Social and Emotional Learning in Action! Part II: Consuelo Mendez Mavericks

Last week in our “SEL in Action!” series, we explored the Social and Emotional Learning opportunities inherent in football.  We spoke with a high school administrator who has taken his coaching and player experience into his academic leadership role, and a Social and Emotional Learning Specialist whose administrative work and current position continue to be informed by his history as an athlete and coach.  This past week I had the chance to spend some quality time with some quality coach-educators at Consuelo Mendez Middle School, and let me tell y’all, the SEL happening over in Maverick Land is exemplary.

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Michelle Friede (back-center, pink shirt/shoe!) is not only the long-time dance coach at Consuelo Mendez–she also happens to be the Social and Emotional Learning Facilitator on campus, so she knows a thing or two about SEL.  Stand in her gym for five seconds, and you can feel the relationship-building work and positive, safe environment she has built.  Dance class is not easy; not only is it challenging physical exercise, it also requires huge confidence and risk-taking as one learns new body movements and practices them in front of peers and teacher.  For dance instruction to progress, it is critical that each dancer feels safe in the gym and connected to each other and the coach–this is no place to fear mistakes, criticism or ridicule.   Friede says that the success she enjoys with her classes flows from the positive, process-based focus she models for and instills in each participant.  By pointing out the hard work and genuine effort they display in each stage of learning a new move or choreography, she is able to inspire her students to accomplish advanced, complex pieces. When I (an unusual presence in the gym) asked to take a picture for this post, Friede called to her 6th graders, “OK girls, let’s strike that final pose!” Every young lady enthusiastically ran to her spot and fearlessly struck that final pose, Friede right there on the floor with them.  The fact that these young people had the confidence in themselves and trust in their instructor to spontaneously perform for a near-stranger speaks volumes about the Social and Emotional Learning happening in dance class at Mendez.

Photo 2When I asked for anecdotes about extracurricular SEL while hanging out in the instructional coaches’ office, Roxanne Walker, the literacy specialist, delightedly brought up the running club that has evolved out of a homegrown teacher-student mentoring program. Ms. Walker said this club came to be when the teacher mentors, including herself, listened to their students’ budding interest in running, and agreed to challenge themselves (even if they weren’t runners before!) while encouraging their “mentee’s” engagement. Simply called “Running Club,” about 12 students and their teacher mentors have started training for 5k races after school, and participating in various weekend running events around town.  Ms. Walker told me that the sometimes difficult relationships between these teachers and students began to change for the better, as students felt that adults were hearing their voices and striving to meet their needs for positive connection and belonging.  These new attitudes learned and practiced in after-school Running Club have spilled over into the school day, where teachers and students use their positive connection skills to heal and improve relationships and create a safer, more trusting culture within the classroom and school.  The picture above shows Consuelo Mendez middle schoolers and teachers getting close to the finish line in a recent 5k.  The English Language Arts teacher in black in the middle, Ms. Helmink, finished the race with these students, then jogged back into the race to cross the finish line with the rest of the student participants.  Talk about building a culture of belonging and connectedness!

2015-04-24 14.03.39Speaking of belonging and connectedness, this 8th grade ELA teacher,  Ms. Michelle Thomas, knows first-hand how critical those components are in building a winning team and a winning classroom.  As a sophomore at Texas Tech university, Thomas and her team rose to win the 1993 NCAA Women’s Division I Tournament, earning the Red Raiders their first NCAA title.  In addition to her basketball prowess, Thomas was an academic all-star at Texas Tech–she completed her bachelor’s with a major in English and went on to earn her law degree, both proudly displayed alongside the Red Raider basketball swag.  Her background of elite athleticism combined with her commitment to academic success has given her a unique social and emotional learning lens, which she uses to create a palpable culture of trust, belonging, and connectedness in her classroom.

As students come into the room, they deposit their backpacks in a corner and find their seats.  Ms. Thomas runs down the agenda for the day, and a student passes out the books for an ongoing novel study.  They take turns reading paragraphs from the chapter, each reader trying his or her best with occasional help or word of encouragement from Ms. Thomas.  She then facilitates a full-class discussion of the reading, addressing each student respectfully as “Mr. Martinez” or “Ms. Smith.”  As class members give thoughtful answers to the questions she presents, she addresses the whole class: “…And what do we say?” The class turns to the student who answered and says, in unison and with feeling, “Good Job!!” Partner work is next, and Ms. Thomas answers questions as they arise with encouragement and an easy smile–the students feel comfortable asking for help, and everyone is engaged.  And finally, in the last few minutes of class, pencils are put down, books are collected: it’s time for the Class Motto and Jammy Jam.

