Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

Character Education

22

Nov

GRATITUDE: At Work, Home, and School

 

by Edward DeRoche, Ph.D., Character Education Resource Center, Director, University of San Diego

“GRATITUDE CAN TRANSFORM COMMON DAYS INTO THANKSGIVINGS, TURN ROUTINE JOBS INTO JOY AND CHANGE ORDINARY OPPORTUNITIES INTO BLESSINGS.” William Arthur Ward

In December 2014, I wrote a blog about “gratitude and empathy.”

I noted that Robert Emmons (see below) called gratitude the “queen of the virtues,” and I suggested that empathy might be the “king.”

Let’s focus on the “queen” during this Thanksgiving month.

Thanks to research, here is what we know. Gratitude properly understood and rendered “leads to active appreciation of others.” Gratitude has “positive effects on health,” “fosters positive relationships” and “joy;” that is, the stronger our relationships, the happier we are.

Emmons and other researchers have found “three surprising ways that gratitude influences what one does at work.”

One, gratitude facilitates better sleep because “grateful people enjoy more restful, restorative, and refreshing sleep, and reap the benefits at work the next day.”

Two, gratitude is the “antidote to entitlement” and “to other aspects of a toxic workplace culture….When people are experiencing gratitude, they are “less likely to be annoyed, irritated, and aggressive.”

Three, grateful people make better “organizational citizens” — “more likely to volunteer for extra work assignments, take time to mentor co-workers, be compassionate when someone has a problem, encourage and praise others, and are more likely to be creative at work….Gratitude promotes innovative thinking, flexibility, openness, curiosity, and love of learning.”

A National Association of School Psychologist’s article titled “Fostering an Attitude of Gratitude: Tips for Parents” suggests that parents at home help their children develop an attitude of gratitude through a variety of simple acts and activities.

These every day activities include modeling practicing gratitude, encouraging children to think about it, sharing and reinforcing grateful behaviors, using visual reminders, making grateful posters, and keeping a “good stuff” journal.

They suggest that every night parents take a few minutes with each child to write down the positive experiences that happened during the day. They recommend that next to each positive event, their child write a reflection using questions such as:

Why did this good thing happened and what did you learn from it?

What does this good thing mean to you and how can you help have more of it tomorrow?

What ways will you or others contribute to this good thing?

Studies also show that positive parent relationships are associated with gratitude. (Gratitude Works Program, wwwnaspoliner.org)

Now that we know how gratitude influences the workplace, and have some ideas on how to nurture and foster gratitude at home, let’s examine three gratitude lessons.

The lessons come from an article by Vicki Zakrzewski in the November 2016 issue of Greater Good. I selected it because I liked the format of the lessons. That is, I found it to be an excellent idea for formatting all instructional lessons that teachers create.

The format is this:

(a) a lesson objective

(b) a lesson concept –in this case the concept is gratitude

(c) a social-emotional competency

(d) the materials needed

(e) a list of instructional activities

(f) “extension” suggestions for the lesson

The three lessons described in the article all related to the topic of gratitude:

1. “Acts of Kindness” for K-2 students

2. “Food Gratitude” for students in grades 3-5

3. “People Who Make a Difference” for students in grades 6-8

One final point, researchers at Berkeley surveyed 400 students ages 12-14 and found that students “who were more likely to be grateful to others showed higher academic interest, grades, and extracurricular involvement, and had lower interest in risky behaviors.”

Who is Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D.?

He is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. He is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology. He is the author of the books Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity, and The Little Book of Gratitude.

1

Oct

Opt for Dignity: Teach Children to Value Themselves and Others

Summary:  This article contains a podcast where Tim Shriver, chair of CASEL and of the Special Olympics,  shares information about his life and about the importance of Social-Emotional Learning.

Source:  Tom VanderArk, Education Week, September 27, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, Character Education, Emotional Intelligence

18

Sep

Preschoolers

The Evidence Base for Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

Summary:  This link to the Aspen Institute provides insights and materials which provide evidence for the importance of Social-Emotional Learning in how students learn.  There are links to a streamed recording of the research symposium as well as a link to the research brief produced by the Aspen Institute.

Source: Jacqueline Jodl, Director, National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development, The Aspen Institute, September 15, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, Student Achievement, Character Education

31

Aug

How Ending Behavior Rewards Helped One School Focus on Student Motivation and Character

Summary:  This article focuses on the topic of extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation.  Several schools are used as examples where the rewards system was changed to an intrinsic system and the resulting benefits that this provided to the schools in terms of character education.

