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One Year of Pandemic Pedagogy

One year ago, the entire world changed as we know it. We've all been humbled in personal ways and confronted by painful collective truths, but there have also been silver linings. Knowing how to slow down and count our blessings is a skill that takes practice.

It's time to pause and reflect on all that we have learned; to cultivate enough inner spaciousness to re-envision future possibilities. We can choose to steward our resources in ways that cultivate resilience and compassion so that we may continue to meet the rapid changes being called forth.

But first, a pause. A breath. A booty wiggle, a shoulder jiggle, a levitous giggle, a deep belly laugh or even a rolling sob. Release is crucial to the nervous system and all of ours have been on overdrive in navigating such rapid change. I urge you to carve out some time for meaningful reflection.

We humans, especially educators, students, parents, caretakers, and entrepreneurs, are coming out of perhaps the steepest learning curve of our lives.

Time to pause, reflect, and integrate is crucial. Time for fun and celebration of small wins is imperative to our overall health and well-being. I encourage you to take 20 minutes to journal about what you overcame this past year, where you are now, and where you want to go. Follow it up with a personal party cuz you made it through one hell of a year!

Does it feel like the days dragged and the year flew? There's a reason and this week, I'm going to share what made mine feel this way. In honor of a full year of pandemic pedagogy: a quick look at some of the fast pivots behind the scenes... as a celebratory announcement of some exciting new offerings coming down the line.

When the world shut down in March of last year, a small team of educators at Sunnyside Micro School, worked over the weekend to transition in-person programming to online. It was intense. But, under the leadership of the incredible founder, Jade Rivera, we pulled off what felt impossible.

(I'll be transparent that I was already in a steep learning curve in the year prior (2018-19), adjusting to the role of Language Arts Specialist, under mentorship of an incredible Educational Therapist, Cindy Miner-Kapelke and losing the chance to deliver my Elements of heART program across the Bay Area was a huge blow.

Fast forward a year later, and I have worked with 15 students 1:1 every week to support their literacy. The team has been delighted at how successful this new virtual model has been at meeting the needs of gifted, quirky, and sensitive learners and families from all over the country.

While all this was going on, I was also creating new virtual workshops, camps, and community classes in parternship with the City of Walnut Creek and the Center for Community Arts. I'm thrilled to say: it was all received very well and has seeded some exciting new things.

The Expressive Arts Time Capsule started as a live class and is now available for as a printable packet for self-led practice. Starting this summer, it will be available as a personalized workshop series for individuals and small groups. (Don't worry, the year will be current, unlike the photo shows here.)

Another successful offering was a summer camp called Magic Mandalas. Not only can you expect some fun interactive mandala projects and printable coloring pages in the shop this spring, you can be on the lookout for an on-demand Magic Mandalas workshop over the summer. (The gorgeous one here is a work sample from a 12 year old student.)

Why am I telling you all of this? Outside of the hope that you may know some k-5th grade families that are interested in creative development like this, these experiences have all been research for something much bigger than a couple of camps and workshops.

Remote learning starts to tackle the problem of reaching underserved communities, but there are also still significant barriers for low-income families to have access to opportunities for quality education. This is one of my intentions in building a handmade marketplace. When you shop my handmade marketplace, you are funding education, research, development, and low-cost implementation of a growing library of holistic health resources for kids and parents.

Since grad school, I have been in a steady string of classes ranging from mindfulness to leadership, social justice, and structured literacy (not to mention the dozens of books on neuroscience and psychology I've nerded out on over the years). I have worked to cultivate relationships with dozens of families, schools, and government agencies with the intention of building a network of conscious, creative change. I want to change the face of education and obviously can't do this alone, but writing for all to see is a (terrifying and enlivening) start.

So, please stay tuned for much, much more and spread the word to families that might be interested in transformative arts programming that builds literacy, community and social-emotional well-being.

In the meantime, here is a teaser of a virtual summer camp coming in June along with the reminder that we can't give what we don't have. Please take care of your own holistic health. The world needs you to feel whole, inspired and empowered.

(If you are interested in reserving a spot, feel free to reach out. Twelve spaces available. More details to follow.)

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