New View EDU Episode 8: Full Transcript

Read the full transcript of Episode 8 of the NAIS New View EDU podcast, in which hosts Tim Fish and Lisa Kay Solomon explore how educators can support young people in becoming independent, thriving, adaptable, confident learners, and how current concepts in education may be inadvertently restricting students’ growth. The guest is Julie Lythcott-Haims, New York Times bestselling author of Your Turn, Real American, and How to Raise an Adult. A former dean at Stanford University, Julie shares how her own observations about the emerging harm of helicopter parenting led her to begin exploring how young people suffer when they’re deprived of opportunities to develop agency, self-determination, and problem-solving skills. She also examines the ways in which true inclusion and care for every student makes a stark difference in the educational landscape.

Lisa Kay Solomon: How do we support our young people becoming independent, thriving, adaptable, flexible, confident, agency- oriented choice makers, learners who shape their lives as opposed to having their lives dictated to them? And how do we ensure that our schools are focused on not just graduating high stat learners, but fully competent, capable adults?

Tim and I are so excited to explore these questions with best-selling author, Julie Lythcott-Haims, on today's episode of New View EDU. Julie is the New York Times bestselling author of "How to Raise An Adult," the author of the beautiful memoir, "Real American," and her most recent book, published in 2021, "Your Turn: How to Be An Adult."

More than anything, Julie roots for all humans and is deeply interested in all of us making it and getting through what gets in our way. Julie, thank you so much for joining us today. 

Julie Lythcott-Haims: Lisa, Tim, thank you so much for making me a part of your podcast. 

Lisa Kay Solomon: Well, we are so thrilled to talk to you, Julie. We have so many questions.

And the first question I really want to start with, is about your desire to write this book. I mean, Julie, I have to say like you are, you are unbelievable in your writing and ability to turn around such meaningful books so quickly. I mean, when I was thinking about just how quickly these three books have come out, I'm blown away.

And I really want to understand, what really brought you to writing "Your Turn," this book at this moment, particularly after your last two. 

Julie Lythcott-Haims: There's the answer you want to hear, but I'm going to start with the really truthful answer, which is that my publisher wanted a sequel to my New York Times bestselling book.
You know as an author that sometimes we write the books that emanate up and out of our soul. Sometimes we write the book someone else has asked us to write, and "Your Turn: How to Be An Adult" was definitely a book my publisher asked me to write, hoping for a sequel that would complement the anti helicopter parenting manifesto, "How to Raise An Adult."

So I signed a contract is the short answer, agreed to do it, and then repeatedly failed to do it. I could not find my way in to this book. The memoir came out, in between these two bigger books, quote unquote. And once the memoir was done touring, I had to set out to figure out, how do you write a book on a stage of life all humans go through, without feeling that you're an authority on the subject? I really don't believe any one of us is an authority on adulting. So I had to steer clear of that expectation that kept haunting me. I, inside of myself, was saying, who are you to try to tell a swath of humans how to live these decades known as adulthood?

So. I finally found my way in through vulnerability, deciding, Hey, I'm not the wise Sage on some mountain top. I simply am a human who feels tremendous compassion for other humans and wants to help. And if I can summon the voice of helping, if I can summon the voice of curiosity, and humility and, and be vulnerable about my own stumbles and foibles as a way to help eliminate what lies in front of these younger folks, maybe that would be my way in. So, you know, that's, that's the, that's the why or the how this book came to be. The other way I like to think about it is I wrote that book on the harm of helicopter parenting. But it was never about parenting. It is about parenting, but it was written because young people were suffering, and that's my why. I wanted to help young people who were being robbed of the ability to craft their own way forward.

So I realized, I unraveled the problem and discovered parenting had changed, and parenting was the source. So that first book appears to be about parenting. And it's very much about trying to motivate parents to retool things. But it was in furtherance of young adults thriving. And so that's what that, in some ways, these books are, this new book is just a continuation of that first, or a reframe of the same topics.

Lisa Kay Solomon: I get that so much, Julie. I mean, one thing I get from your book and listening to you talk about it is deep, deep care for young people, you know, not judgment, but you know, this notion of like, you are in their corner, you are there for them. You really want to let them be who they're supposed to be. And, and the way that you communicate this mindset more than anything, has just been so inspiring. And, and I'm, I'm glad that your publisher said there's another one here. And that this is the result of it because I, I do think it is, it is really in service of young people that are suffering, particularly after this last year and a half. 

