers right in our local areas  

      • Protecting a traditional mindset and maintaining the status quo rather than preparing students for 22nd century skills 

      • Moving past outdated building models and concepts such as rows, 52-minute block schedules, isolating a “CTE wing” 

      • Believing that we are pushing kids into careers too soon or using the excuse that students don’t know what they want  

      • There is a financial investment 

      • Teacher recruitment and retention  

      Advice from the Troy and Tami:  

      • Invest in our students., Students need to know we care; even as simple as asking students about how they’re doing or what they’re interested in  

      • Check your assumptions about what you think about school and future careers 

      • Get clear about what CTE is (and is not) and advocate for it! 

      • Recruit teachers from the industry; consider a base salary to attract quality CTE teachers (including from industry)  

      • Dig in and have the tough conversations about contracts, project-based learning, move forward to challenge the status quo 

      Resources and References: 

      Reflection Questions: 

      • What was the biggest “a-ha” moment you had after listening to this episode?  

      • What steps has your school district taken to participate in moving CTE forward? What do you need to do next? 

      • How might you communicate with community members and other school constituents to bridge folks across the potential barriers mentioned? 

      Connect with our Guests Troy and Tami! 

      Educator Connection: 

      Connecting and supporting students to careers and opportunities post-secondary “takes a village.”  Learn how the Sourcewell Career Consultant Program is supporting this identified need in schools. 

      About the Career Consultant Program: 

      • Builds systems and structures for ensuring all students are career and college ready    

      • Uses nationally defined Redefining Ready! metrics    

      • Embeds a career consultant within the district  

      • Pathways are developed together with administration, staff, community, and consultant facilitation  

      • Consultants work with students, remove barriers, connect to goals, and create intentional experiences    

      • A common “what” and “why” is established, the “how” looks different from district to district  

      • Provides students with a “buffet” of flexible options and pathways 

      Why the program:

      • Career Consultants are filling an identified gap in support; often there is a disconnect between the workforce and school preparation    

      • The program supports schools by providing a consultant with a “Work-Based Learning License”  

      • Career Consultants come alongside schools, maximize and connect to resources, communicate and network with local businesses    

      • The program embeds employability skills within pathways  

      • Career Consultants have the lens of multiple schools with Region 5 to share lessons learned

      Conditions necessary for success:

      • Establish a career committee with diverse representation  

      • Attend the quarterly Career Pathways Cohort    

      • Create flexibility within pathways  

      • Work from within, what internships can you provide within the school building  

      Resources and References:

      Reflection Questions:

      • What successes has your school already begun to implement? What from this conversation can you take as a next step? What resources will you use?

      • What are some of the local business connections your district makes? What connections are missing?

      • Consider your role, what is the one thing you can do right now to help support students to find fulfilling pathways post-secondary?

      Connect with Amy and Maggie!

      Educator Connection: 

      Kevin and Jordan, founders of Metier, share with us how their program is working to help 5th-8th graders find the truest, happiest, and greatest versions of themselves that align with careers that love them back. 

      What is Metier?

      • A lifestyle design and experiential learning program that helps students find the truest, happiest, and greatest version of themselves that matches to a career that makes you come alive  

      • 5th-6th  grade program is called Wayfinders: Self-awareness focus  

      • 7th-8th grade program is called Flowblazers: Career-awareness focus  

      • Students discover their strengths through hands-on, game-based, play-based activities    

      • Students test out a “buffet” of 17 categories to uncover their strengths    

      • 30/30/30 rule + 10% magic  

      Why 5th-8th grade?

      • The teenage years are a great time, developmentally, to try things out  

      • Most kids don’t want to be some “thing” they want to be some “one” but may not know their options or strengths  

      • Students often have lots to choose from and little to choose with  

      • Metier provides data driven intrinsic motivation to drive next steps and decisions including electives to take, teams or clubs to join, etc.    

      • Combing the “Wayfinders” and “Flowblazers” courses provides the best possible information; self-awareness and career awareness    

      • Flow leaves fingerprints: even if you make changes over time, you can find traces of your strengths and interests in the career paths; these are transferable skills 

      Is Metier a fit for your school?

