Episode 2: Karen stein

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Episode 2: KAren Stein

FOUR WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT curiosity, creativity And collaboration


Have you heard of the term ‘impression management?’ I hadn’t.

It’s a term that describes the very human process of self-filtering, something we all do to try and control how others perceive us, and it starts as early as childhood. Like anything, a healthy dose has its advantage. But when the desire to ‘fit in’ and ‘be accepted’ dominates, it can hold back the creativity and imagination we all want to see expressed by the next gen. In the episode, executive coach Karen Stein shares her knowledge of psychological safety, and how we can provide the right conditions to amplify the possibilities and potential in the people we work with, young and old. If you’re looking for practical, evidence based tips to build belonging, creativity, courage and compassion in your learning space, then brew yourself a cuppa and grab a pen! This one’s for you.

about Karen

Karen Stein is an experienced Executive Coach and Deloitte University Faculty Member whose business experience stems from close to 30 years in the professional services industry. Karen currently provides leadership coaching to evolving senior leaders, supporting them with achieving their professional goals. Her interest in coaching from a positive psychology perspective was furthered through her completion of a Masters of Science in Coaching Psychology, graduating from the University of Sydney. Karen’s passion aligns with coaching female business leaders towards sustainable long term careers in business roles which match their purpose and values.

Connect with Karen over on LinkedIn

"Imagine if every day, we just stopped and considered the three things that we've done well, today. How much more resilient we would be.."