Source:  Linda Flanagan, KQED News, August 29, 2017

Categories:  Character Education, Motivation, Core Values, School Culture/Climate

23

Aug

Teaching Love Over Hate: A Response to the Charlottesville Incident

by Karen Niemi, President and CEO, CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning)

Dear CASEL friends:

Like so many of you, I’ve been shaken and horrified by the events of this past weekend in Charlottesville, Va. The prospect of overt and violent hatred and bigotry once again entering the American public square of ideas is abhorrent, and again, a very real threat.

I couldn’t help being struck that so many of the participants in the violence were so young, like 20-year-old white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr., who drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, injuring dozens and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. So much tragedy. . . a life cut short, and the living are left with pain, heartache, loss, and, for some, the inspiration for violence yet to come.

How could a society capable of nurturing so much beauty and compassion have also produced Mr. Fields? What forces stoked his fears of diversity and emboldened him with hate? How could his life have been different — not to mention the lives of hundreds of KKK members, alt-right supporters, white nationalists, and violent extremists — if he possessed the skills to understand and manage his emotions, feel empathy, and build positive relationships? We will never know.

I’m more convinced than ever that the work we do here at CASEL is part of the solution to this type of bigotry and fear. We believe in the power of education to teach nonviolence, promote understanding, endow children with purpose and meaning, and provide the skills and behaviors that can create a more inclusive, healthy, and positive future.

Our board chairman, Timothy Shriver, perfectly summed up what we must do to succeed when he said, “I want to change the cycle of stigma and prejudice that destroys lives all over the world every day. Until we can get in front of people and awaken them to the idea that this is not acceptable, it’s very difficult for people to appreciate what we do and change the way we act as a society.”

We are the educators who teach love over hate, the helpers who run toward disaster to comfort the afflicted, and the change agents who will help destroy prejudice and stigmatization.

I ask each of you not to disengage after the tragedy of this past weekend but instead to see it as a call to redouble our efforts because this work is vital, perhaps now more than ever. And we must succeed. Our children are counting on us. Our communities are counting on us. Our country is counting on us.

Together we will build a better tomorrow!

Karen Niemi

President and CEO

CASEL: Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning

Read the Full Post on CASEL’s Website

16

Aug

Charlottesville VA

The First Thing Teachers Should Do When School Starts is Talk About Hatred in America. Here’s help.

Summary:  This article from the Washington Post presents some ideas about how to handle the inevitable questions from students about Charlottesville as school begins this year.  There are many resources that are listed in the article that may be helpful in guiding discussions as schools start the 2017-18 year.

Source: Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, August 13, 2017

Categories:  Core Values, Educational Equity, Classroom Practice, Empathy, Positive Relationships, Character Education

16

Aug

3 Important School Leadership Lessons From Charlottesville

Summary:  This article presents a reaction to the events in Charlottesville, VA on August 12 and how school leaders might use these events as a springboard to teaching, communicating, and focusing on understanding all students.

Source:  JIll Berkowitz and Ann Myers, Education Week, August 15, 2017

Categories:  Classroom Practice, Educational Equity, Core Values, Positive Relationships, Character Education

1

Aug

Character Day

Participate in “Character Day 2017”

Summary:  Character Day is an annual event that focuses on the importance of character in our society – schools, homes, workplaces. The event is planned for September 13, 2017 and materials are provided to help you celebrate Character Day in your classroom or business. There is a very robust resource hub with supplemental materials about various core values and other aspects of good character.

Source:  Let it Ripple Film Studio (http://www.letitripple.org/character-day/)

Categories: Character Education, Core Values, SEL Basics, Emotional Intelligence

11

Jul

Getting Social and Emotional Learning Right

Summary:  This article is written in response to a blog by Checker Finn who attacks both the self-esteem movement and also SEL in the bargain.  The author, Marc Tucker, takes an objective look at Finn’s arguments and makes some international comparisons about the importance of social-emotional learning and values education.

Source:  Marc Tucker, Education Week, July 5, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, Character Education, Core Values

28

Jun

Social and Emotional Skills are the Foundation for Deeper Learning

Summary: This article provides a reflection from Chris Harried, an incoming graduate student at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education and a Commissioner for the Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development about the importance of SEL Skills in his own development as a prospective teacher.

Source:  Chris Harried, Education Week, June 22, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, School Culture/Climate, Character Education, Mindset