Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How to Be Professionally Fashionable: 10 Do’s and Don’ts for the Workplace

By Huong Vo

I’ve worked in the corporate world and know what it’s like to wear dress pants, pant suits, and skirt suits with buttoned up shirts constantly. If you’re tired of the monotony of grays, navy blues, and blacks, take the following tips to add a little fashion fun to your professional wardrobe all while keeping in mind for what’s appropriate and not appropriate for the office.


  • heels so high that you look like are coming from or going to the club. If you want height, four inches should be the maximum. Do you really want to “walk gracefully” while trying to catch an elevator? Didn’t think so!
  • skirts that are too short. Bending over or sitting down might be a huge issue at your conference meeting. This applies to dresses as well.
  • flip flops. Your office is NOT the beach. Embellished sandals are cute, but be sure and refer to your company’s dress code.
  • spaghetti straps in tops or dresses. Limit your skin exposure. If you must, add a little bolero sweater or a crop jacket with a sparkly brooch. You can look just as sexy covered up too.
  • hoodies. It doesn’t matter how cold the office is. Hoodies are meant for home and those trips to the gym.
  • tennis shoes. If your preference isn’t heels, tennis shoes are not a viable plan B. Again, they are meant for those trips to the gym.
  • jeans. If it isn’t casual Friday, leave these in your closet. You can always wear them out for meeting friends after work hours and weekends.
  • shorts. No matter the length, shorts convey the message that you want to relax. Save your favorite pair for going out on your own time.
  • see through clothing. Unless your shirt is long-sleeved and you’re wearing a matching colored tank underneath, save your transparent garments for nights out. Opaque tights with your skirt or dress are acceptable. Note: Pairing tights with a short skirt or dress does not make up for the lack of fabric.
  • hats. Take off your hat when walking into a building. Beanies, fedoras, and baseball caps work for your look only when you’re outside.


  • dark jeans with a nice blazer for casual Fridays. Dark washes says sophistication and works with all kinds of tops and jackets. Show that you can still be and look professional, even in jeans.
  • layers. Yes, even during those hot summer days, the temperatures in offices can freeze you out. The great thing about layers is that you can shed them and still look professional and be comfortable should you get a little hot.
  • a cardigan, a must-have staple in any woman’s wardrobe. Invest in short lengths and boyfriend, otherwise known as long lengths in different colors. You’d be surprised at how many outfits you can make with cardigans.
  • no-show socks. If you want to wear flats and still keep your toes toasty, go for skin-colored no-show socks. You can still wear flats during those cold months and stay warm!
  • ballet flats. If you’re not a heels kind of gal or want to change things up a bit, ballet flats are a cute alternative to dress shoes. A neutral color with embellishments, leopard print, hot pink, orange, cobalt blue, or red pair will have your feet do the talking at those meetings. They look great with skinny pants.
  • bracelets. If you feel like being a gypsy, wear bangles, but pile them on. The more, the better! If you’re going for a cuff, choose one that makes the outfit special for you whether it is leather, sparkly, or has an Egyptian feel to it.
  • necklaces. Nothing can dress up a plain white t-shirt under a blazer better than piling on lots of necklaces to dress them up. If you’re not a multiple strands kind of girl, opt for a long dainty necklace with a pendant meaningful to you or a statement necklace that will pop against your top.
  • scarves are a nice way to add a burst of color and keep warm during those winter months. You can never go wrong with a leopard or neon paisley print scarf against a neutral-colored outfit.
  • belts. If you haven’t worn belts before, try a skinny belt over your tunic or wrapping a thick patent one over a dress. Belts pull the outfit together and show off your waist.

If you haven’t noticed, I ended the DO WEAR list with accessories. If you don’t know this, accessories highlight your outfit. Instead of throwing a bag on your arm, give yourself a workout. Why not carry a bright over-sized clutch? You can fit everything you need and still add that pop of color.

Who says you can’t look fashionable at work? If you’re unsure of the dress code at your company, re-read their Code of Conduct manual. Nothing is more embarrassing than being called into the boss’ office for a dress code violation. Clothes are a part of nonverbal communication so next time you put an outfit together, think about what you want to say to people.

