Written By: Hans Appel
“We all possess the need to dream.”
As a magic aficionado growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, there was no bigger attraction than David Copperfield. For years, like millions of fans, I had religiously obsessed over Copperfield’s yearly television specials in between my own pursuits of illusion, legerdemain, and artifice. Throughout my childhood, I DESPERATELY wanted to see his show live. Although he had toured the world for decades, his travels and my availability never coalesced. Finally, after my sophomore year of college, I found myself with planets aligned in a way that would provide me the opportunity to finally attend his current show: "Dreams and Nightmares." My parents purchased tickets for our family and my girlfriend’s family to attend Copperfield, later that summer, at the Paramount Theater in Seattle. I could not have been more excited! I had no idea how applicable the title of his show would become to my life...
On July 20, 1996 I had the privilege of fulfilling one of my bucket list items as I was kept spellbound by a master showman for nearly 2 hours. Seeing Copperfield perform miracles was one of the best moments of my life. The audience was filled with an electric energy throughout the night as people gave love and ovation to a guy literally living out his own childhood dreams on stage. I’ll never forget turning around at intermission to see a newly wed couple, in tuxedo and wedding dress, enjoying this special magical performance. It still cracks me up that a couple would opt to spend, part of their wedding night at a magic show or really any show but I guess Love is Magic. If this remembrance was simply a show review, I’d detail how I witnessed Copperfield flying, appearing, and disappearing. Indeed, the magic that night was so spectacular that one might forget their own life problems for a few hours.
But that warm summer day, doesn’t stand out to me ONLY because of Copperfield’s showmanship, sleight of hand, and legerdemain. In addition, to being one of my fondest memories, it was on the eve of a painful emotional ravine. Just after purchasing tickets to the show, in late June, my parents sat me down and announced that they would be getting a DIVORCE. For those that know my story this materialized after years of painful conflict and trauma. The next month was filled with nasty anger-filled awkwardness that’s challenging to put into words. The decision had been made for my mom to move back home to Texas that summer as her job prospects were promising, as was her family support there. Knowing that I’d be returning to college, at the end of the summer, my mom thought it best to get a jump start on reviving her life. Parents often put their child’s needs and wants in front of their own. Despite their own unease, they decided to follow through on taking me and my girlfriend’s family to the upcoming Copperfield performance. This plan meant that my mom would essentially fly out of Seattle on the morning of July 21. As you can imagine, out of towners attending a show, meant hotel, dinner, etc. The tension and weirdness in the 3 ½ drive to Seattle, family dinner, etc was uncomfortably tragic. Something I had looked forward to for most of my life was being inconveniently entangled with something I had worried about, since my earliest childhood memories.
Ironically, Copperfield's miracles had helped me escape painful conflict growing up...and now...as a young adult, I hoped that he could offer me one more episode of emotional relief. The title of "Dreams and Nightmares" seemed to fit in such a perfectly movie-esque story that the entire experience was quite other worldly. The symbolism of closing a chapter of my childhood and being thrust into a quick trajectory toward adulthood was not lost on me.
But, this story isn’t about feeling sorry for me that my parents divorced or convincing you that David Copperfield is the greatest illusionist of the modern area (he really is though) What I find most compelling about this experience was how incredible Copperfield made me and our entire party feel during those 2 hours. Despite all the emotional angst that I personally was going through, Copperfield created an exceptional cultural environment that allowed me to escape into a land of make believe that evening.
Granted he couldn’t make my problems disappear or my parents love for one another reappear...nonetheless, he WAS able to transport me, to an Award Winning Culture that provided me with
peace, inspiration, and hope.
Think about all the ugly, trauma, and pain that our students experience before they arrive with us. Maybe they’ve survived physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. Perhaps, they’ve witnessed domestic violence, substance abuse or mental illness. They may have overcome parent divorce, seperation, or incarceration. Still other kids have dealt with neglect, poverty, or bullying. They may not even have had their basic needs met that day. Some of your students show up to school with all of these challenges.
As you know, our students experience trauma, social unrest, and daily tribulations that would bring the strongest of us, to our knees. Our job as educators is to provide a safe space in our offices, classrooms, and schools to help students let go of the nightmares...even if it’s only temporary.