      • Is there a philosophical fit?  Do you also believe that every kid was uniquely made with gifts and talents made to serve the world? 

      • Is there a logistical fit? There must be a dedicated time in the schedule (study hall, advisory time, elective, etc.) as well as the right timing fit with a school’s strategic plan. 

      • Is there an ongoing fit? The program evolves based on school feedback. 

      Resources and References:

      From Kevin's Library:

      Reflection Question:

      • What did you want to be “when you grew up?” Is it the same? Did it change? How many times? Would career exploration earlier on have helped you find your passion sooner? 

      • When did someone help you identify your own strengths? Did this connect you to a career field? If not, how might a program like Metier make a difference in your own life? 

      • When have you seen students discover their strengths and come alive? How did you match it to school options or career options?

      Connect with Kevin and Jordan!

      Educator Connection: 

      When our schools and community leaders work together to support one another, students and constituents are the beneficiaries. Mayor Dave shares his experience working together with the schools as a long-time city mayor.

      City and school as community partners:

      • When folks are checking out new cities and towns, they always look at schools  

      • Be mindful of the city tax levy to make room for school needs  

      • Build relationships between superintendent, mayor, school board, and city council    

      • Stay “in the know” to interrupt misinformation and knowledgeably speak up to support the school  

      • Use political capital to support the schools  

      • School board members represent the community, and we need to be out in the community to experience different viewpoints    

      • Citizens expect that school leaders and city leaders are working together  

      • Appreciate being in dialogue, relationship, and showing of solidarity    

      • Having city folks understand the challenges of the school budget helps them become bigger champions for schools  

      Advice for superintendents and other educators:

      • Superintendent should make the first move (reaching out)  

      • Attend a city council meeting and share updates about the school  

      • Build the relationship before you need anything    

      • Education staff should connect with city council members  

      • Look for other cross over roles; for example, facilities director and parks and recreation director 

      Invite community leaders into schools:

      • Read to students in classrooms  

      • Attend events, concerts, or plays 

      • Volunteer to help serve food 

      • Remind students that you believe in them and have high expectations 

      • Become a guest speaker on your area of expertise  

      Encouragement when facing conflict:

      • Hang in there, help is on the way!  

      • Work to understand other perspectives; listen to learn, not to respond    

      • All you can control is your own response    

      • It’s usually not personal  

      • It’s not about exchanging facts; it’s about building a relationship  

      • Is one person mad, or many? Approach accordingly.  

      • Trust is earned in drips and lost in buckets  

      Resources and References:

      Reflection Questions:

      • How has your school partnered with your community to support students? What might you try?  

      • What are some strategies you’ve used in the face of conflict? What from this episode will you apply in the future?  

      • What advice from Dave do you want to share with someone else? What advice speaks most directly to your own role? What’s your next step? 

      Connect with Dave Bartholomay!


      We say we believe all students can learn, but too often we plan for and set goals for less than 100% success.  Dr. Robyn Jackson inspires us to commit to nothing less than 100% visioning and shares strategies to get there for each of our students. 

      Barriers of 100% Visioning:

      • We are taught that setting goals of “80% success” is normal, we are told we have to be “realistic”    

      • We are told, “We aren’t going reach every kid” and we are trained that it is ok if some kids fail  

      • Focusing on 5% growth doesn’t create sustainable results; you won’t get to 100% vision with 5% efforts    

      • If we set a goal of 80%, we plan for 20% to fail and I’m (the educator) will still celebrate that  

      • Not only are we ok with failure, but we plan for it (when I set goals of less than 100%)! 

      What is the mindset shift:

      • Mindset is more important than strategy  

      • How can I be my best if I start out every year thinking that no matter what I do, someone is going to fail  

      • Either we believe all kids can learn and we put all our energy into that, or we don’t  

      • 100% means not just helping “bubble kids,”, but helping all kids grow and keep growing. When you think like this you choose strategies differently    

      • Instead of “I expect more of you” (the child), shift to “I expect more of me” (the educator)    

      • It’s disempowering to wait for a kid to step up and believe in themselves; kids will believe in me (the educator), before they believe in themselves sometimes  

      • If I believe in me, it doesn’t matter what the kid does, I have to find a way to reach them; it opens up options and helps me to keep trying long after I may have given up on the kid  

      • Mindset shift strategy: Make a list of students and cross out the percentage of kids you’re ok failing; we cannot be ok with planning to fail anyone

      Strategies for planning for 100% success:

      • Write a vision for 100% success for your students. Define it and be specific. How will you know you got there?  

