Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

SEL Basics

20

Oct

Arts Ed Now: Help Lead the Way for Arts Education and SEL!

by Kira Rizzuto, Program Development Manager, Arts Ed NJ 

Research indicates that the benefits of learning in and through the arts are social-emotional as well as cognitive. Arts-based learning has impact upon important outcomes such as improvements in student learning and mastery, student engagement, and positive school culture and climate. As students engage in arts learning they are developing skills they will need to thrive as citizens and as leaders. Participation in the arts fosters collaboration, empathy, and critical thinking.

Arts Ed NJ is committed to making clear the connection between participation in the arts and the goal of a well-rounded education for all students. As the voice of arts education in New Jersey, Arts Ed NJ works together with its many partners to ensure favorable conditions for arts education to take place in schools across the state. At Arts Ed NJ we know that learning in and through the arts is enjoyed by students and valued deeply by parents, educators, and educational leaders. Enthusiasm for arts education is shared by many in New Jersey. In fact, more than 90% of New Jerseyans believe that arts education is an important part of a student’s education. Additionally, 87% of New Jerseyans believe arts education helps students become more creative and imaginative, 81% believe it builds confidence, and 74% believe it improves communication skills.  

In September 2016, a statewide public awareness campaign was launched in New Jersey with an overarching goal of increasing student participation in the arts K-12 by 2020. The campaign website, Arts Ed Now.org, provides the resources and tools needed for effective advocacy, so that high quality arts education–the foundation of arts-rich schools and districts–can continue to thrive in New Jersey. The multi-year campaign reflect the realities present in today’s arts education landscape, and is intended to assist parents, educators, administrators and community leaders make a strong case for creative learning and the important role that arts education serves in student development and achievement.

Arts Ed Now Ambassadors are empowered to show public support for the value of arts education, promote policies that encourage more active participation, and are prepared to be effective advocates. The message of the campaign is clear: Active creative learning is good for all students…and good for New Jersey! Stop by campaign central, ArtsEdNow.org, for more info, and while you are there order stickers, signs, and other tools that will help you make the case for the arts. Join with other Ambassadors throughout New Jersey who are already leading the way for arts education!

Kira Rizzuto 
Program Development Manager

Arts Ed NJ 
16 Mount Bethel Road
Suite 202
Warren, NJ 07059

Kira@ArtsEdNJ.org

 

3

Oct

10 Ways to Sustain Your Bullying Prevention Month Efforts Through the School Year

 

by By Christa M. Tinari, coauthor of Create a Culture of Kindness in Middle School: 48 Character-Building Lessons to Foster Respect and Prevent Bullying

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a nationwide campaign intending to “unite communities around the world to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention.” Schools across the nation mark this month with poster contests, assemblies, and pledge-signing ceremonies. These activities often involve the whole school community and bring attention to an important issue.

However, in order to implement effective bullying prevention, your efforts must extend beyond October. Here are ten actions you can take to sustain your bullying prevention efforts throughout the year.

Recognize that bullying impacts your schoolSometimes I work with a school administrator who says, “We don’t have a bullying problem here. The kids are basically nice to one another.” Yet according to the National Center for Education Statistics, research shows that approximately 20 percent of students are victimized by bullying. That means that if your school has 500 students, 100 of them have likely been targeted at some point during their schooling. That’s 100 too many.

Ask the students. The best way to find out what kinds of bullying behaviors are happening at school is to ask your students. In order to get clear data on their experiences, administer an anonymous school climate survey. Additionally, you can facilitate focus groups of students to hear their concerns and suggestions. Focus groups should be facilitated by someone who can maintain the confidentiality of the students, such as a school counselor. I also recommend surveying your staff and parents, if possible. It’s interesting and often surprising to see how perceptions of school climate differ among staff, students, and parents. A school climate survey that has been scientifically validated for middle school students is available from PeacePraxis upon request. A compendium of other instruments is available on the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments web page.

