Become a Better Human.

My 15 year old daughter started a blog. A blog to encourage and empower teens based on her experiences and views of the world. Her second post is titled, “…like a girl.” In it, she talks about the negative impact the statement “like a girl” has on girls, and that girls are just as “strong and capable of anything as males are.” It was a positive message of self-worth.

And yet, within an hour of sharing it on my Facebook page, it was attacked. In one comment, she was told that “men are stronger than women and she should face the facts of biology.” Other, similar comments followed.

IMG_0379 3The dominant male voice was, ironically, reinforcing my daughter’s point: “Together as women, we are intelligent, beautiful, and powerful human beings that shouldn’t be trampled on by derogatory expressions.” His messages, even when couched in conciliatory statements like “Don’t get me wrong, great intent…”  sought to silence a young girl sharing her voice of empowerment by asserting superiority.

One thing I have learned from the voices rising up after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting is that there are people who assume power comes hand-in-hand with freedom, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to silence any oppositional voice.

Our society defines freedom as “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” That’s the biggest paradox of freedom: if nothing restraints how each person behaves, it will be absolute chaos. The bully would be free to enslave the meek. It will eventually mean that only those at the top are free, and those at the bottom — the weak — are not.
Freedom is Not About Speaking Up but Choosing to be Silent

Our mission, as educators, is to build empathy and facilitate student voice and agency so they can positively advance the world. We want them to be, we need them to be, good humans. Better humans. Empathetic humans.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains,
but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
– Nelson Mandela

Belonging to the Tribe

I wasn’t the most athletic kid growing up. Haha. Who am I fooling? I’m still not athletic. I tripped trying to run to first base because my legs were moving faster than my body. I fell playing kickball because my foot landed on top of the ball instead of kicking the ball. I sometimes run into walls. So you can probably imagine that I wasn’t the first one picked to be on a team. And even if I was (eventually) picked, I certainly wasn’t in the starting lineup!

So it really resonated with me when Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40, explained to my colleagues and I* why the employees at WD-40 consider themselves a tribe and not a team.

A team, Ridge explained, comes together for a purpose… usually a competitive one. There are top players, and benchwarmers, and people who didn’t get picked to be on the team at all. They practice together to meet their goal of beating the opponent. But when the game is over, they separate. They lead their own lives, independent of each other.

A tribe, however, is different. Tribes depend on the people within their unit for survival. Every member of the tribe has an important role based on their skills and talents. There are no benchwarmers in a tribe.

Tribes have other elements as well. They have values; they’re future-focused; they are warriors, when needed; and they place importance on celebrations. All of which are elements that contribute to a positive workplace culture.

And because the tribe is dependent on each other, the responsibility of the tribal leader is to be a learner and a teacher. Not only is the leader learning and gaining wisdom that will nurture and sustain the tribe, but s/he also must pass the wisdom down so that the tribe’s success continues without the leader.

The tribe is a much more intentional, and meaningful, connection than a team. People belong to a tribe. They have purpose within the tribe. They are protected by the tribe.

Seth Godin, in his book Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us, writes: “Caring is the key emotion at the center of the tribe. Tribe members care what happens, to their goals and to one another.”

Isn’t that, ultimately, at the core of what we want our classrooms and schools to be for our students?


*Before meeting Garry, I would have used the phrase “team” to describe my colleagues. But they are my tribe. As Seth Godin describes it: “Tribes are about faith—about belief in an idea and in a community. And they are grounded in respect and admiration…” Grateful to have found my tribe!

Learn more about the WD-40 tribe on their website.

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PSA: How to check your FB App Sharing Permissions

This may seem out of the norm for my usual posts, but as a former EdTech/IT Director, I think it’s important that you know how to limit what information you share with apps you have connected to your Facebook.

This Cambridge Analytica data fiasco should be a wake up call for all of us. Understand that this was not a BREACH. Data wasn’t hacked by a nefarious group. It was freely given by the “What Cat Are You?” type of quizzes you take on FB; by the agreements you hurriedly say yes to when registering on a new website; and on the security permissions you don’t often check on Facebook. We are all complicit in this situation.

But here’s how to start reducing that data share:

There are more Facebook settings that you will want to dig into as well,but this is a good starting place.

(And if you haven’t received the Cambridge message from FB yet, or already closed it, you can access your app settings under the FB Setting ms section.)

Featured photo used with attribution permission from:
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