Huong Vo is a recent communication studies graduate from the University of North Texas. While pursuing her degree, she worked in the education and non-profit industries. A big fan of social media and blogging, Huong shares her love for fashion through her That’s My Kind of Style! blog and being a first-generation college student, she also helps college students and recent graduates through Grenty Nation, her college and career blog. When she’s not writing, Huong spends her free time at Texas Ranger games, traveling, reading, playing video games with her girlfriends, volunteering, and drooling over anything fashion-related.

Monday, December 26, 2011

What Schools can learn from Successful Sports Teams

By Will Deyamport, III, Ed.D. Candidate

Successful sports teams have an identity, a vision, and a culture of learning and being that permeates throughout the entire organization. The Pittsburgh Steelers, for example, is the most success team in NFL history. They are a common man’s team without flash or "Hollywood" status. The ownership believes in loyalty (up to a financial point), “blue collar” hard work, good people, and it shows in the way the team plays, the players they choose and the personnel they hire. The Steelers aren’t a glamorous ”new media team.” They are old school like the rotary phone. And, unlike most of the professional sporting world, the Steelers have only had 3 head coaches in the last 40 something years. Which has resulted in every one of the 3 coaches playing in the Super bowl more than once and winning at least 1 championship.

How does that relate to school success?

Often public schools have no direction, no meaningful mission, and very high turnover rates – especially at the leadership positions. This results in learning programs constantly changing, new philosophies being handed down, and a teaching corps who doesn’t know what will happen next. As such, the school just hovers. It can’t move forward because it’s in perpetual flux.

No organization can be successful without an identifiable, mission, vision, and culture of learning. Everyone from the superintendent to the TA to students should be able to clearly and succinctly communicate what the school stands for, believes in, and is doing to achieve its stated goals. No organization can be successful when high turnover is as certain as death and taxes. And no organization can be successful when its members are not hired and developed according to the organization’s needs.

If public schools continue to throw stuff at the walls to see what sticks instead of developing a sustainable learning organization, they will reach the point of no return. They will become the LA Clippers or the Cleveland Browns of education.

Will Deyamport, III, is an Ed.D. Candidate, an education thought-leader and online content creator. His blog, PEOPLEGOGY, focuses on life and career developments. In addition to his 11 years of experience in education, he has interned with the likes of Ingrid Stabb and J. T. O’Donnell. Currently, Will is working on his dissertation, which focuses on using social media to individualize professional development for teachers.

Friday, December 16, 2011

so you want to dress like a teacher

By Pernille Ripp

Cross posted from the fashion blog of Pernille Ripp:   Poor og Rich

    Teachers have a certain fashion ideal to live up to.  We certainly have been portrayed in either one of two categories; hopeless dork with mid-shin skirts and white sneakers or vampy vixen dressed more like 60's secretaries.  While both ideals are endearing in a way, here are some ideas on what to wear to school.
  • Think stylish yet comfortable - many of us get on the floor during the day so that pencil skirt better have some stretch in it.  Yes they are available, I have some in my closet.
  • Think layers - My schools goes from oven to tundra in the course of a day so think about how your layers will look separated.  I have had some pretty crazy get ups revealed because I had to peel off a blazer or a cardigan.
  • Check your pant length.  There is a stigma with teachers that our pants are too short, and not the good kind of too short.  So check that your pant length actually touches the back of your shoe, otherwise they are too short.
  • Nix the theme shirts/jewelry.  I know the kids sometimes thinks it is cute when we wear fun Halloween sweaters or tinsel from our ears but I always wonder if they think we are fun or just funny looking.  You can still embrace the festivity of whatever holiday by wearing shades of the color and not actual the whole theme.  
  • Go ahead do the heel but make sure you can stand in them,  I love my heels but they have to be super comfortable; after all, I am there to teach not strut my stuff.  So wear them around a whole day before wearing them to school, or in the worst case event, stash emergency shoes somewhere.
  • Know your size.  This is so important; if you want to appear heavier than you are wear too tight of clothing or way too large of clothing.  Instead, figure out your size and then embrace.  better fitting clothes means a better looking you.
  • Wear a smile - this will always be your best accessory as will a heartfelt hello to whomever you meet.  Everybody wants to be appreciated and welcomed.
And some don'ts:
  • Sweatpants are not appropriate for school and neither are pajamas unless it is pajama day. So even though your favorite sport team may be doing incredible and you really want to show your team loyalty, don't add the comfy pants to go with the shirt; this is not your living room.
  • Do the bend over test - and that means chest and back.  Trust me; no one wants to see too much skin.
  • Don't dress like a student.  If your students think something is super funky chances are you shouldn't be wearing it.  You may be young at heart but this is not the time to show off your weekend look.  Dress like a professional to get more respect.
  • Flip flops are for the beach, not for school.
  • Don't overdo accessories.  I once knew a teacher that had to take off extra jewelry before she could work with certain students - that is crazy.  If it is in your way or potentially dangerous; don't wear it.
  • However, that doesn't mean be super boring.  I always try to wear something interesting as an accessory (some days more successfully than others) but you don't have to pile it on.
  • If you're tugging - take it off.  I am a massive perpetrator of things not being the right fit, or rather I used to be, until I realized how much I tugged at it all day.  If you are fiddling and adjusting just get rid of it or get it tailored.
  • Don't be something you are not and take baby steps.  Wahoo to you if you want to overhaul your fashion sense.  Figure out what you like to wear and feel comfortable in then take it from there.  Ask other people's advice too, they usually have great ideas.
I hope this helps a little bit or at least gets you thinking.  I may come back and do some more concrete examples if anyone would be interested in that.