Create a plan and take action. Once you have gathered clear data through surveys and focus groups, report the findings to your staff, students, and parents. Use the data to start a conversation on what must be addressed so all students feel safe and connected to school. Then assemble a team of staff and students to set measurable annual goals for improvement. For example, if students report that name-calling is a common issue, brainstorm ideas to reduce it and create a plan to put those ideas in action. Including students in this process ensures that you’ll come up with realistic solutions. This team should also focus on ways to increase safety and positive interactions between all members of the school community. The most effective bullying prevention efforts focus on building a positive school climate rather than simply addressing individual incidents of bullying.

Train your staff. Your staff needs to be equipped with current, research-based information on bullying prevention and intervention tactics. Be sure your staff training includes a review of your school’s bullying policies and reporting procedures. Staff will also need to know legal requirements that pertain to bullying prevention at school; these requirements are often updated by state law. Educators must also be equipped with concrete steps they can take to prevent bullying and to intervene when needed. The best training includes information on current trends in social media and cyberbullying. Provide opportunities for your staff to attend local and national trainings and conferences to learn about new research and resources that can help your school.

Engage in anti-bias work. Students who are in a perceived minority group may be at an increased risk of being bullied. Students who bully will often use bias-based remarks and actions to increase the social power they have over their target and the harm they inflict. Some studies suggest that bias-based harassment has a more detrimental impact on students’ emotional and mental health than general harassment. Additionally, when educators act on their own unconscious biases, they can harm students, as evidenced in research around disproportionate minority representation in suspensions and expulsions. Educators must therefore be prepared to identify and respond to bias-based bullying, as well as be aware of their own biases. Your staff must know how to create classroom environments that welcome students of any race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ability, and so on. To ensure that your staff are learning the skills they need to support and educate all students, include anti-bias work as a required part of your bullying prevention efforts. For additional tips on addressing bias-based bullying, see this blog post on creating a culture of respect.

Teach students how to be upstanders. Many students who are not directly targets of bullying are bystanders to bullying behaviors. Although bystanders often want to intervene in a bullying situation, they often do not know what to do. We must go beyond telling our students to “walk away” or to “tell the child who is bullying to stop.” We must teach bystanders how to discourage bullying behaviors among their peers, intervene in safe ways, and support students who are targeted. These upstander strategies can be taught to students through stand-alone lessons or integrated into your social studies, language arts, or health curricula. Create a Culture of Kindness in Middle School includes several lessons on upstander skills. Here is another upstander skills activity for fourth- through twelfth-grade students. Providing opportunities for older students to teach upstander skills to younger students can be particularly effective. Upstander education will help your students develop social-emotional skills that will empower them to create a school culture of empathy, kindness, courage, and respect

Develop a clear system for reporting and investigating bullying. Do your staff, students, and parents know what to do when they become aware of bullying? Do they know how to get help and how to report situations of concern? Provide anonymous ways to report bullying, and be sure to communicate a point person to contact. Include the bullying prevention policy and reporting and investigating procedures on your website and in materials sent home for review. It is incredibly important to take action on reports of bullying and to clearly communicate your findings and the actions taken to address the situation. Finally, be sure to educate yourself and to follow your district’s and state’s requirements on reporting, investigating, and addressing bullying. To access the laws in your state, visit stopbullying.gov. If you’re seeking to improve your policies, ask your state board of education or school board association for examples of a model policy. Policies should include clear definitions, legal requirements, a reporting procedure, and suggestions for prevention and intervention strategies.

Involve parents and the community. Educate your parents about your school’s bullying policies and procedures. Communicate with parents proactively about everything you are doing to prevent bullying at school. Let them know exactly how they can partner with you in your efforts. Reach out to community leaders, such as the mayor, as well as local businesses and social service agencies like the YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club. They may want to join your efforts or plan something together that will make an even bigger impact on the community. Be sure to spread the word to get some good press for your school and community’s collaborative efforts!

