The Perceptions (and the Reality) of Refugee Students – What are we really seeing?

March 2, 2016

In December my school was one of three in the CBE that started up a program whose purpose was to support refugee students who have been identified as English Language Learners with backgrounds of Limited Formal Schooling. The ultimate programming goal of our LEAD class is to provide sheltered, trauma-sensitive, short-term language, academic and cultural instruction to enable students to transition into community classes.

Going in, I had a definite perception of what I thought the students would be when they came and joined us. I want to share what my early thoughts were, and what the actual reality was when they came to our school!

Basic Needs

I have seen a big difference between “Privately Sponsored” families and “Government Sponsored” families. “Privately Sponsored” Refugees have a group of people, such as a school group, who have put up supports for a family to come to Canada. I made assumptions about what our “new to Canada” families would have for basic needs, but it is very dependent on the supports they have. Our “Government Sponsored” families do not have the same levels of support, and we are working to support any of our kids, already in our community or if they are new to Canada, with nutritious food, clothing, footwear, winter clothing, etc.

School Readiness Skills

As our “new to Canada” students have had limited experience in a formal school setting, I did not know what to expect when they joined us. For many of our students, they had to learn much of the basic learning and processes Canadian kids would have learned in Kindergarten. Two things that surprised me were:

  1. Many of the “basic” school skills our “new to Canada” students were missing (e.g. lining up…)
  2. And how quickly our “new to Canada” students learned these skills (not perfectly, but better)

Our “new to Canada” students, with differing levels, came to our school with a desire to learn, respect for others, manners, smiles, parental supports, etc. Just like us…

Ability to Participate in School

Our “new to Canada” students have already become a big part of our school. Community students welcomed them right into our school, want them to integrate into their classes, act as leaders in a reverse integration model, and want to include them in play and social situations. Our “new to Canada” students want exactly the same things any other kid would want. They want to feel included, welcomed, be able to learn and to engage in social activities. We had a Teacher-Student Floor Hockey game, and were not sure if our LEAD students could handle it. They LOVED it! It was their first “hockey game” ever, but even though they had no English and had never seen the game, you should have seen their SMILES!!! J

Parental Support

I had no idea what to expect as to levels of parental support our “new to Canada” students would come with. Guess what? They are exactly like any typical cross section of our Canadian students and parents. All parents want the best for their child, and want to send their best child to school every day. Just like we all do!

 

School Council and Parents

Our School Council had a great discussion the other night in how we could support our “new to Canada” parents, and I was amazed at the ideas, thoughts, and supports that were raised by our parents from the perspective of parents. They truly want to support our “new to Canada” families, and want to integrate them into our school community as much as possible. They are such an inspiring group, and such a great group of role models for students and parents. They want our new families to feel comfortable to come to our huge Book Fair event, our Family Dance, our assemblies, etc. Just like we all do!

 

It has been a ton of work for our school staff in getting this program going, and I want to thank everyone, staff, parents and students, for all of your support for both our school and our new to Canada” families.

After all, they are just parents and kids… just like we all are!

Mr. R

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The 95% Rule – What are the Consequences of My Leadership on the Learning and Achievement of My Students?

February 2, 2015

“What are the Consequences of My Leadership on the Learning and Achievement of My Students?” (assuming all staff in a school are Leaders of Learning)

I was lucky (or unlucky, depending), as I was one of those kids that was good at remembering and memorizing and “got” the work we were assigned in the classroom. Unfortunately, there was never a need for me to have to “think” or to develop any growth in learning or work competencies, as it came easy for me.

Learning to think and learning how to learn needs to happen in learning from the earliest ages right on through high school and university, and into the work world! I can tell you, I no longer “memorize it for the test” in my work. I think and prepare and experiment and consult and discuss and reflect…

I had the opportunity to listen and think along with Viviane Robinson, author of “Student-Centered Leadership” this morning. The title refers to using the lens What are the Consequences of My Leadership on the Learning and Achievement of Students?” I would suggest that a leader is any teacher or administrator who is expected to help kids learn. She identified 5 Dimensions that have a large effect size on student learning and achievement:

5 Dimensions of Student-Centered Leadership

  1. Establishing Goals and Expectations (0.42) – We need to know what we are trying to accomplish in order to try to get there… What is our vision of great learning and how to we make it more effective?
  2. Resourcing Strategically (0.31) – Time with teachers and students is our scarcest resource, so how we approach curricular decisions is critical. What are we resourcing for, but as well, what are we not resourcing?
  3. Ensuring Quality Teaching (0.42) – How do we improve the impact and effectiveness of our work for students?
  4. Leading Teacher Learning and Development (0.84) – Admin is not just management and having nice uniforms. How do we “UNLEASH” excellent learning in our schools, rather than continue with the status quo?
  5. Ensuring and Orderly and Safe Environment (0.27) – If students don’t feel safe, how will we even get near learning?

(From Viviane Robinson, February 2, 2015)

The 95% rule is the idea that “I control and design 95% of my day by how I act and react.” The more I think on it, the more I see the 5 Dimensions fit both the work of educators and students.

  • What are students trying to accomplish, and do they know? What are students actually doing in our classrooms? (Establishing Goals and Expectations)
  • What are students using their time for? Time with teachers and students is our scarcest resource, so how we approach curricular decisions is critical. What are we resourcing for, but as well, what are we not resourcing? (Resourcing Strategically)
  • How are we designing and implementing the most effective learning opportunities for each and every student? (Ensuring Quality Teaching)
  • How do we unleash students and teachers in their learning, so it goes beyond 8:30 am to 3:00 pm and outside the 4 walls of the school? How do we design learning so that students want to come to school? (Leading Teacher Learning and Development)
  • How do we create an optimum learning environment for ALL students depending on their situation and needs? (Ensuring and Orderly and Safe Environment)

In the end, we need to continue to question and push each other as leaders of student learning to create opportunities to be the most effective we possibly can in improving student achievement. We know that our work is hard, and I am glad for that, as I do not want a binder I can pull off the shelf to “solve” a student. The problems we face around learning are so complex and thus will need complex solutions. We we need to go beyond “satisfactory” approaches to “more and most effective” approaches.

The curse of our work is that it never ends, but the blessing of our work is that it never ends. I love that I have never felt like I have completely figured “it” out. If I ever feel like I have completely figured it out, then I will know that I am in trouble… J

Our work needs to promote every educator’s ability to inquire into their impact on learners, and continually working to have a more effective impact.

We are so lucky to have teachers who are striving for achieving more effective learning for each and every child. It is such an amazingly fun journey!

Work hard, learn tons!
D


If I Am “Smart,” Do I Have to Work Hard?

October 23, 2014

A bunch of learning questions have been running through my mind today:

  • If I am “smart,” do I have to work hard?
  • If I have trouble at “learning,” do I have to work hard?
  • Can kids learn to be better learners?
  • Can adults learn to be better learners?
  • Can kids learn to play soccer together?
  • Can we become more intelligent?
  • If we put the time and can we become more intelligent?
  • If we put the time in, can we become fluent in another language or music or a sport…?
  • If I have not learned something, is it that I have not learned it yet? Or that I can’t learn it…?

I think these questions, answered honestly, would tell us a lot about our educational practices and how we approach learning.

Am I a “teacher” that disseminates the information? (Sounds like using Google…)

Or am I an “educator” that is an “Activator of Thinking?” Is it my role to enable kids to learn? If the students did not learn it, who needs to worry about that?

This all comes back to our conceptions of assessment and reporting as well. What is the report card intended to do and why do we put all this work into them? What is our purpose in them? The analogy that guides my thinking is:

“Who do kids learn more from, the COACH or the JUDGE?”

Is it the number at the end that the judge gives me on my performance that I learned from? Or, if thinking about professional sports players, is it the hours of video watched and critiqued, the work with the coach to improve, the formative feedback from coaches and teammates, the intent to improve their abilities and skills, and the discussions before, during, and after the practice or game that make all the difference? Or the score in the end? Without the other stuff, the score will not be affected…

Seems like a pretty easy question, but we need to make sure that we are utilizing this thinking with all of our students. In the end it is up to us as to how we approach learning and reporting. If we are designing great learning opportunities, do they have:

  • clear learning intentions
  • challenging success criteria
  • range of learning strategies
  • know when students are not progressing
  • providing feedback
  • visibly learns themselves

SO, how do we help all kids to know that they need to work hard? Not “You are smart so you don’t need to work hard…”

Work hard and learn tons!
D


What have I learned during my time at Keeler School?