Pernille Ripp is a 5th grade teacher in Middleton, Wisconsin, proud techy geek, and honest to a fault. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project and believer in all children. She has no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in her students' heads every day. Follow Pernille on Twitter @PernilleRipp and read her teacher blog to be found at

Why Choose an Online Degree

By Will Deyamport, III, Ed.D. Candidate

Since earning my master's online, I've been fascinated by online education and the different kinds of universities and degree programs available. Though online education still has many skeptics, the truth is many people are flocking to online universities or online degree programs. In fact, more and more working professionals are choosing online degrees, because of the flexibility of online degree programs, their growing reputation, and their focus on teaching.

In addition to their focus on teaching, online degree programs curate talent in ways that traditional schools and degree programs don't. What I mean by curate is pooling together talented students and professors for the purposes of meeting the professional needs of the students and for addressing the demands of the field. Often in traditional programs, theory is the driving force of the curriculum. However, in online education, theory is used as the starting point for solving actual real-world programs. What's more, online degrees allow students to draw upon the collective knowledge and experiences of each individual, without being limited by a zip code, state line, or country of residence.

Personally, I've had professors who work as consultants in New York, accreditation specialists in Minnesota, teachers in California, and higher education professionals in Illinois. I've also had classmate who taught in New Orleans, a superintendent in California, a college coordinator at a medical school in New York, etc. Together we were able to go beyond the text and the courseroom discussions and learn from each other about how problems were being addressed in a multitude of situations.

The world is changing. The problems of today are even more connected and entrenched in slow-changing systems, and talent is needed know more than ever before. Check out a few online degree programs and discover how they can assist you in cultivating your individual talents.

Watch what USC has to say about their online Master's of Art in Teaching program and see how Walden University is meeting the needs of its learners:

Master's of Art in Teaching at USC

Walden University

Will Deyamport, III, is an Ed.D. Candidate, an education thought-leader and online content creator. His blog, PEOPLEGOGY, focuses on life and career developments. In addition to his 11 years of experience in education, he has interned with the likes of Ingrid Stabb and J. T. O’Donnell. Currently, Will is working on his dissertation, which focuses on using social media to individualize professional development for teachers.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kindle Fire: It's Not Supposed to be an iPad

By Mary Beth Hertz

Photo Credit:

I just recently became the owner of a new Kindle Fire. I am probably one of the few people I know who doesn't have (read: can't afford!) an iPad. As someone who is tech savvy and well informed on tech trends, I just can't dig that deep into my pockets. My school has a first generation iPad that I use now and again, and using it never convinced me that I needed one. I have a netbook, Macbook, iPhone 4 and an iPod touch. I think I've got my bases covered.

When I saw the new Kindle Fire was only $200, that it had apps from the Android market, that I could check Twitter, Facebook and my email from it, and that I could sync up my whole Kindle library with it, I was sold.

I've been happy with it so far. It's not perfect (customization is a bit tough for the home screen, though you can put apps in your 'Favorites' for easy access), and it is small (a 7” screen) but it does all the things that I wanted it to do. It is also super fast and responsive when opening apps and navigating the device.

