Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

Core Values

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

Nov

It’s About Skill Development!

by Ed DeRoche, Character Education Resource Center, Director, University of San Diego

A “skills” quote:

“Expressing care for another is not an innate ability present more naturally in some people than others, but rather a skill that can be taught and nurtured through a supportive educational environment.”

-Scotty McLennan, Dean for Religious Life, Stanford University

A “skills” memory:

”I loved playing baseball. Our city had open try-outs for minor league teams. On day four, one of the coaches said to me, ‘Son, we can’t have players on this team without skills in every area.’ I had ‘grit’ but couldn’t hit. I also had ‘perseverance’ so I became a teacher, a principal, a dean.”

(The question of how skillfully is open to debate.)

At our Character Matters Conference (June 2017), sitting with a few teachers over our delicious box lunches, we started talking about “21st Century Skills” and the “new” character education movement – the focus on the social-emotional needs of students. I expressed the opinion that I thought the programmatic/instructional emphasis was on the emotional side of the SEL (follow the money) with some, but not too much, attention helping students develop their “social skills.”

As I noted in my 2013 blog , “The Skills Game” recent employee surveys showed that employers are looking for certain qualities in employees such as listening and communication skills, adaptability, creative thinking skills, problem-solving skills, goal setting skills, and competence in reading, writing, and computation skills. It has been reported that 85% of those who lose jobs do so because of inadequate social skills.

It seems to me that social skill development should be an essential part of schools’ character education initiatives (with character strengths and emotional skills as the other two).

A survey conducted through Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel, asked the question: What are the best skills for kids to have these days?

The responses:

90% – Communication

86% – Reading

79% – Math

77% – Teamwork

75% -Writing

74% – Logic

58% -Science

25% – Athletics

24% – Music

23% -Art

Social skills include habits and attributes that some call “Habits of the Heart.” This includes providing instruction and practice in helping students to be respectful, be responsible, be honest, be trustworthy, be caring, be courageous, be courtesy, be compassionate, and be fair.

These learned skills are coupled with “Habits of the Mind” – being a critical thinker, appreciating the importance of knowledge and learning, learning how to learn, practicing self-discipline, making ethical decisions, learning to problem solve, controlling anger and emotions, resisting peer pressure, and thinking before acting.

The third skill set is often labeled, “Habits of the Hands,” which includes knowing and practicing the Golden Rule, being of service to others, and becoming an active, participating citizen.

In my research for this blog, I found a program developed by Stephen Elliott (Vanderbilt Peabody education and psychology researcher) and co-authored with Frank Gresham, of the newly published The Social Skills Improvement System Classwide Intervention Program (SSIS-CIP).

They identified the top 10 skills that students need to succeed based on surveys of over 8,000 teachers and over 20 years of research in classrooms across the country. The skills are:

  • Listen to others.
  • Follow the steps.
  • Follow the rules.
  • Ignore distractions.
  • Ask for help.
  • Take turns when you talk.
  • Get along with others.
  • Stay calm with others.
  • Be responsible for your behavior.
  • Do nice things for others.

They report: “In our research, we found that elementary kids and teachers value cooperation and self-control. When we teach and increase those behaviors, we reduce problem behaviors and maximize learning time…. “

“If we increase social skills, we see commensurate increases in academic learning. That doesn’t mean that social skills make you smarter; it means that these skills make you more amenable to learning.”

More information about the SSIS Program can be found at: http://www.PearsonAssessments.com.

Another discovery – a web site, called SKILLSYOUNEED (https://skillsyouneed.com), which provides information and resources for each of the following category of skills: Personal, Interpersonal, Leadership, Learning, Presentation, Writing, Numeracy, and Parenting skills.

As a reminder, I published two blogs on this topic that may be worth your review:

  1. “The Skills Game: Who’s on First? What’s on Second? How’s on Third!” [Published by SmartBrief-Education, 11/12/2013]
  1. “The Skills of Question-Asking,” [February 2015 Blog]

http://sites.sandiego.edu/character/blog/2015/02/23

And finally, think about this each month during the new school year:

Children who scored high on social skills were four times as likely to graduate from college than those who scored low.”

Teaching Social Skills to Improve Grade and Lives, David Bornstein, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/24

Question/Comments: deroche@sandiego.edu

12

Oct

Reading

Parents! Live Your Life With Integrity Every Day

Summary:  This article from Linked-In explains why it is important for parents to model the values they want to instill in their children.  The article also suggests some behaviors that will help parents be strong role models for their children.

Source:  Maurice Elias, Linked-In, October 12, 2017

Categories:  Positive Relationships, Core Values, Parenting

12

Oct

School Discipline

Suspensions Don’t Teach

Summary:  This article reports that restorative practices, rather than suspensions, provides students with an opportunity for learning behavioral alternatives while remaining in school.  The article goes on to explain the five steps of restorative practices.

Source:  Ryan Wheeler, Edutopia, October 11, 2017

Categories:  Restorative Practices, Student Behavior, Code of Conduct, Core Values

22

Sep

Happy students

‘Kindness Curriculum’ Shown to Improve Grades and Relationship Skills

Summary:  This article reports on the success of the “Kindness Curriculum” in a pilot study with pre-K classrooms in Madison, Wisconsin.  While the study was relatively small, the researchers felt that the positive results warrant further studies to determine the effectiveness of the curriculum with a larger sample size and over the long term.

Source:  Brenda Iasevoli, Education Week, September 20, 2017

Categories:  Core Values, Empathy, Emotional Intelligence, SEL Basics

15

Sep

Scientists to Schools: Social, Emotional Development Crucial for Learning

Summary:  This article reports on a research brief – the product of a year of work by 28 academic researchers who study issues like student motivation, school climate, and social-emotional learning. The panel, known as the council of distinguished scientists, was organized by the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, which has set out to bring together educators, scientists, policy makers, and philanthropists to clarify a vision for social-emotional learning in schools.-

Source: Evie Blad, Education Week, September 13, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, School Culture/Climate, Core Values, Performance Values

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

Student Achievement Depends Upon Faculty Relationships and Trusted Leaders

Summary:  This article points out the importance of relationships and trust as a necessary attribute for school leaders.  Drawing on an article by Steven Covey, the writers emphasize the importance of trust for leaders to be effective.

Source: Jill Berkowitz and Ann Myers, Education Week, August 20, 2017

Categories:  Leadership Qualities, Positive Relationships, 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

21

Aug

How to Combat a Negative Climate by Promoting Respect and Understanding

Summary:  This article by CASEL makes a statement about how respect and understanding is needed in this time of negativity in the aftermath of the Charlottesville incidents earlier this month.  The article also provides resources for addressing hate and racism in the classroom as well as resources supporting SEL.

Source:  CASEL, August 2017

Categories:  Core Values, Positive Relationships, Educational Equity, SEL Basics, Empathy