Social and Emotional Learning in Action (Transcript)
Sarah: Basically what I want you to know is what people say to us and how other people treat us kind of shapes what we think about ourselves. And I want to share with you a story. One day Maria woke up…
Narrator: Sarah Button is about to tear her heart out in front of fifth graders at the Patrick Daly School in Brooklyn.
Sarah: And her sister came into the room and said "You're going to wear those old rags to school?"
Narrator: Her lesson is part of the curriculum developed by R.C.C.P., the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program and it's designed to help kids identify and control their emotions.
Linda: The work that we do in the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program is about equipping young people with the kids of skills they need to both identify and manage their emotions, to communicate those emotions effectively, and to resolve conflict nonviolently. So it's a whole set of skills and competencies that for us fall under the umbrella of emotional intelligence.
Sarah: And started complaining that Maria always takes the last bowl of cereal. "You never leave any for me."
Linda: We are talking about a whole new vision of education that says that educating the heart is as important as educating the mind.
Sarah: So that was Maria's day. How do you think Maria is feeling now if this is what's left of her heart?
Has anybody ever had a day like Maria had?
Student: When I went to my uncle's house, they looked at my clothes and they started laughing.
Sarah: Okay how did that make you feel?
Sarah: Now I want you to think what kind of effect do you think this has on Maria if day in and day out this is what happens to her? This is the way she's being treated. What kind of effect does that have on her?
Student: She ain't gonna have no self-respect.
Linda: We're really not teaching values. We're actually teaching skills. We're teaching some solid competencies that people can learn and use. They're almost like tools in a toolbox.
Class: One, two, three, action.
Sarah: And freeze. Nice job. Hector?
Narrator: The R.C.C. program at this school grew out of a tragic incident in 1992. A young student had left the school after an emotional outburst and when Principal Patrick Daly followed him into a neighborhood housing project, Daly was caught in the crossfire of a drug deal gunfight.
Sarah: Once we're able to identify the feelings we're having, we're going to use it as a tool and a strategy to help us solve problems.
Class: One, two, three, action.
Student: Stacy, you're a lousy friend. You didn't even invite me to your birthday party. I have you over to my house all the time and you couldn't invite me to one stupid party?
Student: Dina, why don't you shut up? Who cares what you think? It was a wonderful party but you wouldn't have known because you'd never know how to act. If I invited you, you would have ruined the whole thing.
Teacher: And freeze. Okay, that's skit A. They're now going to show you skit B and this is using the strategy that I'm going to teach you in just a minute.
Narrator: One way the R.C.C. Program helps diffuse classroom conflicts is by teaching children how to express their emotion in nonthreatening statements called "I messages".
Class: Okay, one, two, three, action.
Student: Stacy, I felt hurt and angry when I found out you had a birthday party and you didn't invite me because I thought we were good friends and it just doesn't seem to me something a good friend would do.
Student: Dina, I wanted to invite you to my birthday party, but my mother said I could only invite two friends because all my cousins were coming. I wanted to talk to you before the party but I didn't know how to. I would like to keep on being friends.
Sarah: And freeze. Alright, yeah, nice job.
Sarah: Well what we were doing today is definitely, it's an artificial situation. It's not real life and granted, when my kids go and they're into a situation where someone has said "You talk about my mother and I'm not going to have it, forget about it." You know they're going to slip and they're going to go back "Well you said this," and they're going to get their attitudes and that's kids. But what you try to do is you try to bring them back. You try to review. You go over it again. You say "What's another way that we could solve this problem?"
When you don't play with me because-
Class: I thought we were good friends.
Sarah: I want to say just one last thing. The true test is what happens when you're in the situation and that's why we practice it so that hopefully the next time you're in a situation where you're finding yourself getting very upset, maybe you can stop, identify what feeing you're having, why you're having it, and maybe that will help to not cause more of a problem.
And you start with as we've done in here is building your community. And you build on that every month. And you keep going and going.
I'll begin. And I'm very thankful for my wonderful class. And I'm going to pass on to--
Student: I'm thankful for a family because without a family I wouldn't be here today.
Sarah: By the end of the year you have such a tight-knit focused caring group it's amazing. I mean they might not carry that on to the next year, but you know at least for that year, you've really made a difference in those kids' lives.
Narrator: For more information on what works in public education, go to edutopia.org.