Plan for the future. Bullying prevention efforts take time, resources, and energy! Implement a sustainability plan to ensure that bullying prevention will continue to get the attention it deserves. Ideally, your bullying prevention efforts should be included in the school district’s annual budget as a regular line item. Human resources are just as important. Is there a staff person whose job description includes the coordination of bullying prevention efforts? If that person retires, are others ready to continue the work? Finally, plan to evaluate your bullying prevention outcomes to demonstrate the impact of your actions. Pre- and post-school climate surveys and other indicators (such as the number of reported incidents of bullying) can be useful in measuring change. Anecdotal evidence, including real stories about positive change, can also make a compelling case for continuing your efforts.

Celebrate and appreciate! Be sure to acknowledge the contributions of everyone—students, staff, parents, community members—who is involved in your ongoing bullying prevention efforts. Those involved are passionate about the cause and work hard (often unpaid) to ensure that your school climate is safe and welcoming to all. People are less likely to burn out when their work is appreciated. Host a thank-you breakfast, dinner, or bowling party. Gift them with small pins or another visible acknowledgment. Write a thank-you letter and submit it to the local paper. Send handwritten cards to each individual. Whatever you do, be sure to celebrate the team effort and acknowledge your collective accomplishments!

Apply these ten steps and you will surely sustain your bullying prevention efforts long after National Bullying Prevention Month has come and gone.

Christa M. Tinari, M.A., is a bullying prevention, social-emotional learning, and school climate specialist. She speaks at educational conferences and provides training and consulting to schools across the country. Visit www.peacepraxis.com to learn more about her work.

 

Author Christa Tinari


Access the original article published by Free Spirit Press HERE!

28

Jun

The “Kindness” Book

 

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

Last month, I received a copy of Thomas Lickona’s (TL) new book, How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain (Penguin, 2018).

I’ve read it—twice. The book advises parents, teachers, and caregivers on everything they need to know about “kindness,” and about ten essential virtues that function as a “supporting cast” for kindness – wisdom, justice, fortitude, self-control, love, positive attitude, hard work, integrity, gratitude, and humility.

TL notes that his long career has focused on character education and teacher training. A long-time proponent of character education, one of his earliest books, Character Matters–Educating for Character: How Our Schools Can Teach Respect and Responsibility (Bantam, 1991), was a major resource when Professor Mary Williams and I started writing and speaking about the topic, and when creating the Center here at USD.

I want to focus this blog on what I see as the framework that TL uses to develop the “important principles and practices” that can guide parents, teachers, and caregivers in helping children and youth on the road to good character; that is, character, character education, and character coaches.

He suggests that there are two types of character—moral character and performance character. Moral character “inspires us to be good and performance character enable us to do good well.” He reminds us that the good side of one’s character consists of our virtues, our good habits, and that the bad side of character involves our bad habits. He notes that “in a very real sense, we become our habits. Our responsibility as parents and teachers is to help kids develop good habits…Character, good or bad, is composed of learned habits and behaviors.”

The way I see it is that:

  1. The word CHARACTER has two Cs in it; one stands for CHOICES and the other for CONSEQUENCES.
  2. Living a life of good character doesn’t happen by CHANCE, nor does it happen by CIRCUMSTANCES.
  3. It happens by CHOICE and is influenced, most times by CIRCUMSTANCES and CULTURE.

Given today’s situations, we should underline TL’s observation that: “Human behavior has always been influenced by the interaction of character and culture. Think of character as what’s on the inside—the capacities and dispositions that influence how we act and react.

Culture is what’s on the outside—all of the factors in our environment…and then in any given situation, the outside influences bring out either the best or the worst of our character.”

“We know,” he says, “that good character involves knowing what’s right, and doing what’s right—and that doing is the hardest part. We become good by doing good.”

In regards to character education, TL writes schools that have effective character education initiatives ensure that students have voice (an opportunity to shape the culture of their school) and are engage in “high quality” cooperative learning. Character education “trains the heart as well as the mind.” It helps children “not just to know that something is wrong, but to feel that it is wrong.”

From the perspective of character education, TJ writes, every moment of the school day is a “character moment.” “To a large degree, our children create their character by the choices they make every day.”

Not in the book, but something that educators and the parents should know: Researchers at UC-Berkeley surveyed 400 students ages 12-14 in which they found that students “who were more likely to be grateful to others [I am adding “kindness” here] showed higher academic interest, grades, and extracurricular involvement, and had lower interest in risky behaviors.” Positive parent relationships was also associated with gratitude (and probably with many habits of the heart including “kindness”).

TL urges parents, teachers, and caregivers to become what he calls character coaches.

  1. Being a character coach means “teaching children character skills like self-control and kindness in very deliberate ways and then helping kids practice them again and …”
  2. Becoming a character coach “means giving your child/children opportunities for moral action in family life (and I would say in schools as well) and…the toughest part…is doing so in the heat of the moment….”
  3. Character coaches know that the “family is a child’s first school of virtue and that the qualities that make up good character…grow in a family ”
  4. “Character coaches do all they can to help children and to stay on the road to good ”

Research, TL tells us, finds that children’s character development is best supported by “a stable and loving family environment where they teach respect for legitimate authority, where children are held accountable for their actions and behaviors [and] where children have meaningful responsibilities in family life.”

The book is filled with advice, examples, stories, research, and resources for home (parents/caregivers) and school (teachers/administrators).

Here are a few – by the numbers:

3 Ways that family meetings foster character development

6 Principles that can guide our efforts to raise kind children

15 Character-based tools and strategies for your discipline toolbox

10 Tips for holding good family meetings (and I might add for good classroom meetings)

7 Guidelines for children’s TV watching

4 Steps to making good decisions

10 Ways to teach and practice gratitude

20 Questions using the “True-Love Character Test”

 

“Every child deserves a home and school where children and youth are learning to be smart and good.”

 My advice as a parent and teacher:

Buy the book! Read it! Use it! Share it!

 

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

2

Jun

Happy students

THE HARD PART ABOUT SOFT SKILLS

THE “HARD” PART ABOUT “SOFT SKILLS”

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

“Hard skills” are often thought of as the occupational skills necessary to complete the tangible elements of a job….”Soft skills” can be seen as the behavioral ways in which people go about their occupational tasks. Leadership requires a sophisticated approach to both.    Brian Evje, Inc., Nov. 8, 2012

Those of you who read my monthly blogs know that I am enthusiastic about teaching students social skills, emotional skills, thinking skills, and positive character traits.

Over the past few years, business people have been talking and writing about the skill development of employees focusing on the need for developing their “soft skills.” I read that CEOs are starting to talk about wanting employees who are trustworthy, empathetic, adaptable, who can manage their emotions (self control), and have the skills to be better decision-makers. It has been reported that 85 percent of those who lose jobs do so because of inadequate social skills, and that children who scored high on social skills were four times as likely to graduate from college than those who scored low.

In early April, Phil Blair, co-founder of Manpower San Diego, wrote an advice column in the Business Section of the San Diego Union Tribune (4-9-18) titled “Turning Your Soft Skills Into Your Strongest Talents.” Blair noted that business executives reported that among the “technical” talents employees bring to their work and the workplace, there is a need for employees to learn and demonstrate “soft skills” – behavioral attributes such as “adaptability, cultural competence, empathy, intellectual curiosity and 360-degree thinking.”

The Graduate School at the University of Cincinnati compiled a list of the 10 top soft skills that employers seek (with definitions not included here).

  1. Leadership
  2. Teamwork
  3. Problem Solving
  4. Flexibility
  5. Creativity
  6. Commitment
  7. Communication
  8. Motivation/Initiative
  9. Dependability/Reliability
  10. Time Management

https://grad.uc.edu/student-life/news/soft-skills.html

In addition, there have been numerous discussions about students and employees learning and using “21st century skills.” There are an abundance of skill lists. A couple of examples will give you the “skill picture” of the future.

