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Know “No’s Rule”

Have you ever wondered the reason your message seemed to baffle team members or seemed to fall on deaf ears? Notwithstanding a host of reasons these situations may occur, one interesting cause may be your use of negatively situated wording.

Organizational leaders, especially those who are a part of leading DEI(JAB) Initiatives – as we call it in the Sancho Education Group family – are often surrounded with the notion that team members are diverse, both in their surface qualities and deeply held ideas and values. Due to our experiences, we each have personal triggers that are activated by mere words. Suppose unbeknownst to a leader, he/she/they happen(s) to say a word that activates a trigger for a person with a “hidden diversity;” instantly, communication may be compromised. One type of hidden diversity could be that the person identifies as neurodiverse. Listen to our 2-minute blog on types of diversity.

Neurodiversity can include a variety of neurological conditions that may cause individuals to have mild to severe impairments, such as dyslexia, autism, and attention deficit disorder (ADD). Likewise, there may be vision impairments and mental disorders that the team member chooses to keep to themselves for their own purposes. For this reason, organizational leaders can strive to exercise inclusive leadership & practices. This style of leadership can give leaders the edge needed to communicate more effectively in the workplace.

Regardless of whether a person is considered neurodiverse, negatively situated words can cause one to react simply because the words are typically associated with depleting actions or rejection. Momentarily, someone’s attention may be blocked at the mere mention of one of these words as his/her/their mind automatically prepares to experience ejection, loss, or some other facet of deflation. At this moment, you may see a quick stare into space or disconnection in eye contact. Uh-oh…

How often do you use the words below in conversation with family? Co-workers?

No, won’t, can’t, don’t, wouldn’t, never, nothing, shouldn’t, couldn’t, none, nada, but, however, unfortunately??

Active avoidance of these negatively situated words is similar to “controlled processing” for those trying to form new ideas to counter, undesired, automatic processing in the brain. It may prove difficult initially, however, in time you will master avoidance of these words with useful wordplay – especially when speaking to unfamiliar individuals, neurodiverse individuals, persons with mental health disorders with potential triggers, and law enforcement officials/officers. Organizational leaders and customer service representatives (CSRs) find that avoiding negatively situated words helps to mitigate discrepancies.

Examples:

I can’t help you today. My schedule is booked solid.My apologies. Is there another day that I can help you? It seems my schedule is full for today.
I won’t be able to do that. Ask Sarah, she has time.Let me see what I can do to have Sarah help us. I have another appointment at the same time.
Unfortunately, the timing is bad. I couldn’t get that report to you if I tried.I may have a timing challenge for today. I know I will have time to get the report to you tomorrow. Does this sound fair?
* Avoiding negatively situated wording chart *

As we all move towards a new environment, mid-pandemic, we can each do our part to help alleviate stress and anxiety from one another. Many people diagnosed with mild cases of covid19 are showing signs of short-term memory delay, brain fog, hallucinations, extreme fatigue, and attention challenges. Removing negatively situated wording from communication would be an increased delight for us all!

Connect the dots and Listen to our quick 2-minute podcast, “Bits & Pieces” about the “Know ‘No’s Rule.”

Familial Regards to Everyone,
Dr. Ri’Cha ri Sancho

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Creating Equitable Educational Environments: Illuminate, Bridge and Transform

Featured Guest Organization: Chrysalis Consulting

In our service to educators, we have found that individuals who listen to each other sharing personal experiences say they “had no idea that a group had those types of discriminatory experiences.” We have also heard people make increased commitments to fight against the discrimination they learned about.  When participants engage in learning (Illuminate), building relationships (Bridge), and taking actions to create change (Transform), they are better able to increase their understanding of others.

In this article, we focus on the usefulness of these strategies for educational leaders to enhance their effectiveness at creating equitable environments for students and staff, where all voices are heard and all perspectives are valued (Senn, 2021).

Illuminate

Foundational to increasing the awareness, knowledge and skills needed to live in a diverse world is understanding our history.  Knowledge of history, both nationally and globally, is key to understanding identity, oppression, and systems of inequity that have been created and are potentially impacting students daily. This can have a profound impact on students’ learning both inside the classroom and out.  Understanding our history is foundational to engaging in advocacy for all students.   When we have a better understanding of historical events and their impact we are less likely to engage in oppressive and harmful behavior.    Educators can benefit from engaging in academic courses, community events, reading books, watching documentaries, listening to podcasts and connecting with organizations such as the Racial Equity Institute (REI).  REI focuses on increasing knowledge about the history and impact of racism in the U.S.

