Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

Building a Foundation for Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) within Elementary Schools

Categories: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Student Engagement

While implementing meaningful and authentic SEL instruction throughout the school day.

Social-emotional learning (SEL) continues to be a hot topic as we move into 2022. Although the concepts around SEL are not new, we are encountering educators and parents whose ideas differ around what it is and what it is not; leading some schools to focus on SEL while others may still not.

As educators, many of us recognize how essential social-emotional learning is both for our students and ourselves. Yet, we have so many other pressing needs throughout the school year, we can find it difficult to prioritize SEL for our students. As we begin to engage in necessary collaborative practices around SEL we may find ourselves designating certain time periods of the school day to focus on SEL but still not seeing a true difference in our students. Why is this? Dufour, et. al. state that collaboration only works and leads to improved results when the people are focused on the right work. So, how do we honor what we know is important and focus on the right work, while also balancing everything else?

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Five Questions Every Teacher Needs to Ask Often

Categories: Instruction, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Student Engagement

Based on Teaching for Lifelong Learning: How to Prepare Students for a Changing World.

In today’s uncertain and changing world, teachers need to continually ask themselves five questions that help them to decide on what’s important to teach and how to teach in order to prepare students for future success. They are useful questions to ask for both in person and online teaching situations.

What can I do to:

  • Develop a positive classroom and school climate, culture, and environment for learning?
  • Focus student learning around relevant, meaningful, important, and significant content and vital skills?
  • Help students apply and deepen learning and become independent learners?
  • Help to broaden and enrich student experiences, interests, and talents?
  • Help students meet high-quality standards and share their learning and work with others?

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How I learned in my summer vacation

How I Learned In My Summer Vacation

Categories: Authors, Instruction, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Student Engagement

Years ago, it wasn’t unusual for the teacher to assign the usual “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” essay to welcome back students to the classroom. Teachers Pay Teachers (a website I would never recommend) has nearly 458 activities that incorporate the “summer vacation” theme. There are thousands of “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” images available on Google for teachers to download, print, and give to their students. “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” appears to be a part of an academic rite of summer passage.

However, the iconic “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” writing activity is not morally, nor culturally sensitive. There was a time when teachers used the traditional writing assignment to get to know their students’ interests and family hobbies. There was an assumption, albeit misguided, that most students and their families vacationed in the lovely Adirondacks or students attended neighborhood play dates with Dick and Jane or students took part in “up north” camps.

Simply put, the assignment no longer reflects our society or what it might define.

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A visual representation of virtual student learning

Relationships: First and Always

Categories: Instruction, Pandemic Response and Educational Practices, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Student Engagement

In the spring of 2020, I published my very first book, I’m Listening: How Teacher-Student Relationships Improve Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening in which I poured everything I knew about teaching and learning.

And Then, The Pandemic
Suddenly, everything I wrote in this book seemed wholly inadequate for the emerging challenge of teaching during a pandemic. The pile of my newly printed books remained untouched, as instead teachers (including me) searched for books and articles that promised best practices and solutions for virtual learning. As an instructional coach for grades 6-12, I immersed myself in tutorials for digital tools that held the promise of perhaps an easier yet still productive school year for our students and teachers.

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Physical and Psychological Environments for Every Body

Physical and Psychological Environments for Every Body

Categories: Authors, Instruction, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Solution Tree, Student Engagement

I like to think of myself as pretty aware of ableism. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder back in the 1990s and while I’ve learned to live with both thanks to having worked with great therapists (and, not for nothing, being married to one), my mental illnesses continue to be a trip hazard on my professional path.

Also, my husband and coauthor Jonathan Weinstein and I have a son who is autistic and goes to a school for students with special needs. From the moment I arrived at his campus, I noticed how his school environment is built for students with needs like—and unlike—his. Read more