Stop Resisting the Fun of It: thinkLaw’s October 2023 Newsletter

Stop Resisting the Fun of It

thinkLaw’s October 2023 Newsletter

One of the most rewarding extracurricular activities I’ve recently taken on was joining the board for the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. I’ve always loved visiting with my children, so it feels amazing to contribute to making the museum accessible for ALL children (a cause you can support by donating here)

But there’s something wrong with how we lead as a board, and it’s probably also wrong at your school or organization. Here is the museum’s mission statement: 

But there’s something wrong with how we lead as a board, and it’s probably also wrong at your school or organization. Here is the museum’s mission statement: 

Acting on the principle that learning is a joy, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix’s mission is to engage the minds, muscles and imaginations of children and the grown-ups who care about them.

This gave me all the feels the first time I read it. But I was unpleasantly surprised to learn that although our entire work was based on the principle that “learning is a joy,” there was nothing joyful about being a board member. Our in-person and virtual meetings are sterile, going straight to business and powering through the agenda. We have meetings in the Children’s Museum after the museum closes and we NEVER play or do anything to engage our “minds, muscles, and imaginations.”

Why? Because we are all professionals. Because we are all busy. Because we care deeply about honoring the time of those who volunteer for this work. 

We aren’t unique though. Schools should be joyful places for learning, but how many of you would say your staff meetings and principal meetings are known for their joyful nature (painfully awkward ice-breakers don’t count)? Likewise, nonprofit organizations doing incredible work to make our world better are infamous for creating toxic workplaces for employees committed to this work. 

But what if we were to truly Mandate Joy? If we had the chance to laugh and learn at the same time, can you imagine the psychological safety it would create? If my board saw our treasurer cracking up as he struggled to ride one of the museum’s super small bicycles, maybe we would feel safer asking real questions about our monthly report. If district principals kicked off their meetings telling stories about the funniest things that happened at their schools, perhaps this collective experience of laughter would create the humility and vulnerability it takes to share their most challenging issues. 

We need joy. Joy recognizes that before we are busy professionals, we are actual human beings. So as we push through the busyness of the fall, I challenge you to be intentional about creating spaces where laughing and learning at the same time is valued and practiced. Because this work we are doing isn’t just hard work, it’s heart work.

Colin Seale

New Curriculum Training Resource!

Whether you’re new to thinkLaw curriculum or looking for a quick refresher, thinkLaw’s Partner Success team will be offering open training sessions monthly. Register now to sharpen your skills and find ways to embed powerful, practical critical thinking strategies in your instruction. 

Next Session: Friday, October 27th, 1:00 p.m. ET / 10:00 a.m. PT  

Finding the Funk: 3 Ways to Add Culturally Responsive Critical Thinking to Your Lessons

Cult of Pedagogy, by Colin Seale

“When is a circle more than just a circle?  

Middle school students can memorize the formal definition of a circle: the set of all points equidistant from a single point. But what happens when that single point is my middle school, and I need to figure out how far I need to walk in each direction to find the closest healthy grocery store option? Or when I compare my circle to the circles for schools located in neighborhoods with different socioeconomic and racial demographics? 

By framing the definition of a circle within the controversial but relatable issue of community food deserts, we enhance student opportunities for deeper learning. But reframing your existing curriculum can seem unrealistic…”

Read the full article and check out the accompanying podcast for practical strategies you can use in your classroom tomorrow. 

Heading to a conference this fall?

There’s a good chance you’ll run into the thinkLaw team! Come for powerful, practical critical thinking strategies at our breakout sessions, stop by the booth to share stories of how you’re leveraging thinkLaw curriculum in your own classroom, talk about we can expand our partnership with professional development and book study resources, and get Colin Seale to sign your copy of Tangible Equity and Thinking Like a Lawyer.

thinkLaw Fall 2023 Conference Schedule:

  • October 19th-21st: California Association of Black School Educators (CABSE) 7th Annual Education Conference, Carlsbad CA
  • October 26th-27th: Nueva 2023 Innovative Learning Conference, Hillsborough CA
  • November 5th-6th: Arizona Association of Latino Administrators & Superintendents Annual Conference, Maricopa AZ
  • November 9th-12th: National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) 2023 National Convention, Lake Buena Vista FL
  • November 29th-December 1st: Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented giftED23 Conference, Dallas TX
  • November 29th-December 3rd: National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE) 51st National Conference, New Orleans LA
  • December 6th: South Carolina Consortium for Gifted Education, 2023 Annual Conference, Columbia SC

If you’ve had a virtual PD training with thinkLaw this fall, you’ve met Andrea Pickens, our new Director of Professional Learning! Andrea joined the thinkLaw team last spring, and this summer began managing thinkLaw’s professional learning department, ensuring that the in person and virtual training teachers experience is both engaging and STICKS, so that teachers are confident embedding powerful, practical critical thinking strategies in their existing content the very next day. Learn more about Andrea’s background and expertise here

If this approach to professional development that obsesses over practical impact resonates with you, please reach out at the form below. We have limited space for January 2024 PD partnerships, and are planning now for 2024/2025 school and district cohort partnerships. Thank you for joining the critical thinking revolution!

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