|Growth hormone improves social impairments in those with autism-linked disorder
||A growth hormone can significantly improve the social impairment associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in patients with a related genetic syndrome, according to a pilot study conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published yesterday on Pub Med, a public database of biomedical topics maintained by the National Institutes of [...]The post Growth hormone improves social impairments in those with autism-linked disorder appeared first on PsyPost.
|Why Seek Anger Management Counseling?
||Anger is a basic human emotion. Depending on how it is managed and expressed, anger can have positive or negative consequences. Awareness of angry feelings can be helpful as it can signal when our rights are being violated or our needs are being ignored by others. Anger can also help...
|The Teenage Brain on Drugs
||The Teenage Brain on Drugs One way to look at addiction is to consider it a form of learning, a type of learning that is extremely effective in its ability to affect the adolescent brain, report researchers working under an NIH grant. The maturation process of the brain may cause...
|New brain mapping reveals unknown cell types
||Using a process known as single cell sequencing, scientists have produced a detailed map of cortical cell types and the genes active within them. The study marks the first time this method of analysis has been used on such a large scale on such complex tissue. The team studied over three thousand cells, one at a time, and even managed to identify a number of hitherto unknown types.
|An Ode to Common Core Kindergarten Standards
||There is much wrong with American kindergartens—but Common Core State Standards are not to blame. If interpreted correctly, Common Core standards for literacy enable us to help enhance the kindergarten experience for all kindergarten children—from the underprepared to the most gifted and advanced.
|How Old Is Language?
||Can the time-depth of language be uncovered without a time-machine? Recent evidence, ranging from genetic dating, to new archaeological finds, is transforming what we know about language's vintage.
|Mouse embryo with really big brain: Evolving a bigger brain with human DNA
||The human brain expanded dramatically in size during evolution, imparting us with unique capabilities. Scientists have now shown that it's possible to pick out key changes in the genetic code between chimpanzees and humans and visualize their respective contributions to early brain development in mouse embryos. The findings may lend insight what makes the human brain special and why people get some neurological disorders, such as autism and Alzheimer's disease, whereas chimpanzees don't.
|How to Build Trust in Schools
||Sometimes I scratch my head when I read about the government’s efforts to improve schools: new standards and tests that have to be implemented immediately, punitive teacher evaluations, and threats of school closures and job losses. All methods that I’m sure have the school employees’ amygdalae firing off 24/7, not to mention the students’.
Instead of incapacitating people’s ability to problem-solve or try new ideas—which is what fear does to us—research on school reform strongly suggests that policy-makers should be encouraging school leaders to take a more humane approach. In their seminal 2002 study on the reform efforts of twelve Chicago public schools, authors Anthony Bryk and Barbara Schneider found that enabling positive social relationships between the adults was the key to successful school improvement”—and that trust was at the heart of those relationships.
What does trust in schools look like?
Trust in schools comes down to one thing: psychological safety. By this I mean safety to speak one’s mind, to discuss with openness and honesty what is and isn’t working, to make collective decisions, to take risks, to fail—all things researchers tell us are required for deep organizational change and transformation.
Yet this kind of safety doesn’t come easily to schools. According to Bryk and Schneider, the adults in a school community rely on each other to do their jobs correctly and with integrity. The challenge is our expectations for one other are very diverse, based on our unique backgrounds, including our previous school and work experiences.
At one school where I taught, each teacher had differing expectations about how much extra effort teachers should put into their work—a huge bone of contention between the teachers who left after the last bell and those who worked into the evening. And when expectations are largely unconscious or unspoken, it becomes impossible for others to live up to them.
We also make assumptions about the intentions behind a person’s behavior, and, as we all know, assumptions are often wrong. For example, parents and teachers may think the principal made a particular decision based on his or her career advancement rather than what’s best for the students. If we don’t feel psychologically safe to question our assumptions and expectations with each other, trust flies out the window and our relationships suffer.
Building trust among adults
I’m actually not surprised that education policy has yet to embrace the idea of building trust in school environments. For one thing, it’s hard to measure and hard to implement. It also requires us to take an honest look at ourselves, both personally and professionally, and potentially surface those parts that are painful or tender to the touch. And trust-building is just not part of a school leader’s training.
Fortunately, a new program piloted by the Center for Courage & Renewal called Leading Together: Building Adult Community in Schools has been found to be effective in cultivating trust in school communities. In a nutshell, the program helps principals and their staff members create a safe space to do the necessary inner work for building trust and community.
Developers of the program, Pamela Seigle and Chip Wood (creators of the social-emotional learning programs Open Circle and co-creator of Responsive Classroom, respectively) and Lisa Sankowski were inspired to develop Leading Together based on their previous work with principals. “We saw time and again that principals were experiencing a tremendous sense of isolation, despair, and overwhelm,” explained Seigle, “The role of the principal is not structured in a viable way – they can’t build school community alone.”
Using the principles and practices of the Circle of Trust approach developed by Parker J. Palmer and the Center for Courage & Renewal, along with methods such as active listening, discussion protocols, reflection, song, mindfulness, and poetry, school teams made up of the principal and teacher-leaders spend four days during the summer and two more days during the school year with the Leading Together facilitators and each other envisioning how they will foster trust amongst the adults in their schools.
“After four days with Chip and Pamela, you feel like you can take on the world,” said elementary principal Paul Carolan, “but it’s not about that. It’s about getting a truer sense of who you are by making the space to be more vulnerable—and to do some great learning.”
