Whitmore Bolles School Social Worker

Dearborn Public Schools

Habit # 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood



“If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”


I saw this video a few years ago and chuckled. “It’s not about the nail” shows a conversation between a woman with a nail protruding from her forehead and a man who appears to be her husband. The woman explains her pain and discomfort and the man cannot help but tell her that she would feel better if she removed the nail. The woman sighs in a disapproving demeanor and states, “It’s not about the nail,” as she carries on about the pain in her head.

Stephen Covey uses this video to demonstrate the importance of first seeking to understand. The woman didn’t want to hear about how to fix the problem, she wanted to feel validated in her emotions.

Habit # 5 emphasizes the importance of active listening. This week at Whitmore-Bolles, students are learning to listen with their eyes, ears, and mouth. Active listeners look at the speaker, hear what they have to say, and reflect back to them the information they heard.

In the video, the man finally responded, “that sounds really hard.” The woman’s face lit up as she felt like her husband finally understood what she was trying to share. After the woman knew her husband understood her emotions, it is likely that she would be more receptive to addressing the root of the problem. No matter who the conversation involves, understanding the perspective of the speaker only benefits the relationship.

Even if you have seen this video before, I encourage you to watch it again. I’m sure you will get a good laugh out of it and hopefully it encourages you as you and your family practice Habit # 5.


Created by Ally DeMaagd, Social Work Intern

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Blessings Shout Out

Thank you to our volunteers Robin Philpott, Jerry Driscoll, Lynn Hutsell, Kathy Fleming, and the Sulla Family for packing this week’s “Blessings.” They have quite a few bags to pack and I appreciate them giving their Tuesday afternoon to packing the bags. All of the food will be sent home with students that need some extra goodies for the weekend. Thank you, volunteers, for your continued dedication in packing these bags each month!


Katharine Johnston

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Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

Hi all!


I wanted to share one of my favorite Ted talks done by Brene Brown.  She is a Social Worker and researcher that has spent much of her career studying human connection, vulnerability and empathy.  This video, as well as her many books (I have shared a link to her website) have powerful messages for how we connect to others.  Brene Brown finds that the ability and the practice of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is incredibly important to living our lives to the fullest and finding peace.  


Please take a minute to watch and absorb this video, you’ll be happy you did!  Plus, you’ll be practicing great self care practice by nurturing your mind and soul!


Enjoy 🙂


Grace Jackson

Social Work Intern



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Behavioral Health: Free Parent/Guardian Presentation

Dearborn Public Schools

Special Education Department hosts

The WSU Center for Treatment & Research in Behavioral Health  


February 7, 2018

6PM to 7PM

Dearborn High School Cafeteria

Free  Parent/Guardian Presentation

 The purpose of this free educational presentation for parents/guardians is to provide a comprehensive understanding of depression, anxiety and psychosis in teens including early signs, symptoms and treatment options.  Mental health illness left untreated in teens can lead to a lifelong debilitating illness.  Thus, early identification and treatment is important for long-term life success.

Agenda includes:

  • To define depression and anxiety and symptoms of each.

  • To define psychosis and symptoms.

  • Understanding the school impact on teens that are affected by mental illness.

  • To provide information on how to identify early signs of depression, anxiety and psychosis.

  • To provide information on resources to help as well as treatment options for the family.

  • Refreshments will be provided.

  • Please call, or email, to let us know you are attending, or for questions.  Contact info is, 313-827-1628 or Rumlers@dearbornschools.org.

  • This is a FREE event.

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“My Brain Stopped Working”

I recently heard a student say, “My brain stopped working” in response to their negative actions in the classroom setting. The student understood the behavior was not appropriate nor conducive for the classroom, but their statement reflects a critical stage of the developing brain. Dr. Daniel Siegal uses a “handy model” to illustrate the principle of “flipping your lid.”


In this illustration you can see the center part of the brain represented by the thumb. This area of the brain, known as the limbic system, is the area of the brain associated with emotional regulation and fear responses. The brain stem, represented by the wrist, is the oldest part of the brain and controls necessary bodily functions like breathing and heart rate. The frontal lobe, represented by the fingers, is the last area of the brain to develop and it is involved with all higher forms of functioning and reasoning. It wraps around the center part of the brain and acts a control board for emotional and behavioral responses.