Tim Fish: Yeah, I totally agree, Lisa, and for me, Julie, I really was reading the book from, from two points of view. One is as a father with four children—I call them the four Fish sticks—and they are kind of, two of them are out of college and finding their way, if you will. And, and I read it, I was reading it for them in many ways, and seeing it through their eyes. And yet there were a whole bunch of times when I was reading it for me.

And I was saying, you know, I'm still adulting. I'm still making my way. And I love how you often throughout the book give either the nine or the 16 or the 12 different sort of things you need to hold on to and particular areas, because each of those really spoke to me in a particular way. And the one that I really wanted to jump in on first was fending.

So first of all, like I had never really thought of the word fending. I'd always heard fend for yourself. I never thought about fending as a thing. So thank you for introducing that to me. But also, I thought about this notion when I was reading it, how in school, I don't know that we necessarily do the best job preparing students to fend. As a, as an organizational structure, you know? And I was talking with a head of school, literally this morning, who had spent most of his time as an administrator working in 9th through 12th grade schools, and now finds himself as a head of school of a K-8. And in that work, he was talking about how parents are just quite different, how, when he was working with a 12th grade family who was heading to college, he'd be able to metaphorically slap the parent's hand and say, Hey, this is that time when you need to back away a little bit. But he said that's a lot harder to do with the parent of a twelve-year-old. And so one of the things I'm wondering about as we think about him, we think about all the heads of schools who are helping families in kindergarten through let's say, eighth grade.

How can schools, from your perspective, be thinking about fending in those younger ages? Because I'm a believer that we can begin developing fending at the youngest ages with people. 

Julie Lythcott-Haims: Fending can most definitely and must most definitely be taught from the earliest ages. And when children learn young, at age three and four and five, that they will be brought into the work of the family, into the work of co-creating meals and cleaning up and fixing things, making things happen, they develop agency, they develop a sense of belonging to the family, as Michaeleen Doucleff writes about in her beautiful new book, "Hunt, Gather, Parent."

And so absolutely yes, it should start early. You don't just sort of give someone the opportunity to fend at their 18th birthday. It doesn't happen that way. Fending is intrinsically about skills. You don't, we don't go from handling everything for kids to them suddenly being capable of doing for themselves. That's called being cut off cold turkey, and it's cruel, and it leads to, you know, can lead to real devastating results. So we are definitely in for a reframe.

I'm also trying to be respectful of the fact that some people have diagnoses and conditions and limitations that might make it hard to fend. I mean, this is an awareness that, that has come to me since I wrote the first book where I was much more declarative about, an 18 year old should be able to do X, Y, and Z. Someone recently called me out on Twitter and said, Hey, do you—do you know any autistic people? This would be really hard for them. And I was able to say, you know, I wrote that book seven years ago and I... I had some blind spots, and I had a narrow way of thinking. And so this book is much more inclusive of, yes, you gotta fend, you gotta be able to make, you know, be more or less responsible for yourself. As an adult, more or less, I say, if you don't have a significant disability, that's the expectation, but how you go about doing it, it's going to be entirely dependent on who you are and the situations and conditions and disabilities and differences that you possess.

So I want to just be clear that this is a long-winded way of saying I'm aiming to be utterly respectful of every human journey as I articulate some truths that I think are more or less universal. So now to really get to your question, yes, schools can help. If schools focused on developing agency, resilience, character as a part of the rubric, as a part of the curriculum, whether it's K—you know, elementary school, middle school, high school, if we embedded in our curricular offerings, the expectation that over the course of time in a school district, in a school system, in an independent school, children would not only develop competency in mathematics and in English and in history and in science, etc. But they would develop these capacities, that capacity to be more responsible, to be accountable, to bounce back when things don't go their way. 

And at a very practical level, Home Ec and shop class were terrific places to learn some of the fending skills. And in many communities, those courses have gone the way of the dinosaur because we've gotten so enamored of what we think of as enrichment, which we think is only the hardcore academic stuff. So we've jettisoned the stuff of life out the window, and we shouldn't be surprised that we graduate people with high GPA's, who cannot do much for themselves.