With the on-going support of the program’s facilitators, the teams return to their schools and begin the challenging work of implementing their ideas. Ed Kaufman, an elementary principal, described the resistance he met from some of his staff members. “Teachers would say to me, ‘we have so many educational things to talk about. Why are we doing activities to build trust?’ It takes time to help people realize that working on our relationships with each other will make the rest of what we do so much more effective and efficient.”
Finally, after several months of doing this work, Kaufman saw that things were starting to shift. “At a staff meeting, we were using one of the Leading Together protocols called ‘Connections’ where people volunteer to share something professional or personal with the rest of the group,” he described, “Normally three or so people participate. This time we had twenty-five people who wanted to share something. I realized that this was a turning point.”
The rewards of building trust
Even though trust-building may seem like an uphill battle, in the end it pays off. For one thing, it lowers teachers’ stress levels. “In the past, I’ve had some very difficult challenges with teachers when they started feeling overwhelmed,” said Carolan. “The angst is still there, but it’s tempered because we’re using the Leading Together protocols to figure it out together.”
Carolan also found that educators participated more in decision-making because they felt their voices were now being heard. “I had so many teachers volunteering to help with our school development plan that I had to pick and choose who would be there,” he said.
Kaufman discovered that he was better able to help teachers develop professionally. “As an administrator, when teachers don’t know or respect you and you push them hard,” he explained, “it can make the relationship less cooperative and congenial. Our work with Leading Together has permitted me to get to know teachers better and have deeper conversations in ways not meant to be negative, but to challenge them to grow and learn.”
Middle school principal Patricia Montimurro felt that the Leading Together practices added years to her life. “I’ve found an inner peace that wasn’t there before,” she said. “When I opened up to slowing down and being present, it made me feel more confident about my work and less concerned about the ‘what ifs’. My staff also saw me become calmer, which helped them be calmer, too.”
In the end, the ultimate beneficiaries are the students. Kaufman found that as his teachers collaborated more with each other, they became more invigorated by their work, which led to more engaging and thought-provoking curriculum for the students. “They also connect better with their students,” he observed, “and they’re more sensitive to their students’ relational issues.”
Ultimately, principals have to realize that building trust doesn’t happen overnight. “This is hard stuff,” said Seigle. “Being in relationship with each other is harder than rocket science. And it’s something that you always have to be working on.”
But, according to Montimurro, the heart of education is trust. “The field of education needs this as much as it needs test results, standards, and teacher evaluations,” she explained. “If we’re going to keep good people in education, we need this work because it’s so stressful.
|Are We Having Fun Yet?
||Too many happiness check-ins can sabotage your good time
|Transference in Therapy
||I dreamed of giving him my bone marrow. I offered him poetry, homemade cupcakes, passionate sex and a basket of Honey Peanut Balance bars, his favorite. I even proposed to repaint and decorate his waiting room — at my expense. I was in love. His name was David. David was...
|Anti-vax: wrong but not irrational
||Since the uptick in outbreaks of measles in the US, those arguing for the right not to vaccinate their children have come under increasing scrutiny. There is no journal of “anti-vax psychology” reporting research on those who advocate what seems like a controversial, “anti-science” and dangerous position, but if there was we can take a […]
|Practicing Self-Compassion When You Can’t
||I recently wrote this article on how to practice self-compassion when it’s the last thing you want to do. Because when we’re upset, so many of us revert back to what we know: berating ourselves. We might do this in the moment. For days. Maybe even weeks. We might do...
|Imagine Dragons Musician Reveals Battle with Depression
||When we see people achieve fame and fortune, too often we assume that all of their problems are solved. Of course, that is not how mental illness works. We know this from watching Robin Williams lose his years-long battle with depression. It can be so disorienting and confusing when a...
|He Who Loves Will Be Conditioned to Show It
||Love is not a disposition but it can occur below conscious awareness.
|Stem cell specialization observed in the brain
||Adult stem cells are flexible and can transform themselves into a wide variety of special cell types. Because they are harvested from adult organisms, there are no ethical objections to their use, and they therefore open up major possibilities in biomedicine. For instance, adult stem cells enable the stabilization or even regeneration of damaged tissue. Neural stem cells form a reservoir for nerve cells. Researchers hope to use them to treat neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.
|Is There Time in Your Type-A Lifestyle for Friendship?
||Socializing, connecting and laughing with friends are an essential part of happiness. We need to take a moment, press "escape", unplug, and make space for friendship. Don’t click “like” if you agree, call me!
|Being There for Your Teen
||It’s not an easy task: being there for someone who might not even seem to want you around a lot of the time. But I have some tips to make it at least a little easier.1) Remember that it’s your teen’s job to push you away. Developmentally speaking, that is....
|Fighting for Happiness
||If there is one realization I would say is both persistent and perfectly-timed for the start of my “Year of Living Intuitively,” it is this: If I want to be happy, I have to fight for it. I say this because life IS hard. It is hard for all of...
|Digit Ratio: A Man’s Fingers Can Signal He’ll Be 30% Nicer
Digit ratio signals how much men will listen attentively, be complimentary and compromise.
Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is"Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
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|Fatherhood by the Numbers
||Fatherhood lags behind motherhood, but is also rising. That's fatherhood by the numbers. Scholars also call for increased research on fatherhood interventions, including more rigorous research designs to discern what the effects of those interventions on children will be.