New View EDU Episode 18: Full Transcript

Read the full transcript of Episode 18 of the NAIS New View EDU podcast, which features Camille Inge, a researcher and consultant at the NeuroLeadership Institute, joining host Tim Fish and special guest co-host Caroline Blackwell, the VP of Equity and Justice for NAIS, to dig into the research that has inspired the NLI’s frameworks to help make organizations more human through science.

Tim Fish: Today, I am excited to have a conversation with Caroline Blackwell and Camille Inge. Caroline, my colleague, is VP, Equity and Justice here at NAIS. Caroline directs our NAIS people of color conference, our student diversity leadership conference, and other equity focused institutes and programs for the association.

Her work helps countless school leaders and other members better the varied ways they can build and strengthen school communities that reinforce and elevate human dignity, academic and social excellence, and the wellbeing of every child and adult within.

Camille Inge is a researcher and consultant at the Neuro Leadership Institute. Camille co-designed some of NLI's distributed learning solutions, including Improve: the Neuroscience of Better Feedback; Include: the Neuroscience of Smarter Teams; and Focus: the Neuroscience of Thriving Through Crisis. In fact, Focus has helped millions of employees take care of each other throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Camille also spearheads custom framework design, learning architecture, and program facilitation for leading companies across healthcare, technology, consumer goods, education, entertainment, and finance industries.

Her unwavering goals are to create radical clarity, mitigate unconscious bias, and inspire active inclusion. You know, I'll tell you, the team at NAIS has been working with Camille and her colleagues at the Neuro Leadership Institute for years. We are inspired by their commitment to equity, brain science, and thriving communities. I am so excited to welcome both of you, Camille and Caroline, to New View EDU.

Caroline Blackwell: Thank you, Tim. 

Camille Inge: Thank you, Tim. So happy to be here.

Tim Fish: So let's get right to it. Camille, the NeuroLeadership Institute is known for making organizations more human through science. I love that description. And I'm wondering, from your research with the group and the work you do with clients, why do you think our organizations need to be more human? What's happening out there? What trends are you seeing? What's driving the work that you all are doing?

Camille Inge: Well, organizations, at least for now, are made up of humans. And humans are made up of a brain. And organizations weren't necessarily designed with that in mind. And so what we come to organizations with is a perspective of, what do people need? What does the brain need, and how are we doing in terms of meeting that in the day-to-day work or in the structures of our organizations?

So at the end of the day, people want to be happy. They want to be safe. They want to be valued, empowered, fulfilled. That's just core to the human experience. You know, that's, that's being alive. That's why we're here at the end of the day. But yeah, a lot of organizations, you know, they're large, they are old, and it takes a long time for them to really re-examine how they are built, how work gets done, what their purpose is and how they are, or are not yet, really giving back to the people that make up this whole organization.

So we come in to help really teach people about what's really essential to the brain. How much we can hold in mind at once or respecting cognitive capacity. What really motivates people or de-motivates them, and how we make decisions consciously and unconsciously and how we can improve that, at a habit level, and at a more systemic level.

Tim Fish: You know, I absolutely love that. This notion that organizations were not designed with the brain in mind. That's such a powerful notion, you know? And so where do you, where do you think, often, the brain or brain thinking gets left out in organizations? Where is it that we neglect what brain research has to teach us?

Camille Inge: Expectations and what humans can do while maintaining their sanity, frankly. We, especially with the rise of computation, you know, computers, machines, we have sort of shifted our expectations in what humans can do. We've come to really appreciate productivity, immediacy, perfect accuracy. And that is not in the job description of the brain.

Caroline Blackwell: So Camille, what are the costs of not acknowledging and connecting with and validating the complexity of the human experience, and particularly the powers of our brains? And how would you describe, and this is going to be an interesting question, perhaps, for you, but how would you describe the business case for that in schools? 

