Glasses of Perception and Intent

glasses image        Recently I posted about the difference between perception and intent with an image about glasses. When we look at the world around us, we see the world through our lens – what we believe to be the reasons behind one’s actions or how events are filtered through our thoughts. Is it true that there is a difference between the two, and it is in our innate nature as human beings to recognize these. However, that is easier said than done, right?

Think back to your years in elementary school, when you first began to recognize that in life there was a you and a them. If we are being honest, aren’t there still? But I digress. In elementary school, you began to remember the differences in people, whether it was recognizing the cool table where the cool kids sat, or what to and not to wear to school. In your classroom, you might have begun to take notice of students that were pulled out individually to work with someone, and often returned back to the classroom with a sticker or reward of some sort.

The reason I bring this up, is that aren’t we still involved in the power struggle of what we intend to do and how we are perceived or what we perceive to happen? As the school year comes to a close for most of us, isn’t there an act of  perception that we find ourselves doing for our students, and  others? We see students who are acting out or not paying attention, and label them according to what we see or perceive to be the case, but often that is through how we see things. In honesty, we have not an inkling of what is going on in there shoes or minds for them to act or react a certain way. Again, it is a slippery slope to distinguish between what a child’s actions are intended to be and what they are perceived.

For  example, a student may come to school with an amazing project, llava oozing down the sides of a volcano and all. This can be seen two ways: the child slaved over the project, working tireless hours over the weekend, or they threw in the towel, and their parent took over their project, ensuring their child would be successful. Are we so focused on how our children will be perceived that we are willing to do things for them?

Case in point, in a recent book called The Confidence Code  by BBC World News America lead anchor Katty Kay, the argument was made  parents were so focused to ensure that their kids’ succeeded, that they we’re so desperate for kids to succeed and feel being successful that parents were doing everything for them. In other words, they intended for their children to  feel what it was like to be successful, but failed to think about how their actions would be perceived by both parents and students alike. As we struggle for our children and students to feel success and academic greatness, don’t we fail to see the negative consequences that also brings about?

True, we as the adults in the lives of students want our children to be successful, but at what cost? And even though it’s tricky and often a slippery slope, we want our children to struggle with acceptance of both what is perceived in their own life and what is intended. If we walk before them, how can children be leaders in their own life. However, if we guide them and teach them, then the lessons they learn will help them create their own destiny.

An Emotional Sandwich: understanding the difference between SEL and Emotional IQ


pbjLast week I had the opportunity to join my fellow Pollination Project grantees to talk about the importance of social change and making a difference. There were a flurry of buzz words floating through the air during our conference. Our batteries were recharged, our passions reignited, which is especially helpful given our current events lately. In talking with other grantees, it dawned on me that social emotional learning and emotional intelligence are thrown around quite casually both in and outside schools lately, but too often we, both as parents and educators, make the assumption that people can distinguish between the two.

Simply put, social and emotional learning refers to the skill set of developing the fundamental skills to manage emotions and apply those emotions in the areas of empathy, setting positive goals, and behavior management. In contrast, emotional intelligence is identifying, labeling, and applying your emotions.Since I teach a class of first grade fidgets, I like to think of these two buzz words like a sandwich, because everyone starts of with bread.


Now no one’s two pieces of bread will be the same, but the sandwich has to start somewhere, right? Once you have the bread, you have to first recognize your emotions. Am I feeling sad, angry, elated, depressed, happy or excited? That is emotional learning, or the peanut butter of your sandwich. It can be as simple as you want ( one emotion, like sadness) or clumpy (two emotions, being filled with angst and frustration). Next, we add the jelly, or social emotional learning, which is the process of applying these emotions to the areas of understanding others or empathy. I am feeling anxious in class because I realize my friend did better on her test because she studied harder than I am. Without the two ingredients, you would just have bread, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich has to have both ingredients, right?

The tendency in today’s society is to intertwine the two, mixing social emotional learning and emotional intelligence. And although you can’t have one without the other, alone they make pretty odd sandwiches. Both need each other to have a successful learning environment, both emotionally and academically to create a community where students feel self-love, a stronger sense of purpose and compassion for others.

If this is done correctly, by using each ingredient of the sandwich together instead of just with the bread alone, it will make one fantastic sandwich, that teachers and students alike will reap the benefits of for quite sometime, at school, at home, and for years to come.