Paris – November 13th….In Our Thoughts

Our thoughts, emotions, anxieties are all impacted by Friday’s events in Paris.  It is hard to comprehend the terror, fear, anxiety and sense of loss that accompanies these types of atrocities.  Ourselves, like many around the world, are shocked by what occurred on Friday evening and our own level of response is observed by our children.  I shared this article on our district’s twitter and Facebook feeds as a way to assist parents in speaking to our kids about those events.  As teachers you will know that many of our students will not have had an opportunity to talk about Friday’s events and so giving some thought as to how you can support students with their understanding of these events is extremely important.  Some tips for teachers (from Boston Children’s Hospitals Partnership) include:

  • Be prepared for questions or comments
  • Allow conversations to begin with what students already know
  • Keep conversations age appropriate
  • It’s OK if you don’t know how to answer a student’s question
  • Be mindful of what you share about your own feelings
  • Emphasize safety and the role that others play in keeping us safe
  • Share that there are no right or wrong ways to feel
  • Empower students with ideas to support others
  • Let administrators know if you are worried about a student
  • Take care of yourself (Thank you to Kerri and Joanna for sharing this ‘self care assessment’ recently)

I have had the pleasure and opportunity to talk with SD 91 colleagues about the new BC Curriculum and the three associated Core Competencies.  Take a few minutes to review this profile of the Social Responsibility Competency Profile.  We have to be proud to work in a public education system where these types of learning goals are valued and outlined.

Screenshot 2015-11-15 12.47.21

For some time now I have been thinking and learning about the importance of Social Emotional Learning in our classrooms.  As the complexity of our world continues to evolve, it is clear that producing graduates that “acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions” is vitally important (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.)  There is a growing body of research that confirms that it is not possible to be successful academically and personally without addressing social-emotional learning.  Knowing this, can you think of the deliberate structures in your classroom or school that are intended to focus on Social Emotional skills.  We have a number of schools that are focussed on introducing Self Regulation strategies to students and that is an excellent school wide approach.  (Thanks to my friends at David Hoy for this great picture of them modelling the Zones of Regulation at Halloween!)

Zones of R

Within our school district, i know that a group of Middle School Educators have been working with Dr. Nancy Doda on exploring the importance of Social Emotional Learning specific to the development of Middle Aged Learners.  They have introduced a structure called CREW which I know has had a very positive and powerful impact on their students.  I hope that some of them can find some time to reply to this blog post to speak specifically to how this time is used.  CASEL has produced an excellent resource, the 2015 Guide to Effective Social and Emotional Learning specifically for high schools to begin thinking about SEL structures.

If you were asked to recall school experiences related to social / emotional learning you might find yourself thinking back to primary classrooms or a specific lesson teaching you how to manage your emotions when faced with a particularly stressful challenge.  If you were involved with athletics you would think to numerous situations where you were coached to visualize a goal and work collectively towards that goal.

Like many of you, I can recall being a primary student at “calendar” time on a carpet at the front of the room.  Many of the girls would sit braiding each other’s hair while us boys worked hard at remaining still and being ready to answer the multitudepicemdurcatkidweb-785837 of pattern, math, weather type questions that would come from the teacher.  I can recall waiting with anticipation when it was my turn to share what I had brought from home during our ‘show and tell’ times.  I recall the care and importance that I took to pick out something meaningful from my home / family that I would share with my classroom.  The challenge for us is to extend ‘calendar time’ or ‘show and tell’ beyond the primary classroom and into intermediate, middle years and perhaps most importantly into the graduation program.  We have a number of teachers using Fresh Grade to digitally capture student learning and to allow students to select artifacts of learning that occur from outside of the school, real life learning if you will.  How else are we extending the primary concept of Show and Tell across all grades?

Our current Graduation Transitions expectations of grade 12 students is an exaggerated Show and Tell, however it is also clear that the anxiety that many of the students feel on this day is because they  have not had frequent opportunities to practice their ‘Show and Tell’ skills.  As an aside, I would like all of our district Graduation Transition coordinators to specifically invite a kindergarten teacher to these presentations this year.  Kindergarten teachers are very special educators who would appreciate this opportunity to see their ‘older’ k students present in front of community members.

16284968078_de90f4fb35How frequently can you recall childhood conversations with your family that focussed on what your teacher did that day or your own feelings that your teacher was going to assist to ensure you succeeded?  Related to SEL in schools is the importance and quality of the connection that students make to their school and to either their teacher or a meaningful adult within their school.

I know that I have shared Rita Pierson’s TED talk with many across the district, but you cannot hear her ‘Every kid needs a champion’ message enough times.

As always I encourage you to join the conversation online.  Please share what is happening with SEL in your classroom or school or comment on Rita’s TED talk.  I think very few of us would disagree on the impact of educators collaborating so take a few minutes to share your stories with the rest of us.

Have a great week!

1 Comment »

  1. The tragic events in Paris are brought closer to home through the instantaneous connection of social media. Our world becomes smaller and our individual communities expand to include the rest of the world. We have the incredible opportunity to share in the pain, sorrow, happiness and joy of others as they embark on their healing journey. A post, tweet, blog or comment demonstrates our attempt to understand, empathize and reach out to those who are suffering. Giving of ourselves in such a way that is meaningful to others through our time, words, or actions is vital. Making thoughtful connections strengthens us all. Likewise, connecting in our own communities continues to be both powerful and necessary.

    A community connection took place last Friday between grade 12 students from FLESS and primary students from Mouse Mountain Elementary School. With the support of the school and classroom teacher, an hour was organized for buddy reading where high school students were able to visit a primary classroom to listen to, read with, and read to younger learners. In observation, it was a simple exercise that made a huge social emotional connection. Thank you to Mrs. Hunter, Ms. Bomberger and Mrs. Zaste for bringing our learners together, building a community connection and creating an opportunity for social emotional learning. Taking the time to do the small things will continually produce big results. Whether we connect with people in Paris or within our own communities, seize the opportunity as it is this type of connection that reminds us that we are all in this together. We are “One 91”.

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