      • Does your vision pass the “tingle test”   Don’t chase strategies or shiny objects that aren’t getting us to 100%  

      • When using “research-based practices” ask yourself, “How will we use them? With what kids? Under what circumstances? Is that right for helping my kids, all of them, be successful?”  

      • Focus on improving what went well and throwing out what didn’t work; do not reinvent the wheel every year  

      • Success is boring and huge success is hugely boring    

      • Follow one course until successful, focus!  

      • Invite kids to the goal, don’t drag them.  If they don’t come, I (the educator) have to make changes 

      Big Picture Visioning

      • Big visioning makes you better at your role    

      • Ask the students: Who? Who do I want to become? Listen to kids and families and build your program around their responses  

      • Ask the teachers: How? Give teachers the training, support, accountability, and culture that they need to be best successful. Listen to teachers and empower them  

      • When you have a clear vision and everyone is working in alignment, you can trust your teachers    

      • Leaders ask “What? What should we be focusing on? What resources do we need, how do we stay in alignment?”  

      • Bosses say “go”, Leaders say “let’s go”, builders say “come” – Harvard Business Review 2009 

      References and Resources

      Dr. Jackson's listens and reads:

      Reflection Questions:

      • What was the last student achievement goal you set? After listening to Dr. Jackson, what would you do differently? What would you keep and focus on to get even better?  

      • Have you asked student and families the “who” question? If no, how will you start? If yes, how did you build that into your learning experiences?    

      • When you consider the “how” questions, what support or training do you need to reach your 100% vision? How will you access it or advocate for it? 

      Connect with Dr. Robyn Jackson!

      Educator Connection:

      Dr. Tina H. Boogren is a fierce advocate for educators, particularly for their well-being. In this episode Tina shares ways to prioritize taking care of our educators both individually and collectively. 

      Strategies for Individual Educator Wellness:

      It’s the small things that make the difference: sleep, nutrition, water, movement  

      • Watch for your own warning signs that you’re “off track”  

      • Try an “Attitude Adjustment Walk” or take a 5-minute walk during planning time    

      • Incorporate a walk and talk meeting  

      • Take your duty- free lunch  

      • On paper, journal “I feel better when…I feel worse when” and put a loose perimeter around ourselves so we don’t go so far off the rails  

      • Schedule a time to worry    

      • Take care of your future self, “you’re welcome future self.”  

      • Imagine the kind of educator you’d want for the young people in your life. How do you align to that person?  

      • Choose specific days you will stay late so you aren’t staying late every night 

      Strategies for Collective Educator Wellness:

      No amount of individual self-care will help us if our school culture is suffering  

      • Create a school policy for setting boundaries; specify what constitutes an emergency    

      • High functioning PLCs contribute to wellness; when teachers have trust and friends at work, they are more likely to stay  

      • As a staff, brainstorm what is burning us out on chart paper. Identify things we can’t change, could maybe change, and what we are doing to ourselves    

      • Hold a standing meeting in the morning to check in with each other; together we need to hit 100%  

      • Stop promoting perfect attendance awards for students or adults    

      • Mentors: Caution around telling mentees they “must” go home at a certain time  

      • As a staff brainstorm how one another works best, where they work best, and learn and share methods from one another while getting to know one another’s tendencies better.    

      • Advocate for social wellness; building relationships, trust, time for connecting to our purpose. We can’t do this alone, we have to figure this out with others 

      Advice for summertime and reentry:

      • Enjoy your summer without guilt    

      • Summer is a good time to think about physical wellness and reestablish boundaries  

      • Solidifying healthy habits over the summer makes us more likely to keep them during the school year  

      • Put it on your calendar when you want to start thinking about school  

      • Try to keep a consistent sleep schedule to the best of your ability  

      Resources and References: 

      Tina's favorites:

      Reflection Questions:

      • What from this conversation really resonated with you and how will you respond to that feeling?  

      • Which individual act of educator wellness do you want to try out or continue doing consistently?    

      • Which collective act of educator wellness will you advocate for in your school building? Who do you need to connect with to make this happen? 

      Connect with Dr. Tina Boogren!

      Educator Connection:

      Music Therapy and Educator Mary Ellenson and Visual Community Artist Maria Ervasti share their personal and professional insights on why prioritizing the arts in education is vital to our students’ prek-12 experience.  

      Why prioritize the arts in schools:

      • Arts provide an outlet to express feelings and emotions, when students are regulated emotionally, they can better access other forms of learning  

      • Art taps the creative side of the brain  

      • Art education can bend to our societies’ needs, for example, during the pandemic, changing from skills based to therapy based as a mode of needed self-expression  

      • Arts can provide job-embedded skills – for example, the ability to provide and receive critique    

      • Artists have a deep understanding of empathy including how to express oneself nonverbally  

      • Artists know how to conceptualize and apply skill  

      • Artists know how to bounce back from failure, build resiliency, and problem-solving skills  

      • Many career fields want an artist, even if you aren’t creating art because of their skill sets 

      How the general educator or school system can support the arts:

      • Be honest about your own experiences, tell stories about your family and friends connected to arts  

      • Invite local artists into your classroom or to career fairs to share their music/art/etc.   

      • The right music (consider the individual child) can be used to calm or energize a student    

      • Let go of the self judgment  

      How the arts benefit communities:

      • Arts are a huge economic catalyst; implementing the arts can reinvigorate the economy  

      • The benefits of art, music, and food, are part of the human experience  

      • Have beautiful spaces to go, brings in business  

      • There is a relationship between art and the necessity of human interaction; connecting folks to a central experience to share    

      • Programs and concerts, bring people together to listen to students perform, witness the work they’ve done, including the backdrops, the programs, everyone that comes together to see a final product live    

      • Arts are a huge catalyst for social change and expressing your voice    

      • The arts allow us to experience different cultures visually and auditorily  

      Resources and references:

      Reflection questions:

      • What was affirmed for you about arts in education? What was new?  

      • How have you supported and prompted the arts in your school system? What is something you will try?    

      • In what ways have you seen your community benefit from the arts? What is it that your community needs? How can you advocate for that need?  

      Connect with Mary and Maria!

      Season 3

        Educator Connection:  

        We’re back with Season 3 of Ed Soul, bringing you a healthy dose of inspiration and motivation for the new school year. If you were able to join us at the Sourcewell Educators Summit, this episode’s guests will be familiar! In our first-ever live recording, we asked leading minds in education the questions at the top of every educator’s mind. Hear from Garth Larson, Rainey Briggs, Rufus Lott III, and Becky Peppler on what makes meaningful professional development, what’s surprising in the world of education, advice to educators in a post-pandemic world and more. Pop your favorite ear buds in and take that first, confident step back into the classroom. We’re with you every step of the way! 

        Meet the Panelists:  

        Dr. Rainey Briggs:

        Listed as one of the 48 Most Influential Black people in the state of Wisconsin 2021 by Madison 365, Dr. Rainey Briggs is a dynamic educator who has served as a cultural liaison, teacher, principal, Director of Elementary Education, and currently serves as the School District Superintendent of Baraboo schools. As an African American boy growing up in poverty, Dr. Briggs quickly learned how to advocate for himself and others and has carried that passion over into his daily work. Dr. Briggs obtained his degree from Edgewood College and wrote a dissertation on the Factors that Promote or Impeded the Success of African American Males in a Predominately White High School. Dr. Briggs strives to bring a voice to marginalized students and families. As a principal, he collaborated with staff and families to bring the motto “Every kid, Every day, Whatever it Takes” at the forefront of their school and a mission to live by daily. Dr. Briggs has worked with many school districts on providing professional development around equity and cultural responsiveness. He is also an adjunct professor at Edgewood College and Viterbo University. Dr. Briggs is a husband to Julie, an educator herself, and the dad to three teenage daughters. When they are not in a gym or on a field, Dr. Briggs and his family enjoy traveling, spending time outdoors, and barbecuing.