One group’s list includes:

  • Ways of Thinking (creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, and learning)
  • Ways of Working (communication and collaboration)
  • Tools for Working (information and communications technology, and information literacy)
  • Skills for Living (citizenship, life and career, and personal and social responsibility)

According to this group’s team managers, the two skills that cut across all four categories are “collaborative problem solving” and “learning in digital networks.”

The Thoughtful Learning Group notes that 21st century learning skills are captured in the 4 C’s: critical thinking, creative thinking, communicating, and collaborating.

Critical thinking is focused, careful analysis of something to better understand it.

Creative thinking is expansive, open-ended invention and discovery of possibilities.

Communicating involves a range of skills such as analyzing, evaluating, reading, speaking, writing, etc.

Collaborative skills require one to be engaged in team building, resolving conflict, managing time, etc.

This May blog offers the what and why but says little about how. I will leave that to you and your colleagues. I think it is fair to say that “hard skills” (STEM) gives one the occupational/technical skills to make a living (smart) and the “soft skills” (character education) helps one make that living worthwhile (good).

The 80/20 Rule: It was established back in 1918 by Mann’s study on engineering education that approximately 80 percent of success is due to soft skills while 20 percent is due to hard skills.  –  National Soft Skills Association, August 3, 2017

24

Apr

The Principal: Character, Collaboration, Commitment

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

This blog was written as a direct result of reading David Brooks’s column, “Good Leaders Make Good Schools which I will summarize below. The column topic reminded me of previous notes and publications that I wrote about school leadership.

For example, several years ago, I published an article in the Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education, and Development (September 2000, Vol. 39, Issue 1) titled, “Leadership for Character Education Programs.” I suggested school principals and program leaders should be visionaries, missionaries, consensus builders, knowledge sources, standard bearers, architects, role models, communicators, collaborators, resource providers, and evaluators. For each responsibility, I offered commentary about the “what and why.”

Elsewhere, I wrote described two views about character and leadership.

One was that of Zenger and Folkman (The Extraordinary Leader) who made a clear case that “Character is the center pole, the core of leadership effectiveness.”

The other was a summary of the Turknett Leadership Group’s “Leadership Character Model.” Their view is that “Leadership is about character – who you are not, what you do.” Their model includes three core qualities as the keys of leadership character:

  1. Integrity [honesty, credibility, trustworthy];
  2. Respect (empathy, lack of blame, motivational mastery, humility); and
  3. Responsibility (self-confidence, accountability, focus on the whole, courage).

(www.turknett.com)

Current research about school principals is exciting and informative. The Knowledge Center at www.wallacefoundation.org contains more than 70 publications about school leadership. In my readings of a few of the reports, I found evidence that effective principals establish leadership teams, led by the principal, assistant principals, and teacher leaders. Team members shared responsibility for student progress.

Another discovery (at least for me) was that effective principals encourage collaboration “paying special attention to how school time is allocated.” Another study reported that, coupled with collaboration, “principals who rated highly for the strength of their actions (commitment) to improve instruction were also more apt to encourage the staff to work collaboratively.” Note this important finding, “When principals and teachers share leadership, teachers’ working relationships with one another are stronger and student achievement is higher.”

Now, all of this information is what I call “in-house stuff.” My point—the public knows little about these significant findings.

Thus, it is left to journalists and the media to bring this important information to the public, especially parents, board members, and community leaders. David Brooks did this in his column, “Good Leaders Make Good Schools” (NYT, 3-12, 2018).

In brief, here is what he wrote.

     If you want to learn how to improve city schools, look how Washington D.C.,

     New Orleans, and Chicago are already doing it.

     Restructuring schools and increasing teacher quality don’t get you very far without a strong principal.

How do they do this he asks? His answer, “They build a culture…set by their behavior (character).”  