Bridge

If you have few interactions with people from different backgrounds or individuals who do not share your life experiences, it is time to Bridge. To bridge is to build relationships within our own communities and with individuals of different identities. Bridging is making connections, as discussed in The Little Book of Racial Healing: “Racial healing relies on then building relationships with people we have thought of as the ‘other,..’” (DeWolf & Geddes, 2019, p. 41) It has been consistently reported that what divides us most is our lack of understanding of one another.

Key skills in bridging are listening, perspective-taking, and risk-taking.  Listening is key in building relationships and this is listening without judgment, input, or jumping to solutions.  It is listening in such a way that you simply are trying to understand what it might be like to have that person’s experience.  Perspective-taking is opening up your mind to a different experience that others may have on a daily basis.  Educators who seek to bridge will recognize it involves risk-taking, getting out of your comfort zone, and opening up to possibilities unknown.

The book Leading Diverse Communities, co-authored by the founder of the National Coalition Building Institute, shares several principles for making connections.  One of these principles is that one-on-one relationship building is at the heart of intergroup relations. (Brown & Mazza, 2005)  When educators make connections, they gain perspective and with this renewed perspective, they can be ready to transform.

Transform

To transform ourselves, our communities, and our environments, we need to engage in healing work, related to our social identities. This can take many different forms and will look different to different people. There are a variety of resources and modalities. Possibilities include affinity group work, dialogue circles, mindfulness meditation, therapy, yoga, creative arts, prayer, and much more. It is important to choose the approach that is right for you and your community.

Another component of transformation is taking action based on new understanding and perspectives. Important actions to consider include developing ally relationships, looking for accountability partners, ongoing training for staff, and reviewing current practices to identify the changes needed to create an equitable learning environment.

Although illuminate, bridge and transform are seemingly small words, they can lead to tremendous change. This work requires lifelong and ongoing commitment to growth and development. It is challenging, fulfilling and will truly transform the educational environment.   

References

Brown, C., & Mazza, G. (2005).  Leading Diverse Communities: A How-To Guide for Moving from Healing into Action.  Jossey-Bass. 

DeWolf, T. N., & Geddes, J. (2019) The Little Book of Racial Healing. Good Books – Skyhorse Publishing.

Senn, D. (2021, March). What is an Equitable Learning Environment? Learning Sciences International.  https://www.learningsciences.com/blog/equitable-learning-environment/

Chrysalis Consulting: Transforming Beyond Inclusion was created by diversity, equity, and inclusion educators Idella Glenn, Theresa Pizzuto and Beverly Williams. We have a passion individually and collectively to help individuals and organizations be empowered to maximize their potential and make meaningful connections.  Our focus is to do work that is fulfilling and impactful for participants.  We seek to reach a broad audience through information sharing, coaching, training, collaborating, and producing tools that can be used to motivate momentum in transforming beyond inclusion.

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Our Children…Lost in the Mix…

By: ZYLA WHITE, LSN KIDS Board Chair| Crime & Corrections Advocate| B.S. Psychology

Mom and daughter are shopping at the supermarket, the concept of family relationships and healthy eating

C hildhood hunger is a devastating issue that affects millions of children every day. According to Feeding America, 1 in 6 children may not know when they will eat again (Feeding America, 2020). The devastation caused by COVID-19 contributes to this tragedy that children face every day. Childhood hunger affects all aspects of a child’s life from their growth and development, to their ability to successfully progress in academic environments. Many of these children may have behavior and social issues due to their lack of food (Gunn, 2021). They may be unable to focus on their school work, pay attention in class, complete assignments, and socially advance in school because they are too hungry to concentrate. Therefore, their ability to fully engage in learning and social activities may be negatively impacted. Many children who go hungry will be more likely to have health issues (such as headaches and colds) and toxic stress which can cause depression and other mental concerns (APA, 2021).