~ Karen Stein

Mariane  I’m Mariane Power, co-founder of The Posify Group, and your host for today’s episode. And I’m thrilled to be joined by Karen Stein, an experienced Executive Coach and Deloitte University Faculty Member who brings to our conversation today a depth of business experience stemming from close to 30 years in the professional services industry. Karen currently provides leadership coaching to evolving senior leaders, supporting them with achieving their professional goals. Her interest in coaching from a positive psychology perspective was furthered through her completion of a Masters of Science in Coaching Psychology, graduating from the University of Sydney. Karen’s passion aligns with coaching female business leaders towards sustainable long term careers in business roles which match their purpose and values. A career aspiration I know many of our listeners will relate to. So welcome, Karen! Karen  Thanks, Mariane, I’m thrilled to be with you.  Mariane Karen, one of the things I truly admire about you, as a human, and I’ve shared this with you before, is the authentic way by which you walk your own talk when it comes to living a life of purpose. And you and I met through, actually, our mutual voluntary coaching contribution to the leadership community at Bambuddha Group, and I understand this is just one of the many organisations that you lend your expertise and time to. So if it’s okay with you, I wondered if you could share with our listeners, how you think voluntary work has shaped your understanding of yourself and the world around you. Karen  Well, I absolutely love connecting with people and learning more about what’s important and meaningful to them. I really feel energised by those types of connections. And certainly the voluntary work I do has stemmed from providing coaching to clients and not for profits. Bambuddha, as you mentioned, where it’s been wonderful getting to know you, and also through clients through Dress for Sucess, where I also do some volunteer coaching. And really coaching with these organisations has allowed me to learn from a diverse range of people who experience a diverse variety of issues. From these connections, I feel I gained so much because my perspectives on issues and how I understand the world have broadened. And in talking to them, I feel I’m gaining deeper insights. And this is what is shaping me. So it’s a wonderful opportunity to learn from those I coach and further develop my empathy, Stand in their shoes, and I think that this supports me, Mariane, to be an improved human centred coach. Mariane  There’s so many points you’ve just spoken to there, I love that human centeredness, and one of the things that we talk about in terms of the next generation is really building those empathy muscles and the ability to stand in somebody else’s shoes, perspective taking, these are really important skills for the future of work, which you, I imagine would be able to speak to with your insights from industry? Can you share a little bit? Because we’re going to move into a conversation about how we can foster that in the classroom. But how are these human skills showing up in the workplace at the moment, as you’re noticing them? Karen  Well, absolutely, there’s a huge focus on this and particularly in an environment that we’re in at the moment and working with, with COVID. And having to be much more aware and understanding of different people’s experiences, we’re certainly finding that people are moving towards more of that human centred leadership and, and trying to create environments where people feel that they can be their best selves, where they can come in an authentic way and be well supported.  You know, we’re changing our working environments from when we were all sitting face to face, to one where we’re in more of a hybrid environment or currently all working from home. So it’s using compassion and patience, and in checking in and making sure people are okay to cope with the loads they have. Cope with the loads of work, cope with the loads at home, all the different environmental conditions, some things which are in our control, some things which are not. And I think that there’s more of a teaming, we’re all in this together. So, it’s how do we make the best of these situations? How do we allow people to be at their best? And how do we support each other in these new working conditions? So certainly more of a focus on you know, the old style controlling command and moving to much more of a human centred approach. Have purposeful leadership where people are connecting with people as they are. Mariane  It’s so good to hear you saying that because we’re certainly seeing the need for that, obviously, in our learning spaces again, that have gone hybrid here in Australia as well as overseas.  One of the obstacles that we hear from young people who are wanting to get started in their careers or taking on voluntary opportunities is their own fears of not being good enough or not knowing where to start. And I know for a lot of educators, this is showing up in the classroom, even with little people. So today, I’m so excited to get your insights, because I know that you’ve got a lot to share on how we as teachers, parents, adults, educators, can really create safe learning environments for our children as they begin to explore their own unique skills, strengths and values and play with creativity and innovation and stretch their empathy muscles. But before we go on for those in our audience who might not yet be so familiar with the concept, can you share what we’re talking about when when we speak about psychological safety? And it showed up in the workplace, and we’re going to talk about it in education. But first, if we could, if you wouldn’t mind, unpack the construct a little further. Karen  Yeah, absolutely. So psychological safety is a belief and it’s a belief that you’re able to show up and be oneself without any fear of negative consequences of humiliation or embarrassment. And the term was coined by Amy Edmondson, she was a Harvard Business professor of leadership and management. And she coined this back in 1999, when she was completing research, understanding high performing teams. And what it actually was set out to say was psychological safety occurs when you feel accepted and respected. It’s a belief that the workplace or in this case, the classroom is safe, so you