He also notes that “it takes five to seven years for a principal to have full impact on a school….When you learn about successful principals, you keep coming back to character traits they embody and spread: energy, trustworthiness, honesty, optimism, determination, and promotes a collaborative power structure.”

In bold type he writes a key finding from researchers who studied principals in 180 schools across nine states and concluded, “We have not found a single case of a school improving its student achievement record in absence of talented leadership.”

Brooks concludes, “We went through a period when we believed you could change institutions without first changing the character of the people in them. But we were wrong. Social transformation follows personal transformation.”

The question for current school principals posed by Baruti K. Kafele, an award-winning former urban principal in New Jersey: “Is my school a better school because I lead it?”

His answer:

“It’s my strong belief that to lead your school forward, you must consider this question daily. To answer this question affirmatively, you must be absolutely clear about who you are as the school leader, what your mission is, what purpose drives your work, and how you envision the future of your leadership and school. These characteristics determine who you are, what you’re about, why you’re about it, and where you are going. They serve as a mirror for why you do this work in the first place. You must lead your school with the confidence to say, ‘Yes, my school is, in fact, a better school because I lead it.’ And when you do, students win.”

https://www.sandiego.edu/soles/character-education-resource-center/

Edward DeRoche, Ph.D.

Character Education Resource Center, Director

deroche@sandiego.edu

University of San Diego

5998 Alcala Park

San Diego, CA 92110

7

Jan

Buying on line.

Tweens/Teens and Technology: What You Need to Know What You Need to Do

by Michelle McCoy Barrett, Ph.D., College of Saint Elizabeth, Associate Professor and Director, Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology, Licensed Psychologist

Technology has made our lives easier, more efficient, and even more enjoyable. Socially, a new world has opened up allowing many to connect in ways that are no longer dependent on proximity. With all of these benefits, there comes a growing number of concerns, particularly for tweens/teens of Generation Z, the “Always on Generation” (born 2001-present).

Lack of Connection and Relatedness

Communication, although more frequent, can lack genuine meaning and connection when done primarily through text or social media outlets. Today’s tweens/tees may be less equipped to understand social cues and may hide behind technology to avoid genuine and meaningful interactions. Texting as a primary mode of communication lacks face-to-face interaction. How often are text messages misinterpreted because of a lack of eye-contact, tone of voice, and body language?

Can’t unplug or Disconnect

Many parents and educators worry about the amount of time tweens/teens spend online and on their phones. Some of the strongest research suggests that our sleep is being affected by technology, specifically cell phone use at nighttime. Phone notifications being on at night affects our sleep and this is especially problematic for tweens/teens. Concerns exist about attention spans, multi-screening, and the constant need to find out what others are doing, known as “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO).

Consequences of Bad Decisions

Perhaps the most frightening concern has to do with the consequences of what kids put out there (e.g., hurtful words, inappropriate images). Emotional regulation and impulse control take on new meaning when one considers how quickly and widely messages can be broadcast. Developmentally, this age group struggles with things like planning, thinking ahead, and making good decisions. It can be a disastrous combination for this group to have instant access to an audience. In addition, there is often the false belief that once something is deleted, it disappears. Teens/tweens need to know that once something is out there, it stays out there!

Today’s parents have an additional job as soon as they allow their kids to enter the world of technology/social media. Often the issue of privacy is raised, however it’s crucial remember that what tweens/teens are doing online is PUBLIC. A diary is private, while a text or post is public. The time to set up monitoring is sooner rather than later, as it’s easier to set up rules with a 12-year-old versus a 16-year-old.

Social Emotional Learning

Given what today’s tweens/teens are facing, there is an increased need to focus on social and emotional learning in schools and at home. Developing an awareness of one’s own emotional state is crucial for healthy development and building relationships. This awareness also serves as the building blocks for understanding other people’s emotional states. With a decrease in face to face communication and an increase in electronic communication, there are fewer opportunities to develop that understanding of others and more room to make errors. Because texting has become the primary mode of communication for tweens/teens that have a phone, this generation may be lacking in social awareness and understanding and the need for these skills to be intentionally discussed and taught is tremendous.