July 4, 2014
This is my last blog entry as principal of Keeler School. In the fall I will be moving to become principal of Belvedere Parkway School, which is also in Calgary. This is a very bittersweet move for me, as I have loved the work at Keeler, but am also excited to be able to to build on great learning at another school as well.
What have I learned through my years as being principal at Keeler school? I have come up with five major things:
Students are amazing and resilient…
Many of our students at Keeler face problems and challenges that most of us just cannot understand. Many face issues of poverty, neglect, lack of support, or even greater social issues. The thing I have learned is that each and everyone of these students is extremely resilient. When provided with supports, a positive environment, a safe place to be to learn, and the knowledge that people are there for you, they are able to demonstrate huge growth and development. I have learned that Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is inherently needed for every child, and in order to get to academic learning we have to make sure kids feel safe and supported.
Teachers care deeply about their students…
If you looked at provincial achievement tests (PATs) and the analysis that the Fraser Institute publishes, you might think our teachers are either unskilled or do not work hard. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We have seen huge growth in Keeler’s PAT results in the past three years due to improvements in engagement and learning, and kids are excited to come to school to learn. Our teachers go above and beyond in every way and care about each student. They work too many volunteer hours to count and have provided nearly 40 extra curricular opportunities for our students this year. They have been wonderful to work with and had has been my deep honor to be a part of this staff.
Teachers work extremely hard for work they believe in..
I believe that the creation and establishment of a vision and a culture of learning has been our biggest work. We have seen the growth that has happened as we move from a worksheet-based pedagogy to learning that is engaging and exciting for students. Our teachers have become designers of learning opportunities rather than conveyers of information. Google provides access to information. Our teachers have become much more than that…
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is key, and a feeling of safety is paramount…
This cannot be said enough. Kids must feel safe and feel that their needs are being met. Many kids who have come to the office often need food, someone to listen to them, or even a short time on our exercise bike. For most kids, a small consequence might work to correct the behavior. For many students, the behavior is a route result of much greater issues that we need to help them to be able to figure out. Being mean and choosing to get into a fight is one thing, but getting into a fight after your parents got into a physical altercation the night before is a whole other story…
Treat parents with respect, and they will treat you with respect back…
Someone told me when I first went to Keeler to expect to be yelled that and sworn out on a regular basis by the parents. I can honestly tell you I have had many parents unhappy with decisions that I have made, but I have not had parents treat me disrespectfully. Our parents are wonderful people, and need us to meet them halfway and hear what they are saying. This is not always easy, and may take a lot of time, but is worth it in the end…
As always, I wish the best for all involved at Keeler School!
Work hard and learn tons!
D

Minister’s Task Force for Teaching Excellence – My Own Personal Thoughts…

June 4, 2014

“Teaching is not my job, it’s my passion. Getting better at it – that’s my job!”
~Unknown

There has been a lot in the news about the Minister’s Task Force for Teaching Excellence. On November 4th, 2013, I had the opportunity to attend one of the facilitated sessions held throughout Alberta, along with another number of trustees, principals, assistant principals, and teachers at the table that I was sitting at. The room was full of other fellow educators and colleagues all providing feedback on how we could improve and support the work of teachers in Alberta. I also shared my thinking through an online process. (see below for the URL to share your feedback now!)

The facilitation was excellent and allowed people to share their ideas. There was a lot of discussion at our table about questions like:

  • What does “teaching excellence” look like?
  • What does an excellent classroom look like?
  • What supports are needed to provide to teachers to create this environment?
  • How can collaboration at the school, district and provincial level assist in sharing out best practices?
  • How should Alberta teachers provide assurance that their practice is excellence?

(see my full notes from our table group below…)

I feel that I was able to have my say, and all teachers and stakeholders had the same opportunity. I took time away from my family, my work, my free time, on an evening back in November to go and share my thoughts, desires, dreams, and expectations for what I want education to look like in Alberta and how Teaching Excellence. As I look back in my emails, I see that every teacher in Calgary was invited. The opportunities were there, and I made sure I took advantage…

We can complain or we can take part…

I am not getting political on this one. I am not choosing sides with either the Alberta Teachers Association or the Minister of Education, but am looking at the ideas from three lens:

  1. What is best for the students in Alberta?
  2. What is best for my own kids in their own classrooms as they are undertaking their own educational journeys?
  3. What is best for Educators and our profession in Alberta?

As a principal and teacher, I get judged on the same brush (as do all phenomenal educators) as our “least able” practitioners. I have worked with and coached amazing teachers, and this is always step one. We coach the best teachers, and we coach all teachers. At some point, though, we do have teachers who need to be counseled out of the profession and I find it difficult knowing that year after year they are at best they are not providing a good education, and at worst harming another set of students.

