No one who is alive today has ever lived through what we are currently living through! But even more impactful - no one alive today has ever lived through a nationwide school closure.
The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented disruption to academic learning. Our students are now in the high risk category of profound learning loss! But not only do they have major gaps in their academic learning - their social emotional learning skills have also been impacted!
“Even with prevalent support for teaching social-emotional learning and a growing understanding of how deeply intertwined skills like building healthy peer relationships and responsible decision making are with academic success, there are big challenges when it comes to the reality of teaching SEL on a grand scale when times are normal.” ~EducationWeek, 2020
These times are anything, but normal, though. And as a result, Social Emotional Learning, or SEL, needs to continue to be taught, whether we are teaching in person or from our computers.
And teachers know this - they are actively learning and working to build their own knowledge of SEL and how to teach and support it in our new classrooms.
Social media has been flooded with ways to re-imagine teaching in a COVID world. From bitmoji classrooms to personalized student calm down tools, we have so many options for teaching at our fingertips. But as a result, there can't be many of us that are not overwhelmed right now. But being overwhelmed impacts teacher self care, and if teachers are not emotionally healthy, their students will suffer.
So what do teachers need to do?
The following is a list of the key takeaway needs from the most recent research on SEL:
#1 Make Research-Based Decisions
Research, based on the science of learning, gives us the tool to make expert decisions for our students’ futures. The purpose of educational research is to develop new knowledge about the teaching and learning of students to improve our educational practices. So why would we re-invent the wheel?
Check out EducationWeek’s online summit of experts and CASEL for a list of evidence-based SEL practices for re-opening!
#2 Use a Team Approach
There are many teams within our school buildings. Every school building has a student team, a staff team, and a community team. Within each of those teams, there are even smaller teams.
It’s important, then, to get the input of all of these stakeholders. What are teachers feeling? What are teachers needing? How are students feeling? What are our students needing? Are our families having all of their needs met? We need to know this input to guide our decision-making process.
And another team that schools should have is a re-opening team. We can’t all be the experts in everything, but we are all experts in something! So as we begin to identify our community needs, we can also call upon our experts to support those needs. For instance, if our teachers are asking for a concrete protocol to follow when they have identified a student as emotionally at-risk, then call in your school psychologists and counselors to meet that need!
#3 Check Community Emotions
By now we all know the importance of emotional check-ins in our classrooms, right? They help to give us a pulse on the classroom and identify the emotional well-being of each individual student. Oftentimes, in schools, we sit in our morning meetings and share how we are feeling, but how do we do this when we are not in the classroom?
Use surveys or meetings to check-in on the emotional pulse of the school community, and this includes students, staff, and families. These emotional check-ins will allow schools to be able to identify those needs that we discussed in our second step.
#4 Approach SEL Curricula Organically
Continually checking the emotional pulse of the community helps us to make decisions and adjust accordingly as community emotions fluctuate. What this means, then, is that we can take an organic approach to our SEL curriculum.
SEL instruction and supports can be tailored to meet the needs of the community based upon the ebb and flow of our own individualized communities. The practices that we choose to implement, then, will be responsive to the community’s needs
#5 Explicitly Integrate SEL
‘Time on learning’ is a popular phrase in education. We have lost a lot of time on learning this year. So do we even have time to address SEL?
Make time! SEL is a must.
Schools should continue to teach core SEL skills. This instruction should be explicit in its teaching of what social and emotional skills look and feel like in action. However, research has shown that when we embed SEL instruction into our academic content areas, it can be more effective than pull-out programs. Therefore, core skills can be linked to our content area learning standards.
We can further support students’ SEL skills by embedding SEL practices into our daily routines (even if you are not in person, we can still have a Google Meet morning meeting!) and by addressing students’ SEL needs through personalized learning as well. Remember how we have our thumb on our community’s pulse? Well, this is another reason why we do that! Through check-ins, we can support our students’ evolving needs with SEL lessons that are additional to our core curriculums (i.e. coping skills for remote learning, mask wearing anxiety, anti-racism, etc.). By taking this organic approach to our SEL instruction, we can be proactive in both our instruction and supports.
#6 Offer Continuous Training
Teachers are amazing. That is my biggest takeaway from this school year.
Teachers inspired a nation by what they were able to accomplish in a time of crisis. Although the immensity of the task was unprecedented, teachers transformed living breathing classrooms into a productive remote learning environments. And this happened in a matter of moments!
That seemed impossible! And yet teachers found a way to make it happen.
But now that we have more than 10 minutes to plan, schools should support these amazing beings! Teachers are going to need both initial and ongoing professional development for SEL curricula.
As our students’ needs evolve, our expertise is going to need to as well! Support our teachers to support our students!
#7 Progress Monitor Emotions
We progress monitor the impact of our academic instruction so why don’t we do this with SEL?
Emotions change. One minute we are happily driving, belting out our favorite tune as it blasts through our speakers, and the next minute, that happiness can crash into anger as another driver cuts you off. A moment later, you feel relieved because you realized had you not been paying attention, that moment could have ended in a crash.
Schools should create a continual feedback loop. So don’t just implement #3 by surveying the community once; keep doing it!
During this past year, we have seen our lives completely shift in a matter of days and weeks, and with that, our emotions changed as well. Stay vigilant and keep your thumb on this pulse to be proactive.
We can’t do it all. Begin by identifying standards and priorities. Then, align those with a few best practice strategies to support your students’ success. Students do not need you to be the teacher who tries all the new trendy strategies; they just need you!
By: Miss Rae
Calming corners. Movement breaks. Calming toolkits. Mindfulness. These are all becoming common terms in today’s classrooms. The teaching of such soft skills through character education-like programs was once considered to be an accessory to the curriculum. Today, though, Social Emotional Learning has emerged as an integral component in a student’s ability to learn.
By now, we have all heard of the meta-analysis study that publicized an average increase in academic achievement of 11 percentage points (Durlak, et al., 2011). Other studies have determined that an increase of students’ Social Emotional Learning skills reduce student distress and behavior problems (Catalano et al., 2002; Greenberg et al., 2003; Zins et al., 2004, Zins, et al., 2007).
With all of these benefits, embedding Social Emotional Learning into our schools seems logical. And furthermore, it seems like a natural fit for our students with Learning Disabilities.
The co-morbidity (meaning the presence of more than one disorder in the same student) rate research shows that they are consistently higher than expected by chance between reading disorders and other neurodevelopmental disorders (Moll, et al., 2020). Students identified with reading disorders demonstrate a co-morbidity rate range between 20 to 50 percent for a reading disorder and a behavioral disorder (i.e. ADHD) and 9 to 29 percent for reading disorder and emotional problems like anxiety.
Learning disabilities do occur in isolation as do other neurodevelopmental disorders. This fact doesn’t help us though. This means that whether a student has more than one disability or just one, the student is at-risk for poor socio-emotional outcomes (Haft, et al., 2016).
It’s pretty simple what this all means -
Our students with learning disabilities benefit from Social Emotional Learning.
When students reflect on their own academic and social emotional competencies, they can begin to set goals for these skills. And through the pursuit of these goals, educators can support students in their achievement.
We can help students to periodically pause and reflect. Reflection, paired with goal setting, allows academic experiences to transfer into genuine, lifelong learning. It helps students to develop an understanding of their own strengths and lagging skills for improvement, increase their higher order and critical thinking skills, make connections and generalize problem solving skills to real life situations. Students learn to analyze and apply their learning independently - and isn’t independence always the goal of Special Education?!
Educators can use reflection tasks such as discussion, journaling, free writing, or in response to a content-based prompt.
From the classroom to the playground, all students have moments that upon reflection, they are able to make connections between what is taught in theory to its application in real life. Reflection leads to learning.
Relationships are the heart of the classroom and the key to successful student learning and management. The core Social Emotional Learning skills teach the initiation, development, and maintenance of healthy relationships. Healthy relationships are the pervasive outcome that are intertwined as the outcome of ALL Social Emotional Learning competences.
Supportive and healthy relationships, and the skills they entail, are the one commonality of all prevention programs for at-risk students. And at-risk students often demonstrate lagging emotional competencies as well as acting out behaviors. But if we can teach these students how to initiate, maintain, and develop healthy relationships, we can change their futures.
Strong relationships help students grow from their learning, both academically and behaviorally. They also shape student development and health. One way that they do this is to protect against the negative impact of stress on a student’s development and health. Research has shown that relationships are able to provide this protection against stress.
And this research is very important for our students with learning disabilities. Our students with learning disabilities experience stress at high levels. In one study, 16.6 percent of participants with learning disabilities stated that they were experiencing severe stress (Panicker, et al., 2016). Supportive, healthy relationships can offer protection against such stress.
We build relationships with students by greeting each of them daily and saying “good-bye” to each of them every afternoon. Student and family inventories, surveys, and questionnaires can help educators learn more about student preferences, obtain actionable feedback, and have the ability to relate to our students.
I love getting to know my students! And I use all of these strategies and then some to get to know them. But let me share my tried and true key to building relationships with students. Personally, I find good old-fashion discussion to be my best relationship builder! Ask them questions about themselves. And be a kid watcher. I try to notice strengths in my students: “You are such a talented artist!” Throughout the school year, these strengths can be used to build a student’s academic and social emotional abilities.
Letting students inside my world - just a little bit - allows us to deepen our relationships: “This morning my chihuahua Zoe was so lazy she tried to hide under her blanket.” By doing this, I can make connections with my students: “I have a dog too” or “I tried to hide under my blanket this morning too.”
Relationships are free to implement. And with all of their benefits to student performance, why would we not build relationships with students?!
It is believed that the average student can sustain attention for 10 to 15 minutes on one task. Students with ADHD have an even lower ability. And the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health (NCSH) found that 31 to 45 percent of children with ADHD have a learning disability, and vice versa (DuPaul, et al., 2013).
Task Checklists can be used to increase students’ attention and metacognition (awareness and understanding of one's own thought processes). We can use checklists to communicate the details or goals of an assignment for students and keep them on track toward achieving the learning goal. Student learning is supported when we use checklists to present complex tasks as being broken down into the simpler concrete tasks needed for the successful completion of the whole complex task. The checklist teaches a student to follow multiple steps to complete a task. They also help to make order in the relative chaos of learning and provide a means and memory aids for students to accomplish complex tasks. When students know how to learn, how to apply effective strategies when challenged by learning obstacles, and have strategies for assessing their progress, they become better learners.
Task Checklists give control over learning to the students, reinforcing independence of the skill. We know that students who track their own behaviors gain greater control over those behaviors. So inevitably, students who can learn to track their behaviors in conjunction with task completion can gain greater control over both.
The checks indicating completion of tasks on the Task Checklists give us visual data on a student’s task completion!
If you don’t know how you feel, you can’t do anything about it. This goes for teachers and students!
Students with learning disabilities experience just as many emotions as their peers, but some of these emotions may be connected to their learning. For example, reading aloud can produce even more fear in a student with a reading disability in comparison to a typical reader. An abundance of research supports students with learning disabilities experiencing high levels of emotional distress related to their difficulties with learning. Depression, loneliness, and low self esteem are experienced at higher levels by students with learning disabilities than their peers. In one study, 14.2 percent of students with learning disabilities had severe depression and 23.8 percent had severe anxiety (Panicker, et al., 2016).
Emotional check-ins are designed to help students slow us down and assess their feelings. We can take some time throughout the day to emotionally check in with students. Ask all community members to pause and ask, “How am I feeling - in this moment?”
When we know what we are feeling, we can do something about it.
(Remember, though, if you are checking in on students’ emotions, make sure you know what you are going to say and do when students say they are not doing well. It is also important to know what your school’s process for handling disclosures of distress.)
Check-ins can be implemented in several different ways. Daily feelings check-ins help students to recognize different emotions within themselves, use emotional vocabulary by labeling the emotions, recognize the emotions, and take steps to manage these feelings. And ultimately, this normalizes emotions for students while communicating that how others feel is important.
When using Task Checklists, a task could be a “Check-In.” Perhaps this check-in asks a student to check-in on their progress towards the task’s completion. Or maybe this check-in asks a student to assess their attention to the task: “Was I just being attentive to the task? If not, what can I do to regulate myself?”
Executive Functions are those cognitive functions that supervise, control, and regulate our emotions and behaviors. These functions contribute significantly to the academic and social emotional difficulties faced by students with learning disabilities. This is why students with learning disabilities often display difficulties with organization, prioritizing, controlling impulses, applying effective learning strategies, memory, self-regulation, and metacognitive skills.
But if we can help students to improve their Executive Functioning, we can further support our students’ learning. These skills can be learned through active participation in motor control activities, activities that require waiting - you know, the reverse of impulse control - or mental focus, breathing exercises, and/or cognitive distraction activities.
So how can we support students’ Executive Functions? We can implement a Self Reg Toolkit. And by this I mean, we can teach students a sequence of exercises, using coping tools, to independently self regulate.
When students feel frustrated over a task or over-stimulated, teach them to independently implement a Self Reg Toolkit to de-escalate.
As much as we can, we should seek to connect the language of each of these supports to visuals. This will further support understanding and recall, while also increasing student independence in applying the Social Emotional skills that these must have’s teach!
It’s been about 2,000 years since Plato wrote that “All learning has an emotional base.” But since then, we have the research to support the practice of teaching the whole child. At the time this is being written, there are numerous states in the United States that have made Social Emotional Learning a mandated part of the curriculum.
Research has found that 83 percent of students make academic gains when participating in an SEL program with an academic component (Durlak, et al., 2011). Research shows when interventions link academic and social emotional learning students with learning disabilities have the greatest likelihood of helping students.
Despite these trends and research, though, we still have a few miles ahead on our journey. Research has focused little on Social Emotional Learning skill development for students with diagnosed psychiatric or developmental disabilities. While there are numerous evidence-based Social Emotional Learning programs, very few of them have been specifically evaluated for their success with students with diagnosed psychiatric or developmental disabilities. Additionally, many of the programs require significant accommodations for students with disabilities to participate successfully.
With years of research to come, this will be considered the start of a growing list of research-based Social Emotional Learning must have’s for the classroom. But for now, these top 5 Social Emotional Learning must haves are for students with learning disabilities!
By: Miss Rae
Catalano, R. F., Berglund, M. L., Ryan, J. A. M., Lonczak, H. S., & Hawkins, J. D. (2002). Positive youth development in the United States: Research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programs. Prevention & Treatment, 5, Article 15. doi: 10.1037/1522- 37188.8.131.525a.
DuPaul GJ, Gormley MJ, Laracy SD. Comorbidity of LD and ADHD: implications of DSM-5 for assessment and treatment. J Learn Disabil. 2013;46(1):43-51. doi:10.1177/0022219412464351
Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82, 405-432.
Greenberg, M. T., Weissberg, R. P., O’Brien, M. U., Zins, J. E., Fredericks, L., Resnik, H., et al. (2003). Enhancing school-based prevention and youth development through coordinated social, emotional, and academic learning. American Psychologist, 58, 466–474.
Greene, R. W. (2008). Lost at school: Why our kids with behavioral challenges are falling through the cracks and how we can help them. New York: Scribner.
Haft, S. L., Myers, C. A., & Hoeft, F. (2016). Socio-Emotional and Cognitive Resilience in Children with Reading Disabilities. Current opinion in behavioral sciences, 10, 133–141. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cobeha.2016.06.005
Moll, Kristina & Snowling, Maggie & Hulme, Charles. (2020). Introduction to the Special Issue “Comorbidities between Reading Disorders and Other Developmental Disorders”. Scientific Studies of Reading. 24. 1-6. 10.1080/10888438.2019.1702045.
Panicker, A. S., & Chelliah, A. (2016). Resilience and Stress in Children and Adolescents with Specific Learning Disability. Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry = Journal de l'Academie canadienne de psychiatrie de l'enfant et de l'adolescent, 25(1), 17–23.
Zins, Joseph & Elias, Maurice. (2007). Social and Emotional Learning: Promoting the Development of All Students. JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSULTATION. 17. 233-255. 10.1080/10474410701413152.
Zins, J. E., Weissberg, R. P., Wang, M. C., & Walberg, H. J. (Eds.). (2004). Building academic success on social and emotional learning: What does the research say? New York: Teachers College Press.
Making a glitter jar is an activity you can do with students to introduce them to how their mind works when experiencing difficult emotions and how to calm down during difficult times.
When you pay attention to your senses, you shift your focus away from your emotions and thoughts. Instead of worrying about the future or the past, you focus your mind and reduce the brain chatter. Think meditation - with a focal point! It’s a simple and a very powerful strategy.
First - make the glitter jar! You can use any clear bottle or jar (cheap ones can be found @michaelsstores). Fill it with clear @elmersproducts glue or glitter glue. Then add glitter!
But don’t just make the jars and store them in desks. Teach their purpose! Story is a powerful framework for teaching Social Emotional Learning skills to students. By helping students to make the connection between the glitter and their thoughts, we can help them to manage their emotions.
Moody Cow Meditates is the story of a cow who has a bad day and his grandfather comes to help him deal with his anger and mixed up feelings. To help him settle his emotions, they create a mind jar, and use it to focus on meditation. (There is a glitter jar recipe at the back of the book.)
Now, let’s use our jars!
The purpose of a glitter jar is to help students learn focusing skills, calm down, and figure out that paying attention to their senses helps them regulate emotions. So practice with the jar daily at times when students are already calm. Remind students of the story to help them recall the purpose of the glitter jar!
Shake the jars, take practice taking deep, calming breaths and watching the glitter settle as our emotions do too.
By Miss Rae
Calming Toolboxes housed in Calming Corners are all the new rage. And let’s be honest - they have reason to be! Heck, even I want to run into a calming corner to relax in the middle of a stressful day. After a tough IEP meeting, I long for a beanbag, some calming music, and maybe a back rub. Okay, so Calming Toolboxes don’t usually include back rubs, but they do include many other self regulating tools.
From breathing balls to weighted blankets to fidget toys, Calming Toolboxes are filled with beneficial tools! The purpose of these tools is to help students who have become dysregulated or emotionally overwhelmed become regulated.
So if a student needs a break from the instruction or group activity, the student can access the Calming Toolbox to support self-regulation while being able to stay in the classroom to do so.
But Calming Toolboxes are pointless if they're not teaching students a skill.
If the purpose is to help students apply social emotional learning skills when their emotions become dysregulated, then, we should work to increase students’ Executive Function skills. Executive Function skills can be learned through active participation in motor control activities, activities that require waiting - you know, the reverse of impulse control - or mental focus, breathing exercises, and/or cognitive distraction activities.
But don’t ditch the Calming Corner with its Calming Toolbox. Instead, teach students a sequence for using these tools so they can learn to independently self regulate.
First, regulate the emotion. The goal here is to change the message your body is sending to your brain. For this first step, students can use breathing exercises, look at pictures of nature, use position of caring, tighten muscles and relax, or use a breathing ball. Think about calming the mind.
Next, develop focused attention and practice pushing through distracting thoughts. Motor activities are the best way to target this skill. Think word searches, finger mazes using a student’s non-dominant hand, search and finds (Highlights magazine has these), or glitter bottles.
Third, develop response inhibition skills. Provide students with challenging tasks for this step (but not so challenging that they are frustrating) So think simple motor tasks like dot to dot, Buddha boards, or putting pipe cleaners in a cheese shaker. The purpose of this step is to focus on the goal of a goal-directed task and learn to suppress unexpected behaviors.
