Episodes

Episode 48: There’s No Silver Bullet

Episode 48: There’s No Silver Bullet

As a youngster growing up in 70s, if I had struggled to retain facts, or to learn a second (more like third) language or did not grasp advance math or failed to finish the exam on time, I would have been lectured or yelled at. In that era, I would have been reprehended for not trying hard enough or for not caring enough about my learning. Thankfully, the development in neuroscience and the deeper understanding of psychology of learning has opened our eyes to the possibilities that student’s learning difficulties may not stem from his/her stubbornness nor is it an indication of poor character. In the 21st century, if a child has a persistent cold, the parents will take him/her to the doctor without hesitation. But a struggling learners’ difficulties often lead to confusion and inconsistent cultural recommendations because the parents are often unsure as to what learning challenges are serious enough to require formal action.

On today’s podcast, Dr. Judy Wolman returns to discuss why barriers in learning require specific steps, the benefit of formal evaluation, and how proper investigation clears the way for selecting the right environment for the child to thrive.

Read More Read More

Episode 47: Navigating the Educational Terrain

Episode 47: Navigating the Educational Terrain

No one is free form worrying about their children and their success. From sippy cups, nap times, and play dates, parents move on to worrying about lost papers, missing homework, too much cell-phone use, or not getting a part in a school play. Normal mishaps aside, a struggling child can cause even greater worry. Email exchanges like this one are not uncommon. “Johnny seems to work tremendously hard in school, but he is struggling to get his work done efficiently. I am concerned that he’s falling behind, and his effort is not reflected in his test performance. Johnny also seems to struggle in socializing with his peers and he doesn’t seem to have any friends. I think Johnny needs help.”

At the start of each year, teachers anxiously wait to see what their classes are going to look like and within few weeks the chips begin to fall as they may as the students who are likely to need more individual attention and specific help begin to emerge with their struggles; sometimes subtly and sometimes vividly. Teachers share their concerns with the parents and then the parents begin to worry as they try and make sense of these observations. Parents, teachers, LD specialists, SLPs, and school psychologists begin to begin to put the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together as they sort, assess, and find ways to label these issues to correctly guide their learning journey. What is needed is a clarity that informs the decision about the next step. On today’s podcast, Dr. Judy Wolman, an education psychologist, will discuss the process of evaluating the relationship between the brain and behavior and how that impacts education.

Read More Read More

Episode 46: A Garden for Sutter Keely

Episode 46: A Garden for Sutter Keely

Sutter Keely is a smart, goofy, sensitive, troubled, unserious, and lost teenager who doesn’t have the best Executive Function skills. Sutter is the main character in the movie ‘The Spectacular Now’ whose life choices are not that off the mark for a teenager but do certainly stand out from his sweet, focused, ambitious, and future-centered ex-girlfriend or the studious, hard-working, curious, engaged, and caring new girlfriend. This movie beautifully captures the angst of a young man who hasn’t yet discovered the purpose of learning, the value of good habits, nor has he tamed the wild emotions such as anger, loneliness, and sadness that rule his decision making. But all in all, this movie helps us understand how to look for the composite portrait of a young life trying to make it. The movie invites us to become gardeners as we think of the grand beauty and power that lays dormant within a bud that blossoms into a spectacular flower.

On today’s podcast, my guest MaryAnn Brittingham, the author of Respectful Discipline, Motivating the Unmotivated, Dealing with Difficult Parents and the co-author of Transformative Teaching: Changing Today’s Classrooms Culturally, Academically and Emotionally will discuss how to be the gardeners.

Read More Read More

Episode 45: iMotivate

Episode 45: iMotivate

A child opens a fun little children’s book and comes across two words ‘trogglehumper’ and ‘frothbuggling’. He’s immediately drawn in. You can hear him wonder, “what’s that?” What a way to capture a kid’s interest and tickle their imagination! Celebrated children’s author, Roald Dahl, had knack of doing that. He once said, “If you want to remember what it’s like to live in a child’s world, you’ve got to get down on your hands and knees and live like that for a week.” Roald Dahl recognized that inspired kids take their curiosity into every corner of their learning world.

It’s great to want inspired and motivated kids in the classroom but what if that’s not the case? Is it the educator’s responsibility to motivate students? What role do the teachers play in engaging the children? Today, our podcast guest, MaryAnn Brittingham, the author of Respectful Discipline, Motivating the Unmotivated, Dealing with Difficult Parents and the co-author of Transformative Teaching: Changing Today’s Classrooms Culturally, Academically and Emotionally will share some great ideas to transform the learning experience.

Read More Read More

Episode 44: A Misbehaving Child is a Discouraged Child

Episode 44: A Misbehaving Child is a Discouraged Child

A recent headline read, “Demonic child on flight” that described a passenger who filmed his horrific experience while traveling with a screaming 3-year-old on a long flight from Germany to the USA. The video stirred up a Facebook controversy where many empathized with the mother while the rest blamed her for failing to control the child. Misbehavior implies the intention to misbehave. Dealing with a screaming 3-year-old on an 8-hour international flight or handling a student with challenging behaviors is a daunting task. While most would be tempted to punish the child or write off unsettled students, an adult with a positive and supporting approach can steer them onto the path for success.

Children’s experiences of challenges and failures in regulating themselves is inevitable but their ill-fitted behaviors are less likely to induce empathy. In their book, Children: The Challenge, Rudolf Dreikurs and Vicki Soltz poignantly say, “A Misbehaving child is a discouraged child”, inviting us to let go of the conventional wisdom.  On today’s podcast, Dr. Nancy Rappaport returns to discuss a framework to help implement successful behavioral plans to help redirect anxious, oppositional, or withdrawn children so that educators can re-imagine the possibilities for their struggling students.

