Friday, November 20, 2015

Social Emotional Learning

Over the last month, I have been taking a class on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) to have a better idea of what it is, and how to implement it into my program/school. We have covered topics that cary from climate and culture, to implementation, advocacy, and last but not least- the data that drives this amazing teaching.  One of our "homework" assignments was to make an elevator pitch to one of stakeholders to educate them on the effectiveness of SEL. I wanted to share it with you to empower you to show your school the level of achievement a school can have, just by implementing SEL.

Today I am here to speak to the board about the importance of social-emotional learning, and the influence it can have on teacher effectiveness and bullying in and around our school. When we talk about Social emotional learning, many of us think of a character education class that students may have, or a school wide program that meets once a month to discuss the character trait of the month.  Social emotional learning is that, but it is also so much more. It is what needs to be spoken of and taught throughout the entire day, from Monday through Friday, September to June.

Interesting survey on what we call SEL
Social emotional learning is teaching students the skills, dispositions, and essential life habits that can make them develop appropriately and mindfully. We are teaching moral and performance character to those who might not be learning those skills outside the classroom. When we teach the WHOLE child- the academic, the social, the emotional, the developmental parts- we are teaching children self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and decision making. While some jobs in the “real world” require mathematics, and reading, ALL jobs in the “real world” require us to think independently, work with others, and problem solve positive solutions. Without social emotional learning, we will be building a generation of robots who are great at academics and reciting information, but have no personal skills to interact with those around them, and feel empathy towards others.  When we start to teach our students these skills, the school culture and climate can begin to change. No longer are we seeing students using hurtful words, bullying, causing fights. We see conflict resolution, intentional words shared to problem solve solutions to issues, and empathy towards the other person.

School climate and culture refers to the values and shared beliefs of our stakeholders (teachers, parents, students, administration) who create our “norms”. The quality of our character, or our climate, is determined by those who live in it everyday: our students! Climate uses the norms, goals, and values or our teaching to either be positive or negative. When we are teaching self-awareness, and problem solving in the classroom, everyday- not just during character education class- we are creating the norms of talking about our feelings, addressing concerns in a problem solving way (not fighting or passive aggressiveness).

When teachers aren’t busy writing referrals, dealing with fights, bullying, inappropriate behavior, and lack of self-awareness, they are able to effectively TEACH our students what they need in order to be successful. When a classroom has a positive, loving atmosphere, created through social-emotional learning, the students are able to focus on what really matters- learning new information to grow their brains! I hope the board sees the importance of social emotional learning and can help us to implement it into every part of our school.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Developing professionally at Sea World

How awesome is this?
Refreshed, and ready to improve! That is how I felt after attending the annual FSCA convention in Orlando earlier this month. As an elementary school counselor, we do not have the luxury of working with other counselors in our daily routine. That is why it is imperative to seek out opportunities like this, to collaborate and communicate with others, in order to learn and grow. I attended 5 break out sessions including:

  • On the road to a data informed school counseling program
  • Worrywarts: Alleviating anxiety through school counselor interventions
  • The art of Mindfulness
  • Creating Compelling Charts: A picture is worth a thousand words
  • Overcoming Challenges to implementing effective small group counseling with adolescents
What I love about these professional development weekends is the variety of topics I can learn about in a matter of 48 hours. From learning about how to drive my program through data, to small group topics and implementations, to bringing mindfulness into the classrooms and to our faculty. I  have to be honest, the art of mindfulness was a little selfish on my part. I feel that sometimes I am "mind full" NOT "mindful" and I wanted to learn more about this topic to help myself and our school. 

I will be posting more about these topics in the next few weeks. I hope this encourages you to attend your next conference- they really are a wonderful experience and is left me thinking: I can make my program better by doing....(the list was long!)

Upward and Onward,

Your Floridian Chicka