Suggestions

  1. Charge phones at night in a charging station, not in a tween/teens’ bedroom.
  2. Model unplugging as parents.
  3. Be familiar with the types of technology that your kids use.
  4. Know passwords and monitor communications. Start off with this understanding.
  5. Discuss what you see. Mistakes will happen and can be important conversations; the key is to catch these early.

References

Weiss, R., Schneider, J. (2014). Closer together, further apart: The effect of technology and the internet on parenting, work, and relationships. Gentle Path Press: Arizona.

Weir, K., (2017). Disconnected. Monitor on Psychology, Vol 48, No. 3, APA: Washington DC.

 

30

Nov

Ajudando os Alunos a Identificar os seus Valores (Spanish)

This Article is the translation, with the kind permission of the author, Maurice J. Eliasof the post Helping your Students Identify Their Values that has been published in Edutopia, the third July 2017.

Este artigo é a tradução, amavelmente autorizada pelo autor, Maurice J. Eliasdo artigo publicado em Edutopia a 3 de Julho de 2017. Devido à sua extensão, será publicado em 3 partes.

Convide os seus alunos a escrever sobre os princípios orientadores segundo os quais eles querem viver, usando estes tópicos motivadores para os ajudar a começar.

By Maurice J. Elias

     O início do ano escolar é uma ocasião propícia para pedir aos alunos que reflitam sobre aquilo que traz um sentido orientador às suas vidas. E colocar por escrito os seus princípios orientadores de vida é uma tarefa perfeita para esta reflexão.

Os professores de alunos a partir do 5º ano podem pedir-lhes que descrevam os princípios segundo os quais desejam viver as suas vidas. Para os ajudar a sintonizar a ideia, podem conversar sobre biografias que eles tenham lido ou visto em filmes (Também podem ver juntos extratos de vídeos ou lerem juntos excertos de livros); depois organizem um diálogo ou enumerem um resumo das regras pelas quais essas pessoas parecem ter pautado as suas vidas. Também podem colocar aos alunos a mesma questão sobre personagens de romances, adultos presentes nas suas vidas ou figuras históricas.

Para Começar:

Algumas questões motivadoras podem ajudar os alunos a começar a pensar mais profundamente sobre os seus próprios valores ou princípios.

  1. Quem admiras? Enumera três qualidades admiráveis dessa pessoa.
  2. Descreve um incidente ou um evento em que tenhas aprendido uma lição da forma mais dura.
  3. O que poderias mudar em ti próprio para te tornares uma pessoa melhor?
  4. Quais são as três qualidades que valorizas num amigo? Num Professor? No Pai ou na Mãe?
  5. Quem foi mais importante na tua vida em ajudar-te a estabelecer os teus valores? Por favor explica.
  6. Quais são os três valores mais importantes que pensas serem essenciais para encorajar os teus próprios filhos, um dia mais tarde?
  7. Qual é a regra única que tu crês ser a essencial para orientar a tua vida?
  8. Se nós vivêssemos num mundo perfeito, como é que as pessoas poderiam proceder de forma diferente do que fazem agora?

 

Para Desenvolver:

Pode achar útil pedir a cada aluno que escreva as suas próprias respostas a algumas das questões motivadoras, em primeiro lugar; em seguida, pode pedir aos alunos para partilharem essas respostas a pares, depois com uma parte da turma ou mesmo em grupo-turma.  

Os professores devem acompanhar a partilha dos alunos com perguntas para ajudá-los a pensar mais profundamente sobre as suas respostas. Por exemplo,

  1. O que torna estas qualidades merecedoras de admiração e de seguimento?
  2. Como é que escolheste este ou aquele incidente, exemplo ou pessoa?
  3. Por que motivo estas qualidades ou valores são tão importantes para ti?