can show up, you can bring your best self, your differences, your ideas, your voice, and you can do so without being constrained by any impression management or feeling at risk of humiliation or embarrassment. It’s kind of often, you know, that term ‘impression management’ is often well understood when we contrast situations of low psychological safety. And these arise where we protect ourselves through impression management. In other words, when we worry about what people think of us, we take control by not contributing, and we don’t want to embarrass ourselves. So we try really hard, you know, to avoid looking silly or incompetent or perhaps negatively minded or ignorant, because people always want to be seen in the best light. And when they feel at risk of humiliation or embarrassment, they alter their behaviours. And by controlling how much we participate, we can avoid being judged or embarrassed for not knowing an answer, or being thought of as incompetent or otherwise. So until such time as we feel safe from a risk of embarrassment or humiliation, we’ll have low psychological safety, we modify our behaviours accordingly. That’s the impression management that I’ve referenced. And this limits our participation and engagement as a result. Mariane  Oh, I can imagine there are so many teachers and parents in the audience thinking right now of all of the times that perhaps they’ve found themselves having to manage themselves, and the word ‘imposter syndrome’ is popping up. Because I know in the literature, a lot of people will have been thinking about that, but also impression management in the classroom, for our little people! My heart almost breaks a little bit when I think of them needing to, or perceiving that they need to control what they share or what they explore. Tell me a little bit more about psychological safety, and how we might be able to model it to make sure that our that our children feel safe to explore the whole selves. Karen  Absolutely. And it’s, you know, you talk about the little people, I think it extends all the way through to the big people. Because it’s all through from when you first start having some awareness of what people might think of you in your lives all the way through to adulthood. But psychological safety has a key role to play in the learning environment. There’s lots of research which demonstrates that when we’re under stress, our capacity to learn to process information, or even to think in abstract forms and solve complex problems, that becomes diminished. Because when, as a child or an adult, we’re in a learning environment, and we don’t have psychological safety. In other words, we feel that risk of humiliation or embarrassment, we’re less likely to be in a state where we can be at our best and learn and grow. It’s that related anxiety and stress which results from that vulnerability that’s going to increase and as a result, our capacity to learn can be impeded.  So knowing that, you know, the question I’d ask is, how can a psychologically safe environment be created to allow learning and growth? How do you create a climate with mutual respect, where people feel they’re comfortable being themselves. And I like to throw in a model by a gentleman called Timothy Clarke, and he wrote a book called ‘The Four Stages of Psychological Safety’. And he set out a really neat way with this model, which has four conditions, which enable us to understand whether we’ve created psychological safety and I thought, perhaps we could utilise those to understand how and what we need to do to enable people to feel at ease. Would, would that work for you?  Mariane That sounds fantastic. Because one of the things I often hear particularly from teachers is all of these concepts are so big. And so having a framework to really break it down and work from would be so useful. Thank you.  Karen Oh, absolutely. Well, his framework, as I said, has four steps to it. So he says that human beings will feel included, safe to learn, safe to contribute and safe to challenge the status quo, or without any fear of embarrassment or margialisation, or punishment. When that occurs, they will feel psychologically safe. So if we step through each of those that might be helpful for for our listeners, the first one, ‘feel included’. What do we mean by that? Well, within a learning environment, we can set the tone so we can assist our students from the moment they walk into the classroom, and simply sharing a smile or a wave or ‘hello’, when people arrive in the learning space that’s really going to create the tone. And if we are mindful of our behaviours, our vocal tones, we can create an atmosphere where the first step that people have is is feeling included. And this makes me think of those videos that I’ve seen whether it’s on Instagram, or Facebook, or one of those things. It’s those videos of some wonderful teachers who are welcoming their students at the classroom door with these distinct individual handshakes which they’ve memorised for each child.  (laugh – I’ve seen those! Have you seen them? They’re gorgeous! Absolutely fantastic!) Absolutely, it’s certainly a way of showing everybody that they belong. And not that I’m suggesting that we all, you know, get into these patterns of memorising these handshakes, but that’s just, you know, showing what can be done. It doesn’t have to be in that form. You know, there’s there’s certain things or small things and gestures that you can do to help people feel included. And the benefit of inclusion is when people feel included, they feel a sense of belonging or relatedness. And this builds their interpersonal confidence, which makes people feel at ease with others. And as a result, they’re much more relaxed in themselves, and they’re able to bring their best into a learning space. Mariane  Oh, and as you speak, there’s so many dots joining in my mind. We had the pleasure of interviewing Zach Mercurio, who spoke about the importance of mattering and those many moments of mattering that we can have. And I also have to reference, I have to take the opportunity. Have you come across Kelly Anne and Peggy Kern’s book, Belonging in the Classroom? (No, not yet) It’s a fantastic positive education resource that breaks down all the positive psychology strategies around how we can actually create belonging, and some of those non-verbal communication strategies that you were speaking to