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.
There are a lot of dangerous stereotypes out there. "Asian students are always better at math." "Boys are always better at sports." And perhaps the most dangerous of all: "The current generation are all digital natives."
It is easy to see the danger in the first two stereotypes. They tend to influence the way teachers, parents, peers and society in general classify, justify and treat whichever group is represented by the stereotype. I'm not sure enough people give enough thought to the third, equally dangerous, stereotype.
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.
This Thanksgiving, I considered expressing my thankfulness for great teachers -- but I've got a Teacher Appreciation playlist already that says it all. Instead, I'd like to express some love for a few of the things that I am thankful for, and share some stories of generosity and kindness.
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.
How can educators integrate the insights and achievements of the social and emotional learning movement into efforts that address today's most pressing ecological issues? The new book Ecoliterate: How Educators Are Cultivating Emotional, Social, and Ecological Intelligence offers inspiring stories, practical guidance and an exciting new model of education that shows a way to do just that. Ecoliterate reveals how educators can advance academic achievement, protect the natural world on which we depend, and foster strength, hope and resiliency. It is written by psychologist Daniel Goleman with Lisa Bennett and Zenobia Barlow of the Center for Ecoliteracy.
In last month's post, I mentioned that there are two skills that separate great teachers from good ones. I explained that the first skill is the ability to reframe student behavior, to see it in new ways. Today I want to discuss the second skill: knowing how to treat students fairly by not treating them the same. Allen Mendler and I introduced the idea that fair isn't equal to the education community in 1988 in the first edition of Discipline With Dignity (an updated, more comprehensive explanation with examples is provided in the current edition). Since then, nearly all of the educators who have used our model have seen remarkable results when resolving a wide range of behavior issues. In short, treating students in a fair -- but not equal -- way works.