Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

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

Metacognitive Strategies for Improving Students' Mental Health

Metacognitive Strategies for Improving Students’ Mental Health

Categories: 21st Century Skills, Instruction, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

Now more than ever, students need skills, strategies, and mental processes to more effectively cope with the many challenges that COVID-19, racial inequities, and distance learning pose.

Although many educators teach a wide range of critical-thinking skills, problem-solving processes, and coping strategies, students often lack the ability to independently identify and apply the appropriate critical-thinking skill, problem-solving process, or coping strategy to help them stay calm, think clearly, and resolve conflicts. Read more

Addressing the Whole Child with a Team Approach

Addressing the Whole Child with a Team Approach

Categories: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

Based on Building Great Mental Health Professional–Teacher Teams

Education is clearly in an era of rapid change, with many pressures bearing down on the teaching and learning environment—from student and family challenges to the need for continuous improvement while addressing the whole child. 

This can be daunting, if not exhausting, for educators. In fact, many educators did not receive the pre-service training to address these complex and often competing pressures. Other educators may have access to quality professional development related to whole-child issues but have not been able to successfully translate these new learnings into new classroom skills or dispositions.  Read more