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:

      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