Camille Inge: Okay, beautiful questions. So the first one, the costs of not really considering the human brain, you know, first, if we think about not considering, for one, that the brain has very specific limitations in terms of how much cognitive capacity it has, how much information we can take in at one time, how much we can hold, how much we can do, before we get exhausted. Or before we start making careless mistakes. The cost in that domain is exhaustion. It's burnout, which has detrimental effects to one's wellbeing and health-- often ones that we try to hide to appear as if we have everything under control, which then actually makes the problem even worse. That covering aspect of no, I'm fine. I've got this, when we really don't. So that kind of amplifies it. So it has an individual cost, but then of course, as a, as a team player, as someone who's holding something important for an organization or for a school, you can't bring your best there because you're cognitively overwhelmed. And so there's individual and then collective downsides to that.

And then if we're not considering how the brain is really motivated, you think about learning itself, corporate learning or learning in schools. We can actually build resentment against the things that we're trying to build engagement towards if we don't do it in the right way. If we don't think about how to have people work together collaboratively, and instead foster this really competitive environment, it's probably teaching subconsciously some pretty hurtful things about how we should be interacting with each other and operating as a community.

And then if we don't consider how the brain makes unconscious decisions, cognitive biases, without the stigma, just how we make a lot of rapid assumptions throughout the day to try to maintain the little cognitive capacity that we have. That's a whole host of possible costs, in terms of the rushed decisions that we're making that can impact a lot of people negatively.

So those are kind of the three pillars that we try to bring awareness to, and then to be able to build habits around, to kind of shift the way that we're thinking about how we treat each other, what we expect of each other. 

Caroline Blackwell: Many times we think about schools as being for students. And we don't talk too much about them being workplaces. And so I'm wondering if you could just talk about what's the business case for having and paying attention to the brain?

Camille Inge: It’s a great question. And it's one that I'm just thinking to me is so obvious, and like core, that I'm trying to perspective take to someone who might think that caring about the brain needs a business case. But certainly if we're enabling people to perform at their full potential, then there is a benefit to the business there, whether it's reputation, whether it's how much money you're making, profits or anything else as well.

Tim Fish: It makes me wonder about like, you know, we're in this sort of-- the Great Resignation, you know, complete restructuring of how we think about work and the workforce, and what that looks like or means. If I'm sort of a school leader or a teacher listening to this or someone who's, who's in the school community. I'm wondering like, I want my workplace, I want my school community, to be exceptional, to be truly great. And what I'm wondering about is like, what do you find, using brain research and other things, are the characteristics of these truly great places to work?

Camille Inge: Yeah, the Great Resignation has really been something powerful to watch and to hear, at scale and individually. I'm on Tik Tok and you'll see a lot of people posting their own experiences as to why they have stood up and made the decision to leave the place that they're at. And it has been empowering for a lot of people. So it has spread. There's been this contagion, that, you know, we are stressed, we're burnt out, and the more people are leaving, the more weight we are carrying, and we don't necessarily have the ability to redistribute that weight. We're just holding it. And people are really feeling empowered to be able to choose to be happy, to choose their own wellbeing, to go somewhere else.

And they are finding these better fits for them. And typically the pairing that we're seeing of why people are leaving and, and where they go to that they have a better experience, has to do with integrity. So that's definitely a characteristic of a great workplace.

So are you acting in accordance with your values? Are you walking the talk? Are you being honest? Are you seeing things through? That's really important for people's engagement in where they work. And then of course, that they are going to a workplace that's inclusive and empowering of all the diverse people who make up that place. Hierarchies are getting less and less appealing to people, and distributed empowerment is getting more and more appealing.

So feeling respected, feeling like you're trusted, that you have the ability to make choices, that you can take on creative pursuits, that you can have a voice that you can feel like you matter and have a sense of self in that place. And then that they're flexible. And agile, you know, that we can keep up with the pace of change, that we can listen, learn, adapt in a timely manner.

So integrity, diversity, inclusion and empowerment, flexibility. Those together will probably make a pretty good workplace.

Tim Fish: And what I love so much about the work that you all do at NLI is like, if you look at the opposite of each of those things, right. And if you're not really trying to do one, you might be unintentionally doing the other, and creating the opposite of inclusion or empowerment or flexibility. And so that, there's an intentionality in designing for that, that I think is really powerful.

Camille Inge: Absolutely. These things will not happen accidentally. Everything else will happen accidentally.

Tim Fish: Yes.

Camille Inge: It is a very intentional effort and requires a lot of clarity as to what matters, and a lot of accountability to really hold each other to that standard.

Caroline Blackwell: So when we think about all that you've said, we think about our institutions as both workplaces where we want the adults in the community to thrive, and as places where we want the children and young people to thrive. I'm reminded of the classic book All I Ever Really Needed to Learn, I Learned in Kindergarten.

And I'm wondering, with the pace of change that has happened in education, with all of the impacts of automation and computation, as you described it before, is it still true that everything I needed to learn I've learned in kindergarten? Where we have intentionally taught the golden rule, for example, but have not necessarily taught the platinum rule.

I'm wondering, is that the place where we have learned all that we need to know?

Camille Inge: It's a beautiful sentiment and a complex question. It is definitely a very rich time for learning, that age, in terms of neuro-plasticity and how much we are taking in from the world around us and just immediately updating our software because of that. Not to treat the brain like a computer, do not get me wrong.

But the way-- some of my favorite memories of school are from kindergarten. And there is a particular approach at that young age that is quite fulfilling in terms of our core needs. It is a much more social environment. I don't remember sitting in a chair in rows in kindergarten. I remember there being a couple of round tables and a lot of play area. And that's much more natural, right? That's more socialized. That's more fun. I get to get up and explore. I remember free choice period was my favorite in kindergarten, where I just get to go up, do I want to play with blocks? Do I want to color? Do I want to play make-believe with my friend? It's just, I mean, I'm quite nostalgic for those days, as well.

I mean, that sounds great.

Tim Fish: Nap time was a big favorite of mine. I must say.

Camille Inge: Lights out, silence. And that's huge. I mean, downtime is something that we're talking about a lot now, as something that we've neglected and that's so core to us being able to regenerate and be able to refuel, is this intentional creation of space where there's no goal. To just be able to mind wander and just be. I mean, it's relatively mindful. And we don't have a lot of space for that and it's negatively stigmatized, but in a place like kindergarten, it seems quite core to it. And then of course we're learning the basics. But it really is a lot about how do we come together as little social creatures, curious little kids, and fostering that.

So definitely those things should be maintained throughout the whole human experience. Especially as adults, we really lose the invitation to do those things. And it's still so important to our wellbeing, our creativity, our compassion, to be able to still do that.

Caroline Blackwell: Thank you, Camille. That, that's actually a, a, a great way of thinking about what the modern workplace should look like, particularly given all that we've seen. I want to come back to the perspective taking that's a part of the golden rule or the platinum rule. And I'm wondering about your recollections of kindergarten and did you experience that sense of, of perspective taking and the different perspectives that we need to bring to our engagements with our students, as well as with our colleagues. 

Camille Inge: Right. So I lived a long time with the mantra, treat others the way you'd like to be treated. And it was quite a mindset shift when I finally heard, treat others the way they would like to be treated. It took many failed experiments to really learn the importance of that. 

Tim Fish: So the, so the golden rule, let me just clarify this for a second, cause the platinum rule is new to me, is treat others the way I want to be treated. It's very me centered, right. And not bad. Good. You know, but platinum takes the focus away from me. Platinum says treat others the way they want to be treated.

Fascinate. Thank you for introducing that to the conversation. 

Caroline Blackwell: I think it's also a different, I mean, it's compassion. Like it's like, it's the act of putting ourselves in others’ shoes and imagining forward. 