Tim Fish: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, I think back on... I happen to have gone to an all boys boarding school, a Catholic boarding school. And one of the things that was consistent in the school is that there was no janitorial services that went through. The boys worked 90 minutes every day, cleaning the entire campus. Right. And did the dishes, cleaned all the toilets. And as you came up, you got different jobs and you got more responsibility, and you're responsible for hallways and floors of the school. And I, I think back Julie, and I think that, A) I learned how to clean the toilet, right? That's actually not a bad skill to have, like you're saying, right, the Home Ec concept, but also I think of all, everything I learned, that was probably some of the best—those leadership opportunities, or that responsibility were some of the best things that I, that I learned and I, I look at school and I think you're right.

I think we don't have, not necessarily that specific way of doing it, but that notion of responsibility for others and for taking care. And for me, that's one of the things that I've been wondering a lot about is this idea of, sure, schools have service hours, this 40 hours to graduate kind of thing, but what are we really doing to instill an ethic of service in schools? And how could we do that more from your perspective? 

Julie Lythcott-Haims: I think it was the Harvard Graduate School of Education, three, four years ago, came out with the report, "Turning the Tide," critiquing college admission. And one of the things embedded in that research, in that paper they wrote in that, in that set of advice they offered was: service has just gotten out of whack. In wealthy communities, service has become, go serve some folks in a faraway country where you perceive there is lack and need and write about it, and you will have done your service. When there are humans in every community who are in need, and the community itself, as you have just demonstrated with your story from Catholic school, also has needs and ways in which you can be of service. Families, family members provide degrees of service to one another.

They've also said in that report, they've acknowledged that for poor and working class kids, the service they're able to do and asked to do and required to do might be care of younger siblings, might be making meals for family, might be working a part-time job. So. I hate the fact when I think about what's happened to our K through 12 system of education, public and private, I hate the fact that leadership has become: Start a club! Show them you're a leader. Right? We have all these young people who have started clubs, started nonprofits. They've decided they have to pioneer some new terrain as opposed to learning what has come before you, learning from those who have trodden that path before. How many nonprofits do we need from 16 year olds, all aimed at fixing homelessness in their community? I applaud the heart, but I think much of it is in service of pleasing a college admissions Dean. So service has become: please somebody else, do this to prove to them you're a leader, do this to prove to them you care about service. We've just sort of lost the core concepts.

Aren't we trying to raise young people to become the best version of themselves? I talk about, when I get to talk to educators, whether it's at NAIS or another conference, I, I try to hone in on the root, the Latin root educare, you know, educate, educare. Educare, I'm told—I was never a student of Latin, but I have learned—means to bring forth. And I tell educators, what's your subject? And they'll say French, Latin, Spanish, Math, English, History, Art, Music, et cetera. And I'll challenge that. I'll say, isn't your student the subject? Aren't you bringing your student forth, and simply your expertise—math—is, is what you use to bring them forth?

But let's not lose sight of the fact that this young human is whom you're bringing forth out of relative incapacity as a five-year-old, you know, into this place of 18, where they ought to be more or less capable of fending, you know, and treating others with dignity and kindness and bouncing back when there's adversity and knowing I can, I am capable. I will try. I will keep going. A young person who emerges from our schools, our homes with that sense will be a wildly thriving human being out in the world. I don't care what college they go to, or if they go to college. Those are the capacities that are bedrock fundamental, and sadly get completely railroaded by the modern insistence on every moment must be scheduled. Every moment you have to be doing something. Every moment is in furtherance of your childhood resume, which is going to impress a college admissions Dean one day. We are making them run right past their childhood, where if it was a little slower and a little bit more deliberate with more chores embedded in school and in home, they would acquire the capacities that will serve them so well in their adult lives. 

Lisa Kay Solomon: You know, as I read your book, I had a similar experience to Tim and listening to you, I think like, why aren't more schools doing this? What is getting in the way of honoring the humans that spend many, many hours and years in these environments that are supposed to help them thrive and be the best version of themselves?

And one hypothesis I have is that these becoming skills are not very visible. They're, they're hard to see. They're hard to measure. And as a result, we get dwarfed by the things that are measurable, the things that we can articulate easily. Oh, what's your GPA? What'd you get on this test score? And so they're not valued as much, you know, systemically they're not valued as much. What I often have seen in independent schools that have a little bit more freedom and flexibility than public schools is that they, they have advisory. They have social-emotional learning practices, and I think they are well-intentioned and trying to address this holistic need. And sometimes I feel like they often get a performative feel to it. Check! We have it. And so I'm wondering if you could just talk a little bit about what it might look like to have more time, more care, more integrated priority on these skills of becoming. Like, you know, let's just dream storm for a little bit. Like what might that look like? 

