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Praise for Hacking School Culture:  Designing Compassionate Classrooms

“For teachers to continue to grow as professionals, Hacking School Culture is a practical guide to help them improve the classroom experience for students. Readers will walk away inspired to practice and implement a more empathic approach that goes beyond teaching subject matter. This book provides useful “how-to’s” that aid in reframing how and why we think about our roles as educators to build more meaningful and impactful relationships with students. To this day, I remember those teachers who not only taught me the curriculum, but who took the time to understand me and shaped who I am today.”

–Terry L. Jackson, Ed.D., The George Washington University, Office of Special Education Programs/U.S.DOE

“Teaching is meaningful, and demanding. Hacking School Culture: Designing Compassionate Classrooms is a way to bring out the best in your students—and yourself. Through time-tested and research-driven approaches to flourishing, this book is chock-full of easy-to-implement actions that are kind to you, the students, and to the environment you’re creating in the classroom. Try these simple ideas to enliven and energize the teaching experience.”

–Megan McDonough, CEO and Co-Founder, Wholebeing Institute

“What if practicing empathy was the first step to designing education?” Thus begins Ellen Feig Gray and Angela Stockman’s brilliant new book, Hacking School Culture.  This courageous and heartfelt guide for parents and educators presents a blueprint for implementing compassion within any classroom.  Their expertise and extensive research are evident in every page of this clear and concise book.  As a developmental pediatrician for the past 30 years, I have witnessed first-hand the rising epidemic of alienation, anxiety and ADHD that has  resulted from an educational system that promotes productivity over process. I have also seen the power empathy has to transform the way we pay attention.  Using real life examples throughout this book, Ellen and Angela provide ways you can become a “design thinker,” someone who can energize the classroom through compassion.  In so doing, they offer a path of transformation that raises the dignity of each student while supporting our teachers’ enormous task of inspiring growth through connection.  This book is destined to become an important resource for anyone involved in the education of children in today’s culture.”

— Stephen Scott Cowan, M.D., Author of Fire Child Water Child: How Understanding the Five Types of ADHD Can Help You Improve Your Child’s Self-Esteem and Attention

“Ellen and Angela lead the reader to practiced and doable strategic events that go beyond the ‘hope for an osmotic transformation’ and into the realm of viable and responsible action. The skill sets and values presented within this book, when practiced with fidelity, positively change school culture, advance understanding, cultivate a sense of validation and self-worth, leading to an empowerment that is often missing in today’s world.”

— Lawrence Feldman, Ph.D., School Board of Miami-Dade County

Hacking School Culture: Designing Compassionate Classrooms is a valuable addition to the HACK Learning Series. It provides concrete support and suggestions for teachers to improve their interactions with their students at the same time they enrich their own professional experiences. The hacks encourage teachers to regard their students with compassion and empathy, respecting both their individuality and their strengths as a productive way of redesigning the classroom for better learning. This approach not only leads to better educational outcomes for students, it also stems burn-out through more meaningful professional experiences for teachers. Although primarily aimed at K-12 classrooms, the authors’ insightful suggestions have given me,  a veteran college professor, new insights into positive classroom dynamics which I have already begun to incorporate into my classes.”

– Louise Hainline, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Brooklyn College of CUNY

“The world needs individuals that are compassionate, self-directed and committed to contributing to the common good.  For our youngest members of society schools are a major institution in which they acquire and enhance knowledge, skills and dispositions.  Unfortunately, most schools focus on academic content rather than ensuring each student is provided an authentic learning experience in a culture that is inclusive, safe and engaging.

The Hacking School Culture co-authors guide us on a journey of 10 connected themes to create and sustain compassionate classrooms that are motivational and educational for each student.  Each theme provides a comprehensive description and alignment with positive student development, strategies based on evidence, immediate and long-term actions and strategies to overcome challenges.  The themes are augmented with quotes and personal stories bringing to life the need for compassion as both a personal attribute and a characteristic of the school’s environment.”

–Terry Pickeral, President, Cascade Educational Consultants