        •  Dr. Brigg is watching: Ted Lasso, “Be curious, not judgmental.”

        Rufus Lott III:

        Rufus Lott III is the founder of LOTT Educational Consultants and lead consultant specializing in the area of Restorative Practices in schools. Most recently Mr. Lott served the Northeast Independent School District in San Antonio, TX as the Assistant Principal of Edward H. White Middle School. Mr. Lott played an instrumental role in the development and implementation of restorative practices as an alternative method for managing student behavior. This innovative, whole school approach was the first of its kind in the state of Texas, and has been considered the blueprint that many campuses across the state of Texas are following. Mr. Lott has 13 years of experience in public education in elementary and middle school as a classroom practitioner and administrator. As a former administrator, Mr. Lott’s passion is rooted in social justice and working with educators to better serve diverse student populations. His focus is on teaching real-life, applicable strategies that are essential for educators to utilize when working with both students and teachers. Today, he teaches restorative practices to teachers and administrators as an alternative method to exclusion, and as a means to build positive relationships and strong communities through dialogue using the circle process.

        • Rufus is reading: The Potential Principal by Mark Sanborn, “If you don’t stay inspired, something or someone will come along and cause you to be desperate.”

        Garth Larson:

        Garth Larson, Ed.D is the Co-Founder and CEO of FIRST Educational Resources. Garth has previously worked as the Director of Learning for the Winneconne Community School District in northeast Wisconsin, was an elementary principal in two separate buildings and started his career in education as a high school speech and English teacher. In 2011, Garth formed Wisconsin Educational Resources (now FIRST) with a focus on improving student achievement across the United States. Since 2011, over 2000 school districts throughout the globe have become partnership districts with his company. Garth currently consults with school districts around the world and provides customized professional development around a variety of topics, mainly Professional Learning Communities 2.0, Learning-Centered Grading Practices, Leadership and School Improvement. Garth is also the author of Collaborative Systems of Support: Learning for ALL with co-authors Tom Hierck and Chris Weber, Target-Based Grading in Collaborative Teams: 13 Steps to Moving Beyond Standards with co-author Tom Hierck, Grading for Impact: Raising Student Achievement through a Target-Based Assessment and Learning System and PLC 2.0: Collaborating for Observable Impact in Today’s Schools with co-author Cale Birk.   

        • Garth is watching: Suits

        • Garth is reading:  Recalibrate the Culture by Jimmy Casas 

        Becky Pepper:

        Becky Peppler is the Director of The STAGR (Standards, Targets, Assessment, Grading & Reporting) Center (a division of FIRST Educational Resources). She has 15 years of professional experience in public education, working in the Winneconne Community School District in northeast Wisconsin. Becoming the “go to” person nationally for assessment and grading support, Becky has spent time as a 6-12 Instructional Coach with a focus on supporting teachers in the classroom on a daily basis. Prior to her role as an instructional coach, Becky taught Chemistry and Forensic Science and was the 6-12 Science Curriculum Chair. She is a member of the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers (WSST), where she was awarded the Excellence in Science Education Award for the state of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Science Education Leadership Association (WSELA). Becky has helped the Winneconne Community School District transition to Target Based Grading at the middle and high school levels. She has a passion for designing meaningful assessments practices, making reassessment work, target-based learning implementation, building social and emotional skills and ensuring that all students continue to learn at high levels. Becky currently consults to school districts all over the United States in these areas. 

        • Becky is reading: None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell

        Reflection Questions:   

        • Question 1: What are you most looking forward to in this school year?

        • Question 2: How do you get the most out of your professional learning opportunities? 

        • Question 3: Who has inspired you to be the educator you want to be?

        Connect with the guests!

        Educator Connection:

        Author, and global presenter, Dr. Phil Warrick joins us for a mini episode sharing content from his breakout session at the 2023 Sourcewell Educator Summit. Dr. Phil encourages us to focus on “the right work” using the High Reliability Schools Framework created in collaboration with Marzano Research. 

        What is HRS?

