Drug addiction, pregnancy prevention, and eating disorders are all part of the curriculum in the high school health education class I teach. As attention-getting as those topics may be, I like to start the semester by focusing on a health issue that affects almost all teens in high school today: stress.
In this nine-part series, we will look at important factors that influence the happiness and social and emotional learning of elementary school age children. These are very useful in helping students learn, manage emotions better and increase empathy. Each blog features one letter of the acronym HAPPINESS:
H = Happiness
A = Appreciation
P = Passions and Strengths
P = Perspective
I = Inner Meanie, Inner Friend
N = Ninja Mastery
E = Empathy
S = So Similar
S = Share Your Gifts
In this blog, we’ll explore passions and strengths.
Education consultant Jennifer Miller has launched a wonderful, valuable new blog site for parents, Confident Parents, Confident Kids that I think merits the attention of anyone working in social, emotional and character development who wants a place to send parents for ideas and advice and dialogue.
Confession: I spent most of my formative years wrestling with the idea of "acting white."
The term "acting white" is often used against children of color who either still struggle with their self-concept or have taken on characteristics in their personalities that may not seem original to their ethnic background. Many of the people who know the present me always say that I don't look like I've ever had an issue with race, or that I handle race well. It's not that I never saw race; it's that I had to learn how to handle it at an early age. Negotiating the different worlds that I occupied, from the hood to the exclusive high school, I quickly learned that the best way to deal with race is to take on the norms and biases that come with it.
It is the month of Thanksgiving, and everyone is getting excited about turkey and pumpkin pie. People are also considering the things they should be thankful for. Well, I think this is the perfect month for teachers to stop a student and thank him or her.
Mrs. Nelson is teaching a lesson when she notices Mason's head on his desk with distracting noises coming from him. She cruises his way while still teaching, leans in as she nears him and quietly reminds him to sit up and stop making noises. As she walks away and resumes teaching, Mason mumbles an inappropriate epithet that contains denial of the deed and offensive language. Other students sitting nearby turn their attention away from the lesson, collectively showing a look along with a few "oohs" that unmistakably challenges their teacher with the question, "What are you going to do about it?" Mrs. Nelson stops the lesson, stares at Mason and in a scolding manner asks, "What did you say?" The power struggle is on!
As many of us cope with the results of Hurricane Sandy, whether awaiting the return of power, finding gasoline, wondering how to get to and from work, worrying about parents and other family members who are stranded, dealing with displacement of a temporary or permanent nature, or some combination of these, it is a time for reflection on the fragility of our modern lives and our genuine interdependence.
Editor's Note: Although Kevin Curwick graduated from Osseo Senior High, the Twitter project he started continues to be a source of inspiration from current students. In this post, written when Curwick was a senior, he highlights why he started sending positive tweets to fellow classmates. (Updated 10/2013)
As simple as any introduction, my name is Kevin Curwick, and I am currently a senior at Osseo Senior High in Osseo, Minnesota -- a suburb of the Twin Cities. I have always been involved in my school and, just like many students, I strive to make a difference. I have recently been able to achieve a significant change that has already produced encouraging results.
Recently, the non-profit daily ideas exchange known as Zocalo Public Square had an online debate about whether kindness can be taught, as part of a more general public conversation about altruism. I was fortunate to participate along with author Kathy Beland, who wrote School-Connect: Optimizing the High School Experience, a social emotional learning curriculum.
David Ropeik's article in New York Times about how parents resist vaccinations for their children contains essential insights and lessons for those of us who advocate for "prevention"-oriented approaches in schools, such as SEL and character education, and even service learning.