As a child develops, the connections between all areas of the brain grow stronger. The term, “flipping your lid” can be seen on a neurological level. As seen in the illustration, a strong emotional/fear response results in a dissociation between the frontal lobe and the center of the brain. The brain essentially flips its lid as the frontal reasoning area of the brain loses its ability to control the central fear responses of the brain.

The neurons that connect the frontal lobe to the center of the brain continue to develop until an individual’s mid-20’s. This does not mean that children are excused from out-of-control behavior. More so, this demonstrates the importance of educating children and helping them build those connections as they continue to develop. Talking to children before and after emotional outbursts stimulates growth in the brain’s neural fibers and helps them better regulate their reactions in the future.

Its exciting to see the science that helps explain children’s behavior and even more exciting to know that the time we spend talking with our children and students really makes a difference!


Created by Ally DeMaagd, Social Work Intern

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Self Care: A New Years Resolution

Parents, this one is for you…..


As we begin a new year, the topic of New Year’s Resolutions always come up.  If you are anything like me, you always make one, even though you know you’re going to forget about it, get busy or disinterested….And what do you know…..February comes around and you have forgotten what your resolution even was!  


Resolutions are hard to maintain, especially if you are trying to make a big change…..but they always reel us in with the promised freshness of a new year.  


I say all of this to say, I’m sorry.  I have a New Year’s Resolution for you (and for me).


It’s called self care.  You most likely have heard of it, it’s everywhere nowadays.  Doctors and Mental Health Professionals have recognized the need for moments to destress to cope with a stressful life.  However, self care is first and foremost taking good care of yourself.  Sounds simple, but if we all stop to think about it– do we really care for ourselves as well as we take care of other people?


As parents, or as adults in general, we are encouraged to be selfless and feel guilty when we are not.  Too often we get busy thinking of other people…..thinking about what our kids need, what our boss wants, what that person at the checkout counter thought of us, what other family members need….the list is endless.


This is a mental load that we carry with us all of the time.  When it is not addressed it is compounded into toxic stress.  Toxic stress is just that, it is toxic.  It is detrimental to your physical health, mental health, emotional health, relationships….the list is endless.  


When we take time to intentionally care for ourselves we take our mental load off for a minute, unpack the unnecessary things from it and recharge.  


Contrary to popular belief, self care is not simply getting your nails done, buying something you really want, or sleeping in.  These are all really nice things, but they can be short lived and financially stressful.  To truly practice self care, we have to take steps to minimize our stress, recharge our purpose, and check in with our emotional state.  


This is hard to do in a busy life.  Tricky emotions, stressors and concerns are put on the back burner, but they never go away- do they?  We lug them around daily.  Sometimes the weight is noticeable and sometimes it’s not.


For the next couple of weeks I will be exploring the concept of self care.  I will research and provide tools for us to start 2018 off with self awareness and compassion.  I hope you’ll tune in, but if you fall off the bandwagon after a week….no judgment!  It’s here if you need it 🙂  


Created by Grace Jackson, Social Work Intern

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Habit #4: Think Win-Win

When fishing for crabs, a fisherman will drop the catch into a shallow basket. The crabs are fully capable of climbing out, but they are unable to escape. Why is this?

As the crabs attempt to climb over the short walls of the basket, other crabs crawl on top of them and they fall back to the bottom. The fight for escape leaves all the crabs trapped. No one wins, except the fisherman of course.

The crab’s behavior exemplifies the lose-lose paradigm. Unfortunately, this behavior is not exclusive to crabs. How often do we compete instead of co-operate or try it on our own rather than seek help from others. Interdependence is the ability to lean on the support of others and giving others someone to lean on in exchange.

Habit # 4 focuses on the success paradigm. The frameworks include, win-win, win-lose, lose-lose, and win-win or no deal. It is normal to wonder if our success hinges on the failure of others. We compete for status, resources, employment, and maybe a few deals during the black Friday sales events.