Keep in mind the words of Damian Cooper. “Who do we learn more from, a coach or a judge?” I love acting as a coach to help and give feedback! At some point, though, coaching is not the work. There is a line…

We, as a profession, need to and must do better at hold ourselves to higher expectations. Having someone “essentially” do his or her job is like having someone get a suspension and “essentially” not be able to teach. The perception on the part of the public is absolutely horrible… I want my kids with phenomenal teachers, rather than an individual who is “essentially” teaching them.

Our profession and individual teachers need both a “coach” and a “referee.” As a principal in a building, I often have to be both. The coach supports and builds our collective practice and culture, and helps individuals to grow and improve. The referee has to enforce the rules and expectations and hold individuals accountable:

“Teachers guide their actions by their overall visions of the purpose of teaching. They actively refine and redefine their visions in light of the ever-changing context, new knowledge and understandings, and their experiences. While these visions are dynamic and grow in depth and breadth over teachers’ careers, the visions maintain at their core a commitment to teaching practices through which students can achieve optimum learning.”

Teaching Quality Standard

Our ATA has helped us as a profession immensely in many ways. I question, though, that they can positively and effectively fill both the role of the “Coach” as well as “Referee” without conflict of interest. There is a perception in the public that they are there only to protect ineffective teachers.

As educators, we have to work with the public and the government. Negative tweets through the ATA will not help that. I continue to hope that Alberta holds us to high standards, and that we, as a profession, work to do our best to rise up to them. I work with a staff of absolutely amazing and passionate educators, and have a ton of exemplary and phenomenal educator colleagues in this province. They know the high regard with which I hold them and their work.

Referring back to some of the tweets that were sent out through #ARA2014 on Twitter, I am a “do-gooder” (as I hope all educators are), and our professional work needs to go further than “essentially” making sure the best teachers work at engaging each one of our students every day…

Make sure you share your voice at:

https://inspiring.education.alberta.ca/initiative/task-force-for-teaching-excellence/

I did!

D

 

 

 

Appendix:

I take notes at meetings (as I am a very visual learner) and I find it so helpful to go back to later as needed. Below are my notes from the Minister’s Task Force for Teaching Excellence session I attended on November 4th, 2013. These were not all my own thoughts, but those of the people at our table group. I did not write down the names or roles, but we had numerous Teachers, Learning Leaders, Assistant Principals, Principals, Parents and even a Trustee from a board outside of Calgary. It demonstrates the process and conversation, and the actual questions that guided the work.

It was a night of phenomenal conversation and thought…

 

 

November 4th, 2013

Inspiring Education – Looking at Excellence in Teaching…

Minister’s Task Force for Teaching Excellence

https://legerweb.com/teachingexcellence

The Minister of Education has set up a Task Force has been set up to make recommendations to the Minister on how to support teachers in shaping the learning of children in Alberta. Report will go to the Minister in January of 2014.

How do we put the vision of “Inspiring Education” into action?

Engaged Thinker, Ethical Citizen, Entrepreneurial Spirit…

What does “teaching excellence” look like?

  • Students tell their parents what they learned when at home
  • Identify where a kid is at and design learning opportunities to reach and engage them
  • Students are excited about coming in early, at lunch, or after school
  • Learning needs are taken care of today so that students are prepared for tomorrow
  • Creating and utilizing relationships to develop passion for learning
  • Creating opportunities that are hands-on, purposeful and relevant to their lives
  • Competency, adaptability, flexibility, able to change and develop
  • Engage, Enrich, Empower (Rockyview School Division motto?)
  • Empowering students to make decisions for themselves

What does an excellent classroom look like?

  • Students are active and engaged in their work
  • Students are “thinking” and learning to think, not just information dissemination and taking notes…
  • Students are learning (thinking!)
  • Tasks are purposeful and skillfully designed by the teacher
  • Students need skills
  • Real world issues are being examined
  • Student choice
  • Students can talk about what they are learning, not what they are doing
  • Students engage in reflective thought and formative assessment

What supports are needed to provide to teachers to create this environment?

  • Resources/Time!
  • Finding ways of sharing best practices
  • Time for professional conversation and school improvement (more formalized beyond PLCs)
  • A professional college for standards for educators, split up the ATA into a union and a professional college
  • We need to get out of the WAY! Unleash students and teachers!
  • Simplify the Program of Studies to what is important, teach kids to think, focus on the love of learning & literacy & numeracy
  • Training for EAs and for new teachers
  • More staff and supports for students in classrooms
  • Split up the ATA into a union and into a professional college
  • Less initiatives… less work that does not enhance learning
  • More and better assistive technology for student learning
  • Our Million $$$ Kids – early supports for families and supporting learning before they get to formal schooling in Kindergarten
  • How do we make sure that “kids love school” versus “having to do school?” Take an oath to “do no harm”

How can collaboration at the school, district and provincial level assist in sharing out best practices?

  • Develop a culture of risk taking, reflection, experimentation and improvement
  • Embedded professional learning and time built into the work day
  • Instructional leadership is imperative for all teachers
  • Teachers learn alongside each other
  • Team Teaching/Planning opportunities, minimize the “lonely teacher in the single classroom”
  • Looking creatively at how we work with students and with staff
  • Minimize formal meeting times and allow for teachers to be professionals
  • Formal Leadership needs to allow and enable informal leadership in the school
  • Peer/Self evaluation and reflection, culture of respect and purpose of growth/accountability
  • Time for dialogue, conversation, feedback
  • Utilize the Teacher Effectiveness Framework and Rubric (TEFR) as a guide to best practice
  • Financial backing to allow this collaboration to take place

How should Alberta teachers provide assurance that their practice is excellence?

  • Professional college with professional standards
  • Peer accountability and supports
  • Teacher accountability for student growth within that year
  • Make grading make sense for parents and students, no surprises for parents
  • Focus on learning, not grades
  • Develop a culture of risk taking, reflection, experimentation and improvement
  • Ongoing communication with parents, what is excellent learning?
  • Did students know what is expected? Do they get what they need?
  • Do teachers care about my kid?
  • Assessments to guide instruction, rather than PATs
  • Classroom and learning is open and visible
  • Teacher meets parents halfway – relationships with the teacher
  • Communication with the parents – no surprises

Big Takeaways…

  1. Focus on Learning not Teaching… it is about the student!
  2. No teacher is an Island! Collaboration is key to growth in education…
  3. Strength-Based Model – recognize great work teachers are already doing…
  4. All about the relationship…
  5. Be transparent with the community and staff…
  6. Less is more… Work smarter not harder…

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) – My Own Essential Learnings…

May 21, 2014

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) has been at the forefront of my thinking over the past two weeks. I immensely believe that in order for educators to be able to enable students in academic learning, Physical, Social and Emotional needs must be met or at least have a plan in place for developing the needed competencies.

Basically, a student cannot learn if they are hungry, are anxious about what is happening in their home, or worried about their safety. As well, if they do not have the skills or competencies to deal with issues, concerns, and disputes as they arise, they will have a difficult day in a school where they must live and learn with hundreds of other students and adult staff.

The Circle of Courage is a major part of the culture and tradition of Keeler School, and has been the biggest factor in the development of a philosophy that builds and recognizes the development of citizenship, belonging, generosity, independence and mastery. I think the next step for us is looking at how we actively teach and coach students, all students, in developing their SEL competencies and skills.

In that regard, what do we need to do to improve to enable student learning in both Social and Emotional Learning, as well as setting them up for improvement and success in academic learning?

Develop a school culture of citizenship and SEL… We must live SEL through the culture of the school through common language, understandings, focus, and intentionality. The Circle of Courage will remain our cultural foundation, but now we need to reflect on how we better enable the development of the skills and competencies that build on that foundation.

We must be direct teaching in the development of SEL competencies… We sometimes forget that students do not automatically gain these skills through osmosis.

We must be purposeful in working to enable students to develop SEL competencies… This is not something to be left to chance. We use class meetings, teachable moments, guided inquiry, and specific, focused lessons so students can develop these competences from Kindergarten on through their school career.

This is long-term learning, not a short-term solution… This will not solve all of our issues, but we will see a change in the school culture through this work. This will help us to move beyond reactive.

We must find ways to be proactive in working with students around behavioral, social, and emotional needs… I believe students can learn, all students, how better to work with and get along with others, as well as about their own social and emotional needs and lagging skills.

Teachers, Staff and Administrators must all act as positive role models and coaches… If we are not modeling this, with each other, with kids, with parents, who will?

When an issue does arise (as they always will), we must look at the core of the issue and examine what the lagging skills are, then work to develop and coach students… What is the core of this issue? What does the student need to improve? How do we coach them to build them up?

When a student is referred to the office, we must support students with strategies where we are role modeling as well… How can we assist them in learning to self-regulate after the escalation, as well as build up strategies and supports to prevent the escalation in the first place?

