Engaging & Healing Differences: Five Habits of the Heart*

Susan Kaplan
Music Therapy Track
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Engaging & Healing Differences focuses on Five Habits of the Heart, a practice of fresh and meaningful conversations.  Using the Five Habits of the Heart, you will experience how to use these habits through movement ideas, reflection activities and songs. This program creates a safe place to talk about what really matters in our schools.  Conflicts arise between students (and adults) often based on differences ~ of opinions & beliefs, across racial or religious differences, based on external distinctions (i.e. dress or food), and our lived experiences of individual “truth”.  This program is an important exploration and supports other socio-emotional skill based programs.

The word “heart” comes from the Latin word cor, which is also the root for the word “courage”.  Students are invited to use courage and heart (that deeper place of knowing) to step back from conflicts and differences.  The Five Habits of the Heart, illustrated through stories, poems and other writing prompts, include:

  • An understanding that we are all in this together
  • An appreciation of the value of “otherness”
  • An ability to hold tensions in life-giving ways
  • A sense of personal voice and agency
  • A capacity to create community

Who can benefit?  This program is for 5th grade to High School students, parents,  family night, teachers, staff and the whole school community. 

This interactive workshop will provide experience with Guidelines for Showing Up, Open & Honest Questions for listening more deeply, and one of the Five Habits.  Come experience a playful yet serious experience of creating meaningful conversations.

*Five habits of the heart is inspired by the book by Parker Palmer, Healing the Heart of Democracy:   The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit, and curriculum adapted for 5th grade and up from the Center for Courage & Renewal.


Susan Kaplan, M.S.W., M.P.A., R.Y.T., believes reflective and compassionate listening is essential for living an undivided life.  To sustain our professional lives, we must explore questions, rather than having to find “the right answer”.    These practices help us bring balance and clarity to our lives.  Listening & Leading From Within®, is Susan’s invitation to hear what truly matters to me and to you. She works with school communities, organizations and community groups.


As a Courage & Renewal Facilitator®, Susan provides: Seasonal, Courage to Teach, and Cross-Professional Leadership Development Retreats; Walking with Loss – finding light amongst the shattered pieces; Engaging & Healing Differences for Schools; and Colorado Courage Diversity Initiative.

She is a Certified Trainer Candidate (Center for Nonviolent Communication) and Rocky Mountain Compassionate Communication Network Facilitator, providing life-enriching programs based on Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication, i.e. Living a Compassionate Life; The Heart of Parenting & Teaching; Change the Face of Anger; Dealing with Difficult People; Bridging Introverts & Extroverts; Healing Generational Pain; and Power of Empathy.   Susan is a Storyteller & Story Listener® for peace wrestling, Yoga Teacher, an early childhood provider, and a Restorative Justice School Facilitator (Olive Branch Resolution).  She has written a children’s story “Learning to be A Mensch”, in Frijoles, Elotes, y Chipotles, Oh My! & Other Tummy Tales and Engaging  & Healing Differences Workbook.   

Susan Kaplan's website