Story Corps goes to TED – The Power of Story

Congratulations Dave! I’ve been a longtime fan of Story Corps!!

I’m excited to try this new app out and hope to capture the stories of our amazing school community.

This will work wonderfully in conjunction with 1SE. I was inspired by the use of 1 Second Everyday app in the film Chef and hope to capture  a snapshot of McAuliffe history using it this year.

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You never know what you’ll run into on campus…Mind Blowing Stuff!

Yesterday, at recess, a 3rd grader stopped me and said, “Hey Rick! You gotta hear this. It will blow your mind.” Of course, I was intrigued so I asked what it was.

Student – “What is the decimal conversion for 1/3?

Rick – “.3 repeating

Student – “Yes. And what is the decimal conversion for 2/3?

Rick – “.6 repeating.

Student – “Yes again. But hold on. Get ready to blow your mind! What is the decimal conversion for 3/3?

Rick – “1

Student – “How do you know that?

Rick – “Because one rule in algebra is that any number divided by itself is one…

Student – “Okay…we can talk about that later, but your logic doesn’t stand because 1/3 = .3 repeating, 2/3 = .6repeating, 3/3 should equal .9 repeating…

Rick – “Whoa! You’re right! What does this mean?? We’ve been tricked!

Student – “I know! Right?!?!?

Rick – “Well I certainly wouldn’t want to use 1/3 or 2/3 in my calculations for building a space ship or submarine because then they might leak and we’d run out of air.

Student – “Not if you had an unlimited air supply.

Rick – “Hmm..good point, I’m not sure an unlimited air supply has been invented yet.

Student – “Still wouldn’t be a problem.

Rick – “Why not?

Student – “Because the atoms of air would be larger than the space the gap creates.

Rick – “How do you know that?

Student – “Because atoms have a molecular size that would be greater than the infinitesimally small gap that might exist if you used 1/3 in your measurements

Rick – “Hmm…Have you ever heard of Zeno’s paradox?

Student – “Sure!

Yard duty – “Hi Rick, You’re wanted in the office.

Rick – “Looks like we’ll have to take this up later.

Student – “Bye! (Runs off to play on the playground)

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The Great Escape…(aka Kinders Teaching Lessons in Yes And!)

In John Sturges’ The Great Escape, Richard Attenbourough tells his team of POW officers, “We’re going to devote our energies to sports and gardening…all the cultural pursuits…and meanwhile…we dig!” Little did John realize that he was setting the backdrop not for a World War II classic, but early morning in Vicki’s kinder class.

That day, my campus walk focused on PG & E’s handiwork. A few weeks earlier they had dug a hole in the sidewalk on Titus that was a hazard for pedestrians and large enough that it also caused a safety concern for the children on the playground. After confirming that PGE patched the hole and that the area was no longer hazardous, I made my way back to the main campus…down Titus and right onto our pathway toward the office.

As I made the turn, I could hear the sound of earth moving and little voices. I couldn’t see them because they were behind the hedgerow, but what I heard next stopped me in my tracks.

(Not being able to see them, I guessed that they were in the dirt/mud box with little shovels and/or sticks)

Kinder 1 – Hey! Good job digging that hole and putting it on the side so we can use it later!

Kinder 2- Thanks! You too! Keep digging!

(Digging sounds slow down)

Kinder 1-  Phew! This is tough work. Hey! If we keep digging we can turn this hole into a tunnel!

Kinder 2- Great idea! We can dig a tunnel right under the wall!!

(Digging sounds speed up)

Kinder 1- Yes!! And then we can dig under the fence and break outta the school!!

Kinder 2-  Okay! Let’s do it!!!

I couldn’t help but smile and wonder at what point two little, dirt covered kiddos would bust through the sod shouting “Freedom!” “We did it!”

There are many lessons I took away from this, such as: the joy of learning and working, the importance of creativity and imagination in life, teamwork, positive affirmations, reaching one’s goal often takes effort and energy, etc.

But the lesson that resonated most with me was “Yes, And…”  “Yes, and…” is a game in Improv that can lead to wonderful results.  Adults so much more frequently say, “Yes, but…”

I immediately connected this conversation with a conference I attended during the winter break. The particular session was on Design Thinking and while I will share more about that later, a key element of this process requires that we build on others’ ideas and they too draw on improv for this type of collaboration. For children this is easy, but as we grow older, accepting ideas from others and building on them becomes increasingly difficult. It’s no wonder that childhood is such an incredible time!

For those of us who lean toward “Yes, but…,” I encourage you to try “Yes, and…” this week.

Tina Fey’s, Bossypants (p84) offers a few guidelines for those of us who need practice in this:

  •   Agree
    • Respect the other person and start with yes.
  •   Say “Yes and…
    • Build on their ideas.
  •   Make Statements
    • Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.”
  •   THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, only Opportunities.
    • Who knows where this will lead?

Have a great weekend!


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Brain Science Math

Last night Katie shared this video with her kinder parents at their class meeting featuring Jo Boaler, professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford University. The video is a part of the “How to Learn Math for Teachers and Parents” series Jo created.

I particularly liked her charge at 3:53 that, “…as teachers, our job is really to disrupt the trajectories of students who haven’t had challenging experiences.” I like the call because it applies to all students and demands that we know where our students are in order to ensure their learning experiences are meaningful, challenging, and continued opportunities for growth. One of the reasons I love working at McAuliffe is that our faculty strive daily to ensure this is happening and continue to seek ways to improve the teaching and learning for children and adults.

Jo’s summary:

1. Every child can excel in mathematics.

2. The potential of the brain is huge.

3. Every new learning experience can change one’s ability.

If you liked this video or are interested in resources on math education, Jo’s Youcubed website: offers a wealth of resources and courses on math.

Thanks Katie for sharing this exciting information and engaging parents in conversation around teaching and learning!!


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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.( )

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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