BACK TO SCHOOL
Welcome back! The 2016-17 School Year has just begun. September has always seemed like the start of the year, even more than January 1st. Maybe that is because September holds potential for life-effecting change- new classmates, new supplies, maybe even new clothes.
How do we set the tone for a great new year? How do we as teachers, parents and students, give everyone in our communities the best chance for a fun and happy school year? How do we nurture optimism, empathy and forgiveness–the emotions that connect us– in every environment on campus?
At Soul Shoppe we start every meeting by setting the container, creating a welcoming environment of acceptance that gives us a firm foundation for venturing into our work. Teachers do this by decorating their classrooms to be welcoming and stimulating. Soul Shoppe welcomes students to our workshops with positive, upbeat music. Some teachers offer high-fives, hugs or handshakes to every student who enters their classroom.
Here are some ideas for self-care that can give us the space and openness to receive warmth and wisdom throughout our day.
Meditate/Quiet Time. How do you get ready for a big day? You can try some deep breathing. We also suggest a loving kindness meditation to start the day. First, catalogue all your body parts, and tell them you love them- starting with feet, ankles, lower legs, knees, etc. all the way to the top of the head. Once you have shown yourself love and appreciation, spend 5 minutes appreciating and sending love out to all the people you care about. Every breath in think of a new recipient for your love and on the exhale, send it to them.
Mantra/Repetitive Practice. Ever notice that the words we repeat to ourselves become the words we live by? It’s true. We wear down neuropathways that make it easier to recall and access the information. So remind yourself every day: “I am smart. I am loved. I am ready and open to make new friends.” Or perhaps, “I am balanced. I am patient. And I am ready to give and receive the wisdom available in everyone.” Create the Mantra that best supports you opening up to the fullness of your being.
Smile! Get ready to Interact. Head up, shoulders back and be ready to acknowledge the people who you see. Did you know a previously bullied teenager turned his high school experience around by deciding he would be nice and talk to EVERYONE! He held the door as people entered school. And what happened? People talked to him, he formed connections and the bullying stopped. Get ready to connect. We are humans. No matter how scary it may seem, connecting is what our brains are hard-wired to do.
What’s Up at Soul Shoppe:
Teaching Peace & Empathy Year-Round
With each workshop, Soul Shoppe gives students tools that build upon each other. The first lesson, “Check In”, gives students tools for self-evaluating and regulating their emotions. The second workshop teaches kids how to “Stop & Breathe” when they are upset, taking self-regulation to behavior management. By the third workshop kids understand the “I Message” and “Clean Up” Tools which allow them to communicate effectively with others when problems arise.
In the eight workshops of the Year-Round Peace Program students will be led through experiential, fun and connecting workshops with their peers (entire grade levels work together) to learn the same language to describe feelings and the same tools to navigate the waters of conflict without causing waves, as well as insight on being an ally (I’ve Got Your Back), being a responsible human in your community (Response-Ability), True Friendship and more!
For a full list of workshops give us a call to get more information about the year-round social emotional learning Soul Shoppe can bring to your school.
For the last several years, Soul Shoppe has partnered with the San Francisco Giant’s Jr. Giants League. Soul Shoppe offers little leaguers lessons on bully prevention and how to “Stop and Breathe” to regain self-control when frustration or anger can make us feel overwhelmed.
The program this year was a hit! Soul Shoppe Facilitator Rhyan Ramirez toured California, leading Jr. Giant’s workshops in towns like Vacaville, Keyes and Patterson. After Rhyan’s appearance in the Lompoc Record, a larger group of Soul Shoppe Facilitators spent 2 days at Giants Stadium hosting thousands of kids from around the state. These two days were filled with much laughter and skill-learning.