The apps
I have used the Evernote app to take notes at meetings, I can send and receive emails (though the messages that are threaded don't show up that way), I can read my Instapaper items, and the Hootsuite app is pretty good. Typing on it is no more difficult (in my opinion) than on an iPad, though the keyboard is slightly different. What is neat is that as you are typing, the Kindle offers word suggestions for you to tap on to complete the word you're typing. It also has auto-correct. I have also used the Pandora app while I'm reading a book, which is a nice feature.

The app store is easy to navigate and it seems to hold a lot of the traditional Android market apps, though not all are optimized for the Kindle.

I didn't buy the device expecting to use it for watching movies and TV shows as other users might, but the movie store is easy to navigate and has some good titles. If you pay for the Amazon prime membership, you have even better options. The screen has good resolution, so I can imagine video-watching would be a good experience. The volume button does require you to open an on-screen settings menu, which for some people is not acceptable, but it doesn't bother me.

I already have an original, white Kindle that I LOVE. I will keep it for times when I want to read uninterrupted by email and Twitter. The Library on the Kindle is easy to peruse and I don't mind reading on it since you can easily adjust the brightness of the screen. Highlighting and note-taking is easy, too. The only thing I see missing that I really like on my phone and on my original Kindle is the capability to tweet out selections of the text that you are reading. I really like doing that, but haven't seen that option on this Kindle. As an Amazon Prime member, you can also borrow one book a month from their member library, which is how I was able to read the second Hunger Games book without having to buy it.

The Web
The browser isn't super fast, but then I've never used an iPad that loaded like lightning either. It does support Flash, which is always nice, and I find pretty easy to copy/paste a URL when needed. Due to the small size of the screen, I do have to zoom in sometimes to accurately tap on a link, but I do that on my phone already. One downside I did find recently was trying to edit my Wordpress blog online was wonky and there is no Wordpress app (yet?).

The Bottom Line
If you are looking for a cheap iPad, this is not it. With no camera and no microphone, this is truly a consumption device. It does not sync up with a computer, (though you can sync up items through Amazon's cloud services, which I haven't explored yet), and I haven't explored putting photos on it. If you like your Kindle but want an upgrade, or are looking for an all-in-one e-reader for ½ the price of an iPad, this is for you. With its simple, intuitive navigation, it is a great device for someone who is not interested in managing a complex device or has simple needs.

Mary Beth Hertz is a Technology Teacher in North Philadelphia. She began teaching in 2004 and have since then been a Science teacher for grades K-6 and a Technology Teacher with her own computer lab, where she still is today. Students in her lab complete units on research, digital citizenship, basic programming, digital video and story writing among others. Mary Beth started blogging in 2007 as a way to share with the world the deplorable conditions in which her students learned. To learn more, check out her blog Philly Teacher and you can find MB on Twitter as @mbteach.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The 411 on Google+

By Will Deyamport, III, Ed.D. Candidate

Google+ is a social networking site developed by, of course, Google. It works by allowing users to set up Circles or different social groups where people can target specific groups to share news and various other content. For example, instead of sharing links, pictures, and videos to everyone like Facebook, the circles allows users to share certain videos with family, others with classmates, as well as a different forum for co-workers.

Google+ also allows user to control and edit multimedia. With the the photo tab, users can take all of the photos they've shared, as well as the ones they're tagged in and edit them with the image editor, which comes with an Instagram-like photo effects), privacy settings and sharing features.

The Hotness of Google+ is the Hangouts. It's a group chat feature, which allows the user to set up a video chatroom. Once in the chatroom, a notice goes out to everyone in that user's circles letting them know that that individual is “hanging out.” To gain entrance into the video chatroom, a user must be a part of the circle the notice originated from.

I am on Google+ but must admit that I haven't gotten into it as much as Twitter. What I do like about it is the ability to aggregate content to specific groups. I also love the Hangouts. Video is always my preferred method to connect online.

Check out this video by ROCKETBOOM on Google+

Will Deyamport, III, is an Ed.D. Candidate, an education thought-leader and online content creator. His blog, PEOPLEGOGY, focuses on life and career developments. In addition to his 11 years of experience in education, he has interned with the likes of Ingrid Stabb and J. T. O’Donnell. Currently, Will is working on his dissertation, which focuses on using social media to individualize professional development for teachers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

iBio Returns

I am now accepting submissions for the iBio series. The iBio series is where people share their stories, their lives. I created the series to highlight how people are succeeding or failing on their own terms - how they meet the challenges in their lives as well as the dreams they have for themselves.

Check out some of the past iBio videos:

Vanessa G.

Shelly Terrell

Jenny Blake

Leah MacVie

Mary Beth Hertz

The length of your iBio video is up to you. What you say, as long as its not racist, sexist, antisemitic, or homophobic, is up to you. I am looking for what inspires you and what excites you about your life. If you're interested in submitting an iBio video, please feel free to leave a comment here or contact me on Twitter.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

How to Choose an Online Degree

By Will Deyamport, III, Ed.D. Candidate

If you've been to this blog before or have seen me on Twitter or have just happened to see one of my Youtube videos, then you know that I am a doctoral student at Capella University. And like those unfamiliar with for-profit universities or online degrees, I was skeptical about the quality and reputation those programs provided. But that all changed when I called Capella about their master's programs in Non-profit Management. Once I did the research about their accreditation, I applied and have never regretted my decision.

A for-profit online university has worked well for me. Not only have I been able to build a knowledge-base in educational philosophy, classroom assessment, leadership and numerous other educational theories, I've been able to tailor my coursework around the growing field of social media, becoming a budding scholar in the process. Add my internships with J.T. O'Donnell and Ingrid Stabb, along with my dissertation on how social media can be used to individualize professional development for teachers, and I feel confident in my ability to lead a social media institute, as well as teach a couple of classes as an adjunct. But for those unsure about online degrees or even how to go about choosing one, here are some things to look for:

- Check for the school's accreditation. Regional accreditation is good, but subject or field accreditation, such as NCATE or ABET is better.

- Ask about the modules used to teach. Are they asynchronous? If so, how are they structured? If they're synchronous, what kind of video conferencing tech will you need? If it's a hybrid program, how much time will you spend on campus?

- Be aware of time. This points to the length of each quarter or semester as well as the due dates for coursework.

- If it doesn't make dollars, then it doesn't make sense. Compare the tuition rates. No need to rack up a mountain of debt if the degree program or school's reputation won't make you a credible candidate in the eyes of HR.

- Know what you are going to learn and whom you'll be learning from. Ask for a syllabus of the classes you're interested in taking. Also, talk to a professor or two. You have to feel confident that you are making the best decision for your needs.

As much as I've enjoyed being a student at Capella, you'll never find me pushing an online program on anyone. Everyone's needs, learning styles and career interests are different. Also, be sure to note that not all online degrees are created equal or are offered by for-profit universities. Many state and private universities are offering online degrees now. Going to school online has its advantages as well as disadvantages, depending on the individual needs of the person. But if you're interested, I hope those tips will be helpful.

The New School

Will Deyamport, III, is an Ed.D. Candidate, an education thought-leader and online content creator. His blog, PEOPLEGOGY, focuses on life and career developments. In addition to his 11 years of experience in education, he has interned with the likes of Ingrid Stabb and J. T. O’Donnell. Currently, Will is working on his dissertation, which focuses on using social media to individualize professional development for teachers.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

We Teach by Our Presence: The power of practice merged with presence in cultivating and flourishing compassion in our children and our world

By Molly Rowan Leach

The foundation of compassion’s growth in our world starts with our children—but even before that, with ourselves. Although I am a strong proponent of pedagogical practices and the power of education, I would also like to invite us in this blog to consider that it may be our presence and quiet actions that have equal if not greater value to our children. In this blog I’d like to cover what I have discovered in both realms with this in mind.

Just a few years ago a few of my close friends were integral in hosting His Holiness The Dalai Lama in Seattle, for a week-long event called “Seeds of Compassion”. As with most of HHDL’s events people turned out in the hundreds of thousands to hear dialogues and receive practical insights in a specific set of key modules, including a panel on raising healthy, compassionate children. The Dalai Lama and the panel emphasized “seeds” such as:

• Listening
• Nonviolent Communication
• The Power in Storytelling
• Presence
• Boundaries & Clear Guidelines
• Providing positive reflection and reinforcement

There is much use of the adage “Be the change you wish to see in the world” that was coined by Gandhi, and we know that underneath this koan of sorts is a much deeper relevance than may first meet the eye. So the practices/principles above—for which there are others but for the purposes of our sharing here together today I’m focusing on these—must be both understood and conceptualized and then brought fully forth into being. We know that people—especially our children—have a sixth sense about them that can immediately detect when there is not authenticity in the room. We know that our nonverbal realm is much more rich and robust with constant communication than the verbal. So in principle in order for us to convey to our children what we wish to see out-pictured in our world, we must essentially start with ourselves.

