Episode #95: Megan Sweet & Susan Andrien
Megan Sweet is the co-host of the podcast is The Awakening Educator, Megan is an experienced podcaster, presenter, and speaker. She is quick on her feet, have an easy and compelling speaking style, and cares deeply about her subject matter. With more than 25 years of experience in education, and 15 years directly leading changes in schools, districts, and statewide in California, she knows that education is the most important lever we have for creating a more equitable society. She also knows that the best way to realize true change is by supporting and empowering individuals to lead the changes they envision for their school communities.
She is an expert in working with communities to design and lead transformation efforts, and deeply knowledgeable about all things education–from the classroom to the boardroom. I am an expert in leading community-driven education transformation in high-need schools and districts.
Susan Andrien, LMFT, is the Co-Host of The Awakening Educator, Behavioral Health Program Manager OUSD & Adjunct Faculty Holy Names University. She has 25 years of experience providing mental health services in communities heavily impacted by trauma. In addition to her role as Behavioral Health Program Manager for Oakland Unified School District and Adjunct Faculty in the Counseling Psychology department at Holy Names University in Oakland. Susan & Megan come from 2 different sides of approaching education.
Trench story: Susan- has looked at challenges in education this past year, hard work. Stress responses, increasing opportunities to look at alternative ways for students to deal with stress. Wants to shift communities to be more therapeutic spaces. She works with the adults, has seen students shift. Experience when she went back to school to become a therapist in 1998. She was part of a Project Based Learning Charter. They weren’t prepared for amount of trauma from kids, so the school ended up closing. Her own journey since 2001 has really changed, in terms of understanding trauma. She keeps finding herself in burn out & overwhelm. Big part of our work. Little and big trenches. We need to meet them where they are. They needed to see needs for self. She had a string 3 years in a row she was laid off. We as educators put so much effort in. She wasn’t able to see- took the layoffs personally. It was the system. Pulled self out, it was a gift, she saw her own patterns. Took away the belief she was unworthy. It’s healthy to have the awareness that the belief is there.
Why is self-care important for educators?
Susan– trains teachers around self-care. Presents topics around a way that’s not patronizing. Teachers feel frustrated when they TELL them to do self care. You need to not be dysregulated. What do you do to maintain, what do you do to maintain. Have some in the moment tools? She works with them to create a self-care plan. Write it along with what works for you in particular. Megan- admin understand this better this year. Give yourself permission to set boundaries for self. Take work email off phone, leave at a certain time. Self-compassion is so important. In particular this year, admiration and thanks for educators tipped a different direction. Take the opportunity to reflect on what you’ve learned. In Susan’s plan, “Meaning making”, reflect and make meaning.
Why is being anti-racist important for all educators? It’s important for white ppl to talk about it, have those hard conversations, how we can show up as allies? It’s not always clear. Have humility and willingness to stumble through. The first step is the willingness to reflect. We have been programed through the media to have subconscious agreements around certain students. Acknowledge it for self. The kids remember it forever. There are many ways the implicit biases show up. Create safe and inclusive spaces for them, or their brain space will shut down. Students go into fight, flight, freeze mode. Important to do our own work. Susan-frame in “Your 3 Eyes” book about insight, intellect, intuition. We can work on it can still mess it up. Let students know they can call you on it. Fear perpetuates bias and disporpotionality. We can see the impact. It’s not a one PD issue. When we do book studies together as a staff, we tend to ask questions.
What is servant leadership and how does it support organizational culture? It all depends on the job. It can be the “behind the scenes” person supporting the team. Person leading the charge is the typical white supremist vision. Megan– learning how to bring out the best in her team. Create good experiences for students. More distributed leadership, community-oriented.. IT’s not about the power dynamic. Biggest indicator for aca success is t efficacy, if t’s feel like they have a role they are burning out less. Shared ownership. People are more bought into the school community.
What are the most urgent issues facing schools as we go into the 21/22 school year? Susan– learning loss we hear a lot about. We can focus on learning gains instead. She is changing the way she thinks about trauma. Create environments that are protective. Meaning making- capitalize on our learning. Create spaces where kids can activate pre-frontal cortex. How are we gonna emerge better than we came into it? Megan- bring SEL into schools, people need to capitalize on it. Macro picture- people saw how hard t’s are working. People saw school is such a large functioning part of society, providing food, on front line of the things happening in society. All pieces are interwoven. We can reposition our schools to support them more effectively. Big picture policy change. WE need to reflect on how amazing students and teachers. Windfall of $ coming into CA schools, CARES $ that has to be spent in 2 yrs. Boom-bust budget issues. Needs to be long-term sustainable. Short-term funding forces us to stay at superficial level. We need a long-term approach, sustainability. Quick fix $ is painful, waste of $. Was Megan’s doctorate dissertation-finance. No one wants to talk about it because it’s complex.