Childhood hunger is a serious issue that must never be overlooked by education leaders and educators. A child’s acting out, poor school performance or lack of social interaction may be caused by a bigger issue, that they cannot control – HUNGER. 

We can all help end childhood hunger by contributing in ways such as: assisting local schools and community churches with distributing meals for children, volunteering at local food banks and donating to charities. During the summer months many children rely on schools, community organizations, and charities for free lunch provided to families in need. These meals may be the only meals they have the entire day.  Share a meal today.

References

American Psychological Association. (2021). Public Interest Government Relations Office (PI-GRO): What are the psychological effects of hunger on children? APA. https://www.apa.org/advocacy/socioeconomic-status/hunger.pdf

Feeding America. (2021). Child hunger facts in America. https://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/child-hunger-facts  

Gunn, J. (2021). Hunger pains: teaching hungry students. Resilient Educator. https://resilienteducator.com/classroom-resources/hunger-pains-teaching-hungry-students/

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Juneteenth: Making History

Education Stakeholders, you are comprised of Leaders, Community Members, Staff, Students, and Families . . . all humans, if you will. We are privy to a moment in history. Our obligation is to understand & pass it on.

Dr. Ri’Cha ri Sancho

On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed a bill that declared Juneteenth a federal holiday (The White House). There are many facets of this moment in history that marks its significance. Please, read with me as I briefly share a few details with you as you begin to enlighten others.  

  1. Juneteenth is the 1st Federal Holiday declared since “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day” in 1983.
  2. Juneteenth is celebrated because it represents the day the LAST “slaves” in the United States became aware that they were free in 1865, although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed to free enslaved Africans/African Americans in 1863.
    When the news arrived, they were living in Texas. Imagine the trek from the east (or south) to Texas on horseback. That trek is at least 1,000 miles and can be greater than 1,500 miles.
  3. Texas native, Opal Lee, a 94 year old African American woman dedicated to making Juneteenth a federal holiday, shared her feelings of elation for the federal marking of this day AND the idea that there is more work to be accomplished for people of color.
  4. Juneteenth reminds us to contemplate the cost of freedom many enslaved Africans/African Americans endured to help Current Day African Americans experience a better life. Juneteenth reminds me to remember the sacrifices of my ancestors.
  5. Juneteenth represents a step forward in the overdue recognition, by the U.S. government, that African slavery was a vile depiction of the American value system.
  6. Juneteenth provides an opportunity for human beings to uphold a denouncement of enslavement – for those with and without African ancestry – from this point forward.
  7. Juneteenth is a Look at the Face of the Future, in earnest contemplation of the Errors of our Past.   

When I asked the reason one southeastern middle school failed to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Day, I was informed that the African American History teacher informed the school principal (who identified as a “White male”) that African Americans should be “celebrated everyday” and that it was not necessary to hold a celebration in honor of the contributions of Dr. King and his constituents. Therefore, students of color were deprived of the right to understand what it meant to stand against injustice in the 1970’s and how this was done peacefully. They were remiss of the battles that were fought for them to be able to enjoy new commonplace freedoms, such as walking through the front door of any public building, drinking from public water fountains, sitting in any seat to have dinner with a culturally diverse crowd of friends, studying in colleges and universities, and learning from the same books as their peers, who identify as White or Caucasian.  This opportunity to empower African American students and to instill a sense of humility and pride for those who came before them… was lost. I marveled at a school full of education stakeholders who opted to pass on performing “A TEACHABLE MOMENT.”

Essentially, all students missed the opportunity to reflect, ponder, and question the past in reference to the present.

People are saying that there is much more work to do. Yes, there will always be more work to do. . . for everyone . . .  not just some. For today, I will give thanks for being able to exist in a sea of dissimilar and similar individuals and to know that whether upheld or not, there are laws and nationally recognized honorary days that support me (and generations of students) being “Unique,” without retribution.  In this respect, that which was once done in the light to many ancestors… now skirts in the shadows. 

References:

Kindelan, K. (2021, June 18). Meet Opal Lee, the ‘grandmother of the movement’ to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/News/meet-opal-lee-grandmother-movement-make-juneteenth-federal/story?id=78356537

The White House. (2021, June 18). Briefing room: A Proclamation on Juneteenth Day of Observance, 2021. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/06/18/a-proclamation-on-juneteenth-day-of-observance-2021/

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K-12 Civil Leadership™ Explained By Dr. Ri’Cha ri Sancho

Greetings!

