Emotional Detectives

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Adults who work with children are generally perceived to be warm, nurturing, and tend to usually be great with children. They spend countless hours outside the classroom working, and their summers taking professional development classes that are required of their school districts. So, I find it not that surprising when their response when a teacher is told that they have to incorporate social emotional learning into their already deeply henvy shoulders.

Teachers feel like they are taxed with so many requirements and pressured requests by admin, all hoping to generate scores and growth down the line. The beauty of social emotional learning is that if you are already teaching well, to be fit your children in a way that encompasses their emotions and their mind, you are already doing it. In fact, if you alter your perception in that it something that you as a classroom or family can engage in and not you as the adult is responsible for, it can be life altering.

Think of all the times students come up to you as a teacher or parent with faces of defeat or frustration, it all begins with a single emotion. They may not be able to recognize or identify what it is that they are feeling, but their body is wearing how they are feeling. Their shoulders are shrugged, their body antsy as they learn something new, or their face is ridden with defeat. these are not the faces we as parents or teachers want to see time and time again.we want them to feel empowered, strong, and happy to take on the world. So what do we do? How to do we help our children without doing it solely on our shoulders?

There are several things you can do to help your child figure out what they are struggling with, but my go-to suggestion is for them to be an emotional detective. If it is, then there is an issue or issues that  they are struggling with, and encouraging them to sleuth it out, gives them the chance to not only decipher what it is that they are feeling, but to connect with  the reasons behind it. Emotional detectives are easily to implement both at home, and I’m the classroom, and it allows children to strengthen being able to pinpoint how their emotions are connected to their learning both in and outside the classroom, which is something we all want for ourselves as well, right?

Understanding SEL in the Spotlight

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Social emotional learning is certainly become quite a buzz word lately. Efforts have been made at the local level in several organizations to make social and emotional learning more of a well-known concept that is not only grasped, but a movement that teachers are thirsty for more of. Organizations like the Collaboration for Academic and Social Emotional Learning (CASEL)  have made it their mission to define and dissect the competencies of social emotional learning and how they should be integral component of not just within the classroom walls, but outside as well.

Often times the concept of  social emotional learning is intertwined in the world of educational and education services. For example, the Every Student Succeeds Act was  introduced to establish a set of academic competencies for students, including social and emotional competencies. For this author, this thrills me to end because it connects both the heart and the mind in the learning process. Children should be able to emotionally brilliant and feel good about themselves and others while soaring academically. 

Other various government bills such as S. 897, named after the six-year-old student Jesse Lewis who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School,  have made an addendum to pre-existing educational reforms or acts to include provisions that involve school-wide professional development to ensure that all adults involved in children’s lives at school have the well-needed tools and training to not only understand but implement the principles and concepts of social emotional learning.

All of these efforts  imply that there has been work made beyond the classroom walls, that teachers have more than a fundamental grasp of what it means when the term social emotional learning is used at school. I do think that there is a thirst for teachers and professionals to want to integrate these concepts in the learning process, but that comes with a waning feeling felt by teachers of already feeling taxed and burdened by what is already being asked of them. What I wish I could shout out across the buildings for everyone to hear is that if you are teaching your child well, either in our outside the classroom, you are already doing this. Teach your child to love not just others, but themselves for not just who they are, but what and how they learn.

Nonprofits like Un-included Project empower children to increase their self-esteem and self-worth through engagement both academically and emotionally in various arenas. Efforts made nationally reflect the desire to include social emotional learning and concepts into the academic and professional development framework for both teachers and students.  I am more thrilled that it has reached national attention, but if this is all about the children, let’s start with them. 

For more information on Social Emotional Learning please visit:

Collaboration for Academic and Social Emotional Learning (CASEL)

Emotional Intelligence As Standard Intelligence

Neuroscience Behind Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning

 

 

Worries and Reactions

It is that time where we are at the end of one year, and the beginning of another. For children and adults, our minds fill with worry and anticipation of what lies ahead beyond… all that the new year will bring us, both known and unknown.

What is known for a child is often what is familiar, their daily routines and things that are familiar for them: how and where they study and relax. Often a change in these routines, like the start of a new year and talk of new goals, brings anxiety. Picture a wave rushing over you that instantly beckons the tells of worry: sweaty palms, the hair on the back of your neck standing up and your stomach twisting and turning. We cannot change what we do not know, but we can adjust on how we react. 

But we think about R-E-A-C-T differently in my first grade classroom.

R= recognizing why your upset

E = identifying your emotional response to the issue

 A= actively check out on thinking about it ( we use yoga in my room)

C= what or how will you change

T= take charge of how you can make it better

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Because at the end of every day, how we REACT to change makes all the difference, both good and bad.

Bore-dom

teenroofpicBoredom. By definition it is the state of being restless due to a lack of interest. From a child’s perspective, they to be overcome by a sense of impending doom with absolutely nothing to do at all. Often adults, we seem to misunderstand that boredom means something entirely different to them. As a parent, you think “pick from one thing that you have surrounding you and do it,” and yet it’s often not that simple.

Psychologically, boredom as a phrase has taken the place of words like frustrating or depressing. In a child’s case, their sense of doom could be a mirror of what they are feeling both within themselves and in interacting with others. External boredom is a simple cause and effect to solve by adjusting the external stimuli. If  they are bored with academics, give them a brain break and let them rest for a bit. I have seen yoga or using mint chap stick as an aromatherapy to lower the toxic run of emotions that often coincides with boredom. Internal boredom can be a more serious indicator that something’s going on.

Children live in such a world of inner thoughts and silence and yet listening to their stream of thoughts can be both empowering and toxic. If a child’s self-efficacy is high, then they they are the superheroes of their own world. They will try and attempt almost anything they set their minds too. However, if a child’s inner thoughts are toxic, they may prevent or hinder them from being the best version of themselves. Whatever a child’s age, even if they are in embarking on their teen-hood, teach them how to listen to themselves, and let their silence be your words.