2015-04-24 14.12.57 Ms. Thomas told me that her experiences on a winning team inform her teaching practice every day. She understands the importance of building positive relationships with each individual student, between individual students, and between herself and the class as a whole, much as her college basketball coaches did. She says that she tries to “teach like a coach.” She uses predictable routines and daily “rituals” like the Class Motto and Jammy Jam to reinforce the class culture of safety and connectedness, and she strives to attend to each student’s academic and emotional needs, because the class “team” depends on the academic and emotional strength of each individual member to effectively learn and thrive.  So at the end of class, Ms. Thomas and every student stands up and recites together the Class Motto in one strong voice: “Shoot for the moon!  Even if you miss, you will land among the stars!” And then, of course, the Jammy Jam:

‘Nuff said.  Thanks for being so SEL awesome, Consuelo Mendez Middle School!  Tune in next week for more SEL, sports, and extracurriculars!

SEL Standards Assessment: Break It Down!

What do you get when 25 teachers, counselors, administrators and SEL specialists converge on the Sanchez elementary library for 6 hours on a Saturday?  Jazz hands, of course!

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Also, intense and effective collaboration to crank out innovative Social and Emotional Learning work.  This diverse cadre of educators tapped a profound well of expertise around social and emotional learning, classroom dynamics, and visionary planning to devise and revise SEL Essential Knowledge and Skills.

Does that sound like official Texas Education Agency language?  You bet it is!  The goal of this on-going process is to create SEL standards that will eventually become official Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS–the basis of Texas public school curriculum as required by TEA.

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One example of our standards assessment dry-erase posters showing the student learning objective, supporting knowledge and skills, and our process questions. (Before the Vis-A-Vis storm!)

Small groups of teachers, administrators and counselors from across AISD convened in their grade bands to address the EKS that the SEL department has used since the beginning of the SEL roll-out three years ago.  Those standards, based on official language from the national Collaborative for Academic and Social and Emotional Learning and tailored to serve Austin schools, have served us well.  But now, since SEL is widely taught throughout AISD and is poised to reach every student in all vertical teams as of academic year ’15-’16, it is time to utilize the diverse experiences and skills of Social and Emotional Learning educators to revise, update and further tailor the EKS language.  This process ensures that common vocabulary and collective vision inform these standards, so that all district SEL content is high quality, authentic, relevant and measureable.

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Wielding large laminated posters and Vis-A-Vis pens, SEL specialists facilitated the small group discussions that resulted in approving, revising or devising the standards’ language.  Each SEL student learning objective and its supporting skills were “posterized” for collective consideration, and the groups talked, wrote, doodled, marched, chewed and cheered about them until the posters were covered with changes and notes.  Participants considered six key questions while examining each student learning objective, with emphasis on the cultural relevance and appropriateness of each standard, and how it could be demonstrated or measured.

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In the next few weeks, the SEL department will compile all the thinking and vision represented on each poster into a new draft of the standards.  These will become the foundation of the high caliber SEL content, lessons and professional development that are hallmarks of Austin Independent School District.

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The aftermath! For each student objective, the groups had to decide how the supporting skill standard would be measurable: via Factual Knowledge (FK) recall, a demonstration of a Skill or Process (S/P) learned, or a demonstration of Understanding (U) the objective.

The SEL department is deeply grateful to the dedicated educators who gave a Saturday to help keep AISD SEL on the cutting edge of the national Social and Emotional Learning movement.  With this kind of innovative collaboration, Austin ISD is continuing to work toward giving each and every student the skills they need to succeed in 21st Century careers and global society.  We are #AISDproud and #SELsmart!

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Dawson Elementary Super Science Spectacular Day: SEL Integration At Its Finest

One of the highest goals of Social and Emotional Learning is to integrate concepts and behavior practice into regular classroom curriculum.  Thus, when two SEL specialists were invited to present at Dawson Elementary’s Super Science Spectacular Day, we jumped for joy!  We immediately drew a huge brain…

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…and made a bunch of fuzzy amygdala models…

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…and prepared to present the science of calming strategies to first and second graders.  The goal was to have each student learn about the amygdala and its role in generating big feelings, and to learn how the frontal lobe manages the feelings from the amygdala and helps us make good choices when we are calm.  We talked about how sometimes feelings are so big that the amygdala takes over and the frontal lobe can’t help us think!  The students learned how to use their hand to create a model of the frontal lobe and the amygdala, and show how we “flip our lid” when the amygdala takes over and the frontal lobe is disengaged.

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Hand-Brain Model step 1

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Hand-Brain Model step 2

We then discussed calming-down strategies that re-engage the frontal lobe so that we can make good behavior choices even when our feelings are big.  Each student then created a take-home personal portable peace box. The boxes included items to help re-engage the frontal lobe by activating the five senses, like a maze for quiet focus, pipe cleaners for fiddling, a pencil to write or draw, a mandala for coloring, some cards showing calm-down strategies, and of course a cuddly amygdala model!  Students were encouraged to add their own personal calming objects at home.  Check out the science-y, SEL-y fun we had!

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Adding items to the peace box

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Choosing calming strategy reminders

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Practicing deep breathing

Great Ideas from Austin I.S.D. !!

It is already November! Schools in AISD have been excelling with SEL innovations these last few months.  Today we will be sharing just a few successes and highlights.

Andrews Elementary

Mr. Flores at Andrews Elementary excels at using technology to teach social and emotional learning.  One of the apps who uses on his iPad is Puppet Pals. This app lets you create short puppet shows in minutes.  You can record student voices and use student pictures for characters.  Watch this short example of one video Mr. Flores created helping students identify feelings and show compassion.

After the students watched the video, Mr. Flores asked students to take photos of a partner on an iPad and write about how the partner was feeling.  Check out what one pair said.

Empathy Writing Example, First Grade

How do you use technology in your classroom? What are your favorite education apps?

Andrews Elementary also models SEL competencies by focusing on staffs’ strengths as well as focusing on students’ strengths!

Focus On Our Strengths

Harris Elementary

A Second Grade teacher at Harris Elementary worked with her students to write a clear job description for both students and the teacher. The entire class signed the expectations to show their commitment.

Student and Teacher Responsibilites

A Pre-Kindergarten teacher created this breathing star for students to use in her Peace Area.  The idea comes from Conscious Discipline which is a “comprehensive self-regulation program that integrates social-emotional learning
and discipline.”

Breathing star from peace area in PK at Harris Elementary

Pecan Springs

Teachers at Pecan Springs all teach Second Step lessons at the same time each week.  Snail is part of this SEL curriculum in Kindergarten and First Grade.  He loves to visit with the students each week!

Second Step Lesson

Do you use puppets with children? How do your children respond?

Bilingual Respect Writing Example

This teacher reinforced the idea of showing respect with a bilingual writing and illustrating exercise. It always helps me to see and hear what it means to show respect!

Sims Elementary

Sims Elementary not only uses Peace Areas with students, but also with adults. Below is the Peace Area in the staff lounge that the counselor created.

Teacher's Lounge Peace Area at Sims Elementary

What would you put in an adult Peace Area?

Angry Bird SEL Bulletin Board

Sims keeps students motivated about SEL by incorporating their interests into the bulletin board displays.  Who knew Angry Bird was such a SEL supporter?!

What wonderful SEL strategies have you been using this year? We love to hear from y’all! 

Have a wonderful Thursday! Don’t forget that you are fabulous!

I Am Fabulous

SEL Highlights 2012-2013: McCallum Vertical Team

Today we will be celebrating McCallum Vertical Team’s successes. Please read on to hear about some of  their many accomplishments this school year!

Kealing Middle School

Kealing

On a recent visit to Kealing during Advisory, 6th grade magnet students were discussing the dangerous facts about marijuana use using an interactive strategy that involved student movement and emotional connections. As students read facts about marijuana they would stand up and explain why a certain fact spoke to them. Research shows when students connect to lessons in an emotional way they are more likely to remember the content. Keep using those engaging strategies Kealing!

Campbell Elementary

How do you incorporate literacy and social and emotional learning? Create a memorable reading experience for the students in the library like Ms. Rojas did. She transformed her library into an in-flight experience complete with boarding passes and a free book as luggage!

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Campbell Elementary strategically placed a Peace Area, a Peace Path and reminders on how to calm down where students line up to enter the cafeteria!

Campbell Peace Area

Lee Elementary

Ms. Szilagi at Lee has created an area in her room highlighting the recent Second Step lessons she has taught to her class. Using the picture scenarios from the lesson cards she has created a quiet nook in one corner of her room so that students can be reminded of the lesson if they are ever in their own similar situation. SEL in a snap!

Lee-Szilagi Room

Lee students worked hard this year on using their I-messages. Look at this great visual they had as a reminder!

Lee-I messages clip

Maplewood Elementary

At Maplewood every child will have that special memory of receiving an award at the end of the school year. Why? They give an award to every child! Not only can a child get an award for Science but Outstanding Peacemakers are selected and children exhibiting Personal Success are recognized also!

Maplewood Peacemaker Award

All year long Maplewood recognizes Peacemakers every week!

Peacemaker-Maplewood

Oak Springs Elementary

At Oak Springs Elementary they know the importance of starting the week and your Monday off right. Morning Seminar at Oak Springs throughout the year had a variety of community building activities such as class attendance recognition,  opportunities to read, yoga and funny skits to relieve stress before STAAR testing like this one shown here!

Oak Springs April Fool Skit

Lamar MS

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Lamar Middle School students wrote essays about their favorite teacher as a No Place for Hate activity. What a great way to hone their writing skills, show appreciation, AND earn their No Place for Hate designation! Teachers were touched by these special essays especially since they received them during National Teacher Recognition Week! They also participated in a Links of Love activity in Science classes and a Mix It Up lunch activity. Lamar students made sure they are Scottie strong and that Lamar Middle School is No Place for Hate!

 Brentwood Elementary

What do you call a sleeping male cow? A bull-dozer! This joke card was one of the many things you could buy at Market Day at Brentwood Elementary on April 10th. Students showed entrepreneurial spirit and creativity to plan a spectacular event and people turned out in droves! Brentwood teachers found the perfect way to highlight the positive qualities of every student and acknowledge their efforts and contributions!

Market Day

 

Ridgetop Elementary

Where do you put student work about social and emotional learning if you want everyone to see it? In the main hallway, which is exactly what Ridgetop did! Each month a grade level sponsored the SEL bulletin board and showcased student work surrounding themes such as empathy, fair ways to play and calming down. Families, students, teachers and staff enjoyed the creativity each grade level exhibited using integrated activities and the Second Step resource!

Ridgetop

Gullett Elementary

Check out this bulletin board at Gullett right in the front entrance way! Students created visual storybooks about their emotions. They aren’t shy about expressing their feelings and also used the Second Step lessons as a way to practice their skills.

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This student knows exactly what to do when anger becomes an issue!

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Highland Park Elementary

Highland Park teachers and students raved about the songs in the Second Step resource. Students memorized those catchy phrases in the problem solving song, “Step Up”  and would sing along during special No Place for Hate lessons. The students even incorporated No Place for Hate themed designs in their contest for school shirts. What a great way to incorporate SEL, No Place for Hate and fine arts!

Highland Park

 

Reilly Elementary

Reilly teachers said that this year students improved their ability to problem solve and use self talk! It helps when teachers have clear expectations in place like this morning routine poster in a 1st grade classroom. Teachers at Reilly create safe and caring environments by greeting students at the door and having morning meetings!

Reilly

SEL Highlights 2012-2013 Travis High Vertical Team

This week we start off by celebrating Travis High Vertical Team’s successes. Please read on to hear about some of  their many accomplishments this school year!

The Travis Vertical Team’s staff is passionate!

  • Everyone got off to a great start this year, and each school has unique strengths.
  • Overall increased student and staff investment in school (seen in climate surveys and attendance) and decreased discipline referrals.  One example:  This year the staff perception in this vertical team that “Overall, my school is a good place to work and learn” increased 11 points more than the district average!
  • Every school achieved No Place For Hate (NPfH) status!
  • Leaders in all schools are reflecting, building on successes, and addressing challenges to make next year even better.
  • Every school plans to increase consistency and depth, including setting aside time in the schedule for teachers to teach SEL lessons to kids simultaneously, and to plan and share best SEL practices with colleagues.

Travis HS

Travis High School students and staff create “I Can” posters together for a visual reminder of the positive self-talk that we teach students to exhibit at all grade levels

Travis High School’s staff gets involved!

  • Formed a robust Steering Committee that met weekly to provide engaging materials and training to support their peers teaching SEL lessons in Advisory for all students.
  • Character education lessons were woven into athletics.
  • Extensive surveys and focus groups with staff and students guided planning for next year – students will participate in SEL explicit instruction lessons, student interest activities like cooking, and academic monitoring.
  • Next year’s focus:  Consistency.

Travis HS staff

Travis Steering Committee enjoying a meal together while taking a break from planning for next year

Fulmore Middle School’s staff is committed!

  • Consistently taught Second Step lessons in Advisory and planned and shared best practices with colleagues during PLC meetings throughout the year.
  • Steering Committee connected SEL with systems like Positive Behavior Support, No Place for Hate, and Peer Assistance Leaders, and sought extensive feedback from students and colleagues to continuously improve throughout the year.
  • Saw at least a 50% decrease in discipline referrals!

Next year’s plan:  Invest in the Steering Committee with 2 leads per grade level as “SEL Instructional Coaches” and “Integration Trailblazers,” and devote regular time during PLCs to planning and sharing SEL best practices.

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Fulmore PALS teach their peers how to resolve conflict peacefully

Becker Elementary School’s staff has clear, high expectations! 

  • Becker built on clear school-wide expectations to keep the focus on learning.
  • Teachers here found great success with writing integration, even in the lower grades.
  • Next year’s focus:  Build Second Step into school-wide vocabulary and systems, and deepen writing integration.

Becker with facesBecker students volunteer to share their writing about a time they showed compassion

Dawson Elementary School’s staff is supportive!

  • Dawson teachers go out of their way to ensure students and adults feel welcome and supported on their campus.
  • SEL provided a framework to align robust and meaningful NPfH and character education programs with Second Step and other resources.
  • Next year’s focus:  Consistency.

Dawson

Every bulletin board and conversation at Dawson affirms the whole child

Linder Elementary School’s staff is nurturing!

  • Linder offers a warm, caring, and positive school climate that enables risk-taking – students constantly practice their teamwork skills by working with peers.
  • SEL built on robust and meaningful PBIS expectations and PALs and NPfH programs.
  • Next year’s focus:  Consistency and assertiveness.

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Linder teacher leads students in hands-on guided math

Travis Heights Elementary School’s staff values collaboration!

  • Travis Heights’ students work collaboratively on real-world projects regularly.
  • They became a student-centered charter school that will feature service learning as one of 3 main instructional models with overwhelming support from parents and teachers.
  • Every staff member recognized the importance of doing the SEL lessons weekly and committed to teach them on the same day at the same time next year.
  • Next year’s focus:  Consistency.

Travis Heights

Travis Heights students each decorated a letter to create a visual reminder about teamwork in the classroom

Uphaus Early Childhood Center’s staff is innovative!

  • Uphaus has clear school-wide expectations for students, even in their first year.
  • Conscious Discipline is the why, and Second Step is the how, that they help students grow socially and emotionally.
  • Next year’s focus:  Build Second Step into school-wide vocabulary and systems.

Uphaus

Every morning Uphaus students choose a greeting to receive from their teacher

Mendez Middle School’s staff has soul!

  • Mendez uses Capturing Kids Hearts to develop caring relationships with students school-wide.
  • Approached No Place for Hate in a unique way – through Physical Education classes and grade level assemblies.
  • Next year’s plan:  Consistency – SEL Leaders in each grade level will support colleagues during Advisory and regular planning time will be devoted to SEL planning, sharing best practices, and professional development.

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Mendez administrators greet students as they enter the school in the morning

Houston Elementary School’s staff is encouraging!

  • Houston offers a warm environment that creates a sense of safety and stability for our students.
  • Though very consistent school-wide Second Step lessons on Monday mornings, teachers built a common language for SEL.
  • Next year’s focus:  Transferring SEL skills throughout school and community settings.

Houston

At Houston, messages from families encourage students to succeed

Rodriguez Elementary School’s staff is focused!