Here is what Rhyan shared about his Jr. Giant’s experience this summer: The overall feeling I received from all of the Jr. Giants Family nights–from Lompoc, Patterson, Keyes, Stanislaus County, Lodi, Morgan Hill and Vacaville– was Gratitude. Every community we served never had a Soul Shoppe experience prior to our day with them. Coaches, parents and coordinators were so thankful for what we do and appreciated the concept of the balloon (Soul Shoppe’s metaphor for holding onto emotions) and other tools we shared. Many of the Jr. Giants felt relieved to know that it’s ok to have feelings of being mad, sad, frustrated and upset and that it’s what we do with those feelings that really matters.
Numerous parents and coordinators asked how to get Soul Shoppe programs in their community, seeing the value of our program in the bigger picture.
One of the coordinators in Patterson approached me after a workshop. She shared with me some tragic events that happened the year prior at the local high school when 2 students committed suicide. The city was devastated and torn apart. She said, “it seems like they had full balloons that needed to be emptied”. She also went on to say how much she wishes the whole community could’ve heard our message.
I felt gratitude for the caring adults in all the communities we served. So many shared that they wish they would have had Soul Shoppe when they were young.
Thank you to the San Francisco Giants organization and, of course, the parents and kids who participated in Jr. Giants. You bring new levels of heart to the ideals of teamwork!
Have you seen our Social Impact Partner page? We are making a point of celebrating the people and companies who donate money, time, energy, products and/or services to help and advance Soul Shoppe and our mission. These wonderfully supportive companies have assisted Soul Shoppe with everything from financial support and marketing to technology help, legal advice and coaching.
Do you have a special talent that could help Soul Shoppe extend its conflict resolution and social emotional learning teachings reach more kids? Would you like our trained facilitators to lead your corporate team building exercises? Do you have development skills you’d like to use to help us build Soul Shoppe-based apps? Do you want to offer a corporate-wide Soul Shoppe donation drive? How can we help you find new and exciting ways to share your gifts?
There are as many ways to be a part of Soul Shoppe as there are translations for “Thank You!” Want to find your way? Contact our Development Team at 510-338-3231 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will get your requests and ideas to the right person to help us all move forward!
So, really, all we can say is Thank You, Merci, Gracias, and Arigatou gozaimasu—to start.
EMPATHY: Use It in Real Life
EXERCISE 1: LEARNING TO LISTEN
EXERCISE 1: LEARNING TO LISTEN
Active Listening is difficult. It requires being solely focused on what the person speaking to you is saying-not your response to what is being said or what you think the person should do. As Greater Good Science Center of Berkeley says, “if you want to see into the hearts of other beings, your first task is to hear their stories. Many people are gifted storytellers. Only the empathic are true storyhearers.”
Start by asking a question. Anything as simple as “How are you?” can be an opener for someone to learn more about another person. And if you get the monosyllabic, “Fine,” press on for deeper information with a “No really, how are you?”
As a “StoryHearer” you have the opportunity to open your heart to others with an empathetic invitation to share who they are and what is on their mind. This is a gift of compassion and empathy that rewards both the giver and receiver. For it is in sharing our authentic selves that we allow ourselves to feel truly heard, seen and connected.
Soul Shoppe is a 501(c)3 non-profit whose mission is to create safe learning environments that bring forth a culture of compassion, connection and curiosity—eliminating bullying at the roots. Soul Shoppe programs teach communication and conflict resolution skills that encourage self-regulation, empathy and personal responsibility. We have reached more than 470,000 students in more than 300 schools over the last 16 years. A Soul Shoppe-inspired paradigm shift creates a sustained climate of safety, inspiring people to create big-hearted communities where we all belong.
Thank you to Greater Good Science Center, Berkeley, CA (501(c)3) for Exercise 1, Learning to Listen and resources, The San Francisco Giants, Bill Baren and the Big Shift Experience for their continued support and, of course, the Soul Shoppe Staff for their hard work and dedication. As always, we offer gratitude and appreciation for you our subscribers, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest Fans, as well as our loyal Twitter followers.