How did you two start working together? It was in the trenches- reflecting on a prior trench- in a school working together. Megan– systems kind of view. Susan– mental health approach. Were sent to schools to address the issues coming up. Kept finding selves in the same spaces. They connected immediately. Difficult situations, they were able to laugh about it. Saw the value of using the trauma-informed lens. Created spaces of positive relational experiences. Podcast came out of Megan’s “Your 3 Eyes” book, someone invited her on their podcast. They are 2 years. in.
Key quotes: Susan- self care isn’t individual act, but needs to be proactive way to keep you recharged. Megan– you’re all worthy, be nourished, love yourselves.
Find Megan & Susan online via “The Awakening Educator” on all podcast platforms. Megan does talks around mindfulness, mediation. Susan’s got her own therapist website around neuro-sequential model training.
Linked In: Megan Sweet
View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/VmlOYOgDtvI
Episode #96: Bobbie French
Bobbie French has been an educator for over 24 years. She has been an elementary guidance counselor, elementary classroom teacher, special education coordinator, Title I Director, Preschool Director and Administrator. Her passion for making sure teachers have the professional learning community, appreciation, coaching and resources they need to be their BEST for kids EVERY day. Bobbie is also an avid photographer and loves to tell her school’s story.
Bobbie loves to read and is slowly working her way through all of the DBC Inc. books. There’s always something new to learn or a good book to get lost in. This has led her to start her blog, with lots of encouragement from her PLN.
Trenches story: no 2 trenches are the same. It’s hard to try on something new in education and it can be tough to get into a certain position. She went to a new school, it wasn’t the right fit and was only there 1 year. It can be held against someone, in education but not in the corporate world.
Tell me about your designation “2019 NCEA (Natl Catholic Ed association) Social Media Influencer of the Year“: Was principal for a small Catholic school was less than 200 students. Tried to grow social media presence. Did a lot for their Facebook page. It grew to over 1000 followers. She is an avid photographer. Celebrated things that were happening in Catholic education. She did the majority of it through FB. Some through IG/Twitter as well. Needed to post a certain amount per week. To create content, someone was recommended to assist her.
You’re currently an educational coordinator at a school for students with disabilities. Her teaching background is 2nd/3rd grade. She took a non-traditional route from ES counselor into teaching Sped. Has worked with students in separate classes. Many have social-emotional challenges. She has helped students become successful. She supports teachers who work with students who have severe disabilities. Autism spectrum. Because of the residential piece, staff goes out to residence. Vocational skills. The school has monthly themes. During the pandemic, they did virtual road trips. They serve students ages 6-22. There are no more than 8 students who live out in community, take the an to school. Have extended visits with family.
Tell me about the Busy Principals Podcast: It has been up for almost 1 year. On episode 13, it was pretty much an extension of her blog. Popular one about March Madness, hiring. Takes things she learned along admin journey. All episodes are under 15 minutes. Is working on expanding it an having guests on. Adam Welcome told her “just start”. She pushes out episodes every other Monday. Talk about themes for blogging, things that come to her, experiences. Same for podcasting. Good habits, positivity. Can depend on calendar. Just posted a hiring blog. She also writes an Engage Better Teach Better Team blog- out first week of the month.
What are some changes you’d like to see take place in the next school year? School is a residential component. It isn’t on the campus. When they shut down, teachers went into homes. Last July, they went every other week. Now they’re almost at full capacity. She has only known it during COVID so she is starting to spread out more. They have a year-long calendar with breaks 1-2 weeks every 3 months. School has 3rd grade up to 22 year olds, but most are age 10 and up.
There is work to transition them to placements as adults. It’s getting students back into the community post-COVID. Have students go to the pool & swim. They have jobs, learn how to order meals in a restaurant. Can only replicate so much in a mock setting. Trying to get back into student store. Where do we go here? How do we find a balance to see what’s going well for all. Mastery learning. Working at your own pace. PBL, nature-based learning. What can education be now? Getting the “powers that be” to sit down and brainstorm how to do it differently.
You are a big proponent of ed camps (unconference- driven by participants), tell me about your experience presenting for those: She launched Lead, Learn, Hope. Virtual ed camps are giving in-person run for $. A lot of people from other states have come. In February they ’21 did it virtual, they will do hybrid next Feb. In Massachutes, they did one in February for principals as well. Had some great topics, PBIS, engagement in remote learning. They did EdCamp Play in June as well.
Key quotes: “Whatever your passion is, go for it. Tell your school’s story, if you’re passionate about education, share what you’re doing w/ others. Don’t teach in silos. Supports are there”.
Episode #97: Jethro Jones
Jethro Jones, the 2017 NASSP Digital Principal of the Year, is a former principal and host of Transformative Principal podcast. He is also the founder of The Center for Cyberethics, independent, non-partisan educational institute dedicated to the study and promotion of cyberethics, and author of the book, SchoolX: How principals can design a transformative school experience for students, teachers, parents – and themselves! Jethro has worked as a principal at all K-12 levels, including a prison school, a district coach, distance learning team lead, and English teacher.
Trench story: Told about when got transferred out of a position. World felt like it was coming to an end. Was depressed. Relied on his faith, needed help from a higher power.
Tell me about your book School X and how the concept of writing it came to fruition? It was rejected by several publishers first. There was a lot of struggle that went into it. He’d been thinking about since being AP at a Title 1 elementary school 10 years ago. Took a pic of beautiful scenery. Thought “this is a great school”. Got a negative impression with the visitor sign on door. It wasn’t welcoming sign. He took the sign down, put up a new sign “visitors welcome”. We need to change how people see our schools because we’re not paying attention to it. Did Leadership Summit in 2017 and researched the design thinking process. Wanted people to be able to make a change in their school to be adapted to other people. John Catt Education published it. They publish the kind of books that he wanted to read as an educator. It was a good fit for his book in the group.
How can leaders benefit from reading it?: Design your dream building- perfect for your community. Don’t try to be like everyone out there. Bring awareness to those things. Design what works for people there. People in the building will change. Could be good for a book study. Good for principals, parents for PTA. Include in PD slides. Start it when you see something that doesn’t fit. Improve something by a few % points.
Talk about how your 15 y.o. daughter with Down’s syndrome has coped with and overcome challenges with COVID/moving family to WA: She has been able to go all year nearly 5 days/week. They screened those kids for covid. His 3 younger kids did homeschool. Great teachers. They said who really needed to be in person. They took the time to appreciate they needed to in person. Waited too long to bring back everyone. Some kids are thriving in different circumstances but most districts have to plan a virtual school option for this upcoming school year. One of principals in his Mastermind have had seniors who were remote all year who did well. Kids with behavior problems can be more effective online.
Tell about your trauma course: He has added updates for post-covid recovery on his website. Recognizing we’ll have a lot of reteaching when kids get back in school. There is a short intro course. It includes student-driven learning, trauma- 10 short lessons.
Key quotes: Remember those small acts of compassion. He dropped his daughter off at seminary, she was in a walker, she hobbled along. A girl in her class helped her walk in. It shows that kids are paying attention to others, know how to be compassionate. Then we’ll find success. Be that person that will stand next to someone and hobble in the rain.
Find Jethro online @jethrojones and visit his website at: https://www.jethrojones.com/
View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Swe3QijamOk
Episode #98: Jessica Lahey
Jessica Lahey is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed and The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence. Over twenty years, Jess has taught every grade from sixth to twelfth in both public and private schools, and spent five years teaching in a drug and alcohol rehab for adolescents in Vermont. She writes about education, parenting, and child welfare for The Washington Post, New York Times, and The Atlantic, is a book critic for Air Mail, and wrote the educational curriculum for Amazon Kids’ award-winning The Stinky and Dirty Show. She co-hosts the #AmWriting podcast with bestselling authors K.J. Dell’Antonia and Sarina Bowen from her house in Vermont, where she lives with her husband, two sons and a lot of dogs.
Tell me about a time you were in the trenches: In 2013, a lot happened with her. It was shortly after her dad intervened and she got sober. She handed in Gift of Failure on time. Day after she handed it in, she was thrown from a horse. Couldn’t read, although she mostly had spend all her time on a computer. Got notes that the version of her book was unpublishable. Led to a deep depression (post-concussion syndrome). Credits husband as being supportive and an editor who was generous. She had 2 chapter probation at a time. Things happened in a good order that she stopped drinking beforehand.
We talk about new release (April 2021): THE ADDICTION INOCULATION Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence:
-At what age should parents start talking to their kids about the dangers of substance abuse? Many wait ’til kids about to go to HS. MS is when they are going to start experimenting. Nursery school/preschool is when you should start doing it. There are substance-use prevention programs out there but only 57% of schools use them. DARE started in the 80’s and kids that came out of it were more likely to use drugs. Blueprints out of CU Boulder assess them. We talk to young kids about why we spit out toothpaste, why we don’t eat tide pods. Why can’t you take mommy’s medicine? Have the conversations early and often. Only 57% of schools actually use the programs.
