NTC Symposium Presentation= 3 Ashoka Changemaker Schools + Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence + Empathy

Today was a blast! Nancy Lim, Pam Kooh, and I presented at the New Teacher Center Symposium in San Francisco.

Three Changemaker schools, including McAuliffe, teamed up with Yale University’s Center for Emotional Intelligence to present on the importance and power of fostering empathy in children through learning opportunities and by creating environments that support children and adults growing and learning together.

We focused the conversation through the lens of Ashoka’s Empathy Roadmap and provided a theoretical basis for teaching empathy, samples of school programs,  practical applications to support the teaching and learning of empathy in schools, and wrapped it up with a question, reflection, and next steps component.

One video that I shared featured Brené Brown on Empathy. This is an abridged version of her TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability” and it focuses on the differences between Empathy and Sympathy.The entire video is worth watching but if you are pressed for time, we began at :52 .

If you’re curious about Changemaker Schools, teaching Empathy, or the Roadmap, I’ve included a few links below:

Start Empathy Roadmap begins on pg 5 of this toolkit.( http://startempathy.org/sites/default/files/attachments/StartEmpathy_Toolkit_Final-web_0.pdf )

Yale University’s Ruler and Teaching Emotional Intelligence:


Presenting Schools:





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Teaching Answers or Asking Questions…Which is more important?

Our superintendent recently shared this video with the faculty of the 25 schools in our district. It’s hard not to get excited about this message, particularly here at McAuliffe.

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Learning Opportunties and Readling List

Fostering autonomy and a place in school and the world beyond:
As I walked around our campus this week, I was reminded of one other reason why our students’ learning experiences are so special. “I have another way.” This was a simple comment from a 5th grade student during a discussion on osmosis during science. The student went on to share a method that would take into consideration the amount of moisture that would be lost due to evaporation in addition to being
absorbed by osmosis over time.

“I have another way,” sounds simple, but all too often in education, students are not given the opportunity to explore alternative methods for approaching a subject. I love that this is not the case here. Students at McAuliffe are encouraged to share their voice, explain their process and plans with their colleagues. Giving them this opportunity is powerful and empowering! We strongly support students making their own way and articulating their thought process and this is one way we are able to accomplish this. What would it mean if, in our world, everyone’s voice was honored and heard?

January Reading:
While I am not usually a subscriber to endorsements by those I don’t know, I was intrigued by Mark Zuckerberg’s selection of The End of Power by Moisés Naím. We certainly operate under a less typical model of decision making at McAuliffe and one that I believe is incredibly powerful. I look forward to reading this work and sharing my thoughts with you in the near future. This week I was also approached by a parent who suggested that I read Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz. !
Challenge accepted! !
– Rick

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Welcome to 2015!

Welcome Back!
It has been wonderful catching up with so many of you and your children this past week. January seems to be more full than usual. This month expect to see class projects, field trips, school tours, information nights, variety shows and so much more!

We’re so glad that you are back with us! Get ready for an exciting 2015!

New Faces:
We have a new face on campus. Jeff Ottey joins us as our upper school PE teacher. We’re also excited to announce that Jim Hunts has expanded his role. He is still Susan’s IA and has added the role of our new PE IA. This assures that our physical education program will be aligned to our philosophy and approach to learning. Thanks Jim! Welcome Jeff!

Tours and Information Nights:
On Tuesday our faculty met to reflect on and revise our Parent Information Night. The conversation served as a powerful reminder of the high caliber of teaching and learning that takes place here at McAuliffe. It was exciting to listen to the teachers develop a plan for how best to communicate the information to prospective parents. Our second tour of the year took place Wednesday and I love that we have so many members of our community involved in sharing who we are, what we do, and why we’re here.

After each tour, a number of prospective parents express their gratitude for all of us making the time to provide a glimpse into our world and I wanted to share that gratitude with you. Whether you are leading a tour or aiding in class, your role here is critical to providing an incredible learning experience for your child(ren) AND all of the children on our campus. Our program is founded on the model of parent participation and we believe that it is not only beneficial, but a fundamental element to teaching and learning. Thank you for your service from all of the faculty, staff, and students at McAuliffe!!

If you have friends interested in our program, please remind them that our tours and information nights are underway. Signups for these can be found on our website.

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How playing an instrument benefits your brain – Anita Collins

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Hi Everyone,

This is it: the close of one year and the beginning of a new one. It’s such an exciting time! When we come to a crossroads, I often turn to those more eloquent to help convey my message to you. In this case, I’m reminded of Robert Fulghum and his approach to life and learning and how we would all benefit from more time on the kindergarten playground. Having just come from Katie’s class and Vicki’s class singing celebrations, I couldn’t agree with him more and I count myself incredibly fortunate to work in a place where everyday we celebrate learning and growing and life and one another.

For this festive season, Robert suggests that, “If you want an interesting party sometime, combine cocktails and a fresh box of crayons for everyone.” And while you’re considering his words…

The Office Staff would like to thank you for your amazing generosity once again to help us share some holiday cheer and love to a deserving McAuliffe family.

The Faculty at McAuliffe wants to wish all of you a wonderful vacation filled with joy and happiness. We encourage you to celebrate family old traditions and start a new one. Explore, laugh, sing, reflect, and embrace the year ahead with your friends and family.

I also offer this Irish toast to you and your family as the New Year comes upon us. “May your home always be too small to hold all your friends.”

Happy Holidays!


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Happy Thanksgiving!

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” — Albert Schweitzer

Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking of what to write for this year’s Thanksgiving edition. This year has been busier than usual. Our district is going through a number of changes as we align ourselves toward the Common Core and implement new practices to support student growth. In spite of the increased workload, our teachers, secretaries, and IA’s continue to perform their duties at the highest levels both professionally and in their care of our students. While we have come to expect this as the norm at McAuliffe, I have never seen a more dedicated, devoted, group of people. Clearly this is reason for us to be grateful that, during times of great change, our students continue to thrive and grow while participating in wonderful learning experiences. It is no wonder that we have such an amazing community!

Here are just a few recent examples of things happening at McAuliffe that we can be grateful for:

  • Art activities that require complex thinking and decision-making…and pastels… and exploring the natural world around us!
  • Hands on, engaging mathematics that build a strong foundation in conceptual understanding and procedural skills that our students will build upon throughout their lifetime.
  • The changing leaves, from deep green to fiery reds and vibrant yellows and oranges, and an opportunity for students (and adults) to play in them!
  • Trips to learn first hand about marine biology, geology, botany, theater, and the incredible beauty that surrounds us in Northern California.
  • Creative thinkers keep us fresh and on our toes which is so positive for everyone engaged in teaching and learning.
  • Jokes…in today’s fast-paced world, it’s so affirming to laugh and have fun together.
  • Whole school gatherings where singing is commonplace and sharing is natural and common.
  • A warm community of caring and thoughtful adults and children working together to build meaning and understanding of the world around us.

Ultimately, I want to wish you and your family a wonderful time of celebration and reflection. I hope that you continue to explore the world around you and I offer you two challenges: Take your children outside and encourage them to do things you did as a child…and do them together. In thinking about Albert Schweitzer’s words, I also encourage you to consider who was responsible for lighting the flame within you and sharing your gratitude with them.

Have a great vacation! We look forward to seeing you in December.

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