Camille Inge: Yeah, and it's huge, and it's not something that we can just do. I can't just treat you, Caroline, the way you want to be treated. I have to ask. 

Caroline Blackwell: Yeah. That’s right.

Camille Inge: You know, it's not just perspective taking, it's perspective seeking, 

Caroline Blackwell: Mm. Nice. 

Camille Inge: And the more I can do that, the more I can be better on my guesses, but it's always going to be this proactive behavior of putting someone else's needs and concerns as a first step. Let me check in with what you need, what makes you comfortable, what you might need to be able to, to learn. And that's honestly where the whole field of equity then comes in, understanding that equality-- let's treat everybody the way I want to be treated, treat everyone the same-- does not get to the same outcomes or the actual ideal outcomes, as does equity, understanding what everyone's unique needs are to be able to reach a similar output.

Caroline Blackwell: Absolutely. 

Tim Fish: Yeah, I mean, it's-- Caroline, you've taught me so much about equity over the years, and I'm curious if you could just share, from your point of view? I think a lot of times in schools, we talk about DEI programs, DEI thinking, diversity, equity, and inclusion. We use those terms. We've made DEI kind of a thing on its own.

And there's many other letters that get attached to it, whether it be J or B for justice or belonging. But I'm curious from your perspective, if you could just kind of give me a little bit about the difference as we think about, or what's distinct about diversity and equity and inclusion and belonging, and how we're thinking about some of those terms today.

Caroline Blackwell: Sure. Happy to do that, and would love for you to jump in as well, Camille. I think that it's really important for our schools and our institutions, our teachers, as well as our students, to really understand the difference between each of those terms. They've been sort of conflated into sort of one concept, but they're very, very different, right? So diversity, and one of the definitions that I love best, is the full range of human differences within overarching similarities. So that's like we, we, and it exists, right? We are humans. We are different. We have different needs, desires, interests, all of those kinds of things.

When we think about diversity, we also typically think about things that are visible or qualities and characteristics that we can count and measure. It's also shorthand for all the work, right? So when you say diversity work, right, it becomes a shorthand for everything that sort of fits in the, the acronyms that we use. 

Equity is, just as Camille said, quite different from equality. Both needed but both very different. Right? And so equity really says we don't want to create a situation in school or in our country where a characteristic of somebody's, of a human characteristic, determines their outcomes. So as an African-American person, we don't want the African-American identity experience to be a determinant of a person's future.

And so we work to do things that make situations more equitable, right. By making sure that we level playing fields and that we provide the resources that any individual might need, whether it's a child with a learning disability or a person who speaks a language that is not English, if we're talking about the United States.

So we're trying to provide for those people, and for ourselves, ways to be able to engage fully in the American experience, in the American dream, as it's often called, right, through that lens as well. Inclusion are active steps that we take to create policies, practices, procedures, et cetera, to make those things possible. And then belonging is the felt sense that occurs if we do that well. 

Tim Fish: That’s super great. Thank you, Caroline. Camille, you know, there's one thing that, when I was reading that, your introduction. One of the things it talks about is your commitment to radical clarity. And that really struck me. Because I thought about, in all my work over years that I've been doing in whatever group I was working with, I thought, you know, I'm not sure that I was bringing or that I'm bringing now, radical clarity to my work. I think it's an area where I certainly could improve, but I have my own understanding of what that means. I'm curious if you could help me understand better what radical clarity looks like, and why it is really important for leaders, for anyone who works in any organization.

Camille Inge: Absolutely. And it's, it's an aspiration. It's not, I'm not always going to achieve it, but it is something that I believe in and I do my best to meet. And there's sort of two prongs that I think of it through. In terms of radical clarity, one is accessibility. The more complex, the more convoluted we are in what we say, the fewer and fewer people have access to what it is we're trying to say. I'm talking about people, you know, in America, English as a second language, anyone with learning disabilities, et cetera. The more difficult it will be for them to access that information. So I really believe that information, important information, should be as accessible as possible to as diverse an array of people as possible.