        • High Reliability Schools – based on the research of Highly Reliable Organization (an organization that will not tolerate high levels of failure)

        • Marzano Research built a blueprint (18 months of research) to encourage low (or no) levels of failure for schools 

        What is the "right work"?

        • Using a qualitative analysis of foundational research studies, Dr. Phil and Marzano Research created a list of leading indicators for schools  

        • Leading indicator is an economics term meaning the conditions you want to establish and sustain for your best opportunity to be successful  

        • Education Research was applied to create targets for schools  

        • The work begins with the adults in the system; no single person in an organization ever truly acts alone

        The New Art and Science of Teaching

        • Level 2 leading indicator: the school clarifies and uses a model of instruction that is research-validated and applicable across grade levels and content  

        • 43 research validated elements that are interdependent on one another (not isolated)  

        • The elements identify the conditions necessary to acquire knowledge, but teachers have defined autonomy in how each element or condition is carried out  

        • Tight on research-based strategies; loose on what you choose to create the elements and conditions for learning  

        • Use the research base and make it your own; practice snapshots of the 43 elements  

        • The model accounts for phases of learning: brand new, deepen, application

        Advice from Dr. Phil:

        • As much as the pandemic has been a struggle, it’s time to move forward; our kids need us  

        • There is no substitute for the human contact that occurs in the classroom  

        • If you can cultivate effective student-teacher relationships, everything else falls into place; build the human connection first

        Resources and References:

        Reflection Questions:

        • What is the instructional framework that your school uses? What is working well? What needs refinement?  

        • What are the “tight” research-based practices used across grade levels and content areas? Where does teacher autonomy show up?  

        • What “right work” have you been zeroed in on? Is there anything you need to let go of or be more intentional about?

        Connect with our guest Dr. Phil Warrick

        Educator Connection: 

        Starting the new school year can produce some nerves or anxiety.  Will I be able to manage my classroom? Which rituals and routines do I choose? How do I know if it’s working and what do I do if I feel like it’s all falling apart? Jacki Brickman from The Catalyst Approach joins us to share a different way to thinking about the rituals and routines that we establish that help the adults in the room create well-managed classroom learning spaces.

        Let's define what we mean:

        • Ritual: The feeling that comes with the routines (i.e. things that brings you joy), provides connectedness    

        • Routine: shorter procedures (i.e. turning in your papers), provides patterns and predictability which makes kids feel safe  

        • Similarities: Both need to be purpose driven, both provide a means to an end 

        Routines and Rituals that impact classroom management all year:

        • They can be established anytime; the important part is that the adult knows why and how they are doing it  

        • When we start earlier, students have the opportunity to get more reps in, but you can try something new at any time  

        • You can’t possibly teach every routine in the first week, plus that would be very boring!  

        • Sometimes you need to add a procedure or routine when you notice something isn’t going well    

        • Regulate yourself 

        Classroom Management connected to the larger school system:

        • Is the rule so you can blame someone else? “Sorry it’s the school rule!”  

        • Does the rule make sense and have a meaningful purpose?    

        • Did we really “forget” the rule or procedure or is something else happening (i.e. weather changes); have the adults done their part?    

        • When routines fall apart, it might be because the adult has made a change 

        Mistakes, missteps, or missed opportunities:

        • Believing things should be time based – “It’s been 6 weeks, why don’t they know this!”  

        • Prioritizing speed over everything else (why, timing, understanding level). “Fast” can cause anxiety  

        • Not aligning the routine to an authentic purpose; just aligning it to a rule or a reward  

        • Kids want to feel they are connected to a bigger purpose in the school system, not just to follow a rule because it’s a rule    

        • Assuming just because it’s been taught, “kids should know” and if they aren’t doing it, it’s because they aren’t motivated to do it or don’t want to do it  

        • Stop using public shaming as a classroom management strategy    

        • Trying to be perfect and teach everything on the first day/week  

        • It’s never too late to try something new or solve a problem  

        • Teaching the routine only when you need it instead of “Out of the Now” 

        Resources and References:

        Reflection Questions:

        • Where did you feel affirmed in this episode and where did you feel challenged?  

        • What shift or take away do you want to try?  

        • What support do you need to make that shift or new application? 

        Connect with Jacki!