It’s an honor to be able to introduce the beginnings of the initiative K-12 Civil Leadership™! We will feature content to help engage and inform K-12 and higher education advocates in the areas of community, collaboration, and improving student interactions among diverse student groups.

Education advocates are a special breed with special hearts, always expanding to be More Flexible as education trends morph school climates faster than school days can progress!

One thing that remains constant is that the demographics in the United States are estimated to change significantly by 2035, according to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Two of the three major changes in the population shift for 2035 relate to immigrants making the U.S. home in large numbers and baby boomers progressing in age.  Education environments and communities are expected to provide stability for the students who will experience these changes.

We want to tell you more! Although K-12 Civil Leadership (K-12CL) training focuses on servicing three distinct groups: (a) district level education leaders, (b) school administrators, and (c) educators, we will also offer supportive resources, guest blogger insight, and diverse outlooks to help school leaders and post-secondary students alike, to reach their goals (a little “something” for everyone).

Peruse our growing site! We are learning together, and our focus is on you! Click on the links when you see them. We will try to keep content relevant to the K-12CL focus.

Covid19, changing demographics, racial & political discord, no worries…we support one another!

Comment below and share please. What types of resources are you in need of currently?  What is happening in your educational institution, classroom, or organization in the midst of this new 2020-2021 landscape?

Mental Health in Minority Communities: It is Personal & Professional for Me

Featured Guest: DEVIN MYERS, Licensed Professional Counselor Associate

peaceful penguin
A Peaceful Penguin, Pondering Peace Perhaps?
Cape of Good Hope, Cape Town, South Africa

Hello! Time is of the essence so let’s get right to it, shall we? I would like to share with you some of my journey towards obtaining better mental health. First off, I would like to thank you for taking time out of your day to read this. Time is all too precious a resource to waste so it means a lot to me that you would use yours to read my story. As you may have guessed, we’ll be talking about something that some people still consider taboo.

I happen to be an African American male who grew up in an African American community in the southeastern U.S. It is no secret that discussing mental health within this community has a stigma attached to it. Several studies (DeFreitas et al., 2018; Haynes et al., 2018) illustrate this unfortunate point. I believe that this is a result of generations of families having to persevere through hardships and present themselves as unbreakable individuals so that they can function in a society they felt was set up against them. I feel that mental health has definitely been put on the back burner (or perhaps not even on the stove at all) as a consequence of being in an environment where a person is focused on trying to survive daily.

When I was in middle school my parents divorced. Lord knows my mother did the best she could, with what she had, and for that I am forever grateful. This transition was extremely difficult for me, but I had no idea of the effects it would have on my mental health for years to come. It was only during my graduate coursework in my clinical counseling program that I understood how going through that experience had played such a vital role on the formation of the person I am today. I remember sitting in class one day and I had the epiphany that I would react in a certain way to people that hurt me. I was able to trace this hurt all the way back to how I learned to respond as a child experiencing divorce. It took an entire counseling program for me to learn about a wounded area that I did not even know I had!

I definitely had no intention of seeking any form of mental health counseling before enrolling in my program. However, I am so thankful that I did because I was able to address an area of my life that had been causing me so much pain and I question whether or not it would have been addressed to this day, if I had not been made aware of it. I believe we can all benefit from asking ourselves some deeper questions about how we’re really doing mentally. 

I understand that we have more than enough issues ravaging our communities when it comes to physical health, single parent households, navigating racism, etc. However, Mental Health is just as important as taking care of one’s physical health, if not more so, because it can play a vital role in how people take care of themselves or if they even believe that they are worthy of doing so.

In the short time I have spent working with kids, I have seen various mental health issues come forth in the form of “acting out.” The child who plays the role of class clown may be acting that way in response to not getting their desired attention at home. The bully who hurts others could be furious with the fact that their parents aren’t together and is unsure of how to process those emotions. What about the child who flies under the radar? This is the child who always smiles because they have learned that if they never present a negative emotion to those around them, then they do not have to talk about how they really feel, and face possible rejection. No matter what the problem, visible or invisible, children (and adults) should have their mental health checked on a regular basis.

There are many forms of self-care available for free ninety-nine. Exercise is a readily available source that has many positive benefits for our mental health (Mikkelsen et al., 2017) Maybe share a few with your friends and family members to help inspire them as well. This life was never meant to be done alone, so I encourage you to engage in activities that will better your mental health with those in your life. You never know who is struggling on the inside, so why not be the agent of change you wish someone was for you?

Okay, I think I have bored you all enough with my rattling on about the importance of mental health and my continuing journey with it. I truly hope you read something that at least piqued your interest in taking a deeper look into your own mental well-being. Thank you again for stopping by and reading this. Now, go forth and be great! Also, don’t forget to love yourself along the way! ^.^

References:
DeFreitas, S., Crone, T., DeLeon, M., & Ajayi, A. (2018). Perceived and Personal Mental Health Stigma in Latino and African American College Students. Public Health, 26. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2018.00049

Haynes, T., Cheney, A., Sullivan, J., Bryant, K., Curran, G., Olson, M., Cottoms, N., & Reaves, C. (2017). Addressing Mental Health Needs: Perspectives of African Americans Living in the Rural South. Psychiatric Online, 68(1), p.573-578. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201600208

Mikkelsen, K., Stojanovska, L., Polenakovic, M., Bosevski, M., & Apostolopoulos, V. (2017). Exercise and mental health. Science Direct, 106, 46-56. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2017.09.003

Featured Guest: Mr. Faheem Khabeer on The importance of an educator…

by FAHEEM KHABEER (Author, Filmmaker, & Motivator)

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”- Frederick Douglas

Raised in the early eighties’, the inner-city of Cleveland left me on the path to becoming a broken man. I had entered into, “Major Works”, a program for gifted students, for the fourth grade and would be bussed across town. There was a socio-economic difference between me and the other children of color; they were middle class and I was on public assistance. I became very aware of my financial situation not only because of how the other students reacted to me, it was also in the eyes of the teacher. I was considered lesser than and it affected my self-esteem. I remember one particular episode where a teacher forced me to sit under the desk for interrupting the class. No other student was given any corrective actions close to that in severity of humiliation.

It would take a move years later, for me to rebound from the damage that experience inflicted, to how I viewed myself, and my attitude towards school. Once I was placed into, Roots Activity Learning Center, under the tutelage of an instructor that appreciated my mind’s capacity to absorb knowledge of subject matter easily, I was placed on the road to earning placement in the National Honor Society, French Honor Society, and Math Honor Society at Washington, D.C.’s premiere and only Blue Ribbon high school, at my time of attendance. I was featured in the Washington Post and made it to my first semester in college, however…

The struggle did not end there, because through an unfortunate act of bad judgment, I ended up caught in the wave of mass incarceration and spent time locked away. It was there that I saw the full effect of the lack of empathy for males of my generation; an alarming number could not read. I spent a lot of time reading people their mail and writing letters for them. Many of them I knew or had known of while in society. One would not easily be able to detect their illiteracy, if at all. Illiteracy becomes a major hurdle to overcome in order to re-enter society, especially when someone already carries the mark of a felon.

While incarcerated, my detail, (daily job assignment) was to teach adult students. I found that many of them wanted to learn how to read. The KEY was to make them feel comfortable, at ease, cared for, and to be engaged and patient. I remembered the looks teachers gave me when I was in elementary school… the apparent nonchalance towards me, and the way I had longed to be viewed like the students who had on nicer clothes. Those students were met with smiles instead of frowns. When educators in new school environments were determined to be positive motivating forces in my life, I had excellent results.

Faheem Khabeer
“A little care makes all the difference.”

Engaging students with respect for their situations and introducing them to their worth as contributors to society as a whole, early on, I believe is instrumental in giving children a positive self-image. They develop an optimistic world view, care for other human beings, and a respect for the knowledge that school provides. A structured and caring school setting also helps to offset problems that a child may be having home. For many children, school is an escape from the reality of their home situation. If school is uninviting and the pathway to school is hostile; a child’s life can feel like going from one nightmare to next. One interested educator can make all the difference in the world for a child in need. We all want our youth to be able to attain their dreams.