Julie Lythcott-Haims: We got to walk the walk. SEL, advisory, shouldn't just be boxes you check, as you've said, Lisa. We, the leaders, need to behave as if we in fact believe that one's character, one's way of regulating one's emotions, one's way of being in relationship with others is what matters most. And in other words, it's not just, oh, we got to take care of SEL. Right? If we showed up in our schools and exhibited a way of being that was magnificently one of good character, and one of work ethic and persistence, kindness, we would reshape our schools. People would say, I want my kid to go to that school because the head, from the head to the next level, to the next level, every teacher, they embody this, right.

That's the kind of systemic change we need, is to ensure that educators are supported and being their best selves. Educators need to know they matter to the institution. Look, this was my mantra when I was a Dean at Stanford and my final three years, I was Dean of Freshmen and undergraduate advising. I had my freshmen Dean's office team, which I managed for seven years, but we merged with undergraduate advising and undergraduate research, which were two recently merged teams. So now I have a team of 35. And they all hated each other. Everybody poked fingers, at the, you know, at the other, you don't do this right, we're the best. It was three groups that had been taught to fight. And I knew trying to merge this team, coming out of the recession of 08-09, I need for them to come to work for each other first. If they're going to do great work on behalf of Stanford students, they first have to want to come to work and see each other.

So I set out to build a sense of we, a sense of belonging to this team, that would collectively feel very proud of what we were able to accomplish for Stanford students. And it's about, we talk about, we want our students to know they matter. We want our students to feel a sense of belonging. Yes, yessity, yes, yes, that matters. And. You're going to be hard pressed to inculcate a sense of belonging in your students if you don't actually feel it intrinsically within yourself, as a matter of your relationship to that institution. So what comes to mind for me is this new book out by my friend, Randy Weiner, who with his coauthor James Bailey has "The Daily SEL Leader," which is about how leaders can practice social and emotional learning in their own lives so that they can show up in their schools, really walking the walk. And I, as I, I'm flipping through it, it's beautifully done. It's beautifully designed. And I think so, so desperately needed, particularly coming out of the year we've had. Our educators are hurting. They're, they're stretched so thin. They've been burning the candle at both ends and in the middle. And we all need to restore the self, if we have any hope of being of use to other humans. And when we can walk that walk, then I think we are reshaping education and reshaping the experience our children have within it.

Tim Fish: Julie, you know, it's funny. As I've been spending time with a lot of school leaders, I've been asking folks, what do you, what do you feel that you've really learned? What do you want to hold onto? What have you found to be most important?

What I consistently hear is that the, the human connection that the adults in our community make with the young people is at the absolute heart of what it means to be in this community. And if there's anything that folks feel that this year has really inhibited, has been the ability to build those connections in the same way.

And yet I'm also hearing school leaders say, we need to be more deliberate about how we form and sustain and provide the space for those connections. And, you know, I'll tell you from my experience, I've been an, having been an educator for over 30 years. One of the most consistent things that I see about folks who are teachers, who are educators, who give their lives to this work is I think very often, that is what motivates people, is making those connections with young people. And yet there's so much other stuff that is school, right? From the bell schedule to the assessments, the test prep, to the sort of everything that goes, that layers on top. It almost feels like it, it hinders it.

You know, my son is a sophomore in high school and he is on a team, and I went to drop him off at practice—that they've finally been, opened up practices, and went to drop him off at practice the other day. And the two coaches were there, and he gets out of the car and—my son has some special needs—and he gets out of the car and they, like, greeted him like he was a superstar showing up for practice, you know? And I was thinking to myself, this is it. This is what it's all about. This is at the heart of what we should be doing in school. And yet it feels like often, like that's on the periphery, that's this other, that's this sort of other thing. And so what I'm hearing from you, and which resonates so much for me, is this notion of how do we make that more deliberate?
How do we design for that? And how do we not just make it a course with a textbook, with a paper you write, but a lived experience in the community? 

Julie Lythcott-Haims: I want to give a big caveat. Everybody listening needs to know I've never been a K through 12 educator. I've never designed a curriculum. I've, you know, I am a former lawyer, a former college Dean. Now I'm an author. I have a lot of opinions. Don't get me wrong. Happy to tell you what I think, but I just really want to be clear about what I don't know. I hope that I'm saying some things that inspire deeper thinking in y'all. But please know, I am not trying to say this is how it should be, from a place of, you know, having designed ways of being in schools before.