And then there's radical candor in terms of honesty and transparency and authenticity. And that is really core to the experience of trust, especially when we are in an environment, especially online, when we can't always tell fact from fiction, there's a lot of noise out there. So I want the things that are important-- not that everything that I say is the most important thing, and everyone should listen-- but for those who are saying things that really ought to be heard and followed and paid attention to, that we're promoting radical candor there. So that that information is accessible and we can trust that information as being honest, truthful, transparent.

Tim Fish: Yeah. One of the things it reminds me of is one of my favorite frameworks from NLI, which is the SCARF model. And as a way of really thinking about our organization, can you just introduce our listeners a little bit to the SCARF model?

Camille Inge: Absolutely. And to perspective take, when I first learned about the SCARF model, I pictured a woman in a scarf.

Tim Fish: Yes.

Camille Inge: Like, what are you talking about? SCARF is an acronym, for all of those who had the same assumption. And it's a summary of the major findings in social cognitive affective neuroscience, that reflect this really interesting and pervasive pattern in human behavior.

And so what it is, is it's the five domains of social motivation. So what it is at its core that intrinsically, meaning inside of me without any external motivation, like money or delicious food, intrinsically, what really matters to me in any social interaction. And so there are five domains there and we can feel a sense of threat or a sense of reward in any of those domains. And the brain's core organizing principle, to keep us alive, is to minimize any potential threats in our environment first and foremost, and then ideally to maximize rewards. And so evolutionarily, we think about those as physical threats and rewards. You want to avoid being attacked by, you know, a tribe that's trying to steal our land, or from some hungry animal. And you know, we seek to find food and whatnot and fresh water, but as we've evolved to really be these social creatures, social threat and reward also come in social forms. And that's what the SCARF model really captures, is what is it that we're sensitive to in social environments that can really tap into our intrinsic motivation to approach something, or to back away or run away from something.

So without further ado, the SCARF model, S C A R F, starts with our need for status. And that is our very automatic assessment and sensitivity to our relative standing in a group. So am I an equal here? Am I a bit better? Am I a bit worse? Because our social standing in a group is, is really core to our survival. If nobody likes us and kicks us out of the tribe and we're left to fend on our own, we're probably not going to last very long. So it's a lot of benefits to having a solid sense of status. And there's a lot of research that it can lead to longer life and health outcomes as well.

So we can feel threatened or rewarded, and here too, it doesn't have to be compared to other people. It can also be compared to ourselves in the past, which is sort of a healthier, more self-assured way of thinking about status. If you can't get that reward from others, we can try to internalize it. The C is certainty. So we have this innate need for certainty, and our brains are prediction machines. That's how they work. We do our best to collect information about our present and our past to be able to make predictions about the future, again, so we can survive, ideally thrive. So certainty is about our ability to understand what's going on, predict the future, feel safe in our environment. And the like.

So that's S and C. The A is autonomy. So this is our innate need for some sense of control or choice or power. We have seen a lot of people voicing, currently, their innate needs for choice in various domains. We see what happens when we try to make something mandatory. When we try to force someone to do something. Those are real autonomy threats for people. Whereas autonomy rewards are providing flexibility, options, empowerment, trust.

The R is relatedness. This is our innate need to feel as if we belong. That we're connected to others, that we're part of a team, that we are safe with others, that people are looking out for us. Versus a sense of me versus them. So this is all about in-group and out-group, friend or foe.

The last is fairness, which is pretty self explanatory, though we get into some levels of complexity when we do talk about things like equality and equity. But this is an innate sensitivity to a fair exchange between people, to the point where in experiments, when people witness unfairness, even when the unfairness is beneficial for them personally, researchers will see a disgust response happening in the brain. There is something core to us recognizing that this is not fair, that people should be compensated fairly for the work that they've done, for example, in these studies. And so that is the SCARF model, the five domains of social threat and rewards, social motivation, status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness.

