Blogs on Social and Emotional Learning

Social and Emotional Learning

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Find out how you can develop or support learning that teaches collaboration, communication, and conflict-resolution skills.

Matt DavisFebruary 10, 2014

Valentine's Day creates a lot of excitement for students, and of course, there are plenty of teachable moments around the day. You might cover the history of the holiday, some V-Day-themed math, or a fun, heart-shaped art project. The opportunities are endless. But Valentine's Day is also a great time to talk with your kids about compassion and caring.

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Maurice EliasFebruary 7, 2014

Can a school have a positive culture and climate when its special needs students are not strongly included in the mainstream of all of its activities? This is a question that is not posed often enough in the social-emotional and character development worlds, but it is asked constantly in the offices of Special Olympics International (SOI). Within SOI, Project UNIFY is tasked with creating programming that brings differently-abled students together in various forms of shared activities and purposes, focused on the mainstay of SOI, sports.

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Joe HirschFebruary 6, 2014

Worried about the shrinking presence of empathy in our schools? I know how you feel.

With classrooms operating more like grade factories, it's hard to make the case for school-driven empathy. Faced with an endless cycle of memorize, drill, spit back and test, teachers have become the wardens of a new educational reality that pits the head against the heart. Even if educators manage to skate past the dizzying array of standards and value-added evaluations, they must still contend with this fundamental divide: academic rigor, with its unflinching emphasis on measurable success, seems strangely at odds with emotional intelligence, a soufflé of moods and feelings. Which leaves many to wonder -- can empathy feel its way back into the classroom?

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Elena AguilarFebruary 5, 2014

"Nearly a quarter of American adults did not read a single book in the past year." I was eating an apple when I read this this and I gasped and the apple piece got stuck and I ran around trying to find someone who Heimlich me and dislodge it. Although it came out, I'm still symbolically choking on this fact. It terrifies me.

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Dr. Richard CurwinFebruary 4, 2014

All of us have had major classroom disruptions that try our patience and push our limits. These incidents can threaten our sense of control and generate fear of looking weak to other students. We fear that other students might do the same thing if we don't take a strong stance. Couple these feelings with the possibility of taking the disruption personally, and we have a recipe for disaster. It's important that we divide our response into two parts:

  1. Immediate stabilization
  2. Intervention to resolve these issues
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Lori DesautelsJanuary 29, 2014

Feeling Felt

Over the past few weeks, I have learned deeply. My students were paramount teachers as I was privileged to share a part of their interior worlds, their "private logic" that is a culmination of accumulated beliefs, experiences, values, thoughts and feelings. This inner world is often kept tucked away unless an environment is created that allows for feelings of safety and an untainted sense of belonging. When any child or adult enters into a space that accepts, inspires and affirms their "ever-changing personhood," we have finally found the key that unlocks the door to extravagant learning! What is that key? That golden key is connection, nothing more.

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Joshua BlockJanuary 22, 2014

Blogger's note: This post focuses on the importance of integrating collaboration into classroom practice. In my next post, I'll talk about strategies for successful facilitation of collaborative work.

A Learned Skill

Sharing my rough writing with others is a miserable experience. I know that outside input is a crucial part of revision, yet I squirm uncomfortably as those I trust make comments and probe with questions. Inevitably, I begin to feel resentment grow as I am forced to reevaluate passages that I thought were clear.

If collaboration feels this challenging for me with those whom I trust and respect, it must feel even harder for my students because:

  • I often make a point of dividing them into heterogeneous groups that include students with different skill levels.
  • The projects I assign require agreement and coordination between all the members of a group.
  • I expect the final products to be polished and ready for a wider audience.
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Maurice EliasJanuary 15, 2014

In September, 2013, the Education Advisory Council of the Character Education Partnership published a white paper titled, Integrating Common Core and Character Education: Why It Is Essential and How It Can Be Done. Kristie Fink and Karen Geller, acclaimed educators both, co-chaired the process and I asked them to comment on some of the key points:

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Florina RodovJanuary 6, 2014

As I uttered the last syllable of the searing Holocaust passage in Night by Elie Wiesel, where Yuliek plays his violin amidst a sea of dead and dying men, and Beethoven's concerto concluded on my laptop, a sigh sounded from one of my sophomores. Basie was a tiny figure shrouded in a hoodie, sleeves pulled over his minuscule hands. He never said much before, but now pushed his hoodie slightly off his eyes and mused about how art infuses beauty into even the most depraved situations.

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Damian MarlowDecember 23, 2013

Editor's note: Mary MartinezSmith, an eighth grader at Axtell Park Middle School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, co-authored this post.

Not very many people really know what it's like to do something that affects not only hundreds, but thousands. Some would say those with big dreams, simply put, are just dreamers. Others might say teenagers who dream big are trying to do something beyond their power. Many people would like to say they not only had that dream, but they accomplished it. Yet few actually can. We, Mary MartinezSmith and Damian Marlow, are proud to say we are two of those few people. The catch? We did it just by putting sticky notes with positive messages on every locker in our school.

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