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BIG PICTURE Social Emotional Learning Podcast

BIG PICTURE Social Emotional Learning Podcast

By Nini White
This Social Emotional Learning (#SEL) podcast shares practical wisdom from the global community of inspiring teachers and parents.
Featuring fresh perspectives and practices that, until now, were only available at education conferences.
Episodes always include:
• Fresh insights:: emotions, critical thinking skills, thinking skills, empathy, trust, social justice, much more.
• Research-based / experience-validated.
• Actionable, relatable steps for you and the kids in your care.
Especially helpful for, but not limited to, ECE (early childhood education).
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Currently playing episode

Ep. 70 - Developing Developmental Relationships, with Kent Pekel

BIG PICTURE Social Emotional Learning Podcast

Ep. 70 - Developing Developmental Relationships, with Kent Pekel

BIG PICTURE Social Emotional Learning Podcast

Ep. 96 - Social Justice Conversations in Preschool, with Nadia Jaboneta and Brian Silveira
Brian Silveira and Nadia Jaboneta are Pedagogical Leaders at Pacific Primary Preschool in San Francisco, California. They each bring about 25 years experience as Early Childhood Educators, and clearly that combination of 50 years teaching experience has only deepened their commitment to providing relevant and alive education for their young students. Their bios, below, are extensive and impressive, and I hope you’ll check them out. I invited Nadia and Brian into this conversation because they were both featured teachers in a recently released film titled “Reflecting on Anti-Bias Education in Action: The Early Years.” Definitely worth watching. Nadia Jaboneta lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and 3 children. She is a Pedagogical Leader at Pacific Primary Preschool in San Francisco, California. She has 24 years experience in Early Childhood Education teaching young children, training teachers, consulting and facilitating workshops. She is passionate about social justice and is proud to have immigrant parents from Lima, Peru. Nadia attended San Francisco State University for both her Bachelor's and Master's degree. She has written numerous articles for the magazine Teaching Young Children, focused on the anti-bias education practices she uses. She also is the author of the book You Can’t Celebrate That: Navigating the Deep Waters of Social JusticeTeaching and co-author of Children’s Lively Minds: Schema Theory Made Visible. Most recently, Nadia was one of the featured teachers in the film “Reflecting on Anti-bias Education in Action: The Early Years.” Brian Silveira lives in San Francisco with his husband and is a Pedagogical Leader and has worked at Pacific Primary for 26 years. He is still thriving and growing in his commitment to social justice. Brian worked in community-based and public preschools before landing in his dream job at Pacific Primary. His experiences in diverse school settings has informed his philosophy and life mission to make the world a safe and just place for all children. He is currently the co-facilitator of the LGBT Interest Forum for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC ), and has presented on the topics of equity, bias and allyship both locally and nationally. He has been published in Teaching Young Children magazine and Exchange Magazine, and has been recognized by several national interest forums for his work supporting men in ECE, peace educators and the LGBT community. Other resources: Lorretta J. Ross, Calling In/Calling Out A book by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli Rudine Sims Bishop: Makai Kellogg - Social Justice Books for children Denisha Jones - Black Lives Matter at School: An Uprising for Educational Justice Laleña Garcia - Black Lives Matter in Education
June 23, 2022
Ep. 95 - Songs for Engaging & Encouraging Kids' SEL, with Dave Fromer's music
In this episode of the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast you’ll be introduced to Dave Fromer, and his multi-awarding winning album that teachers and parents love, thankfully… because young kids love listening to Dave’s song’s over and over and over again. Do you use songs to help improve and manage transitions during the day? Songs that young kids enjoy can serve as wonderfully helpful tools to help them transition from one task to the next… How? Well, once they’ve learned a song and become used to its length, kids are usually happy to get on-board with coordinating their transition timing to align with the end of one task or activity to the start of a new one… which brings so many advantages for everyone, not the least of which is a more orderly and more cooperative learning environment. More good news, about which you’re probably aware, but now research is out there to validate: exposure to songs students enjoy together can improve and increase the positivity in a classroom atmosphere (Eerola & Eerola, 2013; Foran, 2009). Another valid reason for incorporating more music into the daily routines of your class is that active engagement with music, like singing along, has been shown to impact the way brains process information, by enhancing perception and comprehension of language and subsequently improving students’ ability to communicate with others (Hallam, 2010; Bokiev, Bokiev, Aralas, Ismail, & Othman, 2018), which definitely relates to, and supports, SEL. In addition, several studies have suggested that when kids are exposed to calming music, their feelings of anxiety and stress are often measurably reduced. (Ziv & Dolev, 2013; Goldbeck & Ellerkamp, 2012; Saarikallio & Erkkila, 2007). I don’t have to tell you, I’m sure, that introducing any element that reduces feelings of anxiety and stress (that sometimes show up as aggressive behavior in the classroom), can help kids regulate and manage their own emotions in more positive ways, with the result of increasing their capacity to learn and interact more constructively throughout each day. (Foran, 2009). And if you can fit all of the following into the description - without this line of red text, of course, that would be GREAT: Shake a Hand, which is the name of the CD, is the recipient of the following awards: • Winner, 2005 Dr. Toy's Smart Play/Smart Toy Product of Excellence • Winner, 2005 Parents' Choice Silver Award • Winner, Honor Award in the 2005 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) • Finalist, 2005 Children's Music Web Awards in two categories: Best Recording for Younger Children ages 5-8 & Best New Artist for Pre-Schoolers SHAKE A HAND is the recipient of the following awards: • Winner, 2005 Dr. Toy's Smart Play/Smart Toy Product of Excellence • Winner, 2005 Parents' Choice Silver Award • Winner, Honor Award in the 2005 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Finalist, 2005 Children's Music Web Awards in two categories: Best Recording for Younger Children ages 5-8 & Best New Artist for Pre-Schoolers Fromer, who recorded a major label album with a folk trio in the ‘60’s, is an accomplished musician and guitar teacher from a musical family that includes his singer and keyboard player son, Reed, who performs on the record and wrote the liner notes. You won’t find many albums for kids that can boast this many name musicians, among them mandolinist David Grisman, guitarist Tal Morris, bassist Mel Graves, drummer Paul Revelli, multi-instrumentalist Joe Kraven, percussionist Marquinho Brazil, reed virtuoso Jim Rothermel and the sensational young guitarist Johnny Hiland.
June 15, 2022
Ep. 94 - More About the Directions of Season 2
How we see the kids in our care, (whether they’re in our classroom, our Afterschool facility or our home), how we see them… determines how much they can grow and develop as a result of our influence.   Kahlil Gibran quote:  Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.  They come through you but not from you,  And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.  You may give them your love but not your thoughts.  For they have their own thoughts.  You may house their bodies but not their souls,  For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.  You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.  For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday...
May 25, 2022
Ep. 93 - New Season: Looking Forward to a Bigger Big Picture for the BPSEL Podcast
This is a quick update on why episodes have been so sporadic for the last couple of years and, more importantly, why this is a whole new season for solutions-oriented episodes around all things social emotional learning (SEL). This season we'll be incorporating, amongst many other relevant SEL topics, the important work of equity and inclusion that is top of mind for educators, caregivers and parents.   As always, your feedback, questions, concerns, and suggestions matter for everything we're bringing to you.  Please take half a minute to tell us why you listen to this podcast.  THANK YOU.  Feel free to be in contact:
May 15, 2022
Ep. 92 - SEL's Benefits for Educators, with Kelley Munger, Ph.D.
Educators need SEL development, too.  Maybe even more than students, because when educators have age-appropriate SEL development and skills, they are empowered to bring more of their best selves into every day's interactions with students and peers... and isn't that a BIG part of what it's really all about?!!!!! Listen to this important conversation to discover no-cost opportunities for ECE's to gain the knowledge, training and experience for enriching their practice, their careers and their lives. And here's the YouTube link to our conversation, if you'd like to watch it: Please subscribe, Like and leave comments to help this podcast gain more traction... 'cuz it really helps, and I'll be so grateful to you.   ~Nini
February 19, 2022
Ep. 91 - SEL for Academic, Career and Life Success, with David Adams
In today’s episode, I share conversation with David Adams, CEO of Urban Assembly, and definitely a BIG PICTURE kind of educator. In this conversation, David explains the how’s and why’s of Urban Assembly’s approach to building schools’ cultures, which are 100% centered on developing students’ social emotional competencies for success in school, and for success in their future careers, and for success in their personal lives’ moving forward. In other words, everything is connected, and Urban Assembly schools work with, and through, that fact of life….  which might, at first, look like more work for teachers, but give it time… and listen up… by the end of this one hour conversation, you’ll understand why it actually means less work for teachers of all grade levels… K-12. In 2021, David received the Champion of Equity Award from the American Consortium for Equity in Education. David sits on the board of CASEL which, as I’m sure you know, stands for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.  David is an author of The Educator’s Practical Guide to Emotional Intelligence, and a co-author of the textbook, Challenges to Integrating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs in Organizations. He is a Civil Affairs Officer in the Army Reserve and holds a Master’s in Educational Psychology from Fordham University. URBAN ASSEMBLY: SEL DAY: YOUTUBE of this conversation:
January 10, 2022
Ep. 90 - The Moving Target of "Normal," with Prof. Sugata Mitra
We hear a lot about ‘returning to normal’ these days, especially in response to Covid. To me, the term ‘normal' has become a marginally meaningless cliché, so I was intensely intrigued when I came across a blog post by Sugata Mitra in which he comments on a legitimate concept of ‘normal’ for these times… especially in direct relationship to the education of our children and students. If you’ve been listening to this, the BIG PICTURE SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING podcast for awhile, you appreciate that the name for this podcast is no casual accident… because this podcast is all about providing a ‘big picture/wide angle lens on social emotional learning, and my approach to nurturing kids’ social and emotional development is very much in line with Sugata’s highly regarded work in proving that it’s better to NOT teach learners what they can learn by themselves… based on asking them the right kinds of questions… and asking those questions with an attitude and teacher/student relationship that fires up kids’ natural curiosity, intelligence, creativity, and collaborative problem-solving skills. I first became aware of Prof. Sugata Mitra when, many years ago, I watched a TED talk he gave which resulted in him receiving a TED Prize of 1 million dollars for his paradigm-shifting approach to education which works with the natural ability of learners to come together (either in person or virtually) and learn via communication and collaboration. Sugata retired as Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University in 2019. It was an incredible honor to share conversation with him. When paradigms shift, there are layers of adjustment required of us to relate in new ways to our world, to the ways in which we’ve always done things, to our relationships with others and with ourselves. The thing about paradigm shifts, that we need to understand, is that no matter how much we resist them, no matter how long we resist them, they’re not really optional… Throughout history waves of paradigm shifts have proven themselves to be manifestations of cumulative currents and rising tides powered by Life itself. Change is hard for some people, but resistance to what is inevitable, from what I’ve observed, makes for an even rougher ride. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and so would Prof. Mitra, so please shoot us an email, or make a comment on the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast Facebook page.   Thank you for being here, and thank you for all that you do for our kids and for the world they’re growing into.
September 23, 2021
Ep. 89 - Lessons from Covid for SEL Success, with Dr. Rachelle Rogers-Ard
There is so much we white educators need to understand that we do not currently understand or even see. But we can can see and understand more, so that we succeed more meaningfully with our students of color. Of course that involves becoming aware of our blindspots. Rachelle and I also talked about many teachers’ sense that we need full time control in our learning environments… but do we really?  COVID and distance learning taught us a LOT about that. In this rich and rewarding conversation, Rachelle shares valuable A-HA’s resulting from the combined experience of lockdown and remote learning… A-HA’s that have the potential to shift us into a whole new look at what, as educators, we do and how we do it…. AND how it all very much relates to the Social Emotional Learning that happens in our learning environments every minute of every day.
August 26, 2021
Ep. 88 - CRYING - Interesting explanations from science
scientists have been studying crying, and they’ve divided the tears that come from crying into three distinct categories: reflex tears, continuous tears, and emotional tears. The first of those two categories - reflex tears - perform the important function of removing irritants, such as smoke and dust from our eyes. The 2nd of those 2 categories, continuous tears, serve to lubricate our eyes, which protects them from infection and from that awful dry eye feeling. The content of those 2 categories of tears is basically water, mixed in with some salt, of course. What’s extremely interesting, though, is the 3rd category of tears: Emotional tears are a whole other ‘animal,’… and they are far more important for long term mental health than I had ever before understood .…It has been objectively observed, by SCIENCE, that emotional tears flush stress hormones and other toxins out of our physical system. Science has identified *oxytocin and *endorphins as actual ingredients in emotional tears. The makeup of emotional tears is water and salt, yes, with the added ingredients of oxytocin and naturally-occurring opioids, otherwise known as endorphins. If you have children of your own and you breastfed them, then you may have been told about Oxytocin… Perhaps you even experienced its effects… that gentling surge of peace and well being, no matter how stressed you may have felt just minutes before your baby started to nurse. I remember that feeling to this day… I was always impressed how my body sent out hormones to regulate the mood and feelings I’d be emanating while my sons and I were connecting like that. Nature is so profoundly intelligent, eh?! Do me a favor, too, please… give a rating and review for this podcast on Apple podcasts, and like the Facebook page for the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast. Thanks. It means a lot to know that you appreciate what I’ve been sharing with you here. ’til next time… stay safe and be well. Harvard Health Blog: “Is Crying Good For You?”
August 17, 2021
Ep. 87 - Neuro-Nurturing with Deborah McNelis
Deborah McNelis is one of my favorite kinds of educators and people, because Deborah is in it for the love of it. She has her Masters degree in Education, she’s an author, speaker and, most helpful for you, dear listener… Deborah has created the Neuro-Nurturing Interaction Packets for the specific purposes of supporting children in feeling seen, accepted, worthy of love and respect. You will enjoy gaining new levels of learning and insights about brain development and how we, as parents and educators, can nurture children’s growth for the healthy manifestation of each ones unique potential.  Because Deborah and I just skimmed the surface of what she’s able to help all of us do, in very practical and actionable terms, for today’s youth, you really do want to check out Deborah’s website to learn more: And please know how very much I'll appreciate it if you'll take the time to leave a rating and review on Apple podcasts ~ (     Thanks!      Also:  stay connected by liking the Facebook page for this podcast:
April 16, 2021
Ep. 86 - Critical Thinking Skills & SEL
If you’d like to receive an electronic copy of the resource I’ve been sharing with you on this episode, just drop a line to me. My email address is That’s where you can share your thoughts, make requests for future topics on this podcast… anything. I love to connect with listeners. Thanks for being here… and I hope to hear from you soon.
April 07, 2021
Ep. 85 - Fatherhood Wisely Considered, with Jordan Shapiro, PhD
Today’s guest is Jordan Shapiro, PhD, who is kind of a ‘big deal,’ since he’s globally respected as an American thought leader. (I’ve included a link to his website in this show’s notes so you can learn about his wide-ranging accomplishments.) Jordan’s internationally respected perspective combines research in psychology, philosophy, and economics in ways that make so much sense, when he explains them. In this episode, Jordan and I discuss his most recent book, Father Figure: How to be a Feminist Dad.  And…if that book title doesn’t ring your bells, I’m with you, BUT, please, stick with me now… because the book is an honest, vulnerable, highly readable, heart and mind-expanding look at dad-psychology—challenging our old, familiar assumptions about traditional parenting roles…. For everyone’s benefit… more than you might imagine. Jordan, a father and step father himself, shares attitudes, insights and mindsets for successfully growing in the REAL joys of fathering while guiding today’s men toward an enriched perspective on manliness for today’s world… and a healthier future for all. Jordan’s book isn’t yet available, but it will go on sale May 11th. There’s a link in the show’s notes to be notified by his publisher when you can get your copy… hardcover, ebook, or downloadable audiobook. Jordan's website, with link to pre-order his book: More praise, besides my own, for Jordan's book: “This pandemic has revealed a crisis in American caregiving. I hope Shapiro's fearless book kickstarts a woke dad revolution, because Goddess knows we need one.”—Anya Kamenetz, NPR correspondent and author of The Art of Screen Time "Father Figure is exactly the book that our family needed, and we imagine yours does too. Shapiro questions what the traditional ‘dad’ offers a modern household. He reminds us that feminism liberates everyone, not just women. And he offers supportive and profound suggestions for fathers. You can be a vital member of your family’s journey without being a patriarchal tyrant."—Ben Lee and Ione Skye, musician, actress, partners, parents “Holy smokes! This book is a revelation and a revolution. This is required reading for every person who is or will be a caregiver in their lifetime -- which is all of us. Father Figure is a brilliant mix of memoir, manifesto, and action. Shapiro offers us hope for a future where fatherhood is radically reimagined, and this is the road map to get us there.”—Eve Rodsky, author of Fair Play Connect with me via email: Connect on Facebook:
March 04, 2021
Ep. 84 - Insights for Teaching (and Living) Anti-Racist Values, with Larissa Wright-Elson
Here are the basic points from Larissa's article: Our words and actions must match. Reading options for students must be broadened to provide wider perspectives from other races and cultures. Conversations are necessary... even, and especially, the ones around 'difficult' topics.  Listening is a big and necessary element for meaningful conversations. Have the courage (and flexibility) to explore new and different ideas. Self-reflection is essential... without self-reflection there is no way to recognize and catch our biases (which we all have... all of us.). Yeah, that's a tough one, but really important for moving forward. Media, used with critical thinking and discernment, can be a valuable resource. FACT:  the work is never ending.  And because 'whites' created the racist problems, it's on us to be proactive in its mitigation. Larissa's article for PBS ... More Resources, courtesy of Larissa: 'Raising White Kids' Author On How White Parents Can Talk About Race Confronting Anti-Black Racism Resources Death of George Floyd sets off massive protests The 1619 Project The 1619 Project Curriculum Teaching About Race, Racism and Police Violence Social Justice Booklist Social Justice Booklist - Young Adult Fiction Resources from Educolor
February 19, 2021
Ep. 83 - Disfiguring Accidents Require Conscious SEL Skills from Everyone, with Margaret Kugler, MS
When traumatic accidents occur, resulting in serious injuries and permanent disfiguration, knowledgable guidance is essential for healing and for everyone's ability to adapt, constructively, to build the best possible life, moving forward.  Margaret Kugler, MS,  is the Transition Coordinator for children who come from all over the country to Shriners Hospital in Northern California for healing (physically, emotionally and socially).   When it's time for them to return to school and start rebuilding their lives, Margaret goes to their school, anywhere in the U.S., including Alaska, to  make sure everyone (students, teachers and school staff) share a clear understanding about how best to get life back to "normal"  for injured/permanently disfigured students. Margaret shared the following resources with us, and added that there are lots of camps, adaptive sports and activity organizations, as well: For more information about Shriners Hospital, go to:      phone:  916.453.2000 Support for survivors of serious burns: Support for survivors of spinal cord injuries:
November 11, 2020
Ep. 82 - A Very Big Picture Perspective on SEL, with Soundhari Balaguru, PhD
Soundhari Balaguru, PhD, is a clinical psychologist with over 15 years experience supporting schools on the east coast and the west coast. Soundhari is the founding Director of Social-Emotional Learning & Mental Health at ChangeMakers Academy (CMA), a diverse K-8 school in Vallejo, CA. In her work with students, faculty AND families, she is focused on creating a model school that is built upon a genuinely caring community. A school community in which students, teachers, staff, and families understand and accept that people make mistakes, while providing each and every group with the practical tools to constructively address and manage challenges, for everyone’s benefit and progress. Dr. Soundhari worked with Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School community program for 10+ years to close the racial/economic opportunity gap in schools by providing direct mental health clinical services to students and families, consulting on school-wide student support systems, implementing programs that promoted SEL and culturally responsive care, and shifting school culture to be more attuned to the psychosocial needs of its students. Her passion has always been to collaborate with schools to meet the needs of the whole child - to promote what is therapeutic, even if it’s not therapy - so that every student can learn. Dr. Soundhari teaching and training experience includes 100+ hours of professional development sessions for educators, coaching/supervising clinicians in school-based work, and co-coordinating the Boston Children’s Hospital Neighborhood Partnerships training program. She has also taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Simmons College. Feel free to connect with me:
September 30, 2020
Ep. 81 - CONSENT - a very important SEL topic, with Sarah Casper
We all know that communication… clear, honest and mutually respectful communication is a foundational element of solid social emotional skills. Today’s guest has developed an approach that focuses in on a very specific channel of communication: CONSENT. Sarah Casper, will give us an overview of her understanding about the day-by-day, hour-by-hour, year-by-year relevance of consent …. we even had time for a few deep dives into specific examples of the relevance of this topic which revolves, to different degrees, depending on circumstances, around cooperation, boundary-setting, collaboration, communication and so much more. I’m really excited for all of us to learn from Sarah Casper - who, by nature, is a deep thinking, creative and nurturing woman. And so, there you have it. Much to think about, eh?  Want to learn more about Sarah’s valuable insights and contributions? Check out her website: And her Instagram page, called ComprehensiveConsent, is filled with tiny treasures of wisdom that will easily find their way into your life. Any questions? Any comments? Let me know. I love to hear from listeners and learn from you. Another thing I love is when people take a couple of minutes to rate this podcast with stars and write a kind comment… even a few words will make this podcast more visible, for everyone’s benefit. Thank you so much.
September 19, 2020
Ep. 80 - Stretching Possibilities & SEL, with Monick Halm
There was so much  I appreciated about this conversation. In particular, the fact that my guest, Monick Halm, independently grew her on social emotional skills by noticing what worked for her peers and then she experimented with bringing those observations into her own interactions. I also love what Monick shared with us about the power and importance of being with our kids and our students exactly as who THEY are, not how we think they should be.... how that genuine acceptance liberates them to develop according to their own rhythms and propensities.   Love that!!!!  Powerful lessons for us teachers and parents, and if we take those lessons inside ourselves rather than trying to lecture the kids in our care, the real value of those lessons will deepen into benefits for all. If you’re curious to learn more about the other things Monick was sharing with us, get her free downloadable book. In it she unpacks ALL of the real estate concepts and opportunities you’ve heard of, and a whole lot more about real estate that you’ve probably never heard of but will very likely find quite interesting. The link to the FREE book is: Monick’s 3-day online workshop, starting Friday, September 18, 2020, might not be interesting to you, but if you are interested even though that 3 day’s worth of workshop is more than you can imagine when you think about all your other responsibilities, the free upgrade she’s provided to the audience of the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning podcast, does make it possible to have access to all the recordings of the workshop so you can listen when you DO have time.   It might seem weird or out-of-place that I invited Monick Halm onto this podcast, but as we all know, money has a major impact on the social and emotional sides of our lives, either by the amount of stress that it causes or that it relieves, and I just thought why not?  Teachers, as we said in our conversation, are criminally underpaid... and I really like that Monick has a strong reputation as a trusted guide for helping women to establish some passive income.    I haven't taken her program, and probably like you, I kinda feel like I don't have the bandwidth for it ... but I'm not saying 'never,' either. The link for the landing page to the event that starts on Friday, September 18, 2020 is in the show’s notes…: Just type in the code TEACHERS to get the special upgrade.
September 08, 2020
Ep. 79 - Self-trust and SEL
Please accept this offer of help.  Send a quick email to me with answers to the 3 questions, below: Social emotional challenge your kids/students are encountering. Kids' age.  If you want to, include a brief description of how you've tried to help them resolve that specific challenge. ................................................ What does self-trust have to do with social emotional learning? And I will energetically answer: everything! First let’s look at our own mindsets and attitudes about kids’ problem solving instincts and actual ability to persevere through the various obstacles that are inevitable. Do we, deep down, think the kids in our care have got it in them to tackle their own social challenges? Their own emotional challenges?  All those people-to-people challenges that are inevitable? After assessing our basic trust in kids’s capacity to tackle their own challenges … we need to ask ourselves another fundamental question: Do we want kids to be dependent on us, or can we open-mindedly consider taking steps towards enabling kids to explore problem solving with peers, even, or I should say, especially, the problems that exist between and amongst peers. I promise: I fully understand that in the short term, fixing kids’ problems seems so much easier on your frazzled nerves and overworked days… BUT if kids are going to grow up to be elf-trusting, self-respecting and responsible and engaged contributors to a better world… practice has to start early and it’s got to be consistent. If you’ve been listening to this podcast for awhile then you’ve heard me promote questions as the key to engaging kids, but of course, not just any questions… and not just one or two questions. Questions are actually how we can teach, while at the same time giving valuable ownership to solutions to the kids in our care. We just need to understand that questions need to follow a logical sequence, in addition to being open-ended, unpredictable, and respectful of kids’ thought processes … acknowledging their innate wisdom, unique as it may … which will take discussions on the trail of solutions we very well might never think of. Girls who’ve grown up exercising their problem-solving skills, and who’ve discovered they can trust themselves to look at situations from more than one perspective and come to the right conclusions are the girls who won’t be hoodwinked by boys or men who have more power or position or status or charisma. Those girls will be much more likely to choose the boys and men she gets involved with based on her own, healthy and balanced criteria…. rooted in self-respect and self-worth. Youth who’ve consistently experienced that they’re legitimately capable of constructing fair resolutions for seemingly unfair situations will be much less accepting of leadership (in whatever form it might present itself - bosses, teachers, parents, politicians) who use the ‘power’ card to steamroll decisions and policies that are not inclusive enough … that aren’t big picture enough.
August 15, 2020
Ep. 78 - Real Talk with Kids, with Cassie Tondreau
Cassie Tondreau is a loved and well-respected educator, and based on her many years of experience, she knows, without a doubt, that children can be trusted to ask for deeper explanations and understanding … when they need them.  In this conversation about challenging, even disturbing topics, including Covid-19, Cassie encourages us to be sensitive to achieving the right balance between sharing too much with children and not sharing enough with them. Cassie is not only a very special educator, she’s also an excellent writer, so I highly recommend the article she wrote, titled “Talking to Young Children About COVID-19,” which recently appeared in RETHINKING SCHOOLS MAGAZINE. Here's the link to that article: Again, thank you for being here. You are very special to me, because I think you “get” the fact that is often missed by most school administrators and curriculum builders and, unfortunately, many teachers, that Social Emotional Learning is a field of study that’s as big and deep and wide as the whole of human experiences and interactions…. which is why I keep going forward with this podcast.  Until next time, stay well, and keep learning … because continual, open-minded, open-hearted learning really is the only way forward.
August 01, 2020
Ep. 77: Students Care About SEL, with Dominique Brooks
We have so much to learn from our students, and we have so much to gain by opening up to their insights and their view on the world in this time of massive changes across the globe.   SEL does not have to be delivered through some organized curriculum.  In fact, all that's really needed is real connections.  Connections in class don't have to be perfect, but they do have to be real for everyone's benefit and progress.  The research validates these insights, and Dominique's experience leaves no doubt: kids want to be seen, want to be respected, want to learn... but learning is seriously handicapped when kids don't feel respected. And, as Dominque explained, the respect has to go both ways for the purpose of school to be successful.   These are the days for self-examination.  What unconscious biases are we controlled by?  How much does white privilege (our own or others') impact our lives?  How do we really feel about our students' values, perspectives, unique forms of intelligence?   How open are we to learning from our students and our children? How open are we to sharing ourselves with our students?  How well developed are our own listening skills?  How much do we trust that our students are ready and willing to learn and grow with us, once they feel safe and seen?  How well do we remember our own feelings when we were the age of our students?  How do those memories inform us, and how can those memories guide us into more mutually respectful, productive and enjoyable relationships with our students?   How open are we to evolving our definition of our role in students' lives?   How committed are we to a lifetime of real learning?  The kind of learning that challenges and even breaks our boundaries.  SEL (Social Emotional Learning) isn't for wimps, but neither is it all that complicated.  Listening to our students (even and sometimes most especially the "troublemakers") will help us move forward on this great learning journey... for everyone's well being.
July 25, 2020
Ep. 76 - How to Live (Happily) with Tech & Kids, with Jordan Shapiro, Ph.D.
This conversation is dedicated to all parents (and teachers, too) who are seriously concerned about the powerful draw that technology, anything tech, has on today’s kids. Jordan Shapiro is, among many other qualifications, a senior fellow with the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Street Workshop, where he does research on how technology impacts childhood. His research and accomplishments are wide-ranging, as is the respect he’s earned nationally and internationally. You can check out this show’s notes to gain more specifics about Jordan’s long list of qualifications as a trust-worthy guide for our thinking around this mega-challenging topic… which most definitely impacts kids’ social and emotional learning and the well-being of family relationships. But, academic qualifications aside, Jordan practices what his research reveals in real day-to-day life, with his two sons, which is why I’m especially grateful to him for carving time out of his schedule for this conversation. In Jordan’s important book, titled The New Childhood, you can read about much more of the groundbreaking research in economics, psychology, philosophy, and education, which shows how technology is actually a necessary element of a brighter future for today’s children… one in which they’ll be able to create better models of global citizenship, connection, and community. And again, Jordan doesn’t just provide research, he also shares practical advice, with actionable approaches for using technology to engage with kids, in order to nurture their well-rounded development… and growth into a world we can barely imagine. Here’s a really helpful article by Jordan: Portions of Jordan’s CV: WRITING, PUBLICATIONS, CONFERENCES ● The New Childhood: Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World ○ December 31, 2018. Publisher: Little, Brown and Co.; Hachette. ● “Joan Ganz Cooney Center Guide to Digital Play for Global Citizens” ○ Published March 2018 ○ In partnership with Sesame Workshop, The Asia Society, Grable Foundation ● Online Learning Consortium Annual Conference ○ Innovations in Digital Education ○ Keynote Address (Nashville, April 2018) ● UNESCO – Mahatma Ghandi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainability ○ Keynote Address (Viskhapatnam, December 2017) ● Global Education and Skills Forum ○ EdTalk, (Dubai, March 2018) ● “An Ancient Education for Modern Democracy and Global Citizenship” ○ The Brookings Institution. ○ Authored with George Papandreou (former Prime Minister, Greece) ● Moscow Education Forum ○ Keynote Address, September 2017 2 ● World Economic Forum: “Realizing Human Potential in The Fourth Industrial Era: An Agenda For Leaders To Shape The Future of Education, Gender, Work” (2017) ○ Steering Committee and Expert Advisor ● Critical Thinking with Video Games ○ Lectures for Thomas Edison State University flagship course to begin Fall 2016 ○ Course design, video appearances, assignment and activity creation. ● TEDxPSUBerks “Education Needs More Friction And Less Fractions” ○ TEDTalk. Delivered November 2014. ● MindShift’s Guide To Digital Games And Learning. ○ Blog series and downloadable PDF guide, sponsored by Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop
June 26, 2020
Ep. 75 - Language Skills & SEL, with Sharnell Blevins
Sharnell Blevins’ walks her talk when it comes to THE most sensible philosophy about children’s successful school experience: Teachers, kids AND parents must work together to ensure that all kids grow towards their own unique potential. To that end, Sharnell has worked with nonprofit educational organizations for over 25 years. She’s currently Parent Engagement Coordinator at a highly effective organization for student advocacy through parent engagement and empowerment. Sharnell attended public school in Los Angeles all the way through, from Kindergarten to 12th grade, and all 6 of her children have attended LA area public, charter and private schools.   This conversation with Sharnell brings together several foundational factors for students’ successful Social Emotional Learning and Lifeskills development… hinging around Equality in education for Black Students. I hope you will read her article describing current educational injustice in California, as mandated by LAW!!!! I recently came across a powerful quote that is quite relevant for this conversation:  “Freedom isn’t just about a lack of bondage; it’s about having choices and access!” Issues like Prop. 209 may seem disconnected from Social Emotional Learning, but once you (and I) have our blinders removed with accurate information, once we understand the cause-and-effect patterns, how can we not embrace constructive avenues for change?    I’ve always been fascinated by Social Emotional Learning, because my long teaching experience has revealed that it can be a profoundly effective foundation for WIn-Win living… for everyone, of course, because that’s what Win-Win implies. Right?! If you are winning and I am winning, where’s the downside? Sharnell wanted you to check out these links: It’s Time to Dismantle Educational Injustice Against Black Students
June 20, 2020
Ep. 74 - A Black Mother's Concerns & Responsibilities, with Sierra Dominguez
The most challenging conversations are often the most necessary… for life to move forward …. for everyone’s benefit. Awakened awareness about the irrefutable fact that BLACK LIVES MATTER, and that Black lives in America continue to be crushingly disadvantaged in ways that are invisible to those of us who live in “White America” is the impetus for this conversation with Sierra Dominguez, a wise, loving, creative and courageous Black woman, married to a Mexican man, and the mother of their 2 children. Normally I wouldn’t go into those details about Sierra’s Blackness, and her husband’s Brown-ness, but these are the days to name what is, without tippy-toeing …. by replacing color blindness with ‘color bravery’… one of the many things Sierra taught me in this conversation. The Diversity Box: Color blind or color brave? | Mellody Hobson  TED talk: Kimberly Jones ~ How Can We Win:   This video is just under 7 minutes, and it’s the one Sierra and I were talking about: the conditions and restrictions that affect Black lives in America today. Kimberly expresses herself quite differently from the way that Sierra expresses herself, but hey … #DifferentIsGood, right?!  (Warning: strong language.) Raising Race Conscious Children (An online resource for talking about race with young children): New Kid, by Jerry Craft   “New Kid tackles diversity and inclusion with humor and charm. Jordan Banks wants to go to art school, but his mother sends him to Riverdale, a predominantly white private school, to increase his opportunities. Jordan teams up with Liam and Drew and along the way starts to enjoy himself. Craft uses pop culture parody references to start each chapter and includes drawings by Jordan throughout the book. The graphic novel format is perfect for a kid who loves art and also serves to take the story deeper as the pictures add another layer. Highly recommended for new kids and old ones!” — Kathy Burnette, The Brain Lair, South Bend, IN Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson  A President Obama "O" Book Club pick "Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.”
June 13, 2020
Ep. 73: An Honest Black & White Conversation in Honor of George Floyd, with Jordan Harrison
White people and black people need to be liberated from the lies that have created such deplorable disadvantages for, and untruths about, black people in America.  Those disadvantages and untruths are destroying the best of what all of us are capable of bringing to the life of this country, and without which there is no hope for recovery from the travesty of George Floyd's murder. (And all the other black men and women whose lives were ended by acts of racism) .   Now is the time for  whites to learn how government obscures, how public education  indoctrinates, and how media manipulates facts about life for blacks in America.  It may, at first, feel like hard work, but only at first.  Once truths are revealed, it is so much easier to see our way forward to an America that will work for all as, stated in our Constitution, it is designed to do.  As educators and parents, we must awaken from the unconscious biases that make us complicit in passing on to children the *unconscious attitudes that enable racism.   (* we all have them, and it's our responsibility to become aware of them and eliminate them.) If ever there was a topic relevant to Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Lifeskills Development, this is it. RESOURCES: If you're ready to see what happens when 'good' white people react to being treated with prejudice and bias, watch Jane Elliott's "Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes" Anti-Racism Exercise | The Oprah Winfrey Show | OWN    450,638 views  (#oprahwinfreyshow #OWNTV #Oprahwinfrey) Link to SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice): Link to info about "13th" - a documentary on Netflix recommended by Jordan: "White Fragility" link at Barnes & Noble: New Yorker article about "White Fragility":
June 08, 2020
Ep. 72: Nurturing Social Justice Awareness, with Nick Terrones
 “If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.” ~Mahatma Gandhi The time is NOW for us, as educators and parents of today’s children, to courageously and creatively step into our responsibility for the development of tomorrow’s citizens … citizens who, ideally, live and express attributes considered to be humane, well thought out, balanced and equitable. This episode, with the inspired and inspiring Nick Terrones, a Seattle-based preschool teacher, will provide reaffirming insights about the critical importance of your classroom and parenting practices, around a full spectrum of social justice challenges, all of which are firmly connected to children’s social emotional learning and lifeskills development. Both Nick and I want to encourage you to share this important episode with others who you think might be ready to take on the worthwhile challenges of bringing social justice issues into their conversations with young children, even very young children, because it’s actually easier and more natural than you might imagine. RESOURCES FOR YOU: An excellent article on the EDUTOPIA site ~ Teaching Young Children About Bias, Diversity, and Social Justice (Use young children's understanding of differences to teach social justice through age-appropriate literature, news stories, anti-bias lessons, familiar examples, and problem solving.) REACH & TEACH ~ An independent bookstore and shop for unique products that transform you and the world. Everything at Reach and Teach is focused on Gender Equality, Sustainable Living, and Peacemaking. We offer books, toys, puzzles, games, green lifestyle products, teacher resources, and fair trade gifts for all ages. LIKE our Facebook Page at the BIG PICTURE SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING PODCAST. 
May 28, 2020
Ep. 71 - Growth Mindset for Better Lives, with Mary Cay Ricci
Mary Cay Ricci is a life-long educator, having been an elementary and middle school teacher, instructional specialist and central office administrator. She was also an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University Graduate School of Education for 8 years. Mary Cay has been applying Carol Dweck's growth mindset research to classrooms, schools and districts since 2009.  Listening to this episode, you'll understand why Mary Cay is a popular keynote speaker and consultant who loves to help administrators, teachers and parents appreciate the innumerable advantages of becoming growth mindset thinkers. Be sure to head over to her website ( to get access to her FREE Ready-To-Use resources she was telling us about. Oh, and ... people aren't the only ones with GROWTH MINDSET ... check out the coolest,  most persevering kitten.  Here are children learning about how to engage GROWTH MINDSET with other children... this time around an art project.  
May 26, 2020
Ep. 70 - Developing Developmental Relationships, with Kent Pekel
In this episode of the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast we’re going to learn about the life-altering impact we can enjoy by developing Developmental Relationships. This conversation was with Kent Pekel, the President and CEO of Search Institute, an internationally recognized, not-for-profit organization that, for over 70 years, has been successfully accomplishing something that, unfortunately, is quite uncommon: bringing together research and practice, which Kent refers to as APPLIED RESEARCH.  Research that is proven to support young people to BE their best selves and to continuing growing as their best selves. Of course, that’s what we’re all committed to achieving with the kids and students in our lives, which is why I was certain you’d appreciate learning about a resource that can support you in your efforts. You can download a PDF copy of the Developmental Relationships Framework (In either English or Spanish), and you can learn more about how to support the relationship-building efforts of your school, your after school, and even your own home life at the website: You’ll find a wealth of tools and resources there… many of them FREE. As always, I love and appreciate your comments, and I greatly appreciate it when you take the time to rate this podcast and give a quick review.   A short video by Kent that provides some valuable insights, and some simple yet effective approaches to enriching relationships with youth:   Overcome Barriers to Build And Strengthen Relationships With Youth
May 15, 2020
Ep. 69 - Learning Lifeskills ~ Making Memories
I’ve just come across an article that I’m pretty sure some of you, who are not feeling so “at home” in the role of homeschool teacher, might really appreciate. The article appeared in National Geographic, and its title is, “Forget homeschooling during the pandemic. Focus on LIFESKILLS instead.” The over-arching purpose of the article is to absolve parents of guilt for not being great at replicating school in their home  when none have been trained and none have the necessary resources. I’ll just share with you that social emotional learning and lifeskills are, in my experience, inseparable, which is why I’m going to quickly share gems from the article, as well as some insights that the article triggered for me Learning is the most natural thing in the world for kids… when their natural interest is kindled.  Academics don’t always accomplish that goal of naturally kindling interest, as you may have recently noticed … so, the article suggests, instead of trying to force academics, think about what you are set up to do with your kids… to continue their constructive learning experiences during this time of quarantine. What do you know a lot about, or what would you and your kid like to learn together? Maybe something that your child’s teachers couldn’t teach, but something that has life enriching value, even if it doesn’t pass the purely academic criteria.  Whatever … consider using this incredible time to teach lifeskills. Ellen Galinsky, author of the highly respected book: Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs, is referenced throughout the article, and she suggests that when kids are resistant to engaging with what interests you, then it’s time to switch over to your child’s interests, because those, too, can provide plenty of opportunities for constructive learning of essential lifeskills. … and I’m not just referring to do-er or maker type lifeskills, though, of course, those are valuable and definitely enjoyed by kids … I’m wanting to remind you about the deeper levels of lifeskills that you are in THE best position to impart … … I’m talking about the deeper lifeskills of •critical thinking, •collaborative problem-solving, •perspective taking, •communication skills, of •growth mindset … THESE are the lifeskills that provide major advantages in life … THESE are life satisfaction skills … THESE are relationship nurturing skills…. These Lifeskills align with, and perfectly support social emotional learning … Looking for new ways to educate and entertain your kids? Visit NatGeo@Home for all kinds of resources—including quizzes, science experiments, lesson plans, and fun activities to do as a family. Great play ideas (that are 'sneakily' educational) from the San Francisco Public Library:
May 08, 2020
Ep. 68 - Real Conversations with Kids, with Nick Terrones
Our young students and our young children look to us to interpret the world for them … especially during out-of-the-ordinary times like the ones in which we are all living with the Covid-19 pandemic. Young children will not ask for our thoughts or about our feelings, BUT they will be picking up on what we are communicating, even without words … which is why I was so glad to welcome back Nick Terrones to share some of his valuable insights about the importance of communication that honors children’s innately sensitive perceptions about all that’s going on in the world around them. Nick makes it abundantly clear in this conversation why it is crucial that we prioritize clear, honest, factual, uncomplicated, explanations that are genuinely respectful of kids’ intelligence, and their perpetually alert awareness… as well as their need for us to be fully present with them during those kinds of conversations … that sometimes feel like they require some deep emotional courage to do right for their best advantage. Nick gives us a good example, too, and we share some laughs, as well … If you have any questions around this challenge of communication with little ones, please share them on the Facebook page for this podcast. I’ll communicate them to Nick and invite him back to share more of his warm hearted, highly educated approach to early childhood education. In the meantime, just for fun I’ve included a link, in this show’s notes, to a wonderfully performed song for TIMES LIKE THESE, recorded by a fantastic group of today’s talented artists… properly distanced, of course. I hope you’ll listen to the lyrics … this song, and this performance, have a very good chance of putting a smile on your face:
May 03, 2020
Ep. 67 - Rough-housing with Little Ones, with Nick Terrones
There are thousands and thousands of incredible, kind, caring, loving, nurturing, inspired and inspiring early childhood educators … and you, dear listener, may very well be one of them.  In this episode, I’ll be introducing you to one of the brightest stars on your noble team:  Nick Terrones.  Since 2006, Nick has been working with toddlers, and with those lucky kids’ families. I could go on and on, expressing my immeasurable respect for Nick’s wisdom, his clarity of purpose, and his heart-filled humanity, but your time is better spent listening to him than to me. Always more to be learning and understanding about the little ones in our care, eh? Did you gain new layers of appreciation for Nick’s approach to nurturing the wholistic development of young children?  I loved his clear explanation about the neurophysiological differences between boys and girls … and how those differences make all the difference in the world. In closing, I want to express my respect and appreciation for Nick’s involvement with the World Forum Foundation and his focused attention in the Men in ECE Working Group with that organization. Check out those links … it’s a quality organization. Once again I’ll remind you about the Facebook page for this podcast. It’s called the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast, and it’s super easy to LIKE … and once you do LIKE it, you’ll receive extra info and insights about episodes and all things … far and wide, deep and perhaps unexpected … related to today’s kids’ social emotional learning and lifeskills development. Also, you know… your ratings and reviews help to get these conversations heard by more and more folks who will gain value from them.
May 01, 2020
Ep. 66 - Environmental Sustainability & SEL, with Ruth Wilson, Ph.D.
A major criteria I have for inviting people to share conversation with me on this, the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning podcast, is that they have rich experience and creative insights into an essential dimension of social emotional learning … EVEN if, from the common understanding or point of view, their focus area is not immediately associated with social emotional learning. Hello. My name is Nini White, and I am so glad you’re here to experience the simple, yet uncommon and profound wisdom of Ruth Wilson, Ph.D. Ruth currently devotes most of her time to writing and consulting on issues relating to young children and nature… and with 30 years as a dedicated classroom teacher and as a teacher educator, Ruth has the big-hearted, gentle authority to more than qualify for her current responsibilities as the Research Library Curator of the Children & Nature Network. I fully trust that you will appreciate Ruth’s far-reaching wisdom during our conversation. Be sure to listen to this episode all the way through to get info about valuable resources: Ruth wanted you to be sure to check out the Children & Nature Network. Here’s the link: You may also be interested in Ruth’s most recent book, Learning is in Bloom. Ruth’s other book is: Nature and Young Children: Encouraging Creative Play and Learning in Natural Environments. Ruth also mentioned this book: Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv Though not directly connected, but relevant in so many fascinating ways, I recently came across a documentary about a couple that decided to go “all in” living in harmony with Nature… “The Biggest Little Farm.” If you’re enjoying this podcast, please give us a rating and a review … it really will help us to reach more educators and parents … for children’s sake. Thank you. Thank you so much.
April 24, 2020
Ep. 65 - Pt. 2: How to Matter MOST to the Kids in Your Care
This’ll be short, but I can’t NOT emphasize with you one essential suggestion from the book written by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté, upon which I focused in the last episode, and it has to do with strongly establishing ourselves (parents and/or teachers) as the primary attachment relationship for the children in our lives … in our care. I feel the strong need to emphasize this for you because we must not assume, as parents and teachers could assume in the past, that an easy natural bond between young ones and ourselves will endure, no matter how solid are our good intentions, because there is waaaay too much ‘competition’ from the cultural chaos of our times. The book, as I told you in the previous episode, provides several practical, do-able, and realistic suggestions, but - just quickly - I want to share this specific one from chapter 14: Get in each child’s face - or space - in a FRIENDLY WAY, for the specific purpose of making good eye contact and evoking a smile and maybe even a nod… with, and this is SO IMPORTANT … no agenda… except to build the relationship. Neufeld and Maté write, “The primary goal in all our connections with children ought to be the relationship itself, not conduct or behavior corrections.” Remember that little statistic I shared with you in the previous episode … the one about the research that points to the fact that between the ages of 11 and 17 months, the average toddler experiences a behavior correction every 9 minutes. Those are NOT the times when the relationship is being built… yes, they may very well be necessary (or they may not), but that’s a topic for another episode … what we need to clearly understand is that after our children and students move past the adorable stages into more and more of their own natural tendencies, expressing more and more of their own personalities, we (myself most definitely included, I’m so sorry to share), have had the unfortunate tendency to take the relationship for granted … Why do we take the relationship for granted? Are we lazy? Are we selfish? Are we crazy? None of those blaming explanations help. I think it’s more that we KNOW how much we love and care for the kids in our lives, now, and we sense that we must add more attention to overseeing their safety and education … but de-emphasizing the relationship and the importance of constantly nurturing the connection and bond in constructive and happy ways is showing up in disastrous ways for today’s youth.  (I really hope you’ll read the book to see all the ways in which the use of that overly dramatic word, disastrous, is appropriate here.) Okay … here are some To-Do’s for parents and teachers to experiment with and make your own. As you listen to these, please be open to the fact that life is in the details … life is made up of details … and we have to get back to honoring and valuing the details of our relationships with the children in our care: GREETINGS … you can take them for granted, or you can end each separation with gladness, enthusiasm, and all of your attention. Doesn’t have to last a long time, that re-setting of your togetherness, but it does have to be fully present … no more taking for granted the relationship, •after every night’s sleep, •after a day or a weekend when you were both apart. Instead, get eye contact, express a warm greeting with your words, with your genuine smile. Teachers who understand and practice this one element of relationship-building enjoy a classroom with much more willing students … it does make good sense, yes?!!!
April 17, 2020
Ep. 64 - HOW TO Matter MOST to the Kids in Your Care
NOTE:  This is a non-commercial podcast.  When I recommend  or refer to books or other resources, it is done independently and very often without the source's knowledge, and always without monetary exchange.     If and when that ever changes, I will be 100% upfront about it.  Promise!!! Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers Paperback – August 15, 2006 by Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D.  (Author), Gabor Maté MD (Author) 4.7 out of 5 stars    508 ratings ..................................... And here's another book that is highly relevant.  It's also a bestseller:    REALLY SEEING KIDS, by Deb Curtis
April 07, 2020
Ep. 63 - WHY Kids Need Other Kids
Do you ever get frustrated by the kids in your life (your students / your own offspring or young family members) who aren’t really taking in what you’re consistently trying to teach them about other people’s feelings? About how to get what they want without being obnoxious or breaking rules? About the best way to make friends? About sharing? About pushing? About yelling? About fighting? About everything that you think are the best ways for them to live happy and good lives? I recently read an article in Psychology Today written by Peter Gray, a well-respected research professor at Boston College. In the article, Professor Gray shines a bright light on something we all know, in our heart of hearts, to be true… but as we’ve aged and grown farther away from our own childhoods, most of us have probably forgotten to one degree or another. I want to share the core of his insights from that article with you, because they so powerfully coincide with my own experiences as an educator, and with the observations of all the educators that I most respect.
March 30, 2020
Ep. 62 - Talking with kids about death, with Binny Singh
Much as we all wish there was a way to protect our young students from heartache caused by the death of loved ones - relatives, friends, animals … there is no getting away from it: Life happens, and sometimes Life is rough. There are times when we are called upon to evoke our most courageous instincts to find the words and actions that will provide the greatest comfort to the young ones in our care. What I’ve offered here are just a few ideas that, hopefully have started your own ‘wheels’ spinning in consideration of your own students. If you come away from this episode with a single impression, I hope it will be that talking about death is more necessary and potentially beneficial than not talking about it. Your classroom can be THE supportive, safe, gentle, trustworthy place where real and mutually respectful learning about inevitable challenges, like death, can be, as Mr. Rogers said … mentioned and managed when we are surrounded by love and trust. Additional resources: Help Children Deal With the Death of a Grandparent: Signs of Grief in Children and How to Help Them Cope: Death of a Pet: Death of a Classroom Pet:
March 14, 2020
Ep. 61 - Understand Students' Basic Attachment Patterns, with Rusty May
Rusty May is a great example and a true inspiration for educators to understand and connect with all students, which results in more teachable time, more time on task, improved outcomes, including students’ social, emotional and behavioral skills …. all leading … so importantly: to teachers' increased job satisfaction. In this episode, Rusty May shares important insights about Attachment Theory, with specific ways to nurture the development of the students in your class who have different attachment patterns. This is one fascinating and valuable conversation.  OUTRO: Rusty would love to connect with you. You can find him at Once you’ve liked his page you’ll be able to get more mini-lessons from him, and you’ll also be able to ask him questions - directly. In case you couldn’t tell, Rusty is one dedicated and deep thinking educator.
March 05, 2020
Ep. 60 - Rethinking Kindness, with Wendy Zacuto
We have a duty to teach children the ways of kindness and thoughtfulness within and throughout all of their actions. In this conversation, Wendy Zacuto deepens and expands the boundaries of what even our youngest students need and deserve to understand about the critical role of kindness in the world,  which is in so much need of more kindness, more justice, more equity, more fairness, more compassion, more big picture awareness of the blind spots that we are often surprised to discover we have… and we are unknowingly passing along to the young children in our care. If you have thoughts about this or other relevant topics related to young children’s social emotional learning and lifeskills development, please LIKE this podcast’s Facebook page. We’re starting to build a community of like-minded educators there. Please check out if you'd like to be in direct contact with today's guest.  She is, as I'm sure you could tell, big-hearted, deeply knowledgable and clear-minded in the most well-balanced proportions... and I know she'd love to hear from you. By the way,  this episode really deserves all of your attention… so if you’re able to set aside any distractions while listening, I think you’ll be glad you did. . . . . . . . . .  Want to share experiences or discuss challenges with other listeners? Please connect with all of us on the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast Facebook page ( We’ve got a LOT of growing to do together. 
February 27, 2020
Ep. 59 - Teacher-Friendly & Kid-Friendly TRANSITIONS, with RAE PICA
Since 1980, Rae Pica has been an education consultant specializing in whole child development, children's physical activity, and the mind/body connection. Rae is a former college instructor, and she's the author of 19 books. Rae's experience and insights have been sought out by Sesame Street Research Department, Head Start, Centers for Disease Control, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Nickelodeon's Blue's Clues, Gymboree, Nike, and state health departments throughout the country. There’s more, much more … which you can find at her website: I’ve been learning from Rae for years, but never made contact … until recently, when I saw that she’d created an online course to help early childhood educators with the massive challenge of creating smooth transitions between activities.  What Rae shares with us, in this all-too-brief conversation, is some fun and practical ways to make everyone’s school time flow more smoothly for much happier days. Have you subscribed yet?  Hope so.   Have you LIKED the Facebook page for this podcast?  Hope so.    
February 20, 2020
Ep. 58 - Rethinking Sharing, with Cassie Tondreau
Children’s sharing is definitely a topic that belongs in any conversation about young children's Social Emotional Learning, but sharing is not a Black & White topic for Cassie Tondreau, today’s guest on the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast. In fact, sharing is SO not a Black & White topic for Cassie, that she describes sharing as a subject that is “murky” and multi-layered in its challenges... and in the many opportunities it provides for everyone to grow and to develop richer relationships. What I love about this conversation is Cassie’s extreme honesty about her own approach to sharing in a variety of her own life’s situations… and I can so relate to the examples she raises. I wonder if you’ll be able to relate, as well. To get the full force of Cassie’s insights from the article she wrote for Exchange Magazine, go to the July/August 2019 issue. Cassie has many more important insights to share with us, so I hope you’re subscribed… and I hope you’ve told a friend or two about all the great educators' wisdom we’re privy to on this podcast. And remember, you are always invited to LIKE the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast FACEBOOK page.  (
February 14, 2020
Ep. 57 - Empowering Authentic Teaching, with Francis Wardle, Ph.D.
As an early childhood college instructor, Francis Wardle sees his job as more than just teaching teachers what is best for children. He also sees a big part of his responsibility to teachers of young children as giving them advice, guidance and tools for resisting inappropriate expectations from “the powers that be,” so that teachers can most effectively advocate for what their education AND their direct classroom experience validates as being best for children’s enriched learning environments … far, far beyond the narrow and uniformed scope of developmentally inappropriate practices sometimes mandated by “authorities” who’ve actually never set foot in an early childhood classroom… or who are mandating approaches that have long since been invalidated by current research on successful early childhood development practices. Here's the podcast's Facebook page... hope to meet you there soon:
February 07, 2020
Ep. 56 - New Babies & Older Siblings with Deborah Stewart
Recently two dear friends of mine gave birth to their second child, and their first children, who had been the center of their parents’ attention, were having a time with adjusting to their new life with a new family member … one who required a LOT of attention and energy. Why is this topic on the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast? Because, and I’m sure you know this, social emotional learning and development needs to start wa-a-a-a-y before school age.  Looking at things from others’ perspective, exercising patience and consideration, being true to feelings without negatively impacting others … all those life lessons, and much more, need to be exercised very early in life, in age-appropriate ways … as soon as relevant situations arise that require more BIG PICTURE and INCLUSIVE responses that feel right and make sense to the older sibling. My return guest is Deborah Stewart, a highly respected and well-loved preschool and pre-kindergarten teacher AND a grandmother. Listen as Deborah shares her experiences and wisdom with generosity. Want to learn more from Deborah? Check out her website: TeachPreschool.ORG And, if you haven’t already, please LIKE the Facebook page for this, the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast. We’re starting to build a community of like-minded early childhood educators there… and one of my top priorities for this year is to strengthen our community around the values that motivate us to keep growing our selves, our knowledge and our skills for the ever-increasing benefit of our students.
January 24, 2020
Ep. 55 - Young Boys Need Men with FRANCIS WARDLE, author of "Oh Boy! Strategies for Teaching Boys in Early Childhood"
In this our second conversation about his book, Francis deepens our understanding about How & Why the specific needs of young boys in early childhood environments must be appreciated and appropriately addressed. Francis also provides practical advice for bringing men into young boys’ learning environments in ways that fulfill everyone’s “goodness-of-fit” requirements. Francis does not in any way disparage the current quality of most early childhood learning environments, with their emphasis on nurturing and the gentler side of raising kids. He is simply expanding our awareness, helping us to move past some of the unconscious biases most of us are probably carrying into those environments and into our work with young boys. His voice is strong and clear … and in this episode, Francis shines a bright light on the many ways that men can be much more meaningfully included in young boys’ social, emotional and lifeskills development. Just as with our first conversation, Francis invites you to ask him any questions you’d like… I promise: his interest in your questions, concerns and challenges could not be more sincere … Just head over to the BIG PICTURE SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING PODCAST Facebook page, LIKE it and post your question… or send an email to me at ASK@KIDSOWNWISDOM.COM Again, the title of Francis’ book is: OH BOY! Strategies for Teaching Boys in Early Childhood…you can find it at
January 16, 2020
Ep. 54 - Strategies for Teaching Boys in Early Childhood with FRANCIS WARDLE
As a mother of two sons, the conversation you’re about to listen to is extremely personal for me. If you have sons or work with boys, I hope you’ll find it valuable, and I’d also like to encourage you to read the book upon which we’ll be basing our discussion. The title of the book, OH BOY!, was written by my guest, Francis Wardle, formerly a Head Start Director, a Head Start education manager, an elementary school teacher, an administrator of a national child care company, as well as a dedicated family man with 4 kids and 4 grandkids of his own… Francis wrote the book because he saw a HUGE gap of appreciation and respect for the differences between boys’ and girls’ early developmental needs. Francis and I are planning to share more conversations on this podcast, so please accept this very sincere invitation to submit any questions you’d like Francis to address … including any specific challenges. Francis would love to hear from you. Feel free to send your questions or comments to:  OR, even better: just go to FACEBOOK and like the page for this, the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast Facebook page.
January 10, 2020
Ep. 53 - Improve Kids' Thinking Skills to Improve Their SEL
Thinking is an on-going, non-stop process for all of us, starting from our earliest ages.  As educators, one of our major responsibilities is to awaken students’ awareness about how to expand their thinking processes to achieve more and more constructive outcomes … meta-cognition is an essential key. Please subscribe to this podcast, and LIKE our Facebook page:
December 25, 2019
Ep. 52 - "Graceful Receiving"
Pretty much all of us appreciate that Mr. Rogers related to young children in ways that were truly, genuinely, unquestionably meaningful to kids. Children’s innate radar for what is True, what is Real was never a stumbling block for Mr. Rogers… because connecting with children, with their hearts, with their spirits was as natural to him as breathing … because, truly, he “saw” each child he met, saw how to BE with each child… how to BE with them so they felt the truth of their own unique significance, of their own unique mattering … Mr. Rogers was profoundly, uncommonly respectful of young children… and one of those ways was in what he calls ‘graceful receiving.’ Because this is November, the time of year, in the U.S., when we celebrate Thanksgiving, I’m hoping that you’ll appreciate these words from the good and pure heart of Fred Rogers about the gentle art of graceful receiving … With his living example, he shares some of the highest wisdom we need to live as an example for our students’ social emotional learning … because, in alignment with the Golden Rule, who of us would not like to be received the way he intended to receive all people… whatever their age? And…. who among us doesn’t know what a challenge it is to truly receive others for exactly who they are? I’ve worked on that challenge all of my adult life … and I’m fully aware of what a major challenge it is, but when I manage to catch myself in judgment mode, and I manage to open up and just BE with a child, or a relative, or a peer WITHOUT judgement, with simple and graceful receiving … the way that shift in my mindset affects others, is hugely rewarding… yet, in all honesty… I am the one who is the greatest beneficiary… because I am the one who has freed up my mind and limiting pre-conceptions to really hear, to really see the children and others in my world. Of course, really receiving people… receiving them for who they are… exactly as they are … is not something we DO, so much as something we DON’T DO… something we step aside and let BE, and it’s not so much an emotional response, as it is a choice we make. We can choose to “receive” each child, each other… or we can choose to not receive each child, each other —to take each other for granted… or to NOT take each other for granted.” And, I hope you won’t think of this episode as a lecture… but much more as a reminder… because with life as intense as it is, with ALL of our energy required to deal with ALL that we’re dealing with… we ALL need reminders… me, most definitely. A reminder, too, about an unfortunate distortion of graceful receiving: false enthusiasm, or forced expressions of positivity and appreciation.  Mistakes in the right direction, perhaps, but definitely mistakes, because kids know what’s real from what’s not real, even if they don’t consciously know that they know… THEY KNOW. And the most respectful way  we can treat children is to acknowledge the fact of their innocent intelligence and their natural born wisdom by being fully present with them… so that their innate intelligence and wisdom can gain a stronghold and flourish throughout their lives
November 27, 2019
EP. 51 - Personal Responsibility with JORDAN HARRISON
Jordan’s perspective is profoundly respectful of the kids he works with, (even, and perhaps especially, the so-called ‘troublemakers’). The foundational philosophy of Jordan’s approach is that kids, all kids, have everything they need to succeed… within themselves… and he’s just there to help them bring it out from within themselves… which is why our conversation eventually came around to the most powerful motivating engine of all: personal responsibility… which, I hope you’ll agree, is an essential component of social, emotional and lifeskills development. Jordan earned a bachelor's degree in business marketing with a minor in social and personality psychology from San Diego State University, where he was recognized as a top student leader, and, at graduation, he received 24 job offers from the corporate world (companies like Amazon, Salesforce, 3M, HP and others wanted to hire him).  Jordan acknowledges that the money would have been great, but it just wasn’t a motivator for him … so he went on to earn his Master's in Education at Harvard University ('18) as an Urban Scholar Fellow focusing on Prevention Science and Practice and positive youth development where he focused on learning highly effective ways to help students work through trauma, societal challenges, as well as gaining insight into the wide reaching benefits of social-emotional learning. If you’d like to learn more about Jordan and his impactful work, check out his website : because I actually could have spent another 10 minutes, at least, during the introduction to this episode, highlighting his many admirable achievements … … on another note … During the conversation Jordan and I just shared, I briefly referenced Dr. Ross Greene, who has very effectively observed and responded to the fact that, “Kids do well if they can,” which clearly is a philosophy totally in line with Jordan’s efforts at developing kids’ personal responsibility. Dr. Ross Greene is definitely worth a Google search.
November 09, 2019
Ep. 50 - Documentation: Honoring Children’s Hearts and Minds with ANN PELO
Documentation has been deemed necessary by the profession of early childhood education, which is why I think you'll appreciate ANN PELO's  approach to reclaiming the task  as one that is rich with potential to name and honor each child’s uniquely lived experiences of joy, grief, angst, curiosity, intelligence, their unique proclivities, and ... you know … the full range … (in addition, of course, to reporting on what each child has done, said, learned and accomplished). Ann shines her bright light of heartfull wisdom and well-reasoned insight on the task of documentation for the profound purpose of inspiring teachers to be fully intentional about observing and acknowledging… not just WHAT happens in each child’s day at school, but the meaning (the human heart of each child’s story… by telling stories that matter about each child's life… that will matter going forward, because what we observe and DOCUMENT, will permeate how we relate to those children in our care… which will have major impacts on our expectations, our judgments, our openness to the ALL of who each one of them is … which, as Ann will explain in our conversation, very definitely has an impact on their social and emotional learning and development. It might seem subtle, but actually, the impact isn’t that subtle… its reverberations are quite pronounced. Ann warmly, and with great love, invites teachers to turn the concept of documentation on its head… that even though it’s about the children … to honestly, courageously and consciously acknowledge that what teachers observe speaks volumes about the personal lens through which educators determine what is meaningful, what is worthy of their focus, their time… Ann explains the importance and impact of being fully mindful, fully present in the documentation process, with genuine curiosity, with a fresh and un-biased mindset, with self-awareness that makes room for, even welcomes, uncertainty and openness to new understandings. Info and links to learn more about Ann Pelo’s ideas and offerings:
November 03, 2019
Ep. 49 - Halloween Preparations for Trauma-Impacted Kids, with KELLY VRCHOTA
This episode of the BIG PICTURE SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING Podcast is specifically focused on upcoming Halloween celebrations, and the ways in which teachers and parents can provide thoughtful environments for children who’ve been effected by trauma, which implies that they might be, or will probably be, more sensitive to the intensity of experiences they’ll be encountering around October 31st. Kelly Vrchota is a founding member of the Hope Connections Team, which is on a mission to support Trauma Sensitive Teachers who are helping ALL students feel SAFE, LOVED, & CAPABLE. There will be more info about the Hope Connections team at the end of this brief episode … Kelly has a degree in elementary education and has worked with many students who’ve been impacted by trauma. She is a mom of 5 -2 biological and 3 adopted … so, as you listen to our conversation, I’m confident that you’ll see: Kelly does, indeed, walk her talk. If you’d like to learn more about Kelly’s work, please go to her organization’s website at: ToHaveHope exists to support those who seek to parent, teach, care for, love, know and relate to children who’ve suffered trauma, especially trauma connected with abandonment and adoption. Trauma deeply affects children’s ability to develop socially and emotionally… which is why ToHaveHope provides multiple levels of tools, strategies and coaching for families, caregivers, and teachers to help with healing and open the way for increasingly more positive outcomes. Here's a link to the article I referred to at the beginning of this episode:
October 25, 2019
Ep. 48 - Journaling WITH Middle & High Schoolers to Open Lines of Communication: BRENDA YOHO
As we all know, students need to feel safe before they’ll ever be able to get any real advantages from their time at school. Brenda Yoho, our guest educator on this episode of the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning podcast, is a heartfelt proponent of communicating through back-and-forth journal writing as an effective tool for establishing students’ all-important sense of safety, and equally important sense of being seen. Unfortunately, there is a low-level background buzz during our conversation, but if you can get through that, you’ll hear some touching stories about the impacts of Brenda’s approach during her 20+ years as a Teaching Assistant, Teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal and Director of Educational Support Programs.
October 22, 2019
EP. 47 - CONNECTION FIRST with Rusty May
     Rusty May is a practical, deeply passionate educator, and a former basketball coach, committed to helping teachers create connected, caring, working relationships with every student. In this episode, Rusty provides us with unique and highly educated insights for interacting with even the most challenging students that walk into our schools and classrooms. Rusty was the son of a 3-Star General who tended to parent as a 3-Star General, by emphasizing punishments over communication and thoughtful age-appropriate discipline. Rusty’s childhood experiences were pretty rough, made all the rougher by the fact that his home was a different military base every two years… so he can relate to many of the challenges of disconnection that today’s youth are experiencing, even if they’re not growing up in military families.  Rusty and I shared a conversation that will provide you with a wealth of evidence-based, feet-on-the-ground, time-saving, effortless-to-implement tools that can support you in generating more positive and productive learning environments. Please share this episode with teachers and parents who you know will appreciate and benefit from its content.      You can learn more about Rusty and his offerings at Take him up on his offer to give you 2 free months, rather than a 1-month free trial to his daily videos. All you have to do is mention that you learned about him on this podcast to get that extra free month. And if you do take him up on his offer, I’d love to hear what kinds of responses and effects start showing up as a result.  Meantime, thank you for all that you do… and, if you haven’t already, please subscribe, because this podcast is just getting started at shining a light on all the great people who are building belonging in and out of today’s school environments… for everyone’s healthy social, emotional and lifeskills development.
October 11, 2019
Ep. 46 - Constructive CHOICES for Building Belonging
CHOICES ARE GOOD for children because they create a sense  of being RESPECTED, and because legitimate choices provide the opportunity for children to move from reactionary impulsiveness to more mindful and considered evaluation of available options that are constructive, which, of course, lights up important - in fact - critical areas of neuronal development that might otherwise not get the exercise needed for their brain’s development. A fundamental theme of this podcast is BUILDING BELONGING. Providing constructive choices for children is an essential element of BUILDING BELONGING… because providing constructive choices is a natural way to build mutual respect within classroom environments, the environment everyone shares and contributes to.
October 06, 2019
Ep. 45 - A Muslim Woman's Perspective on Life in America
Sometimes, when something or someone is markedly different from what we’re used to, our minds automatically jump to conclusions based on something or someone we've previously encountered… or maybe just read about, or just seen on the news or even in a movie … Science explains that automatic response, which we all have - to one degree or another, as the brain’s attempt to maintain a sense of order within the high volume of sensory input all of us encounter every day ~ all day.  To put it mildly, it’s the brain’s attempt to manage the overload that is life in the 21st century. The trouble with that automatic response, if we’re not careful, is that we get loose and sloppy with how we judge people, and therefore how we respond to them… sometimes negatively, sometimes disrespectfully, sometimes fearfully, sometimes hurtfully. When I met Sarah Ansari and learned a little of her story, a little about her values, I couldn’t NOT invite her to join me in conversation on this, the Big Picture Social Emotional LIfeskills Podcast, and I made an assumption that you too, good listener, might have some curiosity about Muslim women’s identity and how they fit into an America that seems to be leaning more strongly towards division than towards mutual respect regarding differences … which as educators, I hope you agree, is an area of students’ LIFESKILLS development that is our responsibility to constructively nurture. I hope and trust that you will appreciate Sarah’s perspective, her grace, her intelligence, and the dignity of her heart as expressed through her answers to my questions and concerns… with an apology in advance for the abrupt start to this interview, due to some pesky techno glitches. ~~~   The BIG PICTURE SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LIFESKILLS PODCAST is a non-commercial podcast, but I encourage you to visit Sarah’s website, because I feel that her company’s mission deserves to be acknowledged and shared. Her company’s website is The mission at artizara is: "We truly believe that people are alike in many more ways than they are different.      The Artizara aesthetic is all about crossing geographic divides to create beautiful products that not only celebrate the deep richness of Islamic artistic heritage but also find common ground among people of all backgrounds. We hope to help build a world where all people hold their heads high and celebrate their identity."