And that can be used to predict and regulate and explain a lot of our behavior.

Caroline Blackwell:When we first were introduced to that model, it really is life-changing, in terms of understanding ourselves and other people. And I am wondering, in organizations, in workplaces, what are some of the most toxic kind of forms of resistance that you've seen that come up in any one of those domains, and how do we address them and perhaps through some of the active habits of inclusion, but I'm just wondering? What can we look for, and what can our colleagues do when those kinds of things arise? 

Camille Inge: Yeah. By forms of resistance, do you mean like ways that threats have been created in these categories? 

Caroline Blackwell: Yes. 

Camille Inge: Status threats that are quite toxic and normalized: publicly embarrassing someone. Publicly shooting someone down is a great way to make someone feel humiliated, and that lasts a very long time. It takes a long time to get over. Certainty: closed door conversations. This doesn't concern you. We are going to make this decision. You're not going to know how we did it. You're not going to know how your grade was determined. We're just going to give it to you at the end, grade, performance review, what have you. So creating a sense of suspicion, lack of trust, lack of transparency or procedural fairness happens a lot. Autonomy: micromanaging. Period. 

Tim Fish: Stop. Full stop. Don't do that.

Camille Inge: Right? If you are hovering over an employee or a student's shoulder checking every single thing that they do, I mean, commend that student for not screaming at that point. The amount of like, self control and inhibitory control. And also feeling of, do you not trust me at all? Do you not trust what you've taught me, to be able to do something? And that can create a sense of distrust that perpetuates, and complete lack of engagement, then why don't you do it yourself? Honestly, you know, if you're going to micromanage me. Radical candor, I'll be very transparent about my views. 

Relatedness, there's just a frequent pitting people against each other competition. Only a few number of people can get a top rating or a prize or, or something. So people get sharp elbows that can create a really toxic work environment where we're undermining people. If we only care about results and not the means to getting there, then you can leave a lot of bodies along the way and still reward that person. And that can wind up making people want to leave. 

And then in fairness, similar to, well, similar to a lack of transparency in one, but often what's seen is people exhibiting the same behavior, but perhaps one person being rewarded for it, being ascribed positive traits for exhibiting that, and another person being punished for it and ascribed negative traits for that. And accordingly negative punishments, positive rewards.

Tim Fish: I tell you, if you think back on my whole educational journey, Camille, school, at least the way I experienced it as a young person. And I would argue in some ways in high school and maybe even in college as well. Yeah, there were definitely times when, when those threat things were up. Right. And, and one of the things I've been talking a lot about, and one of, it's come up in almost every episode of New View EDU, is the idea of agency being so critical in the work that we want to do with students. And so I love the way agency, I think here, is connected to autonomy, but what I'm seeing is that the same way a lack of agency really makes learning difficult, I think the other elements of SCARF are the same. It's so true. As a teacher, what we do. Right. And how-- I think about, like, my eighth grade math teacher and how he always handed back tests in the order of the grade.

So the first student that received their test back got the highest grade. And if you're sitting there and you're waiting, as I often was, for my, to get my test, like it was, it was humiliating.

Camille Inge: I'm sweating thinking about that experience.

Tim Fish: Right. And it was, and, but the thing was that that teacher used that as a way of trying, he thought, oh, that's going to motivate kids at the bottom to get up toward the top. Right? And so it's that kind of, sort of thinking that really, I think, is troubling. 

And so one of the things I've been thinking about recently is like, what does it mean to teach? Right. What does it really, what does it, what is teaching, fundamentally? And then in my mind I've gone around and around and I had, I have been a teacher, and I've been in the class and I've been many times in my career, not a very good teacher. I will say I never did what my eighth grade math teacher did, but I, I know that there have been times I could be better. But the thing that hit me recently was this idea that to teach is to create the conditions for learning. A big part of teaching is to create the conditions where learning can take place.

And for me, certainly, in creating toxic or not toxic workplaces, SCARF is super important, but I can see it back to Caroline's wonderful piece. And Robert Fulghum's work on everything I needed to learn. It seems to me that creating those conditions, the SCARF conditions in school, for students, is also incredibly important. And do you find that those conditions, those threat response, they begin while there's different developmental stages going back to PHA, but do you find that there's, that those elements need to be in place in school from kindergarten all the way through as well?

Camille Inge: Absolutely. And I can invite, Caroline, you to speak on this as well, because at its core, when the brain enters a threat state, it's a pretty depleting experience cognitively. And it can happen from a subtle behavior, let alone from a very explicit behavior. And what happens is that there's this really adaptive situation going on in our brains, that there's a region in our brain that takes care of a lot of our best selves work. It's our logical thinking. It's our creativity. It's our pro-social or collaborative behavior. So our memory. That's our prefrontal cortex. So that's all like nice to have things like, wouldn't it be great if we can always think like this? And then there's a limbic system in the brain, which is the deepest, oldest, most reactive and protective region, where things like the amygdala and the hippocampus, emotion and memory live.

And that is what's active, the limbic system, when we're in a threat state, because when we detect something's wrong, that we're in danger, we need to do as much as we can to protect ourselves from that. Which means we're actually taking the resources from that best self part of the brain, and putting it to the protect myself part of the brain. They share the same resources, it's a seesaw.

And so in that moment, all of those abilities just get depleted from that person. And it takes some time to recover from that as well. So that student can actually be falling behind in the moment, and it can completely, like, change their perception of how safe they are in that space and make them not want to be there and make them completely dissociate or disengage from the learning experience if it feels like an unsafe experience. And then, you know, we can probably see people who probably, as adults, who probably had that experience as kids. It can have really long lasting negative effects if we don't really consider the cognitive wellbeing of students, especially when they're young and learning how the world works.

Caroline Blackwell: Absolutely, Camille. And some of the research related to what you're describing is in the stereotype threat research that has been done with students of color, with girls, and absolutely, their academic performance is diminished as a result of those threats. It's no question. 

Tim Fish: Yeah, I'm wondering for both of you, like where do, where do folks who are trying to make progress in their communities, and our -- the communities we work with, our schools, where do they get stuck? 

Camille Inge: They don't feel like they're allowed to, or they don't know how. 

Caroline Blackwell: And they're afraid of making a mistake. 

Camille Inge: Mm. Absolutely.

Tim Fish: So your sense is just, give the permission, make sure you're really explicit in giving the permission to do some of this work, to help people understand some strategies and techniques for thinking about this. This conversation for me has been incredibly helpful. And then, just get started, right, Caroline? Just kind of begin the work. And we're probably going to bump into walls along the way, but just begin the work. 

Caroline Blackwell: We will bump into walls.

Tim Fish: We will bump into walls.

Caroline Blackwell: I would say we will, and we need to, and we need, and if all of those conditions that you were talking about, Tim, are established for learning, right, then the bumping into the walls is also part of what we're expecting to have happen. Right? And so it's the reason like, so we, we, we are inviting mistakes, knowing that we all make them. 

Camille Inge: You know, you're describing, Caroline, psychological safety, which is so core to learning. It's, it's descriptive that we will make mistakes along the way. That's the whole process of it. We will fail and that's still a success, and they are quite stigmatized concepts, but psychological safety allows people to treat things like experiments. 

Let's try it out. Let's learn from the output. And then let's try it again. 

Caroline Blackwell: And in the context of our schools, making sure that we're talking about those experiments happening in a container where values exist, right? And the values and the core values in the institution of not harming anybody intentionally, all of those kinds of things. So it's not experiments that are free for alls, right? But they exist right within the container of the mission and core values of the institution. Camille, we can't let you go without you giving that little prescription for how people can-- what they can do. And just the introduction of the active habits of inclusion would be another place to start. Right? How do we embed those in work that we do as educators? 

