The beginning of last week’s entry began to discuss, in a way, the beginning of our development as social and emotional individuals. If you’ve never heard of Erikson’s Eight Stages of Development, find a great article here that explains each stage. Fascinating (maybe only to a mental health counselor) how each stage is characterized by a psychological crisis that needs to be resolved before graduation into the next stage of development. Trust vs. Mistrust, for example is the first stage a person goes through beginning at birth through their second year of life...Read More
For me there is nothing better than a kids book, with a great message. I love reading to a group of my students and problem solving social issues before we turn to the next page of the story. I love their reaction to different points in my favorite books, and how eager they are to improve their friendship skills or helping skills or just to just hear a funny story. I want to share some of my favorite books that all have great messages in helping develop socially aware, emotionally competent students. Please comment with your favorites, I am always looking for more! Links to Amazon included for each, just in case you’re inclined to purchase!
Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins This book is about a cake that has some trouble with please and thank you’s. Can the rudest cake in the land learn to mind his manners? What are manners and why are manner’s important?
A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon A wonderful story about a young lady named Camilla Cream, who struggles to just be herself for fear of being made fun of by others. She worries all the time, mainly about what others will think about her. Great reading for teaching self-esteem and not following the crowd. Perfect for a first day (or 1st week) of school book, as the book begins with Camila worrying about her first day of school.
My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook Our main character, Louis has some trouble waiting his turn, especially when it comes to speaking. This book walks reads through what it’s like for Louis and how he uses a pretty cool strategy to help him patiently wait for his turn to share. Great rhymes throughout that gets kids involved.
What if Everybody Did That? By Ellen Javernick Such a great book about social responsibility to help encourage the development of caring citizens. Is it ok for you to break the rules? What if everyone did that?
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires How many of your students get frustrated and because of this want to quit? I love messages that encourage a change in perspective, which is exactly what this book does. Often we can’t change circumstances, or take away what is causing the frustration…but what if we look at it from a different angle?
Better than Good Job! Empowering phrases for kids
I fall victim to the “Good Job” curse more often than I care to admit. It’s such a hallow phrase, it’s unspecific and general…but it rolls off the tongue so easily when a student does something…well, good. - “Great job bud!” The truth is, a teacher’s words of encouragement often carry their students through challenging moments. Praise fills our tanks, the right set of words, at the perfect moment, wow, it’s like a jolt of energy. These moments with our students is what builds a strong foundational relationship, and new teachers building classroom management skills can definitely benefit from expanding their praise bank of praise phrases.
I try to be cognizant when giving praise and encouragement, taking a moment to choose my words carefully so that they are specific to the moment, AND the student. Want to work on this with me? Here are some of my favorite phrases to use with my kiddo’s:
You are so smart
You made a very careful choice
I have faith in you
I know that you can __________
_______ was a challenge, and you didn’t give up!
You are so resilient
I believe in you
I see that you are working incredibly hard
I am curious, how would you solve this?
I am excited to see what you come up with
You make me smile
This warms my heart
I am confident you’ll come up with something
I knew you could ______
You were such a kind friend to _____ when _______
Ya know, everyone makes mistakes, what can you do different next time?
You are strong
I love your confidence
You’re a careful thinker
You’re showing me that you’re a careful listener
You’re so helpful
I was reminded this morning, as a tweet came across my newsfeed from “DPScommunityDistrict”, and I went “who?” that DPS is currently re-structuring, re-imaging and I hope, re-evaluating how Detroit’s learning communities deliver education to students in the city. It’s a tough job for education leaders trying to hold together a system that has been pulling apart at the seams for many years. I choose to see this time in Detroit’s resurgence as an opportunity to be a model for education reform – I want DPSCD to be the example people use to when they talk about successful students, prepared for higher education, career path and LIFE. I want the spot light that is hot and centered on restaurant growth in the city, to shine brightly over public education, I want New Detroit Teachers in the city to be able to say with pride, I teach in Detroit, come look at what we’re doing. The fact that this new district allows for non certified teachers doesn’t give me a lot of hope…
One of the largest downfalls in public education (in general) is the lack of psychological services available to students AND teachers on K-12 campuses. This is most definitely a nationwide issue, and not solely a Detroit problem. Fact, school counselors and social workers are practically non-existent. Active employee data for the city does not appear to be available via the DPSCD’s website, so it’s difficult to determine where we stand locally. DPS currently has 1 job opening listed for a school social worker (0 for school counselors) details pending RE number of SW employed and number of students enrolled. Even suburban districts like the (substantially smaller that DPSCD) Novi Community School District have 2 school social workers and 4 school counselors for their over 2,000 student high school. Chicago area teachers sighted the lack of social work support as a large part for their strike in 2012 – 370 social workers for the district, leaving 1 social worker per 1,000 students. Just this past March the ASCA (American School Counselor Association) published a nationwide average of 481 students to 1 counselor during the 2013-2014 school year.
Shocking. Let’s pull this apart – 481 students, with roughly 20 school days per month, that’d mean seeing about 24 students per day, 120 per week. For arguments sake let’s say that only about half of those “really need” that level of intensive support – so 60 kids per week, 12 kids per day. Let’s give them 30 minutes of facetime with the counselor on their given day. So to see all of those 60 kids every given week, that counselor needs to be able to devote 6 hours of his/her day, each and every day to just keeping up with this set of students. School days 8 hours – so with the remaining 2 hours, counselor needs to manage crisis situations, problem solve with teachers/staff, see “non-essential” students to offer support, paperwork…eat…PEE!?