around, I think it’s so important not just what we say, but how we say it, and the energy that we bring into the classroom, or our learning spaces at home as parents. You know, what’s happened to us before we come in and work with our kids, because they’re very receptive to all of those subtle signals that perhaps we’re not observing within ourselves. So it sounds like even that self awareness pays within ourselves as important. Would you agree? Oh, absolutely. I Karen  Oh, absolutely. I think the more mindful we are, we… If we want to create a psychologically safe environment, as leaders, as teachers, educators, it’s, it’s up to us to embrace it, and to try and shape it. So being mindful of how you can include people is the very first step. And to your point, you know, the working from home, the teaching from home, it’s creating some interesting complexities, (yeah) to allow people to feel included. I mean, if you’re in the classroom, you could actually be listening and watching people’s behaviours and how they’re feeling. So you could, you could notice the responsiveness or lack of responsiveness from some, and you could take steps to invite people into the space, I call it making space.  So it could be as simple as noticing that one of your students tends to be dominating or a couple of dominating the space with all of their answers, and they’re eager and keen and perhaps a little more extroverted than some. And you can very kindly break that pattern and invite others to share their thoughts. And it could be really as simple as saying, you know, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Jerry, can I ask you just to pause for a moment, while we invite Joe to share their thoughts as we haven’t had a chance to hear from them, and we’ll be sure to come back to you. And so by doing this, we’re not only saying to the person who’s participating, we appreciate you participating, but we’re now opening the room. And doing this from home when we’re teaching I think is a really interesting piece. I’ve watched it and heard from my own kids, in the home environment, when you’re on these zoom calls, it’s really tricky to try and make people feel included, you know, some kids are on video, some not. And so I think it’s, it’s very helpful to try and ask the students to be on video where possible, so you can see each other because that’s the first part of feeling included. And then there’s a consciousness of inviting students to come off the mic when you know, and come, come off mute, rather, and come on to the mic where possible to contribute to the class. But again, that’s a big step for some because they’re putting themselves out there and there’s that risk of humiliation or embarrassment.  So another way that I like to do it when I’m teaching adults is to actually use the chat function and get people to contribute by throwing answers into the chat or using polls or the annotate function, so we can foster inclusion. And it could be rather than me standing there with my handshake, it could be as simple as when we start a lesson, asking everybody how they’re feeling and asking for them to put one word in the chat function to describe how they’re feeling. And it’s always fun to see how many are tired or sleepy or hungry, and so on. So it brings a bit of humour and lightness to it. But we can use the chat to engage because everybody can read how everyone else is. And so we suddenly have this sense of belonging. And you can extend it to even asking questions like, you ‘tell me which room of the house are you in at the moment’, or which suburb or which city you’re in. And again, it’s that sense of belonging, inclusion, we’re all here together. So I guess those are a few different tips that you can use in this alternate environment that we currently have.  Mariane  Thank you for bringing that practical lens. I think there are so many teachers right now navigating this change, who are really going to be diving in and using that chat function more and more. And so you mentioned that the second step was providing that safety to learn or a safe environment to learn as well? Karen  Yes. And when people feel safe to learn, they build their competencies, and their confidence increases, and they feel they’re more valued in their ability to contribute. So a couple of ways you can make it safe to learn is to really tell students that they’re not expected to have all the answers start with a growth mindset. And everybody would be familiar with the work of Carol Dweck. And the lovely word she uses about not being there ‘yet’. We’re not there yet is so powerful in a learning environment. So encouraging students to focus on the process of learning, rather than simply getting to the outcome can be very helpful and make them feel it’s a safe space to learn. And similarly learning from each other, teaching them to collaborate, how do you hear each other? How do you reframe and listen and enquire and actively be present while others are sharing their thoughts to make it safe to learn? So it’s, it’s about creating a culture to foster sharing of knowledge and help people bringing their strengths into a learning environment so they can feel the most at ease more confident, engaged and motivated towards a learning environment.  Mariane Yeah, for me, what comes up there is the concept of a beginner’s mind as well, and encouraging our children to to really put on their curiosity which is innate within them, isn’t it? But sometimes, as they start to become aware of other people and their impact in the world and, and and how they’re sitting. I guess that can get lost a little bit. So our role, as teachers and educators and parents, is to really continue fostering that, and probably fostering it within ourselves, would you agree? Karen  Oh, absolutely, I think curiosity is a wonderful thing. And the more that we can ask the question, why, and and even if, if we’re not hearing it from our students, if we can pose it for them, we can help them understand that this is a space where we want to expand our understanding, and make that environment something where we’re not simply teaching at them, but we’re teaching with them. So include them in the conversation, as opposed to lecture at them, where you know, it’s easy for students to switch off or not feel safe to ask questions, by including them, we can make it that safe space. So looking at different ways or exercises