Working Together for the Greater Good. It Can Be Done.

December 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

My friends and colleagues on the right might think I lean too far to the left, and my friends and colleagues on the left think I lean too far to the right. I listen to all sides, I work with all sides. I have friends, colleagues and family on all sides and I’m constantly learning from all sides. Social media can be great, but it can also be extremely divisive and inflammatory as we all know. My timeline on Twitter could give anyone whiplash with the different points of views that go floating by. On any given issue I’ll see to completely opposing passionate views one after the other. I listen and learn from all and I know that there are ways for us all to work together for the greater good because I’ve done it.

I’ve been lucky enough to do extremely meaningful work in my life. Work that impacted many lives on a day to day and long-term basis. While changing and working to better the lives of others I too was changed and my world and worldview became better and bigger.

I’ve held many positions where I’ve worked with people directly and some in which my work was impacting them indirectly. I’ve mentioned some of them here and on Social Media. There’s one that I haven’t talked that much about since it doesn’t make for easy or fun casual conversation and the scope and range was way larger than 140 yet it was one of the greatest professional experiences I’ve had the great fortune to experience. I met the most amazing people in all areas of government, non-profit & private sectors all working to improve the lives of children, youth and their families.

In short, as the Director of a New York State funded program focusing on New York City I worked with over 25 NYC agencies with a combined budget of over $16 billion as well as a number of State&Federal entities and agencies all in the service of integrating services.  All kinds of services. Now add to that the creation & development of a first-of-its-kind interagency database. Yes, I had to listen to all sides.

Imagine, agencies as diverse as Juvenile Justice, Cultural Affairs, Corrections, Health and Mental Hygiene, Probation, Education&the NYPD among others all working together to better the lives of children, youth&their families. We had interagency conferences and coordinating sessions working toward that one goal. Together. One cohesive group made up of different agencies each with their own missions, goals and mandates uniting in the service of our common goal. It can be done.

One of my proudest moments on that project was presenting it at the Blue Room in City Hall to representatives of agencies from all over the NYC and NYS. (If I recall correctly there was a smattering of Federal representatives there as well.) Later, I was honored to sit on a panel with Dr. Tom Frieden, the Director of the CDC, then the commissioner of the NYC Dept. Of Health and Mental Hygiene, who said he loved the program and threw his support and the support of his agency behind it in any way he could.

This was a groundbreaking program in content and scope. It included the sharing of information of all kinds and cooperation, coordination and integration of different goals and agendas and the creation of an interagency database. Especially for an area as large as NYC it was hard to imagine. To give you an idea, when I asked my NY State supervisor which of the other NY counties NYC county was like he said, “Chicago”… Millions of NYC children and youth and many millions more of their families.

I worked with the most amazing people in all the agencies, from the rank and file through to the Commissioner level and beyond. All working together toward one united goal. It can be done.

Let’s all take a step back and decide to listen to all sides, to learn from each other and to come together in the service of one common goal. Articulate that goal any way you’d like but in simple terms to make the world a safer, better and more constructive environment for all. We’re all sharing the same spaces, neighborhoods, cities, states, countries, planet. Let’s work together to make it the best we can for everyone.

I know it can be done. Let’s do it. And, if you think I can help in some way feel free to contact me and let’s see how I can be of service.

Enjoy the day your way,

Rebecca Kiki


New Year’s Resolutions – Easy as ABC – The 5W Method

December 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

Hi All,

Seriously, how did we get to December already? What an amazing year it’s been, I hope you’ve had a great one as well. So, this is the time of year everyone takes stock of how the year went. If you’re really lucky and worked really hard and the stars ALL aligned in your favor and everything went perfectly smoothly then –

Oh – okay. In that case, as great as the year may have been there might be a thing or two you’d like to change, strengthen, shift, add or subtract from this coming year. 2015 is almost here. I’m so excited for it and the possibilities it holds. I’d like to help you get to feeling the same so New Year’s is a jumping off point to new & even better.

Okay, jumping off the cheery soapbox now and looking at the reality of life. It takes thought and planning in addition to hard work to make things happen. It takes laying the groundwork and some of the groundwork is internal. Here are some tips for doing just that.

I get requests every year to repost this article I wrote about making and keeping New Year’s Resolutions.

New Year’s Resolutions – Easy as ABC

New Year’s Resolutions. They seem so easy to decide on and so difficult to carry out and achieve. Can they be as easy as ABC? Or 123? I think they can. Having begun my career teaching ABCs and 123s I know that the most effective way to learn something new is often the simplest way. With that in mind I created a system for my clients to help them set and achieve New Year’s Resolutions that’s as easy as – ABC and 123. I call it the 5Ws.

Think back to when you were learning how to read and add for the first time. You take for granted now the ease with which you read and comprehend but back then? Every new letter was difficult if not complicated. New sounds made by new vowels got the whole thing mixed up in your head. Oy. Or would that be oi? And what’s all this about a 1 and a 5 being 15, isn’t it 6?

Life seems to get more complicated as we get older and wiser. Once you get used to doing things a certain way it can feel unbearable to change. Making the changes in the simplest way possible is often the best ways to shift, change and move forward.

How about going back to the basics, and the strategies that worked when you were learning the basics? Step by step. Patience. Persistence. Pride in a job well done. Retracing your steps to find out what went wrong when you slip up. Breaking down complicated jobs into easy manageable tasks. Doing your homework. Rehearsing for the performance and often taking one step backward for every two steps forward.

The 5W System – As easy as ABC and 1,2,3

Journal supplies – a notebook and pen/pencil or computer.
New Year’s Resolutions supplies – Your wishes, goals, hopes and dreams.
Strategy supplies – Your strengths and limitations.

As you answer the 5W questions below, jot them down in a journal you’ll be starting especially for this. Keeping a journal can often help in answering the 5Ws and helping you keep your resolutions.

The journal will give you a starting point aside from January 1st to refer to. A week or a month from now you can see how much progress you’ve made and decide if you’re happy with your progress, or lack thereof. You can continue from there. You can modify your tactics and start differently. Or you can start again using different techniques that fit your lifestyle better.

The 5Ws? Simple. Who, What, Where, When and Why.

  • Who are you today and who would you like to be a year from now?
  • Why do you want to make the change? Emphasis on YOU*
  • What changes in behavior and shifts in attitude will you need in order to make the changes and achieve your goal?
  • Where can you get support to help you make the change? People, books, websites, journals etc.
  • When is the best time of day/week/year for you to make the change? To evaluate the change? To take action toward achieving the change?

*A couple of tips to help you answer the “Why” for YOU.

OK, you’ve decided you want to make a change. Think about the change you’ve decided you want to make. You. Yes. Not anyone else who wants a change from you. You. OK. Are we there yet? One more minute. Think about it. It’s OK – you can say, “I want to _______”. If you need to whisper it that’s OK, I can listen very carefully. If you need to write it down and burn it before anyone sees it, that’s also OK. If you want to send yourself an email describing it, try that. Whatever works.

Now that you’ve decided what it is that you’d like to do/be/achieve, what mountain you’d like to climb, what number you’d like to see on the scale or in your bank account, which salutation you’d like to see before or after your name, what new places you’d like to explore or books you’d like to read….there’s another step to take before we start planning the How.
Why do you want _________________________?

Find a place and time where you can sit quietly and think and have a real conversation with yourself or with your coach. Explore the reasons. Sure there are the first few surface/off the cuff that come to mind easily. Dig deeper. Keep asking yourself why until you’ve gotten to the real reason you want to achieve “whatever”.

If we were working together I’d keep asking you why, why, why until we got to the real results you were after.

So? What’s the real reason? What do you really hope will be the result of your resolution?

Once you’ve figured out the “Why” it’s easier to schedule and sort out the rest. You’ll know the end result you’re trying to achieve. By answering the Who, What, Where and When you’ll be able to schedule the small tasks needed to make the change into your schedule.

Why? Why not? Why shouldn’t you have the best year you’ve ever had before? Can you think of one good reason? I didn’t think so. So go for it! Out with the old and in with the new.

Wishing you a happy almost-New Year. Make every day count…because it does.

Rebecca Kiki


“Old Tactics” Shouldn’t Mean “Old Attitudes” NYT – Old Tactic Gets New Use: Public Schools Separate Girls and Boys

December 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

They lost me at ” Act pretty at all times!”

I believe same gender classrooms have much merit but the attitudes, comments, quotes and mindsets in the NYT “Old Tactic Gets New Use: Public Schools Separate Girls and Boys” article so amazed me that I checked to make sure the date on the paper was 2014 and not 1914.

Some of the more unbelievable comments/statements included:

  • Supporters say girls have more in common with other girls — and boys with other boys — than with the opposite sex of the same age.
  • The training materials…noted that “gently competitive lessons may be more impactful for boys”
  • …and that “lessons that incorporate emotions and emotional vocabulary” may have more impact for girls.
  • Teachers were also advised to be “more tolerant of boys’ need to fidget or girls’ need to talk during class.”
  • “I am able to push them to their level and include sports and different things,” she said of the boys she teaches for part of the day before swapping with a reading and social studies teacher to work with girls. She added that she liked to turn math sessions into games because boys “like competition.”
  • showed a crate she kept in a storage room of fuzzy pastel blue sweaters for girls, saying they were more likely to feel cold than boys.
  • For spelling and vocabulary lessons incorporating physical activity, Ms. L brought out hula hoops and small rubber balls for the girls.
  • The boys would get yo-yos, bats and badminton rackets.

Full disclosure – I went to an all girls school for grades 1-12. (Yes, all my schooling until college.) I was a “fidgety” student and a talkative student. I was asked by my HS principal “are you a lady?” when I spoke my mind. In a classroom full of girls my voice carried since it wasn’t a typically girl-ish voice and I was often singled out as talking out of turn. (I’m proud to have continued on in my life speaking my mind.) That isn’t the part of the school experience I would recommend. But there was a great deal about it that I would recommend.

One of the greatest things about an all girls school experience was that the best student in all subject matters was a girl. Girls ruled in every subject. Girls ruled in any of our curriculum subjects. The best person for any job was a girl. We got used to experiencing girls in positions of leadership. It was natural.

As a classroom teacher in coeducational classes I faced many challenges (try teaching 28 1st grade immigrant children to speak, read and write English – I dare you.) but classroom management because “boys and girls are different” wasn’t one of them and shouldn’t be the driving force for a same gender classroom philosophy or theory.

As an educator I’ve served in numerous roles including as a classroom teacher, program developer, teacher trainer, director of a drop-out prevention program and as director of a govt. program that coordinated multi-billion dollars of services through 25+ agencies. In all of them I approached children and youth as humans with different strengths, weaknesses, preferences and innate qualities.

Any group of girls will have the fidgetiest, most competitive, difficult, coldest, fuzziest, creative and most emotional girl. Any group of boys will have the fidgetiest, most competitive, difficult, coldest, fuzziest, creative and emotional boy. The challenge is to develop classroom management techniques and lessons that target each of them.

So while my same gender education was problematic in some ways, it was a great experience in others. I think an all girls or all boys class has a lot to offer children. It’s the theory driving it described in this article that are very problematic. What this article should do more than anything is to  get people to raise their voices and speak out about the underlying attitudes and beliefs about ‘boys are/do’ and ‘girls are/do’.

Still speaking my mind and encouraging all of you to do the same – every day,



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