Embracing the Awkward

23 August 2019Meeting people for the first time has the potential to be VERY awkward. What do you do? What do you say? Maybe you offer your hand, or maybe not. Handshakes vary from culture to culture. Maybe you're used to a kiss on the cheeks, a hug between friends, or a turkey, salmon, or butterfly.   Yup. A turkey, salmon, or butterfly.  Since breaking the ice puts everyone in an awkward and vulnerable position, why not embrace it. Acknowledge that you're in a space that few people enjoy being in and everyone wants to get out of as quickly as possible. Shout about it! "We're in this awkward space so we might as well make the most of it!"  Try these three ways to greet someone new AND learn something about that person. With each handshake, find a new person and embrace the awkward. By the end, you'll have met three new people and learned three new things about that person, and possibly about yourself.  Turkeys make a silly, gobble noise. Use your turkey handshake and answer the question, "what do you do that might be silly to others, but makes you feel comfortable?"             Fish often swim together in a school. Use your salmon handshake and answer the question, "what can you learn from a school of fish?"             Butterflies begin as caterpillars and grow through phases. Use your butterfly handshake and answer the question, "what do you need in your environment to grow?"                          Are these weird? Yeah. Will they get your group talking? They sure will. Use what your group learned from each other to build a learning community that values each other’s opinions, thoughts, and ideas. Once you’ve embraced the awkward, that’s when your community begins to grow.   Find your turkey, your fish, your butterfly, and your community. 


19 July 2019 Maybe you garden, and you define growth in terms of the flowers that bloom or the vegetables that fill your kitchen table. Sometimes it feels like those string beans will never grow, or the hydrangea will never blossom. “Did I use the right fertilizer? Did I forget to water?” And then one day, as if by magic, your garden is in full bloom, and that salad never tasted better.   Maybe you teach, and you define growth by how well your students can apply their knowledge from one context to the next. There might be some days when you think they have no idea what’s going on. “Did I forget to tell them something? Did I not give them the resources?” And then from the far corner of the room, you hear the most insightful response that changes your perspective, and you smile.   Regardless of what you do, growth happens, so embrace it. (I feel like that should be our catchphrase.) Meet it head-on instead of shying away from it and saying, “I’ll do it next time.”    No. Do it now! Staying in your comfort zone is easy. It’s what you know, and it’ll be there when you’re ready for a break. But for now, step out of your comfort zone, and join us in the stretch zone. You know, that fuzzy area between what’s comfortable and what scares the crap out of you. That’s where growth happens. Because, as one of our Harvard Graduate School of Education leaders recently said, “Great things never came from comfort zones.”   So try that thing you’ve been putting off: implement that cooperative learning strategy that frightens you, plant that fickle flower that you’ve coveted for years, surf that gnarly set, bro, or climb the crux you've been avoiding. Whatever you do, we encourage you to get uncomfortable because great things will happen.  

Cape Ann Partnership Provides GMGI Leadership Seminar

Local Non-Profits Combine Resources and Utilize the Cape Ann Community Foundation Grant to Develop Leadership Skills in Gloucester Biotechnology Academy Students

Biergarten + Sun = A Wonderful Weekend

20 May 2019 On historic property designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the Notch Mobile Biergarten brought the South Lawn to life this past weekend with families, friends, and so many dogs. We are lucky to be situated on property that seems to be an oasis on the North Shore. The drawback to being an oasis is that not many people know where we are. I suppose that aligns with Olmsted’s original vision of his design, but we want to share what we have with our community and neighbors. The Notch Mobile Biergarten embodies this idea, so it seemed only natural to plan a weekend where we could gather our people and be present for an afternoon. Some folks who joined us came from Cambridge and Somerville, while others wandered in from Beverly and were thankful that we were “right next door.” There was even one couple who took a wrong turn on their way to go fishing and was pleasantly surprised at what they found instead. It’s incredible what you’ll find when you’re not looking. Our enjoyment came from the amount of people enjoying each other and their sense of place. Phones were put away, lawn games were taken out, and laughter was heard throughout the day. We couldn’t have asked for anything more. We set a goal to share our space with our community and watch them take as much enjoyment from it as we do every day. I think Olmsted would agree that we met that goal, and while we hope to do it again, I’m pretty sure he’s pleased that so many people were able to enjoy his life’s work right here on the North Shore.‚Äč

Reflecting on Our 2nd Annual SEL Symposium

18 May 2019There was a lot of activity at Moraine Farm during the month of May. There was so much activity, that it’s taken us a while to really process the many conversations we had with educators and health-care providers. Our 2nd Annual SEL Symposium brought administrators, teachers, counselors, and staff from youth organizations together from around the North Shore as well as New England. We started off the day hearing from teachers from the Burlington Public School District about the ways they structure their schedules to include devoted time to practice social and emotional learning skills. Their superintendent, Dr. Eric Conti, made it a high priority for these strategies to be implemented daily and stands behind the curriculum and assessments his teachers use with their students. Participants were then invited to choose from six workshops: More Than a Homeroom: Making genuine connections in advisory, Practicing Full Value Using Low Elements, Support and Reinforce Whole-School Initiatives through Physical Education, An Experiential Approach for Improving and aligning SEL Initiatives, Be Here: The full value of cultivating mindfulness in our schools, and Supporting Gender Identity through Adventure. Our trainers valued each of their sessions and found it helpful to offer each workshop twice so that more people could take advantage of the workshops. "The group of participants I worked with were enthusiastic and motivated. I felt l was surrounded by like-minded educators who are ready and willing to make change happen. After the workshop, I felt inspired and hopeful that the teaching community is stocked with such open-minded leadership and that it has the courage to challenge tradition and authority to protect the social/emotional world of their students."  Cory Grant"I was taken by the authentic interest and level of participation of the educators in the mindfulness sessions. I was inspired by their desire and willingness to improve the wellness of the entire education community." John Grund"It was a great opportunity for so many educators from the area and beyond to connect with one another while exploring dual interests in Adventure and SEL. In my workshops, there was a particular interest in how adventure learning and consulting methods are applied not just for instruction but to strategically facilitate better integrated school-wide SEL." Larry ChildsOverall, the participants enjoyed the opportunity to hear from colleagues about best practices and experience different ways of incorporating social and emotional learning into their work. "Glad I came because I found value in each segment." "Loved the session and hope to return for more programming. Thank you! Great day.""Thank you all for the valuable information. What a wonderful opportunity to meet and connect with other educators who all have a passion for SEL! "Thank you to all who attended and be sure to be on the lookout next year for our 3rd Annual SEL Symposium! 

Project Adventure