that we can generate some conversation or examples or, or maybe using different ways of learning whether it’s gamifying, or, or other types of techniques that might be suitable to make it a safe space for them to experiment and learn. Mariane  I love that it’s really moving away from that expert at the front of the classroom lecturing, isn’t it and more towards a collaborative learning environment? Karen  Yeah, when you think about it, as an adult, if, if you’re having somebody just telling you what to do all the time, you don’t feel any connection with it. So, you know, you might be helpful from a process point of view to know, well, yeah, these are the parameters in which I need to work, but it’s not giving me any meaning. And so if I understand why I can, you know, really open that up more, so so I feel more connected with the learning, and I’m able to embrace it and feel more motivated to continue to learn it. I think it’s a similar type of frame that we can use in the classroom. Mariane  Absolutely. Which I imagine brings us to the next point of the framework, which is the safe to contribute. Karen  Yes, yes. So the third one, when people feel safe to contribute, they feel they’re able to make a difference. So they feel of worth and value and their competencies, they can have them recognised, and this obviously builds their self worth. So they’re leaning in and bringing their best self. So I think that the key thing here is, feeling safe to contribute, people should know it’s okay to make mistakes, you know, talk about the fact that we don’t have all the answers and we need support. And the simplest way to do so is invite students to ask questions. Because knowing it’s okay to ask a question can can bolster self confidence they know they have permission to play. And so it’s safe to contribute. And sometimes people say what happens if I get no questions? You can imagine those quiet classrooms, when you ask who’s got a question and there’s silence? Epexially on zoom! I think you could tackle that by asking one out loud for them. Show them how to inquire and discover more.  So you could say something like ‘you may be thinking, what’s the relevance of how of this concept to how we live our lives? Or? I’ve been wondering about how we make sense of this’ or ‘the question which puzzles me the most is’, and you could go on and explore it. And if we if we roleplay for them, how to ask a question. Sometimes it’s easier for the students to pick up on that, that it’s appropriate and safe to contribute in that way. And I’m hearing my subject matter expert teacher, ask questions and demonstrate that they don’t have all the answers. I think also from a team point of view, it’s not uncommon that we have exercises where we’ve got people working in groups or in teams. And I think if we help students understand how they engage with each other in a safe way, as teammates, they can help understand that it’s safe to contribute. So perhaps it’s setting up some ground rules of how to do a project together, how they can collaborate, communicate, and so on. And even you know, what happens if you guys have have a point of dissent or you disagree on something, what’s a nice, easy process you could use to make sure you’re still together still supporting each other, so you feel safe to participate and contribute.  And the last thing I suggest is using gratitude, because thanking people for their contribution can be a beautiful way to boost their positive emotional effect. And this, of course, improves their wellbeing, their motivation, their engagement, and makes it feel like a very safe place to contribute. So I like to bring gratitude into an educational space. Karen  So much so and I can only imagine the protective power that has all that impression management of people as being seen and their experiences and their and their thoughts and contributions are being valued. Surely, that’s got to do magic for a young person in the classroom. Mariane  Absolutely. I mean, just just hearing back having something that you shared with the team replayed or reframed, and knowing that you’ve been heard, can make you feel so valued. So I think there’s a huge space for this interconnected dialogue that’s going to happen with the teachers and the students to make it psychologically safe. And the last point I’m particularly interested in, because it’s around contributing to the status quo and challenging a little bit so can you tell us more about that?  Karen Oh, sure. Sure. When when you feel that you can share your point of view and hear your voice amongst others and particularly without any fear of of that retribution. And you can share perhaps diverse or unusual view that builds your confidence and so, to do so, I like to encourage healthier respectful debate. Yeah, I really like the term, respectful dissent. So you can role model how this can be achieved. So people can demonstrate divergent views and invite students to identify different ways of solving problems. And this can help students understand it’s okay to challenge the status quo, they can move away from group-think, where it’s really just easy to lean into what the majority is thinking and not have to exercise my voice or my thoughts to show them another way.  And so I like to draw this to students’ attentions, by saying things like, ‘we all seem to be in agreement, this is a useful way to solve this problem. But what would be a completely different way of solving this problem?’ Or, ‘how else could we approach this?’ And by doing that, we want people to be open to possibility and experimentation. We want people to explore and to share insights. And and when people are doing that, without any fear of embarrassment or humiliation, they’re going to be much more inclined to remain open minded to what’s possible, rather than focus on what’s impossible. Mariane  Absolutely. And it’s that shift, if you like, into more of a strengths based framework, they can really open up some interesting discussions. But I have to ask a question, because I’m thinking of the listener in our audience who might potentially be involved with a classroom of adolescents, who are all in a developmental phase of wanting to really challenge the status quo, some, some pretty as, I guess, siloed views on what might be happening. How is educators can we, on the one hand, provide a psychologically safe environment that promotes belonging and encourages them to speak up and, and share some of these different ways of challenging and at the same time, like you said before, pop in place says healthy boundaries, and expand, this is probably more than one question, expand our students mind into more of a systems thinking metric. We’re juggling a lot as educators in the classroom here. Karen  Oh, for sure, for sure. And I love the idea of of that systems mindset, because the more that we bring to their attention, that things won’t stay the same, we have to understand the dynamics that emerge through different interactions of play, whether it’s, you know, a change in the timetable, or a change in the bell time. Or perhaps it’s a rainy day. So the weather has impacted what we can or can’t do, or maybe the zoom call has fallen apart. And there all of these things that emerge. If we can help them understand how they can build their resilience, and responsiveness to these and how they can help us come up with solutions to some of these problems. And you know, and of course, it’s many more complex problems, what I’ve just given in those examples, and it’s going to allow them to feel encouraged to bring their point of view. And so if we’re demonstrating the boundaries of a respectful debate, by actually helping them frame it, and giving them examples and bringing them back. So as I often think of the educator is also a facilitator or a coach. So how do I set the boundaries of where we’re going to play? And how do I make sure that they know what the rules are of play so that we can be sure that we’re playing fairly, and with inclusion and diversity and encouragement. But when, as you’ve mentioned, people are pushing the boundaries, I think as the the educator, as coach, we need to bring them back in within the boundaries to show them, you know why it makes sense for us to hold the conversation in that particular space. So sometimes it might be pausing people and asking them just to hold a thought or two, you know, sometimes it’s even just drawing those, putting those points to the side on a whiteboard and just saying that these are some additional thoughts that are coming out, let’s just put them here for the moment. Some people refer to them as car parks. Let’s park those thoughts over here. Some people refer to them as the rabbit holes that we’re beginning to go through, let’s you know, make sure we don’t go too deep. But just even letting them know, okay, we’re diverging away from what our problem was or where we were hoping to go within this system. Let’s see what we can solve first and then come to those issues later. Mariane  They all sound like fantastic tips. And I have to say at Posify, we are huge fans of the car park because we tend to go on big explorations ourselves. It’s a very practical tip to hear hear thoughts, particularly in the brainstorming phases, but to be able to hold it over somewhere else, so we can come back in and focus on where we’re at. And for all of our listeners today, I’ll also pop a link into the show notes, say, without boundaries, healthy boundaries, resource that we have for teachers and our teacher toolkit. It might help to bring some of these ideas that we’re speaking with Karen today to life as well.  Thank you, Karen. We’ve got a really lovely introduction to the concept of psychological safety and four step framework that we can all start to lean in and consider as we’re educating our young people. I wonder if we could turn our focus and attention for the moment to how this might relate terms of promoting inclusivity and diversity and acceptance of have different types of brains, one of the groups that we work quite closely with around us, neuro diverse community, and specifically twice exceptional kids who are incredibly bright and gifted in lots of ways, but because of the neuro diverse characters that they show up with so being ADHD, or on the spectrum, or specific learning disabilities, have developed coping mechanisms that sometimes mean that they feel, I guess, embarrassed to share their thoughts, or they need to filter their behaviour in a way in order to ‘fit in’. In what ways do you think we could start to consider psychological safety and its role to promote inclusive learning and contribution from these students? Karen  And I think that’s that’s a really interesting question, because it makes me think of what we were discussing earlier, in our podcast today around that impression management. So what I’m hearing is, you’re describing situations where because they perceive a weakness in themselves, they’re managing their difference by not participating. And yeah, psychological safety is supporting more inclusive environments. So by allowing people to show oneself without any fear of those negative consequences, you can show up and bring your best self, your differences, your ideas, your voice, without so much being constrained. So I think we want to imagine an environment where people are filled and encouraged to feel at ease, and they can bring their best self and have their differences celebrated. In that case, they wouldn’t have that feeling of or need for avoidance. So it’s really I think it’s the educators our role to try and create a culture which promotes that inclusion and diversity where students are really encouraged to be their authentic selves and encouraged to learn and grow. And I think, you know, if we turned to the broader classroom of the border, educating environment, if, if we can recognise how diversity of views and approaches increases innovation, that’s an awesome way to create a culture of inclusion. Because if we know that we can learn from other people’s approaches to problem solving, we can broaden our own perspectives. And we can have greater capacity to build solutions to complex problems.  So the more that we can, you know, lift that metaphorical torch and see more of what’s different around us, we’re going to be better informed, and we can all increase our learnings and our capacity to innovate. So I guess I’d really be focusing on that culture of, of what can I do, to influence to nudge to alter the current conditions to try and assist those students with feeling a much greater sense of ease and comfort in being able to participate without that impression management or fear of, you know, the fear of the avoidance, which is coming with their behaviours. Mariane  I couldn’t agree with you more. And as you spoke to earlier, now, more than ever, really, we need such a diverse range of perspectives and ways of seeing the world to solve some of the wicked challenges that we’re facing, not just here in Australia, but globally.  And look, I think we’re speaking to an audience of very compassionate adults who are really wanting to understand children. So I hope, I’m sure, all of these tips are going to be very practical for them to apply into the classroom. Well, before I let you go, Karen, and thank you so much for sharing all your insights. I wonder if we could leave on a bit of a magic one question. It’s it’s an activity we like to use with our kids to inspire some big thinking but also to remove, I guess, the responsibility or the expectation that they’re going to ‘get it right’. So I’m going to encourage you to really Dream Big here and share your imagination. (I’ll give it a go.) Okay. Great! I wonder if you could if I could wave a magic wand right now, and you could bring to life a vision of of future of our learning spaces, what are three things or three differences that we notice straight away? And how would they be supporting our children? Karen  Oh, you know, given that we’ve been speaking about psychological safety, I think my mind automatically goes there. And I imagine a world where children feel in a safe environment, where teachers are facilitators, have a thorough understanding of how they can positively impact their students through creating such environments. And, you know, this would really support our kids in bringing their best self into an educational environment, feeling safe to learn, contribute, feel included, and so on. And so the confidence of our children would be higher, their wellbeing would be greater. That would be the first thing that I’d say, I’d extend that to the second, which would be not only with the focus beyond our students, but imagine if we had the same level of psychological safety across our teaching professionals. And you think about the work culture that could be created, where they feel psychologically safe, and so our educators can be the best they can be. Imagine the ripple effect of that into the classroom. If you take that to the interactions across teachers, in the staff rooms, or in teachers meetings, or across the hierarchies of school, and so on, consider how this can also benefit creating a culture of psychological safety with increased engagement and job satisfaction and productivity and motivation. You know, real optimism from our teachers, the ripple effect would be sensational. And the last thing that I would picture is really also thinking about how we view ourselves in an educational space. And I’d see a space where people focus on what we do well. And I take this from the thinking and learnings of organisational psychologist, Adam Grant, and he had a lovely conversation with Sheryl Sandberg about this. And they shared that we often think about the things we don’t do right or that we get wrong. But imagine if every day, we just stopped and considered the three things that we’ve done well, today. How much more resilient we would be. And so that act of self compassion, where we talk to ourselves as we would a kind friend, and really focus on what we’re doing well, can build our resilience. So I would say an environment where we’re building much more resilient students, where we have safety for our students through psychological safety, and importantly, where we have psychologically safe work environments for our educators. Mariane  That is definitely a learning environment I will be very happy to be a part of, to learn from, and contribute to   Karen Well, I suggest that in many cases where there are on our way. So it’s just not a situation in which we’re describing which is too much of a dream, I think that we have  many educators who are very attuned to helping students to be their best and making them feel included and, and making it a safe space to learn and also conscious of the impact that they have across their workplace with others. So I think if we just dial that up somewhat, it’ll just be exceptional. Mariane  I love that. Taking the approach of what’s working well, and how can we do more of it. And I couldn’t agree more. So many of us now starting to think systemically. And I think your magic wand has pointed to the magic within that space. So thank you for sharing it. I hope it inspires others to start asking questions.  Mariane  Okay, with that magic, one question in mind, and some beautiful things for us all to start thinking quite optimistically and realistically about, is there another hope dream or vision specifically for next gen that you’d like to leave with with? Karen  I’d say my great hope is that, we will soon be able to open up the world once again, for the next gen, and allow them to be able to experience the joys of travel, whether it’s domestically or globally. And I hope it’s globally because the lessons we can learn from engaging with different people in different cultures and different locations and environments are just fabulous. And so my hope is that in, you know, hopefully, in the month and the year to come, we’ll have our borders reopened, we’ll have people back on those jet planes zooming across the world to, to lovely locations, meeting new people, and experiencing the world in a in a new way. And from there, their perspectives will be brightened and broadened. And their growth will come with that too. So that’s my hope for them. Mariane  And I can say, I’ll be joining them on the plane. (I’ll be there with you) I think we’ll all be itching to get back out there and explore. And Karen, before I let you go, I’m sure our listeners are going to want to get in touch and learn more about the wonderful work that you’re doing. Obviously, with Deloitte as well and your role there with leadership coaching, and outside of Deloitte, your voluntary contributions and coaching contributions. Where can we best get in touch with you? Karen Oh, you know, I think the simplest way is via my LinkedIn profile, you’ll be able to find my contact details there. And I’d be happy to to make a new connection. As I said, I’m always energised by meeting new people. Mariane Ah thank you, Karen. Well, thank you very much for joining us. You’ve been listening to Classroom 5.0. And we look forward to seeing you next time. See you later alligators.