  • Do they need food, as they are hungry?
  • Give them some time. Whenever I rush this process, I find it just is not effective…
  • Use of consistent resources such as Strategy posters that can guide the student’s reflection and guide discussion between kids and adults.
  • An exercise bike or an individual trampoline – I have experimented with having an exercise bike available for students (if they choose to use it) as an active way to self-regulate, rather than “Sit down and be quiet.” I have a visual timer that we set for a specific time for them to use the bike. The early results have been great, when the kids choose to use it… Often a student who was highly escalated comes off smiling!
  • The implementation of a Sensory Room – A place with mats, swings or special rocking chairs, exercise balls, individual trampoline, calming lights, etc.
  • One principal shared that she has a Velcro target board with Velcro Ping-Pong balls that the students love to use, which is also a great distractor.
  • Pulse Meters as part of Math, but to have students check their pulse rate and then have them do self-calming. It is also a distraction or diversion…
  • Another principal shared that she keeps a bin of mixed up markers that needs to be sorted by a students, and it magically keeps getting mixed up!
  • Time for Writing for students to be able to think and reflect
  • Time for Reading as a calming strategy
  • A problem-solving process that students are used to, whether it is individual and quiet or it is guided and collaborative with an adult.
  • I think probably the biggest factor and strategy is how much of a focus on SEL takes place in the classrooms in the students’ daily lives at school. This work enables administrators in the office to build on the learning that is already taking place!

This is my thinking at the moment. I can’t wait to engage in further learning and collaboration with my colleagues!
D


The First Experience of SEL with Schools New to PATHS

May 15, 2014

These recommendations came from discussions with the teams from Denver, Tampa, Tacoma and Penn State on their experiences implementing Social and Emotional Learning (SEL):

  • Start with young ages so that it can be built on year to year. (I would say all ages…)
  • Do not implement it as a pilot in only a few classrooms. It is meant to be a whole school way of life and tool for building a school-wide culture.
  • Saying “Here is the PATHS box, go get started!” is not the best strategy for setting up teachers to be successful…!
  • Teachers need to develop the understanding that “This is not something added to your plate. This is your plate!”
  • PATHS and SEL are meant to be beyond reactive, but are meant to be a proactive and long-term strategy for student growth.
  • SEL and PATHS need to be classroom-based and relationship-based, they do not recommend you have a “PATHS teacher.”
  • Make the time for SEL! It can and should be integrated into the big, essential work, and if done well will make enhance the learning that takes place once kids feel safe, belong, and are better able to self-regulate.
  • Make it work for you and your students!
  • The School Administrators are KEY! Stories were shared about how often SEL was not wanted, or it was felt it was not needed, or it was too “airy-fairy” or “too huggy,” or just “not our work.”
  • Community Education with parents and stakeholders build the program to go beyond the school. After school programs? Lunch program? Breakfast Program?
  • Coaching of students by teachers and teachers by coaches takes place in the classroom, side by side, and supports the sustainability and growth of SEL.
  • Evaluation, assessment and measurement will help to see if the work on SEL is beneficial, and should be used in formative ways to guide the needs of the students, classrooms, and schools.
  • Parent Engagement and training is hugely beneficial. Have kids taking this learning home and sharing it with parents. Data would be great to show the differences. How is it helping at the school or even at home?
  • Get all stakeholders on board, even our secretaries, lunchroom supervisors, breakfast supervisors, facility operators and bus drivers!
  • Reciprocal teaching is a great strategy, where kids are teaching kids and providing support.
  • Early Intervention is so positive and sets the students up for better success during their time at our school.
  • PATHS is very useful for adults to be able to role-model using the strategies if they are upset as well!
  • SEL has excellent ties to goal-setting and formative assessment.
  • “How ever much time you think you can give to it, make it double! It takes time, but the time is so worth it!”
  • “Make it part of your whole day! Integrate it into all of your work!”
  • “Make it part of your culture. It needs to permeate the school.”
  • “The whole staff needs to be working with kids on SEL, helping kids attach issues from the same perspective.”
  • “Work on it in the moment it comes up, when and as needed…”
  • “Modeling for our staff what we are looking for and actually using this as adults as well. We even use the Feeling Faces as adults to show others where we are in the moment. Model what you want the adult to do with the kids with the adults themselves.”

I think this all goes back to the idea of formative assessment, but instead of it being focused on academics, it is on our social and emotional well-being. “Who do you learn more from, the judge or the coach?” Or, in this case, “Get out of my classroom!” or “Let’s work on this…!”
D


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