I am an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Indiana University Purdue University - Indianapolis (IUPUI). My interests are expansive and extend beyond special education and dis/ability studies. My "academic" expertise is in bilingual special education and the majority of my research has centered on collaboration with Latinx families of children with dis/abilities.
I am the founder and main contributor of EduSpirit, a spiritual community of educators. I understand this community to be made up of anyone who is dedicated to the transformation of current educational systems. These are change agents who advocate for non-violence, radical love, and heart-centered practices that consider and fight for students', families', and communities' well-being. My work centers on social justice praxis and the progressive movement toward equitable and sustainable "acts" of peace.
I currently write blogs for EduSpirit which include video blogs and interviews with other educators and community activists. I also write the occasional poem.
I am a "mother-scholar" (to quote Dr. Cheryl E. Matias) of three girls, a Zen Shiatsu practitioner (in my other life), and a cancer thriver.
Lots of life lived and lots of love to give!
In this month’s conversation centered on listening, we draw from Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen’s scholarship and storytelling. Dr. Remen is a professor at the Osher Center of Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She is also the author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings. For Dr. Remen listening is vital to the healing process: “The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is out attention… A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.”
Through her poetry, Lynn summarized the previous sessions’ conversations. Here is her poem and the image associated with her words:
“Once Upon A Return” is the series of images for this conversation. Becoming (Joy, Enter, Explore) is about story – our stories. Today Pat, our storyteller, will take us on a journey. Enjoy. We look forward to your responses. Listening attentively allows the other a space to share her story and gives our heart the space in which to expand.
Welcome to Conversation 3, “Becoming (Enter).” This conversation will be occurring on September 20, 2020. It is inspired by Pat Berberich’s card, “Explore” and a quotation by Martin Buber: “We should stake our whole existence on our willingness to explore and experience.”
Lynn reflected upon what it means to EXPLORE after hearing her sister Pat say, “What you explore, explores you.” Lynn writes: Pat’s words reminded me of an article by Parker Palmer, “Life on the Mobius Strip.” Parker, an educator and author wrote: “The first time I saw a Mobius strip, I thought, ‘Amazing! That’s exactly how life works!’ Whatever is inside of us continually flows outward … Bit by bit, we are our world are endlessly re-made to this eternal inner-outer exchange. How can I make more life-giving choices about what to put into the world and how to deal with what the world sends back … choices that might bring new life to me, to others, and to the world we share?” Let’s explore together as we continue our third Becoming (Explore) conversation this Sunday, September 20, 2020.
Welcome to our second conversation, “Becoming (Enter)” that occurred on August 30, 2020. The flow of our first, “Becoming (Joy)” on August 9th found us entering into the themes of mystery, gentleness, challenge, presence, healing and story.
This conversation was recorded on Sunday, August 30, 2020. We discuss our different interpretations of “Enter” and the ways that we approach entering into the unknown, entering into intentional space together, and entering as a mindful teaching practice. This is the beginning conversation where Pat speaks explicitly about a piece of art that captures the essence of “entering” into the unknown and feeling inside as if beckoned to take that first step.
In the second part of “Becoming (Enter),” Pat, Lynn, and Cristina discuss what it means to take the step or leap into the unknown as we move forward into uncertain times. Lynn brings in images and her own poetry to depict the experience of ‘being’ in conversation and unity with all those participating in this platform. Cristina discusses the importance of setting the tone for how we enter into spaces such as classrooms. She discusses leaving unnecessary emotional “baggage” at the door to be fully present with others when we choose to enter specific spaces.
As we continue our journey together we featured Pat’s “Enter” art card and another of Pat’s art pieces with her words: “We are beckoned to step into the unknown of our own becoming. The portal and threshold await us.” Let’s see where our next conversation takes us! Next conversation: September 20, 2020 – Theme: Becoming (Explore).
If you are interested in finding out more about this group, please contact Pat, Lynn, or Cristina at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to the first Conversation where Pat Berberich, Lynn Santamaría and Cristina Santamaría Graff discuss what it means to be “Becoming” as we talk about our life purpose as well as the way in which we attempt to align mind, body, and spirit. The PowerPoint provides a layout of our conversation as well as the structure of the discussion. The videos capture our introduction to Becoming (Joy), our group name (and YouTube Channel), and our beginning conversation about what it means to “Become” who we are. Not recorded is the follow-up conversation where we invite individuals to participate in deeper discussion about specific topics.
For those interested in learning more about this group, please contact us at: email@example.com
In this video, I use Dr. Masaru Emoto’s inspired Water Crystal Oracle deck for an intuitive reading. What I explain in the beginning of the video is the way in which LANGUAGE and the frequency behind it impact how we make ourselves and others feel. I weave Dr. Emoto’s work on studying the impact of human consciousness on the molecular structure of water with language, specifically the framing and intent of the words we use.
Though some say that Dr. Emoto’s work exists primarily in the realm of pseudo science, I believe that, in fact, his work is merely ahead of its time and, therefore, highly misunderstood. When we begin to understand the power of our consciousness in forming the reality around us then we will awaken to the impact our thoughts and words have in co-creating what we want and desire. Dr. Emoto’s work will become a pillar of understanding of the way that we can build and rebuild that which we envision around us. It begins with our intentions, thoughts, and words.
What does it mean to make a promise? What promises have you made to yourself or to others? Are you good at keeping your promises? What happens if you break a promise? How does it feel?
This week I have been thinking about what it means to make and keep promises to myself. I made a commitment that I would be creating, implementing, and posting lesson plans on a weekly basis. Experiencing illness the way I have been, has made me rethink this promise. I’ve actually had to ‘break’ my promise for the purpose of taking care of and healing myself.
I’ve learned a lot about the ability to recognize if the promises I am keeping are actually serving a larger purpose. These past few weeks, in having to let go of my vision for weekly content on EduSpirit, I have felt mixed emotions. On one hand, I have felt like I am breaking my promise to all of you who are following these lessons and are interested in trying them out at home. On the other hand, I have realized that I have to prioritize my commitments. My commitment to health and wellness is more important right now than video recording lessons and contributing to this website using the schedule I had been following. That said, my promise to follow through with my initial commitment of 40 vBlogs still holds, even if their production takes much longer than originally anticipated.
I hope that you and your family enjoy these lessons that my family and I have been co-creating and sharing together. Thank you for your continued encouragement and support. – Cristina
LESSON PLAN – PROMISE
Please remember to cite the lesson plan if you use it for a more public venue by attributing the material to: Cristina Santamaría Graff, eduspirit.org. Thank you!
Listen to the TedTalk by Alex Sheen, “Because I said I would” on making and committing to PROMISES:
Alex talks about creating PROMISE CARDS or “Because I said I would” cards. Use the template provided. The template reads, “Because I said I would.” Write down a promise on the card that you want to make to yourself or to another person. Maybe it’s been something you’ve been putting off. Then give it to someone (for safe keeping). Once you fulfill the promise (it can take a day, a week, a year…) you will ask that person for the card back and let them know you have fulfilled the promise on the card. As Alex says, “You need to earn the card back.” One you fulfill the promise, the card you receive back will remind you that you are a person of your WORD. You are someone who keeps their promise.
For this lesson you are building off of last week’s lesson, PATH. You will be using the same game board you created as a family in Lesson 3, “Path to Wellness.” You are now going to create PROMISE cards that will be added to the other cards. These cards will be questions to prompt each player to talk about specific times in their lives where they have made commitments to themselves or to others. They will also include questions about future promises, commitments, or goals that each person is thinking about making and how to achieve them.
Please email Cristina at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to receive more examples of board game questions.
Here are some examples of PROMISE questions/prompts:
You will create an autobiographical “topical” map by gathering the following materials (or ones you can substitute for these):
Poster Board or Cardboard
Clay, Playdoh, or other type of molding product
Toothpicks and/or popsicle sticks
Markers and/or crayons
Felt or fabric
The map will demonstrate in a visual, 3-D manner, the landscape of your life. You may focus on your entire life or on a specific timeframe. Within this map, you must add at least 3 representations/depictions of major “landmarks” (or promises/commitments you have made to yourself or another that you have achieved).
Here are examples of 2D representations from online.
In this video, we, as a family are engaged in a lesson plan in which my girls are writing their own story by creating an autobiographical map. An autobiographical map is a way to map out one’s life by choosing a “landscape” of important events that have impacted and shaped one’s trajectory. This video is a part of a series in which our family, during safe-sheltering in COVID-19 times, is working together on projects and lessons that are meaningful to us. The girls, who by the end of each week, are exhausted and frustrated by e-Learning, have demonstrated an appreciation for family-centered lesson in which we are all participating in some manner. Here, in this video, I, Cristina, am sitting at the dining room table with my daughters and am assisting them with thinking about significant events in their lives.
This week did not begin as “planned.” But, in these times, is there such thing as a typical plan?
We have come to rely on routines and stability. Some of us, even myself at times, lean so heavily on the routine that we forget we can unhook -if even for a moment – from the constant stream of myopic busyness. In these times, we find ourselves with more time to look around, re/assess, and re/evaluate our lives. What truly is important? What are the priorities?
This week, my “plan” was to create and implement lesson plans centered around the theme “PATH.” Path, to me, for the purpose of these lessons, is a consciously chosen trajectory of how we want to live our lives. I was envisioning family sit-downs of taking an inhale to assess where we’re at in week 4 and to decide collectively in which direction we want to go. Since we are “technically” in Spring Break (also Easter Week for those whose faith is centered in Christianity), my intention was to ask the girls and my husband what PATH do we want to pursue this day forward. Knowing that the girls will not be returning to school this academic year and not having a clear timetable regarding whether or not the self-quarantine will, indeed, be lifted before the end of the summer, I felt it was important to check in with my family in a meaningful manner.
In some ways, we are still engaging in these reflections. However, my PATH took a different turn this week as I have found myself needing to scale back and take care of my physical health.
In the following videos I discuss my PATH TO WELLNESS. It is an intentional path to which I am consciously attending to in relation to physical, emotional, psychological, mental and spiritual health. As someone who was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast Cancer in 2012, I have learned many healing modalities and practices that have contributed to my overall wellness. I share these along with my knowledge of Five Element Theory (Chinese Medicine) and engaging Qi (life force) for the purpose of clearing and nurturing the energetic meridians that flow through our bodies. I am currently focusing on the LUNG meridian as I have been having some difficulty breathing.
Though my symptoms are mild and may be attributed to a cold or allergies, I am taking all precautionary and proactive measures to ensure my health remains strong.
LESSON PLAN – PATH
Please remember to cite the lesson plan if you use it for a more public venue by attributing the material to: Cristina Santamaría Graff, eduspirit.org. Thanks!
I never thought that in creating the Home-Teaching Blogs that I would be documenting my own recovery from this illness (I’m not sure exactly what I have been overcoming). This week I thought I’d be engaging with my family in family-centered lessons around the theme “PATH.” Instead, I have been through different stages of healing/wellness. In this video, I am sharing my personal experience of getting better. I am only sharing this experience in the hope that it may assist others who are feeling similar symptoms. I believe in the power of healing and intention and share practices that are working for me as a potential pathway to health for you, your loved ones, your friends, and others.
This video below is only housed here on eduspirit.org
We decided to begin the pre-lesson with a FIRE Ceremony for the purpose of bringing healing to our Earth and all her inhabitants during this time. This is a very intimate snapshot of how we, as a family, gather together in sacred, intentional ceremony. We ask that you enter this space with respect, an open mind and heart, and with healing intention. Thank you.
PLEASE ALLOW VIDEO TO UPLOAD… IT MAY TAKE A COUPLE OF MINUTES. It’s an embedded video, so if you are accessing it from your phone, make sure you wait a minute or two. It should come up after a couple of tries.
Here, as a family, we engage in a fire ceremony that we share with all of you so that you can see how elegantly and beautifully simple it can be. Healing occurs with intention. When there is a gathering of individuals intent upon the healing of the Earth and its people, a powerful synergy occurs. I intentionally only name Fire as the element of warmth, comfort and healing as a way to create an openness for all to witness and to feel invited. This is a sacred space that we share with you for the purpose of assisting you during these times. By actively engaging in the practice of healing, we are, in essence, doing something. Many times, it is by action that we feel we are contributing to the overall good. This is something we (you) can do. It is purposeful action with the goal of bringing healing to ourselves and to every human being who is in need of warmth, comfort and healing. We hope this brings you a sense of connectedness and purpose.
Excerpt from Indigenous Fire Stewardship by Frank K. Lake and Amy Cardinal Christianson (2019):
“Indigenous peoples believe they have a responsibility passed down from their Creator to be stewards of the land. In relation to wildland fire – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health are tied to the health of the Earth. Many Indigenous cultures cannot be resilient without a healthy landscape to exercise cultural fire-related practices on” (p. 3).
In the video below, we are implementing a lesson to learn about indigenous fire practices. This lesson can be found in the section called, “Be Critically/Constructively Compassionate” of Lesson Plan 2, “FIRE” (above). Here we document how we implemented the lesson on indigenous fire practices and land stewardship. Discussions center on a youtube video about cultural burning in Australia. The differences between cultural burning and hazard reduction are explained. What does it mean to be a caregiver, nurturer and steward of the land?
Fire Safety Plan – template for home floor plan drawing
We are in Week 3 of having to stay at home. The girls wanted to “do” something so we looked at the section of the lesson plan that focuses on TAKING ACTION. Paloma wanted to create the fire safety plan using the template provided above. The girls created a map of the home by drawing floor plans of the house. Then, they found all the smoke alarms and discussed an escape plan in the event there was a fire. The girls had a lot of fun doing this. I’d recommend it for kinesthetic learners who like to move and explore. Please watch video below on “Take Action.”
Other Videos Associated with Lesson 2
OTHER VIDEOS ARE FORTHCOMING… PLEASE CHECK IN HERE AT THIS PAGE or, if you prefer videos only, go to my YouTube Channel: Edu Spirit
Román and I were “interviewed” by HOPE at HOME – Dr. Joy K. Howard and Travis Howard, Educators, about home-teaching.
We continued the conversation in Part II. Here we discuss children’s emotions during this time of COVID-19.
Week 3 of Home-teaching: We found out today that all schools in our state are closing for the rest of the year. We also found out today that Ellis Marsalis Jr. passed away yesterday. So many transitions and changes… In this video, we show our girls’ initial responses.
I learned quite a lot today. The lesson was revelatory and has caused me to rethink the rigorous schedule I have created for myself. In the video you will hear my daughter, Paloma, share her needs and concerns regarding the new routine we are experiencing. She has asked for more time with me and I am listening.
This means I need to restructure the schedule. Instead of creating 5 lessons/week I am going to create, implement, film, edit, and write about 2 per week. Now that I’ve edited over 40 minutes of footage today, I know now that to do this everyday would burn me out. I am learning so much about myself in this process. I am learning that I need to recognize and admit when I have bit off too much to chew. So, I am admitting this now – to all of you. I have created a schedule that is unsustainable for me and for my family.
