Hedreich Nichols

December 2021

Shape of You

OneWord ’22 graphic. SmallBites returns Monday, January 10th wherever fine podcasts are heard.

Standing at the precipice of the new year has long ceased to feel like some magical new beginning. That’s a good thing. I have not bungled this year. I’m not waiting on the turn of a page so that I can resolutely start anew. What I am doing is taking the wins of the last couple of years and shaping them into a harmonious melding of many hats. If you are a teacher and a parent, you understand being a wearer of many hats.

The thing about wearing many hats is that it can be difficult to identify which hat is The One. Usually that’s because there is no ONE. Could you choose between ‘child’, ‘spouse’, ‘parent’, ‘educator’ or ‘friend’? Each of those hats are vitally important, but they aren’t always on your head all at once. Still, sometimes you stack them, sometimes they sit askew. Sometimes you just want to throw them all down and go hatless.

This evening, as I write the last blog of 2021, I am hatless. It’s one of those rare moments where I can just be. And in this moment, I savor the time to reflect in quiet about my many hats.

Shape Shifter

A template designed by Educator and Youtuber Claudio Zavala led me to define the hats I wear. As I named them, I finalized my one word, ‘shape’. As my role in education and parenting is shifting, I am in the process of reordering my hats. The last two years have been fruitful, yielding 6 books, 65 SmallBites YouTube episodes, 65 hedreich.com blog episodes and 65 SmallBites podcast episodes. Those don’t include courses, guest blogs and articles.

So how do I bring all those hats under one umbrella? Well, that’s my focus this year. A little prioritizing, a little fine tuning the schedule and a little more work-life balance. And this is all worthy of a blog post, why? Because, as usual, I have an ask. In the next few days, I would like each of you multi hat wearers to spend a little time being intentional about which hats need to be worn when, for how long and in what order. By allowing a picture of your priorities to emerge, you’ll be better able to focus on the now and shape your path forward. This is especially true if you are, like many, considering a shift away from the classroom or away from education altogether.

Happy New Year

As you define and re-order your hats, define also what brings you joy, what ameliorates stress and what is good for you. Make choosing yourself a firm priority. All the people around you will be happier if you are balanced and content. How will you do this with the coming year, including COVID and testing season? Only you can say. But I know that if you don’t take a minute to establish your priorities, the year’s stressors will do it for you and you will likely not be pleased with the outcome.

FInally, I’d like to thank you for reading and listening. I hope that by shaping your coming year and beyond, that you’ll continue to have energy to learn, to grow and to make safer, more equitable classrooms and campuses for all students.

Your loyalty is appreciated. See you next year!

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Patriot Games

Watch on YouTube or listen on Anchor, or wherever podcasts are heard.

While going through some memorabilia, I ran into my US constitution poster. I usually keep the pocket version handy. But this one is the inexpensive replica one with the big calligraphed We the people. That first sentence is the one that I’d like to highlight:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…

E Pluribus Unum

Union. Unity. Unite. United. All of these words come from the Latin ‘unus’-one. You know it in another form from our Great Seal and our money. E Pluribus Unum-out of the many, one. That was the motto selected in 1776 by John Adams, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Our founding fathers declared that unity was to be woven into the fabric of our nation. But somehow, along the way, we’ve fought to keep national reverence of our founding fathers in tact while wholly disregarding their original intent-unity.

How can a house divided stand? On both sides, people are fighting to ‘establish justice’. But what does justice look like? Depending on who you ask, the answer will, of course, be different. So how do we reach common ground? How do we build bridges instead of walls? Here are three thoughts to guide the process of establishing more unity in our communities.

1. We all can’t have our way.

If we realize that our way is just that, our way, we can work on letting others have their way. Everyone around us does not have to believe what we believe, think what we think or even behave the way we do. We keep ourselves and others safest when we stay in our own lane, both on the road and in life. There are enough like-minded souls to commune with without attacking those who are looking to build their own communities.

2. The other guy may be at least partially right.

While we may be convinced that our way is absolutely right, it may not be right for everyone. We can compromise on immigration, abortion, climate action and even what we do about issues of identity and equity. The truth is, there is no absolute solution to any of those problems. For example, murder is a punishable offence, most everyone would agree. However, soldiers kill common enemies, homeowners kill robbers, executioners kill those convicted of crimes and these are all considered justifiable. Absolutes rarely exist without exceptions and we can find common ground when we find and accept those exceptions. Some exceptions may line up with our beliefs, some we may not like so much. Still, compromise is necessary. That works best when we, in humility, acknowledge that we may not be 100% right even 50% of the time.

3. Patriotism involves commitment to democracy.

Democracy and patriotism go hand in hand. Consider that in 2016, many were unwilling to accept the presidential election results because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Since our country’s presidential elections are decided by our electoral college, the popular vote has no bearing. Donald Trump became everyone’s president in 2016, without dispute. Then, in 2020 more than 50 lawsuits trying to prove voter fraud in the last presidential election were dismissed by the courts and Joe Biden became everyone’s president. In a democracy we vote. That means that someone always has to take the loss. That’s how democracy works. Either we accept the rules of democracy or we become something completely incongruent with the ideals set forth in our founding documents.

Ask Yourself…

What can you let go of? What hotly debated topic are you willing to see from someone else’s vantage point? If you personally concede your opinion to someone else, might there be a gain for the greater good? What if we refuse to feel threatened or become irate when our neighbor thinks or opines differently unless it directly affects us?

My guess is, if you reflect over those questions and let go of even one issue that you irately post about online, we could begin to lay a foundation for bridges instead of walls. My ask this week is that you think about what unity and patriotism really mean. If John, Ben and Tom could envision it in a document we still hold dear, let’s consider working toward that more perfect union by using the three thoughts above as a measuring stick for our conversations, posts and actions. Do it as if your children are watching, because they are.

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Alles Hat Ein Ende

Watch on YouTube or listen on Anchor, or wherever podcasts are heard.

There’s a song well known in German speaking parts of the world called Alles Hat Ein Ende, Nur Die Wurst Hat Zwei. Translated, that’s “everything has an end, only the sausage has 2”. After over 60 vlog episodes and as many Lagniappe podcast episodes, #SmallBites on YouTube is converting to an all podcast format. I hope you’re as excited about this as I am.

New Day Dawning

After celebrating with friends and family from almost every era of my life on last Friday, it’s time to move on to the next chapter. With Finding Your Blind Spots released to the edu-universe, I find myself busier with consulting and courses, and I want to have time to serve my clients well. Still, my audience is hugely important and you can still expect blogs, resources and answers to your pressing questions on race and identity through social media.

One thing about podcasts is that they usually accompany listeners who are driving. Because of that I will sometimes be extending just a couple of minutes beyond our 5-7m mark to give you even more #SmallBites to chew on. I hope that meets with your approval!

You Are Appreciated!

Beyond that, I would just like to thank you for coming back each week, for listening, for learning and for taking that knowledge back to your classrooms and learning communities. Join me next week for episode 65 when we’ll say our final goodbyes. In the meantime, see below for the 5 most important #SmallBites links and resources.

Small Bites All Time Favorite Friday Five:

When I started #SmallBites, Learning for Justice was still called Teaching Tolerance. This site is the definitive starting place for standards, lessons, articles and resources on race and identity. Whether you are just beginning your journey on classroom diversity and inclusivity, or are well on your way to helping others understand concepts that some find divisive, Learning for Justice is a site that constantly evolves to help you learn more and be better for your students.

The Harvard Implicit Bias tests help you recognize bias and blind spots. And Harvard GSE’s teaching resources provide tools to help you create more inclusive courses, syllabi and to better integrate conversations on race and identity into your daily lessons.

After reading statistics on disparities in school discipline, I can only recommend restorative justice practices as implemented in the San Francisco Unified School District. I have used their model in my own classrooms and watched discipline problems give way deeper relationships and better learning outcomes. Students just need to know we are invested, but it takes a whole team to make the kinds of disciplinary changes that come with consistent campus RJ implementation.

Of course, if you are going to miss #SmallBites Fridays after you’ve revisited the wealth of resources, keep learning with free courses taught by Yale and Harvard professors here. Or, you can read and use the 1619 curriculum (or information from it, if your district allows) in addition to other historical resources, to add multiperspectivity. Finally, with students, use PBS, the Smithsonian and NPS.gov to find a plethora of school resources on history and culture in the US and the world.

See You Soon

Finally, use the 65 episodes of SmallBites to find the above resources and many more that will guide you as you seek to better understand and teach all students.

It has been my honor to serve you with #SmallBites on Youtube. See you on Apple, Spotify and wherever fine podcasts are heard.

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The Rest is Still Unwritten

Watch on YouTube or listen on Anchor, or wherever podcasts are heard.

Small Bites Friday Five 12-03-21:

This week, in honor of my own book launch, I am recommending 5 books that would make great stocking stuffers for you or the educators in your life.

Define Your Why, by Barbara Bray, will take you on an inward journey so that you can capture the joy of really doing what you love.

Once you define your why, you can get more intentional with your teaching and learning routines with Be Awesome on Purpose from Bonnie Nieves.

Of course, being intentional in the classroom should mean impact outside the classroom. Environmental Science by James Fester and Jorge Valenzuela provides strategies and tools to help teachers amplify student voice through authentic, project based learning.

When guiding students through project based learning modules, asking the right questions is key. Connie Hamilton’s Hacking Questions will provide you with the tools you need to step off the stage and get students to efficiently and strategically problem solve.

Finally, if you’re into banned books, get a copy of What is Anti-Racism , a kind of allyship 101 book that covers where race came from and how to fight against racism, even if marching is not your thing. It was written for children but it’s for everyone.

Books Making Impact

These books, the authors in particular, have all brought something special to my practice. And as an educator, growing into an applied researcher has broadened my horizons and impacted what I can do for and with my students immensely. Now that I have written my own book on teaching and learning strategies, I can only hope that the information will impact your teaching as these educators have impacted mine.

My wish for this book is that it strikes a chord with people looking to become more inclusive as well as with those sitting in a mandatory book study. With that wish, I tuck myself into bed.

Be sure to look out for a special edition post after I reflect over tomorrow’s book launch. And meanwhile, join in on December’s 31 days of positivity challenge (#31DP). Details below.

How do you eat an elephant? One #smallbite at a time.

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