Camille Inge: Absolutely. So, right. The components of the SCARF model talk about what we are always looking for in terms of threats and rewards. And there's a way to organize this into actual active behaviors, if we want to create a sense of social reward for others when we interact with them. And so, like at NLI, we have this Include program where we teach these three habits that are made up of the five components of SCARF. And what's great about them is that they're very generalizable and they're pretty easy. We just have to remember to do them and practice them, get a little feedback, how am I doing on them?

So the first habit of active inclusion, so knowing that, as we talked about before, these things won't happen accidentally. And likely if we're not actively including, we're probably accidentally excluding, cause it's a lot easier to go about our daily lives focused from a first person perspective rather than considering the perspectives of others, that platinum rule.

So if we want to practice more active inclusion, we can, and one of those habits is help create clarity. Help create clarity creates a sense of certainty and autonomy rewards, the C and A in SCARF. So doing the best we can in an interaction, whether with a stranger or someone we work with every day, or a partner, be clear about our expectations. If it's in a conversation or if it's around a particular topic. Clear about our intentions, creating context for people, operating off of the same knowledge, giving a chance for both sides to be able to create clarity around what's in their minds, make the implicit more explicit. So help create clarity in whatever ways are necessary, and make sure you have that before you move on.

Like that's a really essential need, and a pretty easy thing we can do if we remember that we're going to have to start there. Because we make a lot of assumptions. We can think we're talking about the same thing, but we have completely different definitions of it. So let's just clear that up first. 

The next habit of active inclusion really gives relatedness its own platform, which is find common ground. Find common ground, even when it feels like you're worlds apart. This is particularly helpful if you feel like you're speaking with someone who you disagree with. If you sense that there might be polarization, if there's an argument, a main goal there should be, what can we agree on? What's a shared goal that we have, what are some shared experiences that we have, that we might be able to relate over or unpack together?

And at least thinking at the highest level of abstraction, do we, do we believe in the same things? Do we want the best for our students? Yes, of course. That's common ground. How do we get there? We might differ on that, but at least we can agree, yes, we want the best for our students, for our community. And starting there can be a really inclusive behavior before assuming that someone has ill intentions. We all probably would say we have the best intentions. So let's give each other the benefit of the doubt as well and work from there. 

The last habit of active inclusion here is lift people up. Lift people up. That sends status and fairness rewards. So doing the best we can to validate each other. To acknowledge each other's unique perspectives, our contributions, to show gratitude and, and to feel it. To recognize that we each care about something, that we each are bringing what we can to something, and really verbalizing that. It can be really easy to ignore something as long as it's working well. And then only call something out when we notice an error or mistake. Brains are designed to be very sensitive to errors like those threats. But if we flip our mindset to think about how much we are appreciative of how much is going well, what could have gone awry, but didn't, and verbalize those things, we can create a much more collaborative exchange where people feel happy to be there, that they feel like they are valued there and that they want to stay there.

So help create clarity, find common ground, and lift people up are three habits that should be easy enough, with some practice, to remember, at least. And if we can recall them, that's a really good step to then being able to use them.

Tim Fish: Wow, that was, that is incredible. I'm going to just try that today, for the rest of the day. And try to stay with it. But I'll tell you what, Camille, help find clarity, find common grounds and lift people up. That is a perfect way, I think, to end this conversation, because it is so inspirational. It helps me think about all the interactions I have. I just want to thank you, Caroline, I want to thank you for joining us today. This has been an incredible conversation. And one that I know our listeners are really going to appreciate. Thank you both for joining on New View EDU.

Camille Inge: Thank you, Tim. Thank you, Caroline. I'll miss ya. 

Caroline Blackwell: Thank you.