 

Elaboração de um Texto Reflexivo

Depois de os alunos terem tido uma oportunidade de pensar sobre e de discutir as respostas às questões, estarão prontos para começar a escrever. Um texto reflexivo deste género pode estar relacionado, no seu formato, com os critérios e objetivos adequados ao ano de escolaridade dos alunos. Eles devem receber instrução para refletir sobre o ano letivo transacto, tanto dentro como fora da escola, e escrever sobre o que eles consideram serem os valores ou princípios pelos quais querem pautar as suas vidas e porquê.

No meu trabalho com professores que orientaram alunos ao longo desta tarefa, os textos resultantes foram comovedores, reveladores e inspiradores. Muitas vezes, os alunos contaram histórias sobre membros da sua família e acontecimentos que foram importantes nas suas vidas. Trataran temas como o amor, responsabilidade, respeito, relacão humana, perseverança, auto-disciplina, coragem, honestidade e gentileza – muitas vezes combinados entre si.

Um aluno, ao escrever sobre como ele e os seus irmãos estavam em vias de ser retirados de casa pelos serviços de proteção á infância após a sua mãe ter sido presa, descreveu como um amigo da mãe, que eles nunca tinham chegado a conhecer, lutou por conseguir a sua custódia, quando nenhum membro da família apareceu. A sua regra de vida tornou-se a importância de dar amor mesmo a pessoas que não conhece.

Outro aluno escreveu, “penso que amar os outros é o mais importante. Uma pessoa precisa de ter amor na sua vida. O Amor faz com que a pessoa sinta que tem importância.”

Eis um excerto de uma reflexão de um aluno do oitavo ano sobre a perseverança:

A chave do sucesso na minha vida é a perseverança. O meu fim último é continuar a alcançar os meus objetivos, apesar das dificuldades que possa ter de enfrentar. A minha bisavó foi uma pessoa que lutou para garantir que a sua família fosse bem sucedida. Nascida em 1902, era uma empregada de limpezas que trabalhou arduamente só para conseguir sobreviver. Andava quilómetros a pé para chegar ao trabalho, porque não tinha dinheiro para os transportes. Depois de trabalhar na cozinha de alguém o dia inteiro, voltava a casa e ainda lavava roupa para fora. O seu desejo orientador de tornar sempre melhor a vida dos seus filhos e netos motivou-a a perseverar numa época em que ser negro significava ser considerado menos do que nada. (Extraído de Urban Dreams: Stories of Hope, Resilience, and Character.)

 

Da Reflexão à Aplicação

Peçam aos alunos, na abertura do ano letivo, para se comprometerem a viver segundo os seus princípios ou regras desde o início. Ao longo do ano, podem convidá-los a refletir sobre o que escreveram e a que se comprometeram, a verificar com os colegas como é que eles estão a consegui-lo e a rever as suas próprias leis, se necessário.

 

Acerca do AUTOR

http://cadescrita.edublogs.org/tag/edutopia/

 

1

Nov

Practice Learning Knowledge

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

25

Oct

Bully

Teachers Can Impact Bullying More Than They Realize

Summary:  This article reports on programs that can help stop bullying and the role that SEL can play in creating safe spaces for students. The role that teachers can play in stopping bullying is also outlined in this article.

Source:  Amelia Harper, Education DIVE, October 24, 2017

Categories:  Anti-bullying, Positive Relationships, Classroom Practices, SEL Basics

11

Oct

Survey

No State Will Measure Social-Emotional Learning Under ESSA. Will That Slow Its Momentum?

Summary:  In a review of state ESSA plans, no state has included measures of Social-Emotional Learning as an indicator.  The article suggests that measures of SEL are not sufficiently developed to be used across all schools. Roger Weissberg of CASEL, said “a group of 20 states that are cooperating to explore social-emotional-learning plans largely favor allowing districts to select and design their own measures to ensure they fit into their strategies.”

Source:  Evie Blad, Education Week, October 4, 2017

Categories:  Student Achievement, SEL Basics, SEL Research, Assessment Tools