Award Winning Culture allows students to DREAM by instilling safety, inspiration, and hope...in an enchantingly
magical world called: Curiosity.
Want to foster curiosity? Perhaps, Copperfield offers a blueprint by focusing on DREAMS.
DREAMS: (Dramatic, Relatable, Empowerment, Audience Impact, Misdirection, Suspense)
Dramatic: Master performers like Copperfield know that dramatic effects come about through purposeful passionate perspective. The structure of a teacher-directed lesson (just like an illusion) must be perfectly arranged with beginning, middle, and end. Instruction must have built-in opportunities of attention grabbing openers and show stopping climaxes that leave students wanting to explore, investigate, and create. Does your lesson conclude with a standing ovation? Probably not. But, hopefully, you’ve left your student audience FIRED-UP to learn more about the subject!
Relatable: Copperfield’s props, stories, and ultimately magic are highly relatable. Talented magicians can vanish, float, or disappear a litany of objects. However, they understand that their audience will only care if they can identify with the trick, message, or subtext in some way. What child has not dreamt of creating snow? When Copperfield produces snow on stage and THEN creates the illusion of snow in the entire audience...WOW! Educators can implement relatable content by seeking student feedback, putting students in the driver's seat of personalized learning, and making them co-directors of their own educational show.
Empowerment: Watching Copperfield pull off STEM defying feats of illusion empowers onlookers to believe that THEY THEMSELVES can accomplish incredible feats. Our work with students must include so much hope, positivity, and love that they feel inspired to dig deeper into their learning. Growth is not a painless endeavor. We have a chance each day, to lift kids up with our actions, words, and attitudes about how much we BELIEVE in them. Make it count!
Audience Impact: While many novice magicians frame their trick in terms of magician ease or perspective, Copperfield never loses sight of the audience’s frame of reference. He’s a master of putting himself in the audience’s seat and imagining how they experience the effect. The effect is everything! Educators must intentionally use empathy to view learning through the eyes, mind, and heart of their students. “If I was a student in this class, would this lesson, moment, or learning have a deep impact on me?” If not, is this just filler in my educational repertoire. Educators, just like performers, need to focus on only A-material. If it’s not an AWESOME lesson in the eyes of our students, it’s got to be cut!
Misdirection: Copperfield uses misdirection as a way of doing something secretive, while the audience is looking somewhere else. Misdirection is often defined as the action or process of directing someone to the wrong place or in the wrong direction. Interestingly, magicians have much more sophisticated understanding of the concept. Rather than trying to get you to NOT look at something, they will often make something else so INTERESTING you can’t help but give it your full attention. The following elements adapted from magicians applies perfectly to an educator trying to focus your interest in a classroom: the educators interest, storytelling, novel or newness of piece of content and/or class element, sound, movement, etc. When educators make an aspect of their lesson so inherently interesting, ENGAGEMENT is a natural byproduct. When students are engaged, they have the opportunity to become curious.
Suspense: Have you ever noticed that magicians rarely tell you EXACTLY what they're going to do? Copperfield has several built-in instances of presenting an object, situation, or moment with little to no context. Suspense builds an EXCITED anticipation and fosters a palatable feeling of curiosity. Some educators focus WAY too much on question/answer models. Don’t give them all the answers! Additionally, don’t give all the questions. Learning targets and routines can be helpful but they can also occasionally kill creativity, curiosity, and choice. Leave some mystery. Students are capable of so much more than simply answering problems. They’re capable of finding problems! Sacrificing some clarity can result in encouraging learning-focused risk takers who achieve beyond some canned curriculum.
Does your sphere of influence establish a culture that would lift someone, even on their WORST day?
Watching my childhood fear of parental divorce, mom leaving, and dad settling in to a place of emotional indifference play out, should have been the only memories from late July. Instead, thanks to a much needed emotional break by Copperfield, support from friends and eventual in-laws, and a little perspective, I was armed with a self assured HOPE that I was capable of working through this family pain. Indeed, if Copperfield could move objects with his mind, I somehow believed that I could harness my inner strength to move past my own family challenges.
Obviously, I don’t want to understate the need for our students to receive professional help in dealing with Adverse Childhood Experiences. Award Winning Culture isn’t enough to solve complicated issues or social inequalities. However, as educators we rarely find ourselves in a position to fix other people's problems.
Rather, often times it's about empowering others to chase their DREAMS through a consistent approach to Character, Excellence, and Community...and sidestep those NIGHTMARES.
Who will you magically inspire TODAY?
About the Author
Hans Appel has worked as a counselor in the Richland School District for the past 18 years and at Enterprise Middle School since it opened. He’s passionate about school culture, servant leadership, and kindness. In 2018, EMS was awarded the ASCD Whole Child Award for the State of Washington and the Global “Class Act Award” for creating a culture of excellence through kindness, service, and empathy. Recently, Hans launched his own blog about School Culture and this fall rolled out a student-led leadership podcast called Award Winning Culture: Hosted by Wildcat Nation, which can be subscribed, listened or reviewed on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, and Libsyn. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Hans on twitter @hansappel094. Follow AWC on twitter at @awculture or Instagram @awardwinningculture. Wildcat Nation on Instagram @emscounseling #WildcatNation #AwardWinningCulture
Written By: Hans Appel
“It is the supreme art of the teacher
to awaken JOY in creative
expression and knowledge.”
During my 4th grade year, on a cold snowy day in December, I went sled riding on Carmichael hill. In the Tri-cities, Carmichael hill is well known at providing kids a steep and slippery adventure, to race down. Like many bundled up 10 year olds, I was a mix of anticipation and intrepidness as I ventured up and down this legendary wintery spot. After multiple runs on tires and makeshift plastic mats, I moved my attention to a red wooden sled. It had the ability to turn with smooth precision to expertly manaevue around the snow. During one unlucky run, I found myself positioned a little outside my normal target zone. After several quick turns to narrowly avoid kids walking back up the hill, I abruptly ran smack into a long metal fence on the far right outskirts, of the hill. Immediately after the collision, I knew things were not right. My leg hurt and I couldn’t stand up. My dad quickly raced down the hill and then slowly carried me back up, to get in the car to venture to our local hospital.
Upon arrival at the hospital’s ER, nurses and doctors quickly cut my pants off to get a look at my injured leg. I had suffered a broken tibia during the sled riding accident and would need a cast and 6 weeks to recover. Interestingly, we found out that afternoon that 2 other injured adults were brought to the hospital that same day: one with a broken back and the other with a broken neck. While all three injuries occured in almost the same spot on the hill (running into the fence), I was the most fortunate as my injuries would require a comparatively shorter recovery.
[Out of towners might be intrigued to know that while Carmichael hill was shut down for a very brief period of time, it’s been back open for years and is still a dangerous yet heavily sought out location for would be snow enthusiasts.]
This inconvenient accident coincided with an important assignment in Mrs. Nussbaum’s class. Mrs. Nussbaum was one of my all time favorite teachers! She was a perfect blend of challenging and supportive. We knew she LOVED us and yet fostered a joy of learning through high standards.
A couple days prior to the injury, she had assigned us a research project on a country of our choosing, which I had been working on diligently. We were expected to include, notecards, illustrations, rough draft, final copy, and then present our research in front of the class. I recall feeling a bundle of nerves and nausea, at the thought of presenting this project to the class. Truly, I think every kid in that class was worried about sharing their work in such a visible and vulnerable way. I believe it was our first full oral presentation at Sacy Elementary School. With this ready made opt out option, I briefly considered bailing on the project. How would I finish my research and writing on time? How could I be expected to stand up and maneuver around the front of the room presenting to my classmates on crutches? No one would blame me for simply starting my winter break a couple days early to aide my recovery...RIGHT??
Despite pain and discomfort from a broken leg, I managed to finish the entire project ON TIME!
I remember feeling so compelled to get everything finalized to present my project to the class. Mrs. Nussbaum would have surely given me a grace period on completing my Germany project...she even told my parents not to have me worry about completing it at all. As I recovered for a couple days, at home, they informed me that I was under no obligation to make it back to present on time and that she’d actually excused me from the project, given the timing of my injury. That being said, I was determined to deliver. Ultimately, I presented it without incident to Mrs. Nussbaum and my class of peers. In addition to meeting the expectations, my presentation included food, props, a demonstration of German Language, and an ere of unbridled passion.
You might not be surprised to know, that I still have this research project. While it's housed in a dusty box in the garage, I can't bare the thought of throwing it away. Why did this project matter so much to me? I can tell you...since then I’ve had plenty of other due dates that I missed or generally cared less about. Three things really stand out from the 30+ years removed from my crutch-filled presentation, on essentially one good leg.
First of all, I had already spent a lot of time researching, writing, drawing, etc about Germany. While there were parameters to fulfill, I was given a lot of autonomy, to pursue a country I was interested in and the time and support to tell that country’s story. Sharing your learning can be an incredible catalyst to overcoming discomfort. In my mind, I was the class expert on Germany and I believed I had some interesting insights, facts, and anecdotes to share.
Additionally, I loved Mrs. Nussbaum and I knew she thought very highly of me. I couldn’t bare the thought of possibly letting her down by taking the easy way out. Incidentally, I got a 96% on the research project. She deducted points for sloppy penmanship and uninspired illustrations [two skills I never mastered despite Mrs. Nussbaum and other educator's countless best efforts].
Lastly, I imagined what my peers might have thought if I was simply excused from the assignment. Would they think less of me? Would they be envious that I hadn’t had to stand up in front of the class? Would they have failed to learn about Germany; since no one else had researched that country. In my mind, we were all nervous and I respected them enough to be part of this experience.
Looking back at a challenging elementary injury, I recall less and less about the slippery slope of Carmichael Hill or the pain of my first broken bone. These days I remember with great pride the completion of my first research project. More to the point, I'm filled with pride and an internal reminder that I persevered through a challenging time, to produce quality content for myself and my learning community. How ironic that the classroom culture that Mrs. Nussbaum established filled me with self belief, mastery, and a joy of learning despite what could have been a negative and physically painful memory...
Award Winning Culture inspires students to achieve MORE than they think they’re capable of by relying on the 4 E’s of Excellence: Engagement, Empowerment, Experiential, and EPIC while fostering a sense of Character and Community through a relationship driven attitude.
How might YOU foster relationships, learning, and school community in such a profound way as to create a culture of excellence?
My challenge to educators is to create an environment of inspired learning where students feel COMPELLED to complete exceptional work for their peers, adult educators, and most importantly...FOR THEMSELVES!
About the Author
Hans Appel has worked as a counselor in the Richland School District for the past 18 years and at Enterprise Middle School since it opened. He’s passionate about school culture, servant leadership, and kindness. In 2018, EMS was awarded the ASCD Whole Child Award for the State of Washington and the Global “Class Act Award” for creating a culture of excellence through kindness, service, and empathy. Recently, Hans launched his own blog about School Culture and this fall rolled out a student-led leadership podcast called Award Winning Culture: Hosted by Wildcat Nation, which can be subscribed, listened or reviewed on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, and Libsyn. He can be contacted at email@example.com. Follow Hans on twitter @hansappel094. Follow AWC on twitter at @awculture or Instagram @awardwinningculture. Wildcat Nation at @emswildcats1 and Instagram @emscounseling #WildcatNation #AwardWinningCulture
Written By: Hans Appel
“The more I learn about PEOPLE,
the more I like my DOG”
I’m a dog lover! I’ve had dogs my entire life. I’m that guy who enjoys seeing pictures of other people’s baby puppies. I make no apologies...
There’s nothing I enjoy more than coming home to my baby Sheltie (similar to miniature Collies for those non-dog people). Shelties come from a long line of worker dogs who are very smart and originally were trained to herd sheep. They require lots of exercise, attention, and time. And that’s fine by me, because I love them unconditionally. My 6 year old Maya loves to go on daily walks. Each day, my wife and I take Maya for at least a 3 mile walk. Sometimes we go 5-6 miles and on occasion we take her 10+ miles...she’ll walk as long and as far as we choose to go. Sometimes we both take her while other days, it's only one of us. But Maya walks EVERYDAY, rain or shine!
Written By: Jennifer Appel
“I think the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any other single profession.”
From the time I can remember, I desperately wanted to be a teacher. Thus, when I deciding on colleges, I was focused exclusively on the schools with stellar education programs. After a pros/cons list and careful reflection, I decided on Central Washington University. While I had some struggles in college at the beginning (a blog post for another time), I was able to get into the education program and was so overjoyed to finally be on my way to realizing my dream of becoming a teacher. I always wanted to teach little ones (2nd grade was my dream) maybe willing to teach 3rd grade (Ironically, I’ve ended up spending most of my career working with middle school kids and loved every minute of it). Reading was a strong passion and I believed I had something unique to offer future students...