Read More Read More

Episode 43: Hold Back the Slap

Episode 43: Hold Back the Slap

Recently, during a baptism ceremony, an 89-year old French priest lost his cool and slapped a 2-year old toddler in the face, who wouldn’t stop crying. The whole incident was caught on camera and went viral as one can imagine. The priest later said. “It was something between a caress and a little slap. I was trying to calm him down, I didn’t really know what to do.” Somewhere, the switch in the priest’s brain flipped where he felt compelled to react with anger towards a baby, which he certainly knew was wrong. Nothing about this story feels good but it poignantly illustrates the challenge in gifting children with nurturing care as they struggle with their own emotions.

What’s most evident in a person is their behavior and not their thoughts, feelings, beliefs, or even their true potential. Teaching children whose behaviors do not exude eagerness, commitment, or love for learning can be problematic for teachers and students alike. On today’s podcast, the associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and celebrated co-author of the book, the Behavior Code, Dr. Nancy Rappaport will discuss the challenge that, if not careful, by zooming in too much on their behaviors we could potentially sideline the child’s struggle and get distracted by the challenge they pose.

Read More Read More

Episode 42: Ladder to the Sky

Episode 42: Ladder to the Sky

For a west Philadelphia high school dropout, Troy Carter has had an incredibly impressive career where as a talent scout, manager, and producer he has launched artists like Lady Gaga to fame. However, his creative entrepreneurship transcended industry silos as he has become first of his kind to be an angel investor in more that 100 Silicon Valley startups including Spotify. But as a child, Troy was so tiny that he would always be in the front and center in all school pictures while class giants would tower over him in the back. While kids were busy teasing him for his small stature, Troy’s 5th grade teacher Ms. Moore always addressed him as “big guy” making him feel like he was 6’5”. When asked about the confidence he brings to the boardroom as he sits among market-savvy and highly educated folks with mile-long credentials, Carter fondly gives all the credit his favorite teacher who made him feel not only that he belonged, but that he was special.

On today’s podcast, Dr. Kathy Perez, a Professor Emerita at Saint Mary’s College of California, returns to talk about what it means to invest in every child and what the key ingredient is to empowering children to be their best. Dr. Perez’s personal love for children and teaching is quite inspirational.

Read More Read More

Episode 41: The Engagement Consultant

Episode 41: The Engagement Consultant

Each day, more than 7 million children in the United States are left to their own devices for at least some period of time after the school day ends. And research shows that children who are deprived of a supervised environment by a supportive adult are likely to develop a gamut of academic and behavioral problems. Sometimes the only nurturing adult in a child’s life is a teacher who encourages them to take academic and social initiatives, crafts opportunities for inner growth, and bonds emotionally to provide the loving care needed for the development of the whole child. The most engaged learners demonstrate secure interpersonal relationships, sound social awareness, and strong self-regulation. Similarly, the most engaged teachers have strong executive function and they use them to till the classroom soil.

On today’s podcast, Dr. Kathy Perez, a Professor Emerita at Saint Mary’s College of California, will discuss importance of the social-emotional learning (SEL) in everyday curriculum and the secret to fostering deeper learner engagement.

Read More Read More

Episode 40: A Mistake Stick Sounds Better

Episode 40: A Mistake Stick Sounds Better

When Office Depot® sells a pencil on their website the description says, “Brand Basic Wood Pencils, #2 Medium Soft Lead, Pack Of 36”. Now take a look at Nick Offerman’s website and see how he sells a pencil. He’s the actor who famously brought the character of Ron Swanson, a colorful crank, to life in the sitcom Parks and Recreation. First of all, Offerman Wood Shop (OWS) calls it a Mistake Stick and the description says, “Keep an OWS pencil in your beard/bun at all times because you never know when you’ll need to jot down a cut list, bifurcate a compound angle, label your jerky or add a few inches to your scratching reach.” As you can see, language has the capacity to tantalize the curiosity, tease the appetite, tickle the funny bone, or simply transport you to an imaginary place. With a gift of enriched language and mature executive function skills, you can even sell snow to an Eskimo. On today’s podcast, Dr. Julie Ann Washington from Georgia State University returns to discuss challenges in raising and educating children from low socio-economic backgrounds whose disadvantages are compounded by chronic stress, minimal exposure, and a lack of resources. For these children, specific language impairment and impoverished language can impact the development of written language, general educational trajectory, and overall mastery of executive function.

Read More Read More

Episode 39: Meet Me at the Margins

Episode 39: Meet Me at the Margins

On April 11, 1734, a tiny notice appeared in the small corner of the Pennsylvania Gazette owned by Benjamin Franklin that read, “Ready money for old rags”. People poured in just as expected. Franklin, the entrepreneur extraordinaire, who also held a license to print paper currency, began to send these rags to the mill he owned to convert it into paper money; thus popularizing the notion, rags to riches. Since then, the American psyche has been steeped into the belief that everyone who has the will and the self-control to influence their life can rise above all odds; including poverty and socio-economic disparity.

On today’s podcast, Dr. Julie Washington from Georgia State University talks about the idea that not only that all learners are not created equal, but neither are their learning environments and many are detrimental to a child’s future. In a society that values autonomy, agency, and everything that says self-made, parents and educators are trying their best to reconcile with those who are simply flailing around. The brain’s Executive Function guides and redirects behaviors and attitudes towards goal-oriented actions and flailing around is a sign of the brain not doing too well. Dr. Washington invites us to dive deep into the complexities of educating the marginalized and the disadvantaged.

Read More Read More