Why do “scared straight” anti-drug programs not work? SEL programs need to be of quality. Use one that is proven and has a great healthy conversation. Kids themselves need to understand how their brains work.
Why is information power in terms of learning more about how your brain works? She was visiting the Momentous Institute in Dallas they talk about the upper /lower brain functions. Give kids info about how can you respond to kids from upper brain. When they screw up in MS, it’s not their fault. It’s about helping them understand how their brains work. It help you bust some of the myths about how to deal w/ kids. Teens can tell they’re intoxicated as easily as adults. It’s seeking out novelty. It’s our role to direct the craving for novelty to constructive positive risk. We could help function like a training wheel. They’re less likely to determine that they’ve been drinking too much. We have to have a hold on understanding that drugs/alcohol have a lot more effect on adolescent brain. Make it so the “traing wheels” can wobble a little”. Thus their capacity to handel the “wobbles” will be greater when they go off to college.The older they are when they first abuse substances the more the risk goes down to become addicted. 8th grader has 50% risk, 18 y.o. has 10% risk of life long disorder. Her kids have the genetic predisposition so they have 50-60% risk factor.
Tell me about a student or 2 who you’ve worked with who shared their story in the book? The rehab is closed to adolescents. There is no place for kids in VT to go to now. When she taught in the drug & alcohol not only for those 5 yrs. Georgia is in the book. Started drinking in MS, she was suffering from anxiety. She wanted an escape from that. She wanted some relief- those types of kinds ended up in her rehab CR. They were medicating because of ACEs or because of low level of self-efficacy. Many students had late or undiagnosed learning disorders. The hard part of getting sober is when we take away the alcohol they’re left with feelings. When you’re sending kids to a place make sure they have experience dealing with kids.
Were most of the kids successful in remaining sober? Jessica suggests people should go online and watch “16 and in recovery” on YouTube, shot at North Shore Recovery in MA. It’s rare for kids to get and stay sober on their first try. We often tend to send them back to the same environment. Georgia is still sober. When you’re not dealing with psychic pain your brain development is frozen at the age they started using. They have not even thought about having adults. It’s so important to understand their brains with Trauma Informed Practices. Don’t get angry in the classroom. She wrote about it in “This is 40”- a book she was part of. If we suspend, it’s only saying we’re not gonna support you. We then drive them away from a supportive environment.
How do we as adults need to check our behavior in terms of drug/alcohol use? Start with yourself when you’re trying to set a good example for your kids. You cannot teach moderation. The EU has the highest alcohol consumption in the world. For people who are wired like her, you can’t just have 1 drink. When most of kids try drugs/alcohol they will probably be fine. Drinking around kids or using pot around it isn’t the issue, it’s the messaging. “I hope there’s plenty of wine at grandma’s”… She has faced the impostor syndrome being sober. Alcohol and drugs are being marketed to kids.
Marketing manipulation- she made a choice to not have broadcast tv in house. They are selling camaraderie, sexiness. it’s not about a certain brand. Football, wrestling. lacrosse and hockey players are the biggest college drinkers. Sports fans are also the biggest drinkers. Alcohol merchandising is often placed beside a player on tv. Someone is out to actively manipulate them through advertising.
“Not my kid” is not a thing historically, the way we talk about substance use disorder is very much influenced by racism, also used in the George Floyd trial. When rich white kids became hooked on opiods it suddenly became a crisis. Drugs killing off people has been an issue a long time however. Steven King “we all look the same when we’re vomiting in the gutter”. It’s something she couldn’t say in her rehab classroom. when she introduced herself, they said that she didn’t look like an alcoholic. Chris Herrin-Boston Celtic tells the story in the book. His dealer wasn’t getting to the garden fast enough for him to take opioids. In the documentary about Chris: “we worry so much about the last time people used, not the first time” . How can we help kids feel like they’re enough? How can we help them deal with their overwhelming pain, emotions? It’s an early intervention.
Key quotes- “delay-think about synapsis that kids have in their brain”. Get them closer to early 20’s to delay drinking. She says if you know your kids well, and value their goals, the more we understand them, the more we can leverage that. Like wanting to be a rapper. You need memory for that. Weed messes with hippocampus.
Find Jessica online by visiting her website at https://www.jessicalahey.com to view her speaking schedule and find out where you can get a signed copy of her books. Twitter:@jesslahey IG: @teacherlahey FB: https://www.facebook.com/jplahey
View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/uM-WXBZpHwE