With this decision a new course of classes in reading came my way. In one of my early courses, I was introduced to my first professor in the reading department, Dr. Jurenka. She was a cute little older woman in her early 60’s that had been in education for years and seemed to know EVERYTHING about KIDS and READING. I was a little intimidated on the very first day of class, but also believed this is where I was supposed to be so elected to try and hide any feelings of intimidation. She was not like other professors I’d encountered; she didn’t start out with the syllabus, or lecture, she came right in and asked our college class a direct question:
“What is the most popular book for 5th grade boys?”
Written By: Hans Appel
"Asking questions is one of the best ways to grow as a human being."
As a counselor, I frequently find myself in a position of talking to students who need help; although, sometimes the help they need isn’t actually from me. Ironically, they seek my guidance or thoughts when they should be talking directly with a teacher. Maybe they’re struggling to understand a concept. Or perhaps they’re having a conflict or feeling disconnected with a teacher. Other times, they may have a desire to make a change to some aspect of their learning. While students hopefully view their counselor as a safe advocate, we often work to empower them to plug back into their own student/teacher relationships and follow-up directly with the adult who can most appropriately help them.
However, students’ avoidance of asking teachers questions makes me wonder:
Where does this inquiry based trepidation come from?
Would you like to know the most frequently uttered statement by teachers to parents during conferences: I’d really like to see him or her ask me more questions. What prevents some students from seeking help? Ok, sure, at the secondary level, and even upper elementary level there are a multitude of factors that play in with peer acceptance near the top. ‘Peers might think I’m stupid if I ask this question.’
Fair enough. Social pressures for teenagers weigh heavily and can greatly influence their willingness to seek help. Talented educators recognize the need to create a safe space where classmates can support inquiry. Yet, the reality is, there are so many opportunities to ask for teacher assistance, in quiet non-observable to other peers sorts of ways. Students can talk to teachers during work time, before/after school, lunch time, over e-mail, google classroom, or any other technology program. Some of my introverted readers might be quick to point out, that Susan Cain’s “Quiet” would remind us that personality types impact their boldness to ask questions. Yes! A student’s outgoingness absolutely affects their frequency to ask verbal questions. Although, I’m not quite as convinced that a propensity toward introvertedness precludes all online questioning. Indeed, teachers have found exceptional ways of eliciting student participation from our quieter students, through the use of technology, personal connection, and warmth.
If I hadn’t witnessed an overt discomfort to seek help by consistently ALL ranges of personality type over the last 19 years, I might have been content to conclude that peers and personality were the only driving force preventing inquiry. Rick Jetter and Rebecca Coda, authors of “Let Them Speak” so eloquently explain that if we want to know WHY kids do something, why not just ask them! So, I have...for most of my career. What keeps you from asking the teacher? While there is no denying personality and peer influence as impacts to students’ willingness to seek help fear of teacher response is clearly involved. There’s actually three categories of this fear: Witnessed, Perceived or Experienced. A major fear factor that students cite:
“I’m afraid the teacher will make me feel stupid.”
Written By: Hans Appel
“When the student is ready
the teacher will appear”
Mentorship is the guidance provided by a mentor, especially an experienced person in a company or educational institution. We typically associate mentees in schools as interns and/or practicum students. The underlying implied outcome is that the intern benefits from the mentors wisdom.
This is only part of the story. While being an effective mentor takes time, patience, and a dedicated willingness to examine one’s practices, the outcomes for the mentor are equally rich.
When I decided to take on a counseling intern, a few years ago, I had no idea that I’d grow as much or more than my intern. Thus, I’ve created a new working definition of mentorship:
Educational mentorship is a mutually beneficial endeavor that promotes growth, insight and learning for BOTH parties.
As I enjoyed breakfast last Saturday with my former intern, it dawned on me, just how educationally meaningful this experience had been for me. As Nate and I caught up on his recent attendance at a national educational conference and debriefed both last year and his plan for this next year...I realized how far both of us had come.
Having an intern forces one to take a deep dive into relooking at everything you do. With fresh, open eyes, interns can often unintentionally cast a light on outdated procedures, program, and/or policies. Their very presence initiates the kind of necessary introspection that often gets pushed to the side, in favor of mandates, routines, and requirements.
While my takeaways from my time with Nate were plentiful one has really stood out. In the spring of Nate’s 2nd year of a 3-year internship, he approached me about doing a survey of all our stakeholders. He wanted to create a way for us to gain some feedback from parents, students, and staff about our counseling program. I liked the idea and believed we were overdue to take our school’s temperature on the effectiveness of our counseling program. We spent time crafting questions, put it out to folks and then began to sift through the data.
Overall, we had very positive results! Getting a great response was very reaffirming to what we were doing. However, in one category we got absolutely destroyed. The data was very clear on this part of the survey; people did not feel we successfully communicated about our counseling program and the happenings around the school. I remember feeling a little like I’d been punched in the gut. It was as if people said to us ‘we love what your doing but we don’t always know what your doing.’ As Nate and I reviewed the results and attempted to make sense of how everything could be so positive and yet have this one giant black eye on the entire program, Nate said something profound to me.
“I think there’s a shroud of mystery that inherently surrounds counseling, ”
Written By: Hans Appel
I’ll never forget Pete. Pete was a freckle faced, tall thin young man with thick coke bottle glasses. He had buck teeth, a goofy smile, and an impish disregard for following the rules. He was completely disinterested in traditional education and took painstaking opportunities to avoid work. Prior to middle school, he had been ‘gifted’ the labels of ADHD, Tourettes, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Learning Disabled, Behavior Problem, and general pain in the butt. He had tried counseling and medications throughout elementary school with little to no success. His parents were excruciatingly demanding, critical, and combative with their son’s school system. In nearly 18 years working in education, Pete was one of the most challenging students, I have ever worked with. If I’m being honest his mere name mentioned in some teacher circles in the Richland School District (RSD) brings about grunts and groans before eventually giving way to tiny smiles. Surviving Pete and his family was a badge of honor for some educators who had their patience, commitment, and forgiveness tested on a regular basis.
My first encounter with Pete, was in the spring of his 5th grade year as his elementary school led a transition meeting to get him “all set up for success in middle school.” I distinctly remember him openly explaining to all of us (probably 10 adults in attendance) that there was “no point in middle school” because he was “going to play video games for a living.” It’s the same type of grandiose proclamations we’ve all heard: “I’m gonna play in the NFL,” “I’m gonna marry someone rich” “I’m gonna be a Youtube star.” One time, I even had someone say to me: “I don’t need school cuz I’m gonna be a drug dealer.” (I CRINGE typing that last sentence). A story for another time.
In all transparency, I NEVER thought Pete would go on to play video games for a living. Back then, I’m not even sure I knew that was a potential career path. Certainly, I wanted to believe that Pete was capable of success. However, at 13 years old, I couldn’t fathom what success might look like for him.
In his time with us, Pete struggled academically, socially, and behaviorally EVERYDAY. We tried support classes, remedial classes, and no classes. We implemented behavior plans, academic plans and 504/IEP plans. In 3 years, we probably had dozens of parent meetings, staffings, and brainstorming sessions. While I could write about some of the crazy days I had with Pete and his family (there were plenty), there’s no need to do that here. You had or currently have a Pete in your school. He or she may look or sound slightly different. Probably goes by a different name but I’m confident you recognize the at-risk signs of despair. Your team of educators have identified him or her as a kid, who you fear, for many reasons, may not make it. You worry about him or her dropping out, passing state testing, and even getting mixed up into unhealthy or unsafe choices. But beyond school, you worry about his or her ability to function in society. Will he or she be capable of forming relationships or holding down a job? There’s little doubt that your Pete, keeps you and your educational team up at night, as you theorize ideas, solutions, or options to support him or her.
Written By: Hans Appel
Are you acutely aware of the subtle sounds of the back door?
During amazing days, we seemed liked the poster family for happiness. We were solidly middle class, had a nice home, and as an only child, I was quite literally the center of my parents universe. From the outside, we looked the part of a perfect family that had it all together. There were wonderful vacations, elaborate holidays, and spectacular arrays of fun. But, there were also dark days. And in comparison, these gloomy experiences were somehow traumatically burned into cognitive dissonance in ways that were hard to put into words.