September 26, 2019
Ep. 44 - Gun Violence or Preemptive SEL Solutions
There are so many ways to  build healthy belonging in schools... ways that require little to no formal training in order to implement.  This episode suggests just a few of the wide-ranging options available: Therapy dogs in the classroom are dogs specially trained to provide both physical and emotional health benefits for students. According to one study published by the National Institutes of Health(NIH), having a dog present in the classroom promotes a positive mood and provides significant anti-stress effects. The simple act of petting a dog lowers blood pressure and heart rate. Pet therapy also lowers stress hormones, like cortisol, and increases happiness hormones, otherwise known as endorphins. In other words, just being in contact with a therapy dog calms kids down when they’re upset and helps to reduce their anxiety... enabling them to better focus on getting along with others, while increasing actual learning ability. Additionally, the NIH study states that interacting with a therapy dog leads to “increased stimulation of social behavior.” These relationships build trust and trustworthiness in children and help them develop a greater capacity for empathy. And then there’s the phenomenal value of genuine, honest-to-goodness laughter in the classroom … According to research (yes, they even do research on laughter) … laughter induces real, measurable, physical changes in the body. Laughter stimulates the heart, lungs and muscles, while increasing endorphins (those naturally-produced ‘happy’ hormones.) Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations, and … this is important … when shared in a group, laughter helps people of all ages to connect with each other. And connection is what we all want and need to feel and act in ways that work better for everyone.   There are so many ways to bring laughter into a classroom, and since it’s been shown to relieve stress and help people connect … why not do a little research on some of those ways … books, videos, games, songs … once you start looking you’ll be amazed at what’s out there on the internet …. Visit the website for Dr. Greene’s non-profit organization, LivesInTheBalance.ORG  This website includes general information about Dr. Greene’s model - which can be initially  summed up with the understanding that ‘kids do well if they can/when they know how’. The website provides answers to lots of questions about applying Dr. Greene’s model in school settings; as well as LOTS of other info, articles, and research papers.  The website also provides streaming video, which is fantastically helpful and hope giving.
September 17, 2019
Ep. 43 - Community Circle LA with LINDA GLASER
Linda Glaser, a former LAUSD teacher, created Community Circle LA over 7 years ago.  Linda is on fire about this program, because it’s proven to be powerfully effective at helping students, TK thru 5th grade, focus on and improve their social interactions, their emotional well being and their life skills development. Her program is uncommonly creative and wide reaching… and it is the most effective approach to creating family engagement that I have yet to learn about.      LINDA'S WEBSITE:
August 29, 2019
Ep. 42 - From a student's perspective with ENRIQUE ALVERDE
High school junior, Enrique Alverde and I met at a day long community forum which invited attendees to build a collaborative tomorrow by participating in interactive study sessions with the local board of education and also with district leadership. There were a lot of great adults there… educators, parents, coaches, volunteers, and just 3 students… Enrique was one of those 3, and I couldn’t resist the chance to have him share his thoughts and ideas with all of us on this podcast… so I invited him and he accepted. In this interview, he respectfully describes some of what’s working and some of what’s not working according to him and his classmates. This is a uniquely refreshing interview with a voice from the other side of the classroom, which IS a voice of the future. I hope you enjoy listening as much I enjoyed this conversation with Enrique Alverde. Skills, USA:    a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce.  You can learn more on their website:
August 27, 2019
Ep. 41 - "From Teaching to Thinking" with ANN PELO
Ann Pelo, author of “From Teaching to Thinking,” brings potent energy and waves of intelligent insight to the profession of early childhood education. Get ready to have your assumptions and habits jostled a bit, but with true respect for you and your noble profession as an educator. Ann's publisher, Exchange Press, is offering a 20% off coupon code: FT2T.  Go to, then go to the PRODUCTS pulldown menu, and you’ll see several books being offered.  Just click on Ann’s book, “From Teaching to Thinking” and  you can figure out the rest from there.
August 23, 2019
Ep. 40 - Internal Navigation and SEL
  You and I have internal navigation systems, or at least that’s how we started out in life … but maybe, by now, some of us have lost touch with our natural born guidance systems…. you know … from lack of use … which probably happened because we stopped trusting that our natural born guidance systems could actually steer us in the best directions, in the smartest directions, in the directions most right for our own unique and individual selves.    Can we just “BE” around kids … so they can just “BE” themselves, because when kids are free to just BE themselves …  simply in tune with their own navigation systems, they’re growing stronger within themselves AS themselves … and if we can be one of the people who safeguard and protect that most basic of human rights: to be themselves, to trust in themselves, to remain connected to their own internal navigation systems. … then we can be certain that we are doing right by the kids in our care.
August 21, 2019
Ep. 39 - I, I, Me, Me, Mine Mindset
Young children are just naturally the center of their own universes, but one of our many responsibilities, as  teachers, caregivers and parents, is to expand immature horizons of self-interest.  In this episode we make a few suggestions that sincerely hope will help you help the kids in your life grow smoothly through this dimension of their social and emotional development.
August 10, 2019
Sometimes, even when it's awkward and causes discomfort, change needs to happen for progress to continue at an optimal pace.  The newly revised name of this podcast aligns much more appropriately with the intention of this podcast, which is to deepen everyone's perception about the wide-ranging relevance, application, and inclusivity (not to be confused with exclusivity)  of social emotional learning.    Any questions?  Please know that your questions and comments are always welcome.  
August 08, 2019
Ep. 38 - Reading Comprehension & SEL Comprehension
Here's the LINK to everything you need to try out the ideas presented in this episode:  BLOG on Kids' Own Wisdom, dated 7.29.19 Even though many so-called “poor readers” can sound out words when they see them in print, they often do not comprehend most of what they’re sounding out.  Comprehension, it turns out, is a whole other ‘ball game,’ and it requires at least 2 other layers of enrichment besides the ‘decoding’ skill:   LAYER #1: a Continually expanding vocabulary, which needs to be exercised in their daily lives and interactions, and, equally important …  LAYER #2: factual and experience-based knowledge of the subjects they’re reading about.    In a word: RELEVANCE. In 7 words:  IN WHAT WAYS DOES THIS MATTER TO ME?    In 8 words: How does this show up in my life?  What does this have to do with students’ social, emotional and life skills learning?  Well, most of us agree that for general well being and success, kids need to grow in openness to others’ perspectives (a close ‘cousin’ of empathy).  They also need to increase their capacity and willingness to be personally accountable and take responsibility.  They need to notice and be able to read social clues.  They need to be aware of and appropriately express their own feelings.  They need to engage in mutually respectful relationships, and on and on … and on …   Those are mighty big concepts and simply discussing them, or reading stories about them, or having a lesson or 2 or 3 that illustrate those concepts in action has not been shown to create deep or long lasting impacts on children’s behaviors … BUT … there is a way to enliven RELEVANCE, which creates ENGAGEMENT, which hasbeen shown to INCREASE retention and carry over influence, (often referred to as transfer of learning). I’m talking about carefully and respectfully designed peer group discussions, which are structured around wide ranging, not-so-predictable, but topic-related questions.  Questions to which students in the group will not necessarily have the same answers, but questions to which most of students will have answers that the other students will be interested in, which works to everyone’s advantage.  How?   When kids collaboratively answer and discuss questions, based on their own knowledge, understanding and life experiences, they gain the benefit of self-expression, of course,  That process of self-expression also establishes ownership of what they know, which they and everyone in the peer group discussion observes and shares, for present and future reference, in the classroom and on the playground… with more and more independence and self-sufficiency.
July 30, 2019
Ep. 37 - Independent Transfer of Learning
  In addition to remembering what you’ve taught them, do your students actually transfer knowledge into new, related, but distinctly different situations and challenges? Intentionally developing those kinds of skills for your students requires less effort than you might, at first, imagine....
July 20, 2019
Ep. 36 - "Mean Girls" with LISA McCROHAN, Pt. 2
This is the second part of my conversation with  Lisa McCrohan, a heart-full and highly respected licensed Somatic Experiencing® psychotherapist, integrative coach, educator, author and poet who is dedicated to creating a more compassionate world for all ... one in which "mean girls" receive mindful and constructive guidance from us in the direction of becoming "includers," rather than "excluders."
July 08, 2019
Ep. 35 - "Mean Girls" with LISA McCROHAN, Pt. 1
Who among us doesn't have a story to share about mean girls?  Either your feelings were hurt by them when you were in school... or you have them in your classroom, or... HORRORS.... you're the parent of one.    Any one of those perspectives will be adequate motivation to listen in on this interview with Lisa McCrohan,  a heart-full and highly respected licensed Somatic Experiencing® psychotherapist, integrative coach, educator, author and poet.  Her practical wisdom goes wide and deep.  Enjoy.
July 08, 2019
Ep. 34 - Values & Character Development in ECE
  Statistical evidence of declining moral values in our schools is attributed, in part, to the sad fact that many teachers are overwhelmed by the pressure and time demands required to deliver academic content.   Focusing on values and character development, most teachers feel, is just one more demand on their time constraints....  ... but one possible solution, one powerful solution in my experience as a teacher with 22 years of teaching experience, is to intersperse age-appropriately challenging issues into Shared Thinking Circle Time discussions.  Discussions that mainly focus on familiar, day-to-day encounters and experiences —not, in any way, imposing values, but, instead, exploring values and perspectives in an environment of mutual respect - which takes the form of wide-ranging questions accompanied by genuinely interested and respectful listening.
July 07, 2019
EP. 33 - Coaching for Teachers' PD with LANI MEDNICK
  In this episode, our very special guest educator is Lani Mednick who grew up in a family of well-respected educators in Seattle, WA.   She has taught and tutored all grades, TK - 6th, mostly at low-income schools in Denver, San Jose and Oakland. Three years ago, Lani was recruited to be coach and mentor teachers in the early literacy program in the Oakland Unified School District. Her responsibilities have since expanded to include coaching other teacher coaches to create foundational learning for all youngest students in her district. In this episode Lani shares many insights from her many layers of experience and honest self-examination, including Lani’s perspective on the value of facilitation, as well as her description about her own reservations about letting go of total control in her classroom by introducing open-ended questions to her young students. 
June 26, 2019
Ep. 32 - 21st Century Teaching Skills
  The 21st century with its previously unimagined challenges and colossal opportunities is where we've landed, and I’m wondering … has it become apparent to you, yet that those previously unimagined challenges and colossal opportunities are making it absolutely essential for all of us educators to rethink not only WHAT we teach but, far more importantly:  HOW we teach.  The time is NOW for us to be exercising even our youngest students’ natural born abilities, namely:  critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity ~ often referred to as The 4 C’s...
June 18, 2019
Ep. 31 - Pt. 2: MISTAKES and the Brain Science of Learning
 Mistakes happen. There’s no avoiding them. They’re part of the learning process. When we understand the brain science of learning, we can be all the more skillful at using mistakes to increase and accelerate our students’ SOCIAL EMOTIONAL learning for everyone’s advantage.
April 28, 2019
Ep. 30 - Helicopter Parenting/Teaching vs. Engaged Parenting/Teaching with DEBORAH STEWART
There are BIG differences, and BIGGER consequences to be considered, when we compare parenting and teaching approaches.  Deborah Stewart, a highly respected early childhood educator, has noticed stark effects on young children's behaviors, and development of their potential as competent and confident individuals, when they're been 'helicoptered' most of their young lives.  
April 22, 2019
Ep. 29 - 4 Things Teachers Should NOT Ask Their Students To Do, with Sheila Marshall
 The April 8th, 2019 issue of Education Week, was titled “4 Things Teachers Shouldn't Be Asking Their Students to Do.” Those 4 things were (1) BEING SILENT,  (2) SITTING STILL,  (3) FORCING APOLOGIES, and having  (4) ZERO TOLERANCE FOR FORGETFULNESS.   Today's interview is the Sheila Marshall, a First/Second Grade teachers. Sheila addresses a variety of challenges in ways that help her young students grow as engaged, cooperative, empathetic, considerate and mutually respectful learners. Please excuse the technical difficulties that make his recording a bit clunky.  
April 22, 2019
Ep. 28 - Brain Science of Learning, Pt. 1
Fortunately, today's educators can be even more effective than our own teachers thanks, in part, to contemporary brain science of learning which, if we implement its basic principles - which aren’t all that complicated, we can make a world of difference in our students’ social, emotional, cognitive and life skills development.  
April 18, 2019
Ep. 27 - Frustration, Pt. 2 with Wendy Zacuto
This second episode about helping young children move through the times and the challenges that cause them to feel frustrated explores some of the not-so-obvious factors that are all part of the mix.  Wendy's insights, as always, are heartfelt, honest, and academically sound.
April 15, 2019
Ep. 26 - FRUSTRATION, Pt. 1 with Wendy Zacuto
Frustration is a powerful emotion experienced by young children, and they need our help to navigate those choppy waters. New teachers will very likely experience children's expression of frustration as one of their biggest challenges, which is why we invited Wendy Zacuto back to share more of her insights from her decades of experience as a teacher, a principal, an academic researcher, a parent and grandparent.   
April 13, 2019
Ep. 25 - Listening, Pt. 3, The Language of Listening
The Language of Listening, with insights and inspiration from Ron Ritchhart’s book, “Creating Cultures of Thinking.”
April 09, 2019
Ep. 24 - Pt. 2 LISTENING
 3 Habits that get in the way of being the kind of listener that creates real connection and mutual respect with young students:  Learn to appreciate how essential it is to be a fully present listener with your young students... even just for brief moments. .. and then consider the simple advice we share about how to break the habits that are getting in the way of your being a fully present listener. 
March 30, 2019
Ep. 23 - LISTENING, Pt. 1 with BILL HOTTER
 Insights and experiences, from a kindergarten teacher with 22 years classroom experience, around the all-important topic of LISTENING … a topic some consider to be a nearly insurmountable challenge, yet which Bill Hotter and I agree warrants far more attention and respect… because it’s a worthwhile challenge that, even though it may take us out of our ‘comfort zones’ …. it will definitely bring us into more meaningful connection.
March 24, 2019
Ep. 22 - Facilitation, Pt. 2 with WENDY ZACUTO
Wendy Zacuto has always sought to integrate the finest wisdom of her mentors and the numerous educational approaches she has studied, with her own innate instincts about how real learning is elicited and nurtured in our youngest students. She is a Master Educator in the truest sense. Wendy requested that this interview be respectfully and lovingly dedicated to the memory of one of her most important mentors: Jeneé Gossard - about whom she shares much inspiration in this interview.
December 15, 2018
Ep. 21 - Words matter (Language matters!)
Creating Cultures of Thinking, by Ron Ritchhart, is a book so rich with benefits for every classroom in the world … including, most definitely, benefits for your young students’ social emotional learning and development, that it only makes sense to create at least one episode focusing on a number of Ritchhart’s main points about the words we introduce and use in our classroom that have subtle, yet POWERFUL impact if we use them intentionally and consistently.
December 10, 2018
Ep. 20 - Facilitation for Real Social Emotional Learning, Pt. 1
Learn why a facilitation approach deepens young students' ownership of the social, emotional and life skills that make life happier, healthier and better for everyone - in the classroom, on the playground and beyond ...
December 01, 2018
Ep. 19 - Wizard of OZ + Real Social Emotional Learning
Learning what really matters, discovering the value of one's own particular form of intelligence, heart and courage are the benefits Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion received by taking on the challenges presented to them by the Wizard of Oz. Listen to this episode to find out what that has to do with Social Emotional Learning from the Kids' Own Wisdom perspective.
October 09, 2018
Ep. 18 - Apologies with Deborah Stewart and Bill Hotter
This episode will expand your perspective on the topic of APOLOGIES, and very likely confirm your own deepest insights about meaningful and truly effective APOLOGIES that genuinely benefit young children’s formative interactions. I am so grateful to long-time teachers Deborah Stewart and Bill Hotter for their contributions … different, each from the other, yet entirely and completely complementary … and both so wise.
September 19, 2018
Ep. 17 - Insights about the value of our ATTENTION
Kids love, even crave, our attention. One valid reason is that gaining a teacher’s or a parent’s attention means being ‘seen’ by the people who matter most to them, and being ‘seen’ equates to a feeling of being valued. Feeling valued is one of THE most important markers for kids’ healthy social-emotional learning and development. We all know - and have experienced - that some kids will sometimes engage in behaviors that make us want to do ANYTHING but give them our attention. This episode offers some insights on workarounds that work for everyone: you and your students. (We LOVE Win-Win's.)
September 10, 2018
Ep. 16 - Motivations: Intrinsic / Extrinsic with Bill Hotter
Here's a practical question for you: how much time, effort and rewards are required to motivate kids so they'll engage with learning? So they'll cooperate more and more of the time? What does the research tell us about rewards for positive behaviors? Students' social emotional learning is woven into every moment of every day ... and that's especially true for our youngest students. The more we can bring genuine respect into all interactions with our students, the more they'll be intrinsically motivated to respond in ways that create Win-Win's for everyone. Bill Hotter, an elementary school teacher just embarking on his 23rd year in the classroom, tells us how he "gets there" with his kindergarteners.
September 05, 2018
Ep. 15 - PRAISE Rights & Wrongs
It’s SO important to understand how praise effects young kids, and to distinguish between the kinds of praise that deepen and nurture kids' healthy self-awareness and self-esteem vs. the kind of praise that kids, even young kids, interpret as undeserved, therefore insincere, thereby making the person who gives the praise untrustworthy.
August 26, 2018
Ep. 14 - Building BELONGING
Building belonging in the classroom is one of the most important formative influences we can bring into young children's lives. For young ones, just starting out in the new adventures of preschool, kindergarten and first grade, discovering shared values, feelings and instincts with classmates and peers is a powerful approach to building the healthiest kind of belonging. The kind of belonging that - very long term - can help to neutralize feelings of isolation that, respected research has shown, are one of the deep-rooted influences that, so heartbreakingly, result - later on - in school shootings and student suicides.
August 13, 2018
Ep. 13 - Connect First (with Elisabeth Stitt)
Elisabeth shares with us from her heart, which is grounded in 25+ years classroom experience, along with parenting 3 children. Learn more about Elisabeth Stitt at: FACEBOOK: TWITTER:
August 06, 2018
Kids DO understand consequences, and they are capable of making choices that result in happier consequences more and more of the time… without constant reminders from us. They just need consistent opportunities to consider their own answers to the right kinds of questions, under the right kinds of circumstances, to activate and exercise their own critical thinking and collaborative problem-solving skills.
July 25, 2018
Ep. 11: Trust, self-respect, mutual respect & collaboration
SELF-RESPECT is a healthy, ground-zero, foundational sense (which goes beyond ‘words and thinking’) to a core of spontaneously responding to the fact that each of us is worthy of being acknowledged, and worthy of being treated well, in spite of our imperfections.  Healthy self-respect, cannot be forced, but it can be activated, engaged and it must be exercised for students' enduring social emotional development.
July 20, 2018
Ep. 10: Kelly Priest on EMPATHY + Real SEL
Empathy is a wide-ranging topic. We began by clarifying the differences between emotional empathy, perspective taking, and authentically caring behaviors. Then we briefly discussed the different ways that people’s empathy is expressed - whether in ways that we expect and can relate to or not, and we looked at reasons for some of the those differences. We concluded with some very practical starting points for providing the most effective Social Emotional Learning in our classrooms.
July 14, 2018
Ep. 9: Children Are Mind Readers
Children pick up on our attitudes and feelings towards them - no doubt about it. This episode’s topic is deeply personal for me… Our attitudes and feelings toward our students are central to what we do, who we are with our students, and how much gets accomplished every day in our classrooms. I hope you agree, but if you don’t, or if you’re on the fence, I hope you’ll listen and share your thoughts in the comments. Thanks!
July 08, 2018
Ep. 8: MYTH #4 - Children Only Care About What's FAIR for Themselves, Not Others
Granted, sometimes it can look like children only care about what’s ‘FAIR’ for themselves, and not about what’s fair for others, but what’s really going on when we see those kinds of automatic reactions and behaviors from our young students? And what are the positive, long-term implications of enabling students to expand their personal definitions of FAIR?
July 01, 2018
Ep. 7: Deborah Stewart - Master Preschool educator.
Deborah gives us a fresh and important perspective on young children's challenging behaviors. Let us know what you gained from this interview, and if you think it would be a good idea to bring Deborah back - often. Include questions, if you'd like to.
June 28, 2018
Ep. 6: MYTH #3 - Teachers Need to Clearly Define Children’s Understanding About Right & Wrong
Busting this myth requires us to recognize that there are many different ways to teach, because within every class there are many different ways that our students learn.
June 27, 2018
Ep. 5: MYTH #2 - Children Pay Too Much Attention to Each Other and Not Enough Attention to Their Teacher!
With a reasonable mindset adjustment, the fact that kids pay so much attention to each other can turn into a powerful teaching aid that works to everyone’s benefit - for both you and your students.
June 23, 2018
Ep. 4: MYTH #1 - Empathy Must Be Taught to Children
MYTH #1: Empathy needs to be taught to children. (There are at least 2 reasons why it is just plain WRONG to think that children need to be taught to empathize. )
June 22, 2018
Ep. 3: Does Your Social Emotional Learning Approach Get Remembered and Used?
Are your students engaging with and growing their social emotional skills with your current approach, whether or not it’s a structured approach? Are your students able to adapt social emotional lessons when they need to apply them in the context of new challenges? Ready for more Not-Your-Normal Social Emotional Learning ideas?
June 11, 2018
Social emotional learning, (which has a huge effect on class management, because it has a huge effect on all the interactions within your class) is the natural starting point for our youngest students to develop their critical thinking skills ... for everyone's benefit ... yours and theirs ... short and long term.
June 09, 2018
Ep. 1: Introduction to Not-Your-Normal Social Emotional Learning Podcast
This podcast introduces the possibility of discovering how much more we can accomplish with students' Social Emotional Learning (SEL) than behavior corrections, awareness about feelings, and character development. Even though all that is good, we can do so much better. Students don't need to be "fixed." Instead, students need their innate empathy, critical thinking and collaborative problem-solving skills to be exercised and anchored - easier for teachers, and so much better for students' long term wellbeing.
June 08, 2018