Students have definitely changed!
My first years of teaching were spent in a therapeutic classroom in a therapeutic school. The students who sat in front of me then are the profiles of the students who are sitting in general education classrooms today.
These are the students who struggle to regulate their emotions. Their responses to problems do not match the problem. They are unmotivated to learn. They struggle to learn because they can't pay attention. They have suffered been exposed to more trauma than most adults I know. They do not know how to socialize or communicate effectively.
Research indicates that success for students with learning difficulties depends on both effective academic programming AND development of positive social and emotional environments. So what this means for us is that we have to teach strategies for approaching difficult tasks and teach students to believe in their own capacity and ability to learn.
effective academics + positive social emotional environments = student success
By teaching social emotional skills, we are preventing, modifying, and altering the effects of risks and outcomes associated with the typical trajectory of academic failure (Haft, et al., 2016).
So how can we teach SEL skills in our classrooms?
*Have students write a story or write role play (or just role play without adding the writing) typical situations that happen when they are together. Then, discuss! “How would you feel if this happened to you?” "What are some strategies we can use if this does happen to us?
*Make a Feeling Wheel with a spinner. Students can spin, label the feeling face that the spinner lands on, and share (or write) about a time they felt that way.
*Make Feeling Dice (cover milk cartons with paper and drawing different feeling faces on each side). Students toss the dice, label the feeling that lands face up, and share (or write) about a time they felt that way.
*Use read alouds to teach about an emotion. You can choose a picture book or a longer novel. No matter the choice, the discussion should focus on the SEL learning takeaways.
*Show students a photograph of a child's face, showing a certain emotion. Prompt students to think of words to describe the emotion displayed. Write a list of all of the different words students come up with. Then, ask them to turn and talk to their neighbor about a time they have felt that way. Challenge students to use a word from the generated list while they are sharing. The next time you play, make sure the photograph represents a different sort of emotion. The goal is that over time, students will develop an active vocabulary of words that describe their feelings.
By: Miss Rae
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