What does it mean to BE who we are in this lifetime? In this conversation, Pat talks about the book, “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig. In this book, the protagonist, discovers a library where “every book provides a chance to try another life” (see citation). Per Pat’s synopsis, we learn that oftentimes the protagonist finds herself disappointed and at other times satisfied with the lives she has “jumped in and out of” when visiting the different “books” in the library. Pat states, “We all have parts of our lives that we can look at as being different lives … and as we grow and learn and move on to the next section of our life, it’s like having a new life.” Pat then creates a “throughline” to another artist/writer named Maria Popova, who has a website titled, “The Marginalian.” Pat describes Maria’s process of connecting certain artists’ literary works to others’ works. Like a “trail of breadcrumbs”, Maria connects us, as readers, to thematic understandings that draw us to making deeper conclusions about ourselves through art, poetry, writing, and other forms of expression. From Maria’s work, Pat extends the “throughline” to Corita Kent, an artist, educator, and advocate for social justice. Like Popova, Kent connects ‘pieces’ together to create art assemblages, making meaning from seemingly unrelated materials or objects. Finally, the message is this: that we create who we are and become who we are from the amazing parts of our lives that shape and form our soul-driven identities.
In the third part of this session, Cristina ties her experiences of meeting two young men from Jalisco, Mexico to St. Teresa’s understanding of “travelers” – that is, we are all on a journey as human beings traveling through this world in need of certain elements to keep us warm, fed, clothed, sheltered, and happy.
Becoming (Remember) was recorded on April 18, 2021. Lynn began the session by reading her poem, “Becoming Reach” which encapsulated the ideas, feelings, and energies of the previous session.
“The Birds Who Flew Beyond Time” by Anne Baring and read by Pat Berberich. Here is a summary of the book found online:
A modern retelling of the Sufi parable, “The Conference of the Birds,” a poem written in the thirteenth century by Farid ud-Din Attar. In this retelling, the birds of the Earth, led by the Hoopoe, respond to Her call for help and set out on a journey to find the Great Being over the edge of time. In the course of this journey they encounter and overcome the power of the seven invisible monsters who are threatening the life of the planet.
In this part of the session, Cristina talks briefly about Dr. Cynthia Dillard’s latest work, “The Spirit of Our Work: Black Women Teachers Remember.” She also discusses her positionality in relation to her ancestry.
Further, here is an online description of The Spirit of Our Work: Dr. Cynthia Dillard centers the spiritual lives of Black women educators and their students, arguing that spirituality has guided Black people throughout the diaspora. She demonstrates how Black women teachers and teacher educators can heal, resist and (re)member their identities in ways that are empowering for them and their students. Dillard emphasizes that any discussion of Black teachers’ lives and work cannot be limited to truncated identities as enslaved persons in the Americas.
This year I have been engaged in many research projects and community-engaged scholarship that involve working with families of children with dis/abilities, particularly Latina/o/x immigrant families. Though some of this scholarship can be found under the ABOUT tab, under Cristina’s work, I would like to take a moment to highlight scholarship that is also affiliated with EduSpirit – either directly (as in book chapter below) or indirectly (with Dr. Lorri Many Rivers Johnson, who I interviewed for EduSpirit in 2017).
In the chapter titled, “How Do We Arm Ourselves With Love? Examining ‘Armed Love’ Through Educators’ Critical Conversations in an Online Platform, I describe EduSpirit.org as a vehicle for addressing how to mend a fractured educational system through critical conversations centered on education through the lens of love. This is an “armed love” (Freire, 2005, p. 74), a radical and fierce one, through which educators contend with and confront deep-seeded fears that threaten to paralyze action and continued movement forward (Fisher, 2017). This love is also a “force that enhances our overall effort to be self-actualizing … it can provide an epistemological grounding informing how we know what we know” (hooks, 1994, p. 195) of ourselves as both individuals and as educators. bell hook’s (1994) descriptive reflections on self-actualization provide meaningful context for educators who want to enact love, but who may not understand that one’s inner well-being is essential in assisting others in their own self-empowerment. These insights along with other authors’ interpretations of radical love are useful in situating five educators’ lived experiences in transgressing boundaries that impede their ability to “respect and care for the souls of our students” (p. 13). Through qualitative methods, I examine the ways in which these educators advocate for their students, combat systemic inequities, and transcend grief or illness for the purposes of creating spaces of well-being in personal and professional spaces. In other words, how do they embody and enact armed love? These educators’ stories unfold through dialogue captured in publicly accessible, video blogs.
United We Stand
The Role of Spirituality in Engaging and Healing Communities
Segments of society are drawing upon their faith and spirituality to develop strategies to mend social relationships and fragmented communities. The Contemporary Perspectives on Spirituality in Education book series will feature volumes geared towards understanding and exploring the role of spirituality in addressing challenge, conflict, and marginalization within education in the U.S. and internationally.
Other scholarship I have been engaged in collaboratively with Dr. Lorri Many Rivers Santamaría is our work on Co-Decolonizing Methodologies. Co-Decolonizing work is distinctive from Decolonizing work in that Lorri and I, as scholars of Color, acknowledge that our positionalities (Black Creole and Bi-racial Mexicana heritages, respectively) in relation to indigenous peoples locate us as co-conspirators in the dismantling of oppressive colonialist ideologies and practices. For example, when working with indigenous or other minoritized populations with whom we cannot claim membership or affiliation, we strive to enact co-decolonizing research. Here we work alongside and support those with whom we share common or similar goals. Neither of us profess engagement with decolonizing research methods or methodologies, particularly when working with indigenous populations, because we have not experienced what it is to have our land taken from us, to be dispossessed by unfair and insidious treaties, or to be displaced in direct and personal ways. That said, as mother-scholars of Color, we recognize other ways we – individually and as a larger collective – have been colonized – mind, body, and soul – by white hegemony and its continued destructiveness. In these ways, under very specific conditions, we affirm decolonizing methodologies as central to our work.
On September 15, 2020 we had the honor and privilege to present at the AERA Virtual Research Learning Series. We co-presented with Mixteca/Indígena co-researchers as well as with Dr. Darold Joseph, Dr. Jenny Lee-Morgan, and Latosha Rowley (Ph.D. candidate at IUPUI).
Through this presentation, many artifacts were produced including an interactional workbook (please check out this eBook!), PowerPoints, and conceptual framings around unlearning colonizing research methods to ensure conscious and deliberate practice of decolonizing and co-decolonizing methodologies. Below is a helix model that I created to demonstrate the movement from these colonizing methodological practices to ones that are participatory, humanizing, and co-decolonizing. Please use this citation for the image below:
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:
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
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!
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)?