Here's some thoughts, in no particular order, let me not try to put them in an order. We've learned a lot. We've talked about this past year. I think by that we don't just mean the pandemic. We also mean greater awareness drawn to systemic racialized violence and other things like systemic income inequality and the climate clapping back.

There's a whole lot that's frightening. And, as school leaders, as older humans helping young humans emerge, we want to always, of course, be taking that entire context into account. Schools have gotten much better at asking who matters here and who doesn't. And I have a tip for noticing. Ask yourself as a teacher or as an educator more broadly, who routinely comes back to visit you when they've graduated from whatever the year is, and who doesn't? And see if you can't categorize for yourself: who am I attracting back, and who am I not? And pay attention to that delta. Who am I not? Who, for whatever reason, doesn't feel enough of a connection to me that when they're back in town or visiting the school, they do not come to my classroom. Who, on the basis of gender, race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, et cetera. Okay? Pay attention to your own ways that are showing you, oh, these are the students who really connect with you and there's, there may be a, a swath of students who don't. Be curious about that and ask yourself, what am I going to do to more effectively, authentically, see the students who don't seem to feel seen? Because basically that's what they're saying. They don't feel seen by you. They're not going to come back. So be curious and humble about that. 

Number two, take from the pandemic, the lesson of how delicious it was when you said, how are you? No, how are you, how are you doing today? How is your family? Let us carry the intentionality of that question from the pandemic out of the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic it was, hi, how are you? Fine. How are you? We should get coffee. We didn't mean it. I mean, we meant it sort of, but it was a sort of perfunctory thing. Let's jettison that. Let us take, as a silver lining of the pandemic, that we actually asked the question with a caring intention and a desire to know the answer. We made room for those. See what you can do to build that into your daily practice as a school, making room to ask and listen back for the answer, and then have it go in the reciprocal. So that the other person gets the same attention and care. Can you imagine embedding that kind of deep caring into a daily practice?

Another thing is, let us make sure that every child among us knows they didn't fail last year. They didn't lose a year. We're talking about the fruit. I know kids have been lost. I was talking to a reporter in St. Louis who said 25% of the school kids in public school, Missouri, were lost. They don't know where they are in terms of a online learning sense. And who are they? They're poor. They're working class. They're single kids in single parent homes. We need those kids and every other kid to hear you weren't, you know, the pandemic was the bad thing. It wasn't you that failed, wasn't you, your family that failed. The pandemic failed, and the systems failed. And we learned a lot in hindsight, we need to restore a kid's sense of what they did manage to accomplish in a terrible year. 
This is how we build resilience. Right? We look back on some stuff we went through and to go through the deliberate task of remembering, what are you, can you think of something you managed to accomplish over this terrible year and a half? Can you name it? Because that then strengthens them for the next time. Right? Oh, during the pandemic, at least I was able to pass that class. I'm really proud. You know, during the pandemic, I was able to look after my younger siblings from, cause my parents were so busy and stressed out and I'm really proud of that.

You know, for some kids, they're just proud they're alive, and we need to celebrate that because people were pushed to the brink. So celebrating, recognizing the stronger capacities and emotional, strength that was built because of this struggle. That would be an important thing, I think, to embed at least into this coming fall, if not to make it a part of a much bigger practice. 

Lisa Kay Solomon: Julie, one of the things I so appreciate about the way that you take in life and the way that you root for humans is that you make choices that seem small, that are really quite big. I mean, what I'm hearing from you is that it is these micro moments. When we choose to ask the question with care, when we choose to make room for the answer. When we choose to notice and really see someone and be curious about what they have to offer and share.

And I just think that is such a powerful lesson for school leaders, that it's not about nailing the policy. It's about clarifying the values. And creating room and support for them to show up. I was lucky that I, my last three years of my high school experience transitioned from a public school to a small Quaker school. What I couldn't have known at that time was that the Quaker values allowed teachers to fully see me. And so your point about who comes back to visit? When I came back to visit 25 years later, the first teacher that really saw me, it was the most magnificent experience in my life. I didn't know it then at 16, that that was my transition moment from being seen as someone that was gunning to get A's, even then, to someone that was a full human being, that was being seen for my potential by an older adult, that wasn't my parent.