Choosing win-win is very different than letting everyone else win (lose-win). It is also different than collectively giving up (lose-lose). It does not come with the caveat of an ultimatum (win-win, or else…) Thinking win-win celebrates success. It acknowledges the achievements of others without threatening the success of oneself. The market mindset of the American society encourages us to be competitive thinkers. Additionally, we use competition as a motivational strategy. However, learning to embrace a win-win mindset strengthens the social support needed for everyone to achieve more. The handy TEAM slogan helps children and even adults remember this mindset: Together Everyone Achieves More.

This month I encourage you to reach out and support someone who may need a hand. In return, accept the support of others. This exchange is a win-win and will hopefully free us from feeling like a basket of crabs.

Created by Ally DeMaagd, Social Work Intern

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My Plate is Full

Thanksgiving is a really great time of the year to check in with yourself and with your family and be thankful of the many blessings we have received. In our everyday lives it’s so easy to get bogged down by stress, commitments, frustrations, and perhaps even hurt that we experience. It is important that as parents and educators we strive for an attitude of gratitude for our kids to witness but most importantly, for ourselves. Take some time to sit down and write down all you’re thankful for, it will help for this next exercise!

What you will need:

Paper Plate
(Or whatever decorative supplies you want)


Draw or write a representation of your blessings on a paper plate. Think about the people you love, the roles you play, the many things you enjoy, etc. Write whatever blessings you want and then present your paper plate to the family. In this exercise you are recognizing the things you are grateful for and in sharing those things, your family will be able to know what you hold dear. These connections are important for family communication and respect.

Try it and see what you think!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Grace Jackson
Social Work Intern

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November: Habit #3 Put First Things First

It’s already November. Where has the time gone? Every year I am amazed how fast time flies. The first marking period is upon us and acknowledging the third habit seems quite fitting for this time of year.

Work first, then play.

As adults, we know how important it is to teach children to complete their work first before they play. We encourage them to get ready for school, complete their homework, and finish their chores before watching television, playing with friends, or going outside. It is difficult for most children to work first, then play. However, we can all agree that time management is a challenging task for adults as well.

“Be assured that you’ll always have time for the things you put first.”
– Liane Steele


Stephan Covey addressed time management in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He included this time management matrix that divides the way we spend our time into four quadrants. This concept can also be demonstrated with the analogy of large jar filled with rocks and sand. The jar represents time, let’s say 24 hours. The rocks represent the many different jobs, tasks, and commitments that must be completed that day.

Quadrant I can be represented by big rocks. These are the tasks and responsibilities that you must get done. They are both urgent and important and may include, appointments, emergencies, and the necessities of daily life.
Quadrant II includes important tasks that are not urgent. These tasks are also big rocks, but they might get left in the dust when compared to the urgent, less important tasks in Quadrant III. They include activities such as planning, recreation, exercise, family time, and self-care. The Quadrant III tasks are represented by sand because although they are less important, theoretically smaller in size, they can fill the jar very quickly. They may include phone calls, obligations, being a “yes man,” and completing unproductive errands. These tasks demand our attention but too often fill the majority of our time.

Finally, Quadrant IV are the tasks that are not urgent and unimportant. These tasks can be beneficial in small amounts. Think of these as the water that fills around the gaps of the rocks and sand. If the jar was filled to the brim with water, there would be absolutely no room for rocks and sand. Quadrant IV tasks demand balance. There should always be room for winding down, but certainly after important and urgent tasks have been given priority.

During this time of year, there never seems to be enough hours in the day. I encourage you to fill your jar with the big rocks first. Make sure there’s room for your family and for yourself. The sand will fill the gaps and doesn’t have to fill the whole jar. Add some water and relax. As you teach your children how to put first things first, remember the importance of what is taking precedence.

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”
-Micheal Altshuler


Submitted by Allison DeMaagd, Social Work Intern

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End of the Day Family Check In

A great way to end the day is with a family check in. One of my favorite activities is the Body Parts Exercise. Either print or draw pictures of an Eye, Hand, Smile, Heart, Brain, Ear and Gut and split them evenly among the group playing. Go around the group and have everyone answer the following questions based on body part they received.

This activity is a great way to work on verbal communication with your child and family. It requires critical thinking and verbalizing emotions and is a nice reflective way to end the day. Try it with your family this week!

Submitted by Grace Jackson, Social Work Intern

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