How does that apply to teaching our children, you might ask? If theory and practice do not merge, there is lessened authenticity. Truly understanding ourselves and where our own buttons get pushed and charges are helps us gain a much greater scope of qualities that add to a powerful wisdom and centeredness that we can bring to our children. In fact, it is often our children who are waiting for us to catch up to them. And I’m not saying that we don’t have a responsibility to ourselves and to them to learn and teach, to continue to learn, and never stop learning and implementing best practices. I’m saying that our children ultimately are our guides back to the place where compassion and empathy already flourish and are simply waiting for us to regain that space within our own conscious awareness; and thus, in daily life and our teaching practice and presence.


There is an egregious underestimation of the power of true listening in our Western culture. We are so eager to be right, prove ourselves, get our point across and win an argument that many miss the jewel within the great stream of human interaction: that true listening opens up windows and actually shifts the biochemistry of the brain in each participant of a conversation. When I am listening deeply to you, my biofeedback and resonance, as measured by recent scientific studies, is the exact same frequency as the Earth’s. It’s called the Schumann Resonance. What does this mean? It gives striking evidence to the fact that when we are present in a way that allows the other to transmit their view, story, or whatever it is that is “up”, we optimize the other’s sense of being heard, and not only that we uplift the possibility of mutual connection and thus, if conflict is present, deep resolution. In the case of parents and teachers relating this way to children, there is no difference. When a parent pauses from all the ‘ten thousand things that rise and fall’, all the distractions of the days that seem to pass so quickly, and truly stops to listen—mind you while also emptying his or her mind of what my friend and colleague Leroy Little Bear calls “tacit infrastructures”…magic happens. From that “ground of being” that my colleague James O’Dea so eloquently speaks to, one can set the framework for clarity, resolution, empathy, and even healing to occur. And what is so key and critical for our children is that unspoken direct and deep connection that silently says, “I hear you, you are safe and you are truly seen.”

Now in this practice I am not saying we should let our children streamroll us or that we do not have boundaries especially when engaging with them in charged situations—however, it is almost inherent that if we are coming from a space of deep listening we will likely be disarming any defenses built up—especially with our teen youth.

Deep listening requires again a tending of our own inner garden and invites us to get in touch ever more closely with what might prevent us from feeling and experiencing our own inner peace. It is helpful if we can engage this process with, of course, self-compassion and as Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron so simply states, “start where you are”. This helps us become malleable and open to our own wounds or blocks and allows us to also remove judgment of ourselves in preparing to bring our best foot forward when working with, and parenting, our beloved children. And thus it also in turn disarms the charge of judgment of others and capacitates a clear perception of what really is at hand.

Nonviolent Communication

Marshall Rosenberg is well-known internationally for his incredibly relevant work in creating and offering Nonviolent Communication (NVC) practices. The core and heart of nonviolent communication is based in recovering our own natural humility and reverence for life itself while creating a safe space for there to be clear dialogue. Rosenberg was once in a very tense situation in a war zone, and in order to diffuse the situation carefully, he made even his physical form humble to this aggressor by turning his head to the side and asking, “what do you need me to understand?”

When we invite understanding into the room and allow that to foundation our verbal exchanges, it shifts the whole ‘game’ of communication and listening. NVC is a rigorous and practical program that provides practical tools that support the clear verbal cues that support the unfolding process. Often a person will reflect back to the other what he or she has just heard, to convey a deep sense of understanding and to invite any further clarification. With children we can employ this practice in a joyful way, engaging the imagination and allowing our discourse and sharing with them to also feed creativity and as parents to send silent and powerful messages that, indeed, we are there with them, and that they are encouraged to flourish and open. This is also a powerful practice of course when there are fights or disruptive behaviors, as it allows the child to understand that he or she will be given a full opportunity to share his or her story and view, and be fully heard, while the parent or teacher takes part in turn and directs the course of the dialogue towards resolution.

I cannot emphasize more the power of the non-verbal realm in our conveying compassion and empathy to our children, and in the verbal realms, NVC is one—if not the most—powerful practices that rearranges the entire landscape of how we communicate in just a few simple, refined and very successfully practiced ways.