"So by allowing people to show oneself without any fear of those negative consequences, you can show up and bring your best self, your differences, your ideas, your voice, without so much being constrained."

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Jenna O'Connell

Jenna is a teacher and careers advisor, with a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Drama & Performance), Bachelor of Education (K-12), and Graduate Certificate in Education Studies (Careers & Transitions).

Jenna is in her element when she is helping people and organisations discover their unique magic, and working with them in sharing this magic with the world to drive positive change. Her background sees an amalgam of over 15 years across corporate and education sectors, with extensive experience in curriculum development, coaching, facilitation, and mentorship. In addition to her work at The Posify Group, Jenna loves driving change in her local community as an Education Officer for Port Macquarie Hastings Council.

With helping others at the core of her personal purpose, Jenna contributes to various local youth projects and initiatives. Throughout 2017-2018, she mentored local youth in their project, Cards For Change, who went on to win a $2000 Pitch Project grant. She also volunteers for The Luminosity Youth Summit, is the Youth Ambassador Program Coordinator for Dyslexia Mid North Coast, and a proud ambassador for and presenter at #LitFest2444. 

Outside of her purpose work, you’ll find Jenna building forts and kicking soccer balls with her little guy or in her Dojo kicking goals towards her Tae Kwon Do black belt.

Mariane Power

Mariane, known affectionately as Mazz, is a Clinical Psychology Registrar and holds a Masters in Clinical Psychology from the University of Newcastle, a Graduate Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Performance.

Mariane’s big audacious goal is to see all unnecessary emotional pain and suffering eliminated within her lifetime, and she is obsessed with all things related to human potential. Mariane has over 15 years experience in consulting, facilitation and corporate training for personal and strategic growth. Her work as a Leadership Consultant in the corporate world and Psychologist in her Child and Adolescent Clinic further fuels her understanding of the necessary skills for 21st century success for the Next Gen.

Mariane is proud to have extended her personal purpose to support a number of not-for-profit and for-purpose initiatives including The Luminosity Summit, Project Gen Z and Ambisie. Her most recent pro-bono contribution involved designing and delivering the Coach 2020 program for Bambuddha Group, a leadership development organisation fostering kind leaders for a better world. In her spare time, you’ll find Mazz holding a spontaneous dance party in her kitchen and taking in all the coast has to offer with her family here in Port Macquarie. 


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