Now, I know, I know. Depending on the school climate and inequities where you work, these might seem like some lofty visions. I've been there. I've felt all the frustration, overwhelm, and exhaustion of teaching. And to tell you the truth, if you'd told me to imagine these things back then, I probably would have laughed at you. And cried a little on the inside. My students' lives were beyond hard, with the stark realities of racism and poverty affecting so many aspects of their worlds. The inequities in school funding and resources were ever present in my school and district. And then there was of course just the regular adversity involved in teaching. Teaching was one of the biggest challenges of my life.
I'm not laughing at these ideas any more, though, because I've helped hundreds of passionate educators - even when feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and exhausted - turn these visions into reality.
After my naive notions of teaching got rocked to the core nearly 20 years ago, and an educational coach restored my faith in what was possible in the classroom with solid support, I decided that empowering other educators was going to be a huge part of my path.
I also decided that with the limited time and resources we have in education, that I was going to work in the areas that were the most powerful. Most bang for your buck is kind of my jam. So, in all my different roles - educational consultant, professional development facilitator, school psychologist, teacher educator, and researcher - I became an advocate for prevention rather than reaction. Think systems and strategies that set kids and schools up for success rather than putting out fires and slapping on band-aids down the road.
One of those strategies is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Identifying and managing emotions, having empathy for others, fostering positive relationships with self and others, and making responsible decisions are key to children's well-being and success in all areas of learning. After trying several SEL programs over the years, I found Kimochis® (which means "feelings" in Japanese), and I fell in love. The highly engaging, tangible, interactive Kimochis® materials and tools help children connect with themselves and others, and develop core SEL competencies, in magical ways.
After many years of experiencing the Kimochis® magic in my work (and life), and being mentored by the amazing Ellen Dodge, Curriculum Author and Education Director, I became a Kimochis® Certified Trainer in 2016.
I feel excited to share my love for Kimochis® tools with you.
There's almost always more to the story. In my case, "crazy-busy" has been an unfortunate mantra through most of my career in education. Working ridiculous hours to be the best...to do the best possible work for my students and the teachers I support...to perfectionistic standards. Add in the demands of motherhood, and you have a recipe for disaster. On my very, very long to-do list, I was last. Actually, I didn't even make the list. Chronic headaches were my body's way of telling me I shouldn't neglect myself anymore, but I didn't take the hint. My students' lives seemed far harder than mine. And my own kids' needs were intense. So I thought, suck it up and deal. Work harder, push through.
My health got worse and worse. I even lost my voice for a month. Yes, a whole month. Imagine running meetings, working with students, and raising two young children without a voice.
And then... physical and mental health crash and burn. Chronic illness taking hold. So, at that point, I was forced to put myself at the top of my to-do list. I finally started to tune in and really listen to my body and soul.
As much as my emotions around putting myself first were (and still are) messy, self-care felt great. I noticed how much more present I was in my work and home, how much more I could handle all the challenges, how much better I was able to connect with others, because I'd finally connected with myself.
As I continued to consult with and coach educators, I started to notice how much their burnout, their self-neglect was getting in the way for them too. I realized that educators taking care of themselves was a huge missing layer of how we can best support the students we love so much.
One of Katie’s strengths is that she can analyze a situation or problem that is happening in the classroom and match it with a potential solution that might remedy the problem. I like the way Katie is flexible and has so many different ideas and ways to work with a student or a classroom.
Katie’s ability to relate to people and working knowledge of how a child’s brain develops, combined with her warmth and nurturing personality, are her greatest strengths!
Katie is insightful and honest in a way that totally disarms you. She says it like it is with such courageous vulnerability, it always makes me feel more courageous too- like it’s safer to be me, really me. Anyone who gets to work with her would be lucky to do so. But I must advise you, there is no pretending with Katie. She will be on you and call you out the moment she smells inauthenticity. You are in good hands and I celebrate your choice in receiving her support.
The training was relevant, useful, meaningful, and easy to follow. I almost always have a suggestion for every trainer I’ve ever had throughout my whole career. Today my only suggestion for you Katie...Keep on being YOU!
A must see and go! I loved learning how to use tools with all students and how to adapt. And I loved how Katie tied it in with academic gains. I want to invite my own daughter’s principal and counselor to the next training!