The Power of Storytelling

Although this “seed” was not, as far as my knowledge goes, covered specifically in the Dalai Lama’s time at Seeds of Compassion in Seattle, I added it because it is one of the most powerful platforms for conveying compassion while also eliciting the other qualities mentioned such as deep listening, presence, and so on. We know that our children love stories, and we know that reading to and with them has a great influence on their inner world and beyond. Storytelling allows us to step away from the thousands of other distractions in our world and come back to the original evening news: the campfire and the verbal traditions. When we share with our children either by reading a book with them that exemplifies the power of peacemaking or by inviting impromptu “made up stories”, we give them a window into a world that is filled with the great gift of diversity, with the power of differences, with the unity of our interconnectedness, and this helps keep our children’s “gateway to imagination” open, which is a powerful thing to keep.

It also provides a creative platform to discover commonalities—to realize our “inescapable web of mutuality” as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so beautifully put it. By hearing others stories we realize we are not alone, and quite in fact, share very common and similar experiences of our world. This facet of discovery is one of the primary factors that melts unforgiveness, hate and the cycles of violence. By allowing stories to be shared, and by combining this with true authentic listening, many experience a new sense of interconnectedness which affects their consciousness in a very expansive, calming, “a-ha moment” kind of way. For children, it helps augment the foundational safety they need to feel in their world and helps them to feel a greater sense of empathy for others when they are hurt or wronged-because they can venture into the greater story behind why that person may have hurt them or another. Storytelling is one of our world’s most powerful platforms for understanding and compassion for these reasons.


So much has been said and studied about presence—so what is it, really? Is it possible for us to be truly present with our children when our minds are elsewhere, concerned about bills or tasks, distracted by again those feisty ten thousand things that rise and fall? My son once said, “Mom, your computer is not your son.” That statement hit home to my core and woke me up to the fact that I was doing the very thing I so wanted to not do for my own children: to be physically present but mentally elsewhere—and thus not fully present. Now this is a constant vigilance that gets more and more subtle the further you go into committing yourself to Presence with a capital “P”. Isn’t that ironic? It’s no wonder that so many turn back—we have been so infiltrated by surface distractions and patterning that tells us not to dive into our own ‘stuff’ that it is no easy feat to commit to this—and yet, it is the most powerful gift you can give to your child and youth in your community. We often say the greatest gifts are not things. This is what I am getting at here with presence. And to not stop at the surface but to dive in, again with that self-compassion and non judgment of where you are on your journey, so that you can better serve to exemplify this very state of being for your beloved child and children.

When we talk about the basic steps that bring you back to essence or true presence—and you may know that feeling that I’m talking about—it’s that sense of such calm, centered trust and great love—it’s a deep and complete peace that rises up from a source that is so a part of each and every one of us. It is joyful and grounding all at once. Perhaps it is elicited when you are with someone whom you know on the very core levels sees you for who you truly are, or perhaps it surfaces when you are near the ocean. In our day to day lives, naturally this feeling will disappear from our experience, and is brought back to the forefront by simple practices that we can share with our children—regardless of spiritual inclination and/or affiliation:

• Breath as a tool to connect us to our hearts.
• Heart-awareness; placing attention on one’s heart (Check out The Institute of Heart Math for some great science games and tools that measure your heart’s resonance.

• “Keiki Reiki”: affirmations coupled with EFT therapeutic practices (“Keiki” means children in Hawaiian; “Reiki” is energy, life-force)

• Meditation pauses throughout the day. Simply sitting with a candle (children love, with close supervision, to light the candle and this empowers and draws them to this simple yet profoundly helpful practice), watching your heart and breath. If you are a teacher, consider starting the day with this practice.

• Read a book about peace. There is such a great array of “peace books” for all ages available in our libraries. By telling the stories of compassion and love in our world we counterbalance the heavy attention to its opposite by our culture, government, and media. (Check out “Peace and Pancakes”, a wonderful story that illuminates the victim behind every perpetrator, and gives children a powerful conveyance of the power of courage, compassion, and hearing all the stories)

• Re-engage daily with Mother Nature/Outdoor education and awareness. (My personal favorite here is Jon Young’s program based in the NW that has curriculum for K-12 plus adults in naturalist and wildnerness awareness

Ultimately the journey here is more important than the destination, and yet by employing these consistently one might find less and less gaps between true presence and a feeling of losing it. The journey of Buddha, Jesus and many masters has always had this quality: to strive to stream only that consciousness of true presence.

So these are a few ideas that I’ve seen employed in classrooms and that I do my best to employ myself as a parent. The things in our lives that could be most helpful to us often seem the hardest to enact—so starting simply, and with compassion for oneself and not feeling a rigid grip on “having to do it that way” is a good plan.

With each of the above ideas we weave a fabric that is a powerful mirror for our children. Nobody can argue that we have too little coming at us every day—from media to video and television to the quality of the news and its choice to focus on the contracted and darker parts of the world—we truly and actively counteract these effects by making choices to place our energy and focus on exploring activities such as the above that naturally deepen our ability to be present. I like to think of life as a benevolent warrior’s or hero’s journey back to this place and ideally, that if we are skilled enough, we can lessen that need for a long journey back to that center for our own children.


I hope that this blog has been insightful for you and although I am not an expert in much anything I have enjoyed sharing my humble wisdoms gained from experience and teachings from some great beings I’ve had the fortune to know on my own journey.

Molly Rowan Leach has lived a life that she hopes has left both a subtle and not so subtle imprint for the better upon the heart of humanity. Working at IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences) and overseas at the Center for Graduate Research and Education/Economics Institute in Prague, she began to set in motion the independent and activist voice that resides within her quite deeply.

Her publicity and production company, Mali Rowan Presents, was founded in 2009 after it became clear that she was already broadcasting, connecting, and sharing good works and great people and organizations for over a decade. She is currently hosting leading-edge dialogue series for Evolutionary Lawyers and a series on Restorative Justice and Social Healing in the US and beyond, featuring the powerful work of colleagues James O’Dea, Dr. Judith Thompson, ABA Bestselling Author J. Kim Wright, Riane Eisler, Sharif Abdullah, Matthew Albracht and many others.

She has produced major conferences, “Living in the Fire of Change: Sacred Activism and Social Transformation”, which she co-founded with James O’Dea, a colleague and fellow voice in Restorative Justice and Social Healing. She has worked closely with O’Dea over the past 3 years on production of his first published book, Creative Stress: A Path for Evolving Souls Living through Personal and Planetary Upheaval (2010) and is his Events, Outreach and Production Manager. They also are collaborating in creating a Social Healing Institute with Dr. Judith Thompson, Belvie Rooks, and others.

Upcoming for 2012 Molly will be writing a book based on her background and experiences in Restorative Justice and human-based Prison Reform, as well as continuing to move forward the great works of the Social Healing Institute and rolling out virtual training opportunities with leading voices in these respective fields.

For more info please visit her official website at: twitter: @malirowan | facebook: Mali.rowan1

The So-called Brain-drain of Teacher Education Programs

Will Deyamport, III, Ed.D. Candidate

The assault on teachers is never-ending. Aside from being called incompetent, there are politicians, journalists, and profiteers saying that teachers come from the least gifted pool of college applicants. If that is so, please explain how the so-called most gifted college applicants go on to become doctors, scientists, lawyers, etc? Weren't they educated by the so-called least gifted among us?

This jabbering about the lack of quality teachers has to stop. Not only do teachers earn less than any profession requiring a four-year college degree, teachers are expected to perform miracles like no other. It doesn't matter if the student is in ESL or in Special Ed or come from a home and community where violence and poverty are pervasive, teachers are expected to will those students to make an arbitrary score on a standardized test.

No one becomes anything without the assistance of a teacher. Bill Gates had them. Steve Jobs had them. President Barack Obama had them. Even Mark Zuckerberg had them. We've all had that teacher who lit our souls on fire. And if we're lucky, we'll have a series of them.

Teachers should be celebrated and commended for the work that they do. They do more in their classrooms than most do with a lifetime. Teachers are the standard-bearers and the dream whisperers. What they do has an impact on the world. Please remember that when you want to call out a teacher.

Will Deyamport, III, is an Ed.D. Candidate, an education thought-leader and online content creator. His blog, PEOPLEGOGY, focuses on life and career developments. In addition to his 11 years of experience in education, he has interned with the likes of Ingrid Stabb and J. T. O’Donnell. Currently, Will is working on his dissertation, which focuses on using social media to individualize professional development for teachers.