And so I wonder if you could just talk a little bit more about this opportunity for all educators and school leaders to choose a micro moment to embed their values. And I would say maybe the courage it might require to say no to something that used to be, right? But doesn't, maybe never, served the human well, maybe never served the environment well. So would just love to hear your, your thoughts a little bit about, about the opportunity, I think, that really exists. 

Julie Lythcott-Haims: Lisa, the first thing I want to say is your notion of, it's not about nailing the policy, it's living the values. That is so beautiful. And what was coming to mind for me with my former lawyer hat on—and I haven't practiced law for 20 plus years so I have no business even calling myself a former lawyer, but nevertheless—the contracts, the policies, if you will, are there, for when the relationship goes awry. If the relationship is going well, you never need to enforce the contract. You don't have the lawsuit. And I think in the school context and the human relationship context, if we can get more values-based and always be kind of tethered to our values, and our values are guiding us, our values are our rudder, then we're never lost. We never really go. We're never at sea. We just, we're, we know what we're doing and we know how to, how to handle difficulties that arise. 

As you told your story of returning 25 years later, I found myself experiencing some sadness in my body, because I will not go back to my high school 25 years later. Because I was in an all white high school in a town in Wisconsin, where, as a black and biracial kid, I might as well have been from Mars. I was that different looking to them. And when somebody wrote the N word on my locker on my 17th birthday, senior year, I didn't tell anybody. And I, I would go on to tell nobody until I was 44 in an MFA in writing program at California College of the Arts, trying to summon the guts and confidence to call myself a writer and write that first book that we've talked about.

So I hid from the fact of this trauma, and I'm getting to the fact that had one teacher had the wherewithal to sit me down freshman year and say, "Hey kid, you have a different background than everybody here. You look different than almost anybody. Should anything ever go awry, come see me. I've got your back." God damn it. I'm a 53 year old woman with two graduate degrees and this stuff still makes me cry. And I want educators to hear it, because the research shows that one caring adult makes all the difference in the life of, say, a kid in the system, a kid in foster care, a kid who is marginalized in every sense.

I wasn't marginalized. I was middle-class. My parents were highly educated, so I'm not here—I'm with my tears, just with empathy, really for kids who go unseen. So the lesson is: be that adult. Look at your school community and ask yourself. So I framed it originally as who doesn't come back, now I'm going to frame it as: in the more affirmative, what can you do?

Ask yourself, if you could go to your kids who exist at the greatest intersectionality, to use Kimberle Crenshaw's language around intersectionality, the kids who are your queer kids of color, your poor trans kids, right? The kids who have some degree of intersectionality tend to be the most marginalized. The humans who have the greatest intersectionality are the most marginalized in our society. And it's true in your own school. If you could go to such kids and say, "Hey kid, I'm interested in your feeling cherished here. I would like to know your experience, but I can't know your experience cause I'm not you. But if you're willing at any time to share with me where in our school you feel you can be you, and where in our school you feel you can't, I want to do something about that. I'm going to do my darndest to try. I do not presume to know where those spaces are, with whom you don't feel you can be you, in what context. If you are willing to have that dialogue with me, please know that I am here." That alone will improve the experience that kid is having at your school.

And if you can act on it, if they feel safe enough in sharing some examples with you and maybe a greater number, and again, you're not making them, you're not forcing that conversation. You're showing you are available and interested in having it, if they are willing and able. Okay. If you, if that, if those things line up and they have the con—then you need to act on it..

And you have to have the guts and any other word you want to fill in the blank on to take that promise forward. And that will mean examining systemic problems in your school. The teacher who is known for degrading, disregarding, disrespecting X type of students, you're going to have to take some of that stuff on in order to make your school community one in which all children have the chance to be brought forward.

Lisa Kay Solomon: Julie. I just want to say, thank you. Thank you for sharing your story so vulnerably, so honestly, so authentic, and thank you for your passion, that all of us are capable of making different choices to cherish—I love that word—to cherish each student, which starts with asking a question. One of the first things I noticed about "Your Turn" was your statement of inclusion at the very beginning. And inclusion is a really important concept, principle, set of practices, lived experiences. And I just want to read something that you wrote about it that's really stuck with me, that I've tried to carry. You say, "Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued so that they are able to participate as their full, authentic selves." I just am dreaming of every school living that. 