That said, I am still committed to 40 vBlogs during this time. I won’t be able to get them completed in 40 consecutive days/nights, but I will get them done over the next few months. During these times of Corona, I will be committing to putting out 2 videos/week (unless circumstances change). This new schedule will allow me to spend more time with my girls during the day.
The other thing that I need to say now and will say again is that the video represents ONE family’s experience implementing this lesson plan. We are not exemplars nor are we modeling how these activities should or have to look. We are just one family interacting together while learning together.
This lesson plan may not work in the same way for your family as it does ours. For example, if you are in a household of 4 children under the age of six you are going to have a COMPLETELY different experience. That is why you can take bits and pieces here and there. Maybe your “lesson” for the day is jamming out to Johnny Nash’s, “I can see clearly now…” And, maybe, for you and your children, this is a HUGE success – just listening and singing to music together as a family. Remember one family’s experience is ONE family’s experience. No judgment … no “right” way … just be YOU and let your family members be who they are, too.
I also discovered today that these lesson plans can be broken up into several smaller activities. You DO NOT have to follow the lesson in a linear fashion. Rather, you can jump down and jump around anywhere you need to go at a given moment. Further, some of the materials may not resonate with certain families or family members. No worries! It doesn’t mean that you are not a “good” teacher, it just means that this lesson and its content may not be what you need at the moment.
These lessons are meant to be adapted, changed, added to, and revised where needed. So please do so as you figure out what is best for your family.
If you use these lessons more publicly, outside the scope of teaching in your home, please make sure to cite this work. I appreciate it.
Thank you for diving into this experiment I call immediate mandatory collective home-teaching! 😉
MORE VIDEOS ABOUT LESSON 1
THESE VIDEOS ARE MEANT TO BRING YOU DEEPER INSIGHT INTO EACH SECTION OF THE LESSON PLAN.
PRELIMINARY STEPS – GUIDANCE
In this video I discuss “entry points” into the lesson to assist parents/family members in ways to acknowledge and validate their child’s learning. Learning, oftentimes, needs to be flexible and adaptable. I talk about ways listen and, in the moment, be present with your child’s learning. I offer suggestions to demonstrate to your child that their engagement is important to you. This is one video in a series of videos that go into depth about Lesson Plan 1.
Section 2: BE INTENTIONAL
In this video, I discuss what it means to “be intentional” within the context of adopting a positive frame of mind. This positivity can assist children in talking about their emotions in a space that has been deliberately created. Children can express their emotions in many ways including through art, music, poetry, performance, and dance. Being intentional in creating a space for children to express affectively (emotionally) what they need, are afraid of, are upset or angry about, or are happy and joyful about is a crucial element in being present, as a family member, for a child.
SECTION 3: BE CRITICALLY/CONSTRUCTIVELY COMPASSIONATE
In this video, I describe what I mean by being critically and constructively compassionate within the context of family-centered and family-implemented lesson plans. This conversation focuses on Lesson Plan 1, “BEGIN” and explains what is meant by the following questions that are embedded in this section of the lesson: How are we, as a family, working together well? In what areas are we, as a family, struggling or having challenges?
SECTION 4: TAKE ACTION
In this video, I talk about what it means to “take action” – it’s the “doing,” the “follow through,” the “accountability” to one another. From an academic lens, it is enacting PRAXIS since we are combining “critical reflection” with “action.” The critical/constructive reflection process is detailed in previous instructional videos on Lesson 1, “BEGIN.”
SECTION 5: AT THE END…ASK (ASSESSMENT)
Here, your family should go over the original purpose of the lesson plan titled, “Begin.” You will be asking yourselves the following questions to assess whether or not you met the goals of the lesson: 1. Did each family member express at least 2 ways current circumstances have changed or impacted a) the daily routine, b) social activities, and/or c) the family’s interactions/communication? What did this “expression” entail (speaking, writing, drawing)? 2. What are the ways you are going to ensure that the Family Manifesto is followed? What will this look like (daily or weekly check ins)?