Intolerance may be one of the oldest and ugliest stories on Earth. But when it comes to speaking up against hate speech, bullying, and bigotry, students and their communities are finding creative ways to craft an uplifting response. Increasingly, new media tools are playing an important role in these efforts.
The smell of permanent marker is in the air; books are piled neatly on each desk; brand new posters and charts hang peacefully on the walls; pencils are sharpened to needle-like perfection. And in the distance, new sneakers beat the pavement with anxiety and excitement about the first day of school.
From a Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) point of view, the most important consideration at the start of the new school year is to create positive feelings and optimism about school. This has many practical implications for both educators and parents.
A few years ago I wrote a story about a new piece of research that blew my mind. A group of Yale University researchers led by Geoffrey Cohen gave a bunch of Connecticut seventh-graders a 15-minute writing assignment. Half the children in this racially-diverse, working-class school were prompted to write about their personal values - a task designed to validate their identity and self-worth -- and half were assigned a more neutral subject.
Every day, the consequences of our children's poor eating habits and lack of exercise and fitness is displayed in our schools. They are held back in their academics and extracurricular activities because they lack energy, concentration, stamina, comfort, agility, and self-confidence.
Personalized learning has been a lot on our minds at Edutopia lately. We just launched some major coverage on Forest Lake Elementary School in Columbia, South Carolina -- a kind of "little school that could" for differentiated instruction. It's an earnest, humble place (except for the slew of awards touted on the façade) full of earnest, humble people who are simply determined to teach each child as a unique individual. Through strong leadership, dogged grant-writing and constant collaboration, they've done it.
The National Service-Learning Conference, which just wrapped up its 21st annual gathering in San Jose, California, attracted some 2,000 attendees. Participants came from every state and more than 30 countries, but the most telling statistic may be this: a third of attendees were youth.
In an interview, Director of the Institute for Emotionally Intelligent Learning, Ed Dunkelblau, shares his wisdom in helping folks get started with social, emotional, and character development (SECD) in their classrooms and schools: