Have you ever wondered what you can do to help people who feel left out?
Today is “twin day” at my school. As you can probably guess, it’s a day when kids get together and coordinate outfits to look like twins. It’s also a way to show some school spirit. I’ve been looking forward to this day for weeks because it means I can connect with my friends in a fun and cute way!
All weekend long, I bugged everyone with my excitement! I talk about what I’d be wearing with my friends; I talked about what other people said they would be wearing; I talked about how funny it would be if my two teachers decided to be twins too! Basically, I talked about this idea until people rolled their eyes when I brought up.
Here’s the thing, mostly, I was thinking about this day from MY perspective. This is important because my dad had ideas about twin day, but he didn’t say much to me when I was bugging him with my excitement.
This weekend, I also went to see the movie Wonder. The movie was INCREDIBLE and inspiring in so many ways. Sometimes when books get made into movies, you leave feeling disappointed. I promise, this one won’t disappoint you!
At the end of the movie, my heart was feeling a little ache that’s hard to describe. I left the theater thinking lots of things about life. I thought about kids at my school other people don’t pay much attention to or who aren’t included in ways that help them feel like part of the school community. I talked about it with my dad. He asked me an important question: “Liv, who's your Auggie?”
I can’t tell you how this simple question made me think about many things; my school, my life, and most importantly, my family. My dad talked to me the whole way home. He asked me to consider Twin Day. He asked me to think about the kid at school who might not have a friend to twin with. He asked me to think about Quinn.
My brother, Quinn doesn’t have a physical deformity like Auggie. His struggles are more on the inside. Sometimes he can hide his struggles, and no one notices. And, other times, hiding his struggles is really hard and exhausting.
Quinn doesn’t have anyone to twin with today; the heartache I felt after I saw Wonder is with me again. I think it’s the ache that comes when you love someone sooooo much you wish you could make things better. I asked Quinn to twin with me, but he wasn’t really into doing that. It sort of screams, “I HAVE NO FRIENDS SO I AM TWINNING WITH MY SISTER!!!!” Yeah, that’s not cool. But, I got him to agree to twin in a very subtle way. Today we are wearing the same shark bracelets. It’s my way of including Quinn.
I hope everyone reading this thinks about the underdog. Sometimes your Auggie is right in front of you. RJ Palacio made Auggie’s disability something really dramatic, so that we would stop and think deeply about how we treat others. Auggie’s face is something we can’t miss. But, here’s the thing, maybe we miss A LOT of people’s differences because we have to look deeper; their difference isn’t something right on their face.
Think about how you include others. Think beyond the obvious differences and look deeper. Think about your behavior and whether or not you truly reach out to those in need. Think about how being kind is more than a hashtag; it’s thinking beyond your own perspective.
If I get to see RJ again, I’m going hug her soooooo hard for all the ways she made me think about my life. It’s true that books can change you. Wonder made me realize what’s right in front of me.
Today I dressed like my friends for Twin Day. But, I also brought a bag full of shark bracelets for all the kids in my class. That way, we are ALL connected, and we are also connected back to Quinn, my Auggie and my heart.
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Have you ever visited a place and felt like your heart was meant to be there?
This week I was in Miami for the ShiftinEDU conference. I feel really lucky that my Building Learning Communities (BLC) friend, Inge invited me to be a speaker. Before the conference began, I got to visit the school responsible for creating and hosting ShiftinEDU.
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Day School sits in the middle of Coconut Grove, surrounded by yummy places to eat and shops that have loads of interesting Florida-y clothes. The first feeling I got in my heart for St. Stephen's was that it hummed happy.
The minute I walked through the front gate it was like the school hugged me. At the morning ceremony, I got my first glimpse of the students and teachers at St. Stephen's. It was almost as if they decided to dress with LivBit in mind. Normally they wear uniforms, but today they dressed as their favorite book characters. There were loads of kids in Harry Potter garb, several Pinkalicious fans, some Piggy and Elephants, but NOTHING topped the kindergartner dressed as Captain Underpants! I just knew the day was going to be incredibly special with such an EPIC beginning!
St. Stephen’s has a very inspiring motto: think, love, grow. As I visited and worked with the kids, I thought about how much MY love for learning and understanding the world was growing. It’s like my time at St. Stephen's perfectly reflected the school’s motto.
The kids at St. Stephen’s are encouraged to take risks in their thinking and learning; support each other’s ideas; use technology in interesting and innovative ways; and value each other’s differences. I noticed older kids supporting younger students with compassion. I saw so much happy at this school it made me want to stay forever.
My time in Miami made me wishful for ALL kids.
Kids need teachers who encourage them to grow interests and passions. Kids deserve time to use technology to create and connect with people who can help them think deeply about their interests. Kids depend on grown ups who understand the power of digital spaces and encourage them to be connected. Kids need to know they are safe to be who they are meant to be and every bit of who they are as a person is valued. Most of all, kids deserve to learn in spaces that are safe, joyful, and welcoming.
Kids can’t think, love, grow in joyless places. ALL schools should hum happy.
So, think about your school community. Does it hum happy? What do people feel when they enter your building? Is it a joyful learning place?
I hope this blog inspires you to take action and become an agent of happiness! Kids NEED you to hum happy! I hope you join me in this happiness campaign! Let’s help ALL kids think, love, grow.
Thank you to my friends at St. Stephen's Episcopal Day School in Miami, FL for helping my heart see how powerful happiness is to the world. If I could have stayed with you forever, I would have! And, a very special danke je to #MyDutchTeacher, Inge for believing in my LivBit work. Ik heb je lief!
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Have you ever thought about the power of your digital patterns?
Digital patterns are the story you tell in your posts, the kind of support you give to others, and the way others understand you online. Digital patterns are powerful and important when we think about identity. This year I’ve done a lot of thinking about my digital patterns and the story I tell through my work online.
I’m a dreamer. My heart carries big ideas about the world I hope come true. It’s the reason LivBits started. I dreamed about sharing my story with the world, and I hoped the world would care.
I’ve learned that sometimes when you’re a dreamer, you meet people who don’t believe in dreams. Sometimes they say things to discourage you. Sometimes they act in disappointing ways. Sometimes they work against you by doing things that are confusing.
At a recent conference presentation, someone asked me if kids are jealous of my work. It was a question I had never been asked before, so it really made me think. The truth is, most kids don’t care about my work unless grown ups share it with them in a positive way. It’s sort of like kids are busy doing their own thing. With the exception of a few mean kids at my school, (and they’d be mean even if I didn’t do LivBits), most kids have no idea what LivBits is or how much it means to me. I don’t share much about my LivBit life at school because I never want people to think I am bragging.
But, grown ups are another story. When the person asked me the question about kids and jealousy, I answered honestly. I shared that kids are mostly fine, but grown ups are weird. I’ve had grown ups stop following me, stop encouraging me, and say terrible things about me, and sometimes my mum. I think my mum is a target because she believes in me no matter what. After my session, several people from the audience came up to me to say I MUST be misunderstanding the grown ups. It was like they had to convince themselves that grown ups could never mistreat a kid.
But, guess what? It’s true. Grown ups have mistreated, taken advantage, and disregarded me. I think if people knew who some of these grown ups are, it would shock them. Sometimes grown ups spend a lot of time excusing the behavior of other grown ups when they would never allow this behavior from kids. It’s sort of like people saying grown ups can’t learn anything from kids.
It’s Media Literacy Week and in lots of places people are gathering to talk about important things related to online work. I hope those big thinkers remember there are dreamers like me who understand the power of being connected. We also understand the power of our behavior.
It doesn’t take a lot to show someone you care on social media. It can be as small as liking, sharing, or commenting on their posts. I’m learning how to stop looking at other people’s feed and noticing how some of my former encouragers are now promoting other people. It’s hard on my heart, but an important heart lesson to learn. I’m also learning to focus on the people who don’t mind my texts, take time to answer questions, and truly share the joy of my LivBit work. Those people haven’t stopped liking or sharing my work. They’ve stayed consistent in their support, and I’m incredibly grateful for them.
Truthfully, none of these things are social media lessons, they’re life lessons. People move on. Sometimes people you love move on without you. I’ve learned some people are better at loving than others.
The best part of my LivBit story is there are MORE people who encourage than discourage; MORE heartbeeps than heartache; and MANY digital connections that have turned into real friendships.
So, I hope you take some time this week to think about your digital patterns. I hope you reach out to people in positive ways, and reconnect with people you may have left behind. I hope you’re brave when things get tough, and help others find their brave when they need it. I hope you shine so much awesome that the world can’t help but notice because, after all, the world can never have too much awesome!
Keep reading! Keep thinking! And, thank you for following LivBits!
Hi, I'm Liv and I am super excited to share my thinking with you!