I wonder if districts look at what school mental health professionals provide and see value in the student support? Beyond academic guidance and college/career prep school based counselors:
· guide and support special education assessments, can help identify learning challenges and create support solutions
· provide essential information about life factors (cultural, economic, family) and how they affect student performance and behavior
· connect students and families to community resources for long term or more intensive services (transpiration, housing, food, financial, wellness and the list goes on)
· strategize, positive, preventative interventions with teachers and administrators to help keep students in class and ready to learn
· manage crisis prevention and intervention for campus issues/concerns
· work with students in adjusting their home life/school life balance
New Detroit Teacher, your campus NEEDS to make supporting the emotional development, and psychological needs of your students a priority. Chalkbeat reported earlier this month about a state funded program in Colorado that was able to save the state $300M, reduce counselor to student ratios and increase daily attendance. The grant program that ran from 2010 – 2015 gave $16M to 59 schools during this time in an effort to strengthen the bridge between primary Ed and higher Ed/career. Almost 3 quarters of the students effected by this initiative were minorities and from low income areas of the state. By the 4th year of the program counselor to student ratios were down to 1 – 216, dropout rates where down (rebounding a little in the last funded year) and the estimated savings were around $300M in potential lost taxes and need for other social services.
The relationships we form (and by “we” I mean it all inclusively to mean every single adult on your campus) with students is what keeps them engaged, connected and with their butts in classroom seats. Academic skill building is imperative to their growth as individuals, it’s the foundation of a successful future in higher learning, a sustainable career and ultimately happy, healthy, adulthood. New Detroit Teacher, shouldn’t it be our mission to clear the path?
We can all acknowledge that the school environment is built for students who have more extroverted tendencies. Even the expectations that we have for students in the classroom lean heavily towards extrovert learning styles – class participation, group activities, seating arrangements. Students who are more introverted tend to thrive when they are able to spend time reflecting, internally, about their own thoughts and ideas. Introverts have nervous systems that react more to everything that is going on around them – which is incredibly exhausting.
Introverted students often prefer solitary activities like reading, writing, and using the computer. Tendency towards introversion is not to be mistaken with shyness…students who prefer to do quiet activities, alone or in a small group, do not necessarily have social anxiety tied to the fear of being judged the way “shy” students do.
I am definitely an introvert (she types as she’s writing a blog post from a quiet office where she’s spent the morning researching, and thinking about this topic….) Thinking back to elementary and middle school, I remember the panic that set in when a teacher would call on me to answer a question in front of the class, or the heat that rose in my face while in the chaotic cafeteria during lunch. I’d always be the first to volunteer to help out in the library or office when my classroom had a substitute teacher; get me out of this unstructured mess! Lucky for me, I guess, I was able to, er, suggest… to teachers back in the day that I would be better suited helping out vs. sitting in class. As an adult this has definitely made me think, how can we support introverted students in an environment clearly not designed with them in mind?
Promote - Think First, Then Answer in your classroom. Introverted students need the opportunity to process their thoughts and ideas before they give a response. Usually they are not the first kiddo to raise a hand to answer your question. This doesn’t mean they’re not paying attention, or not interested in the lesson – it just means they need some time to think it through. Create activities that give your more introverted students time (and breathing room) to do what comes naturally to them...process. Use a timer to allow time for your students thinking time before they respond.
Pose the question
Set timer for 30 seconds
Allow students to raise a quiet hand and answer.
One of my 8th grade Social Studies classrooms receives a civics based question at the end of each school day. Students are expected to think about it over the evening, research if they choose to, and come to class the next morning prepared to talk about their response. Their class begins each morning with a 15-minute discussion centered around the previous day’s question.
Diversify class participation points. Students that feel comfortable sharing in front of their peers, and being called on in class will quickly rack up classroom participation points. Social engagement and the anticipation of randomly being picked on to answer a question in the moment can send an introvert into hyper preservation mode – which can look like disengagement, boredom or outright defiance. When really – they’re over stimulated. Now, this is an area where we need to help students create some balance and understanding with their own likes and needs. BUT, we live in an extrovert focused world and giving introverted kiddo’s opportunities to remain in their comfort zone are important…but so is giving them strategies to successfully navigate any and all situations – and this includes undesirable ones.
Even out class participation to include raising a hand in class, helpful activities like running errands to the office, writing activities, one on one discussions etc.
Create and USE a quiet zone. Most of the elementary school classrooms I’ve been in have a reading nook, or quiet activity corner for students. This type of space is so important, and very helpful for all students. Work diligently to keep this a quiet space, used by a couple of students at a time.
Encourage your school to expand the use of a quiet zone into recess time as well. I know that as a society right now we are focused on reducing childhood obesity and recess and running around is part of this plan. Total advocate for this, movement is incredibly important for ALL students. But the chaos of recess can be overwhelming for students who tend to be more introverted. Advocate for the importance of having a space for these kiddos to destress from engaging with a sea of people. A place for them to play with chalk, Play-Doh, build with blocks, jump rope, read etc.
Notice. Most importantly, notice the uniqueness that introverts bring to your classroom and how it effects them functioning in an environment built for more extroverted people. Introverted students enjoy meaningful conversations and close relationships where they are given the opportunity to think things through. Notice how your students respond in your classroom, watch them in the lunch room and as they move between classes. How do they cope? What are their strengths?
In a society where we’re expected to be outgoing and social, it can be difficult and even feel shameful to be an introvert. Introverts are talented, gifted and incredibly resourceful students. Let your classroom reflect your belief in this, met ‘em closer to their comfort level. Oh and, take a listen to one of the most watched Ted Talks, put on by author of The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain.