Social and Emotional Learning: A Schoolwide Approach

>>Susan: What would it be like if we
walked around and we had mindful eyes?>>Student: We’d notice like
almost everything around us, and we’d be aware of our surroundings.>>Susan: Absolutely. Think about that when you–>>Joan: What makes Symonds
successful is the integration of social and academic learning.>>Richard: By the time they get to fifth
grade, they’re actually pretty good at being able to talk
about issues and things that are happening in their lives.>>Susan: Social Emotional Learning is an
essential piece of the child’s ability to function in a school setting. They’re being asked to integrate
their conversations in ways that are not natural to them. They’re asked to sit more closely to
someone than they might choose to. They need to function
in a social setting in order to learn their academics. The children need to see it and hear
it in many, many different ways.>>Joan: Because it is so integrated,
you almost can’t pull it apart. It’s all about the little pieces.>>Teacher: Check for
whole-body listening. Eyes, ears, heart– showing me
that you’re caring about me. Brain, make sure you’re
thinking about my words. Body is still.>>All: [singing] “Body,
body, body, body. Whole-body listening with my body. Now’s not the time for
practicing karate.”>>Richard: We spent a lot of time
and effort trying to create a warm and supportive environment, so kids
graduate from here with confidence. But before you can understand
yourself and your feelings, you have to be able to
identify what they are.>>Teacher: We’re going to
read a scenario or a trigger about something that might happen. Your job is to move your
body near a mat of that zone.>>Joan: Let’s say you
woke up feeling sick.>>Teacher: I want you to move
like you are feeling sick. How would you feel? What zone would be expected
if you’re sick.>>Ivy: I picked blue because
you’re tired, and you’re sad, because you might have had a
playdate that day or something.>>Teacher: Disappointed
that you’re feeling sick. What would be the red zone
feeling that you might feel?>>Student: Mad.>>Teacher: You might be mad
that you’re missing something. That would definitely
be a red zone feeling.>>Joan: We want kids to understand,
you know, what their feeling state is. If it’s an uncomfortable feeling
state, “What tools do I have so I can bring myself
back into the green zone?”>>Richard: We spent a lot
of time talking with kids about what strategies they should
apply in what circumstances.>>Susan: Our shoulders are
down, our heads are tall, like they’re poking through the clouds. We’re strong like a mountain. You can use your anchor spot to help
you with your mindful breathing. If your thoughts go away to
the past, or to the future, remember judging, planning,
just notice it. Breathing in, breathing out. Okay, here we go.>>Susan: Mindfulness is teaching
people to be in the present. And to be open to what’s
happening right now.>>Gretchen: She’s had a really
positive effect on the class. They’ve had a chance to realize, “Oh,
when I’m really feeling stressed out, I can go, “Stop,” take some breaths. Sort of be in a better
place, or be more ready to handle what’s happening in my day.>>Susan: Why are we doing this?>>Student: Stay in the
present and concentrate.>>Student: Helps to be calm.>>Justin: If I can’t figure out
a problem in math or something, it helps me not get stressed
out as much.>>Susan: We teach the social
skill, we model the social skills, but the more opportunities
they have to do things outside of the structured classroom, the better.>>Susan: Lunch Groups are just
a way to support kids in terms of their Social Emotional Learning by
getting an opportunity to come together with a supportive adult, and their
peers, and practice friendship skills and problem-solving skills.>>Susan: What’s your
happiest thing today.>>Student: That I got to go
ice-skating over vacation.>>Student: Aaliyah,,
what is your happy thing?>>Aaliyah: I went to Massachusetts
to go see my dad for five days.>>Aaliyah: It actually feels
good to have four people so you’re not really
nervous about what you say.>>Susan: When you get
compliments, how do you feel?>>Aaliyah: I feel really
proud, because I’m…>>Susan: We’re really asking them who
they are, and what matters to them, and what’s going well for them,
and what’s not going well for them. And encouraging each other
to help each other out.>>Aaliyah: It really hurts
sometimes, and it actually feels good when I let it out, because they
actually help me about my problems.>>Ivy: Sometimes when you let out
your feelings, you don’t really like worry about it so much.>>Ivy: I feel mad because
I’m doing the work that I’m supposed to do, and you’re not.>>Susan: Okay, and what do you want?>>Ivy: I would like you to do your part.>>Susan: Awesome. Assertive. Great.>>Alli: One of my students was
new to Symonds School this year. After she started going to group, I noticed a big difference
in her behavior. She seemed more receptive
to directions and learning. She really started to open up.>>Richard: And we try to give
kids a lot of opportunities where they can be successful, and then have them build upon
those successful experiences and transfer them into
the academic world. If kids can graduate from here
with a degree of self-confidence, that is a gift that we can give them
which will carry them throughout life.

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