Finally, the student should prepare for a return to the task that they left to use the Calming Toolbox sequence. During this step, students can read and repeat affirmations. You might like these affirmations (Student Positive Affirmations).
The best way to learn how to regulate your emotions is to practice when emotions are not heightened. Try to provide all students with three minutes of daily practice to become independent in application of this skill. Pretend you are the yoga instructor, guiding your students through a three minutes mindfulness sequence.
By Miss Rae
"Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is
about embracing one another's uniqueness."
~ Ola Joseph
You don't have to agree. You don't have to disagree. You don't have to be right. You don't have to be wrong. You don't have to win. And you don't have to lose. You just have to LISTEN.
If you listen hard enough, you might just hear the echoes of someone else inside of yourself. You might just feel their emotion filling heart.
By listening, we LEARN.
We are all different. We have all had different experiences. And these experiences shape who we are.
Every experience that we have in life creates an emotional response. And all emotional memories result in conscious and unconscious opinions. These emotions are triggered when we encounter similar experiences. You don't have to deny those emotions. But what you do need to do is listen to them and try to understand them. Try to understand others' perspectives. And learn from these.
Listen to others. Listen to yourself. Learn from others. Learn from yourself.
In learning, we LEAD. Knowledge is power. And in the right hands, with the right understanding, it can be powerful enough to bring about change.
Schools are at the center of every community. They are the foundations for the villages that it takes to raise a child. If you want to change our nation... If you want to make America great again (as they say), you strengthen our schools. You educate our students. You educate our future.
It's simple. Stronger schools produce stronger students. Students who take pride in their communities. Students who have the skills to identify problems and implement proactive problem solving.
These are the students who will then invest in their communities, making the communities stronger. Strong communities produce strong economies with thriving businesses. Businesses bring money to the community. And money fuels successful infrastructures, giving back to schools and funding community education for police, city counselor, etc. And thus you have a healthy, thriving community. A community that lives and breathes.
By Miss Rae
Sixty-one percent of the teachers said their work was always or often stressful. 58 percent of teachers described their mental health as “not good” for at least seven of the previous 30 days.
Positive Affirmations are short positive statements targeted at a specific set of negative beliefs. They are used to reprogram our subconscious minds, to encourage us to believe certain things about ourselves or about the world and our place within it. Basically, they help to create the reality we want!
Affirmations are proven methods of self-improvement because of their ability to rewire our brains. Using positive affirmations can help us to keep focused on our inner goals!
Grab more teacher affirmations linked in my bio!
When we use affirmations with students, we are rewiring students' brains. We're teaching student brains a new way to think about the world. We are helping to change student brain processes, leading students to see different things and have different thoughts. We eliminate negative ways of thinking and essentially change a student's mindset so much that they get what it is you affirmed!
And the benefits continue! Self-affirmation has been shown to have powerful effects on learning! Research suggests that it can minimize the anxiety, stress, and defensiveness associated with threats to our sense of self while keeping us open to the idea that there is room for improvement. You know-learning!
Grab these affirmations +++40 more here:
By: Miss Rae's Room
Source: AFT, 2017 Educator Quality of Work Life Survey
In full disclosure, I saw this campaign beginning and I thought "Is this really the right time for this? Is this what we should be fighting for right now?" with all of the chaos happening in our country. But then, I realized education is the answer to all of this!
Education is the catalyst for all change. It's how we can bring our country together again. It's what nations are built from. It's what the future of civilization depends on. And education is what will make America great again.
According to the "nation's report card," the average reading scores for 4th and 8th graders in the U.S. have dropped since 2017, while math scores increased by one point for 4th graders and decreased by one point for 8th-graders, with progress overall remaining flat for the past decade.
It's time for a change!
If we can reimagine our schools with common sense school reform, we can make American schools great! Our students' need a developmentally appropriate curriculum linked to Social Emotional Learning. And our teachers need stronger teacher prep programs on the science of learning to be able to deliver this instruction. It only takes common sense to see what we need!
Schools have played an essential role in the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools provided meals, internet, technology, emotional and mental health support, and seemlessly continued to educate the future of our nation! If schools are so essential, then, our funding should be too. But instead, we are facing massive budget cuts in the richest nation in the world.
It's time for a change. And it's time for that change now.
The #reimaginingschools campaign was started by a New York state teacher, Emily Aierstok. You can learn more about this campaign on her Instagram: @readitwriteitlearnit You can also screenshot your own thought bubble to share how you would like to see the United States #reimaginingschool
~By Miss Rae
78 percent of U.S. high schools report at least one serious disciplinary action daily or weekly (NCES, 2018). Middle schools report 61 percent, and elementary schools report 18 percent.
Socially and emotionally lagging skills are creating acting out student behaviors in our classrooms, and these behaviors do not go away despite a change in the learning environment.
While COVID-19 has relocated our traditional classrooms to computer screens, it has not changed student behavior. Teachers have always been masters at content and classroom management, and our relocation has not changed this either. But what it has changed are the methodologies that we use to be masterful at what we do!
Online classroom management should focus on the positive, promote expected norms, AND allow teachers to easily track the data!
Classroom behavior management strategies need to be
-quick reinforcers that promote expected behaviors, deter unexpected behaviors, and do NOT interrupt learning.
Classroom behavior management strategies should have a goal to
All we have to do is apply those same principles to our new way of teaching!
So here are 3 Steps to Positive Behavior Management for Distance Learning:
Don’t throw out your good teaching practices!
Open your online classroom just as you would your traditional classroom. Establish 3 to 5 norms for your online classroom. Use positive student-friendly language and pair each norm with a visual to support ALL learners.
You can grab some Student AND Parent Virtual Classroom Meeting Expectations HERE!
EXPLICITLY teach these norms to your students before expecting them to demonstrate them. Read books about them, have them watch short clips, role play, model, AND continue to reinforce those expected norms!
For the majority of students, the game may be enough of a reinforcer (we will talk more about the game in a moment). However, for other students, you may need to come up with some earns…
-virtual lunch with the teacher
-class meeting ends 5 minutes early
-virtual field trips
-get out of one assignment free card
Resistant students, with more lagging social and emotional skills, benefit from time with the teacher, establishing these reinforcers with the student ahead of time to be able to determine the greatest motivator. Remember - the greatest motivator will increase a drive to demonstrate the expected behaviors.
Use Google Forms to play a positive behavior game.
Here is a quick tutorial on How to Make a Google Form for Student Behavior:
With a small group or a whole class, your positive behavior game can be played as a student versus teachers game. Students get a point when they are on-task, following classroom or school norms, etc. The teacher gets a point when students are off-task. Whoever has the most points at the end of the day wins.
When working one-on-one with a student, the game can be played in the same manner or you can establish a goal with a student ahead of time. Each time the student demonstrates the goal, the student earns a point.
Teachers can also use these forms (or points) as behavior data tracking tools. You can record the points while students are participating in Google Meets with the general education classes as well!
Here is How to Give and Track Student Behavior Using Google Forms:
And don’t forget to explain why the points were earned to the student! This can be quick (“Zoe, nice job demonstrating your goal of following directions the first time. You earned a point for that.) The why and the emotion connected becomes internalized when we explicitly reinforce expected behaviors. The intrinsic feeling attached to the earn (i.e. praise or a point) internalizes a motivation to continually strive to have that feeling again, and it quickly becomes learned that the demonstration of an expected behavior provides those good internal feelings!
Because the student is always earning in this game (not losing anything), it eliminates the power struggle. If the teacher earns a point, no big deal because students can quickly make a change to have a chance to win!
However, you should still discuss and reflect upon what was learned in this game!
To learn more, check out this video on I apply these tips in my online classroom:
With these 3 steps, online classroom management focuses on the positive, promotes expected norms, AND allows you to easily track the data!
Happy and Healthy Teaching,
I read Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence, a number of years ago. With all of the buzz around Social Emotional Learning in education, I recently decided to pick it back up and give it a re-read. And I could not believe how shocked I was!
Goleman’s words spoke to the solution that we need in education. I found myself nodding and muttering ‘yes’ aloud as I read. Goleman writes about studies that reported dropping levels of student emotional competence. A need for Social Emotional Learning core curriculum, intervention, and prevention supports in schools.
Emotional Intelligence is a call to action for Social Emotional Learning...
But it was written in 1995!
One of my biggest takeaways from the book - besides the fact that I will never understand why education is always so far behind - is that relationships are key!
Relationships, and the skills they entail, are the one commonality of all prevention programs for at-risk students. And at-risk students often demonstrate lagging emotional competencies as well as acting out behaviors. But if we can teach these students how to initiate, maintain, and develop healthy relationships, we can change their futures.
Relationships are at the core of humanity, and in order to be a productive adult, you must be able to successfully navigate interactions and relationships with others. Further, research has shown that relationships provide protection against stress, and stress has a negative impact on daily function and health.
The obstacle to this being the easiest solution EVER in education is that many students are lagging the Social Emotional competencies to develop relationships with others. The core Social Emotional skills teach the initiation, development, and maintenance of healthy relationships. Healthy relationships are the pervasive outcome that is intertwined within and the outcome of ALL Social Emotional Learning competences.
On the first day of my very first day teaching, one of my students pointed out all of the holes in the classroom walls along with the broken shelves, windows, and doors that he had done the year before. He shared these achievements with me in the same way that others might brag about an award they won. But these were his accomplishments. These were the things that defined him as a student in that school. But based upon his attendance for his school career, he could barely be defined as a student.
And my response was going to be what defined our relationship that year. My response had the opportunity to change his life forever.
I decided that he might want an opportunity to someone different that year, and I decided to make that choice for him. "Well, you won't be doing any of that this year," I said with a serious smile - followed by an uncomfortably long moment for my words to resonate.
And from that moment forward, he showed up to school.
Some days he showed up hungover from the night before. Some days he showed up and slept until noon. One day he showed up wearing fuzzy pink slippers he forgot he was wearing when he rushed out of the house to get to school. But he showed up!
And we had a great relationship! He was such a smart kid who just needed someone to find that one thing that would hook him and engage him in education. (And not be intimidated by him to call him out on his behavior). And once we found it, the world was full of opportunities for him!
As educators, we have so many chances to help our students. Every moment counts! Even if it's online!
Fast forward 15 years and I had the pleasure of crossing paths with him again. He had graduated high school, had a full time job, and a family!
Okay, so we all know Newton's law right? You know - for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Well, with students, this law is slightly different - for every interaction with a student, there is a reaction. And from a series of interactions, a teacher can develop a strong relationship with a student.
And this relationship, in and of itself should model emotional competences for student learning. We can further our student’s emotional competencies by explicitly teaching Social Emotional Learning standards.
By Miss Rae
First, I hope everyone is well!
With all of this free time, I have been doing a great deal of thinking. My mind naturally wanders to our students who are learning, or hopefully, still learning at home right now.
When I think about learning, though, I'm not just talking about academics. Students with learning disabilities are more susceptible to lagging social emotional skills for a variety of reasons. How are they handling this crisis?
Social and emotional skills help students to build cognitive skills, learn academic content, apply knowledge and feel they are a successful student. They can also help our students to feel safe and secure in their world.
By explicitly teaching SEL skills, we can help students make progress in areas of their life including academic areas.
So that's why I'm checking in on my students' emotional health daily.
I recently posted SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING IEP GOALS & OBJECTIVES to address my students lagging skills so I know that they are ready to face this crazy world.
I'm also trying to support my families' social emotional health by reaching out to see how I can help. I keep track of my communication during remote learning on these FREE EDITABLE HOME SCHOOL COMMUNICATION FORMS.
Happy and healthy teaching!