As a child, growing up in an abusive home, I found myself highly attuned to my surroundings. Frequently my house resembled the verbal equivalent of a war zone. In a house filled with anger, tears, and unease, I became talented at navigating pain and suffering in reluctantly skillful ways. For years, I mediated heated arguments before I was old enough to even enjoy a PG movie. During particularly bad evenings, I’d cry myself to sleep clutching an oversized stuffed bunny rabbit named “Jumbo”; wondering if this would finally be the last straw that would end in divorce.
Written: Jennifer Appel
-Dr. Kate Siner
I’ve been practicing yoga for about 15 years. I love every aspect of yoga and would consider myself a yogi! [YES, I’m a card carrying vegetarian who drives a bright RED Prius] Indeed, I’ve experimented with all types of yoga: Vinyasa, Hatha, Buti, Beach, and even ‘Goat’ yoga! Recently, I was sitting on my mat at the beginning of class, like I have for the past 15 years and started reflecting about how cool it would be if our students thought of themselves in the same way that yogis think of their practice...
For those who are unfamiliar with yoga, each class begins with students being asked to meditate in some way and center themselves so that you can fully experience the practice of the day. While you are in this meditative state, you are asked to set an intention for your practice. You can think of a word or saying that sets your purpose for the day. While I have done this thousands of times it finally occurred to me that this is exactly what I’m asking my students to do every day, but I am not as articulate as my wonderful insightful yoga instructors.
What if we shifted the mindset of the learning target in school, into more of an INTENTION for the day?
Written By: Hans Appel
I was fortunate to attend one of the best counselor prep programs in the northwest. Central Washington University (CWU) in Ellensburg Washington is highly distinguished for 3 specific programs: Accounting, Teaching, and Counseling. Indeed, their counseling program is second to none, in my part of the country! Perhaps, the biggest distinction between CWU and other universities’ counseling programs is the experiential practicum that students receive in a real world clinic. While some programs are grounded in role playing, scenarios, and fake setups, CWU required me to complete nearly 2 years of individual and group counseling with actual clients. It was insanely rigourous and inordinately challenging. All 50 minute sessions were videotaped for us, our supervisor, and our student teams to review, annalyze, and critic. We spent hours transcribing words, interpreting non-verbals, and examining feelings or thoughts. If you’ve ever recorded yourself doing anything, you recognize that the camera catches everything. Frequent questions arose during viewing sessions that would make the most confident individual re-examine their future counseling path:
**Why did you cross your legs there?
**How come you leaned forward there?
**What message are you sending to the client with this greeting?
**How might you more accurately capture this person’s story?
**What transference or countertransference was observable in that clip?
As you might imagine every little component was picked over. In fact, I believe the saying ”leave no stone unturned” could have come from CWU’s clinical counseling program. It was a challenging and awesome experience and I loved everything about it! Frankly, we all knew that if we survived this program (and not everyone did) we’d be ready to flourish in the helping profession. Of all the memories, learnings, and take-aways from my time in the program, the one I continue to come back to is something I call The Tissue Lesson.
During one unforgettable review session, my supervisor (Dr. Collins) took a close look at a session I was confused by. During the session, the client and I seemed to be connecting well. We were building rapport and the she was slowly opening up. At one point, she began to cry and started to share some intense feelings. Suddenly, she stopped emoting and put up an invisible wall. It was clear that she no longer felt comfortable to explore her feelings in that moment. On video tape it became clear that she quickly clammed up and returned into her own head before moving the conversation into a different direction. As our team zeroed in on this piece of the tape, we tried to determine what might have gone wrong. Dr. Collins, an expert in human behavior and a passion for teaching future counselors made me replay a 20 second clip probably half a dozen times.
Award Winning Culture was created by Hans and Jennifer Appel with the sole purpose of creating an educational mindset of Positive INTENTIONALITY and ACTION; with a daily mantra to make our sphere of influence stronger through Character, Excellence, and Community. Part of AWC's mission is to highlight outstanding educators, companies, and resources that support an Award Winning Culture. Both Jennifer and Hans work at Enterprise Middle School aka Wildcat Nation. Wildcat Nation received the 2018 ASCD Whole Child Award in Washington, for its award winning culture and the 2018 Global "Class Act Award" for Kindness.