Julie Lythcott-Haims: You know, I want to give props to Hella Social Impact. They're an organization I worked with to help me get this new book, "Your Turn," out into communities, where, I hope readers will say, wow, she had me in mind when she wrote this. The book is deeply inclusive of humans from every conceivable walk of life I could manage to find a connection to through my own network and extended network. And I worked with Hella Social Impact to help me get the word out. And they helped me craft that particular sentence because I'm not a DEI expert. I care about diversity, equity and inclusion. I've lived a life in a black and biracial body. But I'm not a practitioner in that field. 

I also look to my friend, Nicole Sanchez at Vaya consulting in Oakland, for her guidance and it's from Nicole that I learned this concept of, speaking with the most marginalized or those who are, have the greatest number of intersectionalities to know the truth of your organization. Your school, your company, your non-profit, speak to those whom, whom I've mentioned are typically the most marginalized and dare to ask them, where do you not feel you can be yourself? So I want to give props to the people who have helped me formulate my perspective as I continue to grow and learn. That's something I'm trying to model. Here I am 53, highly educated, and. Humble, learning, flawed, you know, just trying to make my way, like everybody else is. And I think that in modeling that desire for inclusion on top of modeling vulnerability, as I do in putting a lot of my own stories of stumble and struggle into this book, I'm trying to help humans see like, yes, we can, we can, we can write things and create spaces where all humans are valued, and we connect most effectively with one another. When we pull away the performative facade of, oh, I'm this person, you know, we pull down the mask and show our true selves, that's when we can share in ways that help the other person feel less alone. That's when we connect.

Tim Fish: Yeah. You know, for me as one of the things that really stood out, as well as this idea, and I think what you're speaking to right now, Julie, hits on it so well, is this idea of find your voice, stop judging it and go in the direction that it tells you to go. That was one of my sort of favorite parts of the book, because it speaks to me as a father for what I want for my own children. It gives me advice about, it's not about me, it's about them, to get out of their way, but it also speaks to me as an individual.

That that notion of finding your voice is not, I find at least in my own life, that's not something that just came one day and now I have it. It's always evolving in my own, in my own mind. I'm always on that journey and it makes me, it makes me think about the work that we do in schools. I think so much of this conversation for me has been about the fundamental nature of being present. You know, at another point in the book, one of your, I think it might be the nine rules of fending, somewhere in there. There's one that's, that is just show up. 

And, and, you know, I think about when we return to school, and I think about the miraculous work that our teachers and school leaders have done during this past year to leverage zoom and outdoor play spaces and taking kids on a mountain side, to figure out in the context of a pandemic, how to show up.

And they, and I think they did it in many, many ways. And I think that's the lesson for me that I'm taking away from this as an educator, is how do I continue to show up every day? How do I take the time to ask the genuine question? And to actually really care about the answer. How can I, as a teacher, be the person who connects with that student, who's had an experience that they want to talk about or need to talk about?

So I just, I just want to say on behalf of all of our schools and NAIS, I just want to thank you for spending some time with us, for sharing your perspective. 

Julie Lythcott-Haims: Thanks, Tim. 

Lisa Kay Solomon: Julie. Thank you truly. I guess I'll end with another quote that's stood out to me. When you talk about adulting, you say, "Part of the adult mindset is about getting much more comfortable with not knowing, with figuring things out and with keeping going."

So, Julie, thank you for helping us all keeping going as we find our voice. 

Julie Lythcott-Haims: I'm so grateful to you and your listeners for spending this time with me. I have a fire pit out back, and once the pandemic is allowing us to gather comfortably again, I will do what I have done for years, which is invite humans to my home and sit with them and say, let's assume we're learning and growing until we take our last breath, which is certainly my goal.

Who are you becoming? Not in a title sense, or I want to move to this school or get this amount of salary or this house. Who are you becoming? That is what are you working on within your own self that you can acknowledge needs work, that you would be, a human more effective at being. Period. If you could just sort of work on that.

I know I'm working on stuff and I believe we all are or should be. And that's really the spirit with which, you know, I try to move through the world. None of us is perfect. We're all doing our best. We can all work harder, to be more loving and more kind, more patient, more graceful with one another. And that's, when we get there, that's when life really sings, and we just want to live long enough at that point to be, you know, as that person who's, who's finally figured that self out and is pleased with the self and looking after the self, and is living a life that is in some way of service to others.