  • Rodriguez students use Total Physical Response to participate in their learning every day.
  • Though very consistent school-wide Second Step lessons on Monday mornings, teachers built a common language that connected with character education and NPfH.
  • Next year’s focus:  Transferring SEL knowledge into action in multiple settings.

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Rodriguez’ students often respond with their thumbs

Widen Elementary School’s staff values student voice!

  • Widen’s students led school-wide assemblies, sharing and reinforcing what they learned about SEL.
  • SEL built on robust NPfH and character education programs this year.
  • Up Stander Wall of Fame – Students who stood up to bullying are recognized at an assembly where their action is told to the student body and they are given a certificate for their bravery to stand up for someone else.
  • Next year’s focus:  Consistency.

Widen

Widen’s students create posters to explain concepts like respect to their peers

SEL Highlights 2012 – 2013: Eastside Memorial Vertical Team

We are continuing with our 6 day series highlighting the different Vertical Teams each day on our blog. Please follow along to hear about all of the SEL successes this school year!

Join us today as we celebrate Eastside Memorial Vertical Team’s accomplishments.

Eastside Memorial High School’s staff has compassion!

  • Eastside has created a “culture of calm” – it is becoming cool to be smart and successful!
  • There is a sense of pride and confidence, and students here take the time to help each other with both personal and academic concerns.
  • SEL is woven into Advisory lessons, school-wide expectations for students, and character education lessons in athletics.
  • Next year’s focus:  Consistency and depth.

EastsideEastside students receive awards for succeeding and making progress in school

Martin Middle School is all about relationship building; from the Principal high fiving students in the hall to teachers using positive language to redirect misbehaviors.  Here’s an example of one way Martin encourages relationships: teachers share personal information about themselves outside of their rooms to encourage a deeper connection between staff and students.

Martin Teacher Door Sign

Allison Elementary was one of the first schools to pilot SEL campus wide.  This year, they have been focused on encouraging a positive culture and climate to reinforce the explicit instruction in the classroom.  The Principal, Mr. Velasquez, at Allison Elementary likes to start off morning assemblies with jokes, often submitted by students.  This practice builds language arts skills as well as contributing to the positive culture and climate at Allison!

“What flies around the Kindergarten room at night? Alpha-bats!”

Alpha- Bat

Allison is also excelling at integrating SEL concepts into core academic areas.

Allison integration Here’s an example of SEL Standard Goal IV Objective A: “uses positive communication and social skills to interact effectively with others,” integrated into ELA.

Blackshear Elementary does a wonderful job integrating SEL skills into other subject areas. Here’s an example of empathy skills and feeling identification integrated into a second grade English Language Arts lesson!

Blackshear 2nd grade ELA Intergration Bulletin Board

Brooke Elementary integrated SEL language into their campus wide behavior management plan so that students are practicing problem solving skills to better learn how to prevent behavior issues.

Brooke Brooke’s behavior management plan linked to SEL strategies

Govalle Elementary has been encouraging adults to model SEL skills as their students learn them. Check out their hallway expectations that include a column for adults.

Student AND Adult Expectations at Govalle Elementary

The Parent Support Specialist also took parents into classrooms for them to view peace areas. Many parents have already created their own peace areas at home!

Metz Elementary did so many awesome campus wide events this year. For No Place for Hate, Metz students lead a peace walk to Zavala Elementary to build new relationships and respect for others.

Metz Peace Walks

Metz also does an SEL focused morning assembly every Thursday where students act out skits, sing Second Step songs, and celebrate their SEL skills.

Metz assembly Second grade students leading the “Calm It Down” dance

Ortega Elementary knows how to build community and welcome new students and staff! Over the summer, teachers developed activities for the first 30 days of school to encourage team building in their classrooms as students coming from several different schools all came together at Ortega. They already have a plan for having student welcome ambassadors to help new students transition in to this caring school.

Ortega Kindergarten teachers at Ortega sharing SEL strategies for waiting during a morning assembly.

Zavala Elementary’s peace areas have really taken off (their Principal, Mr. Fox, created one for his office as well)! One third grade teacher made her own Zen Garden for students to use in the peace area. She took a small Tupperware container and added sand, marbles, and a fork. Genius!

Zavala Fox Peace AreaPrincipal Fox’s Peace Area

At the end of the year, the SEL steering committee celebrated staff for their different SEL skills they modeled during the year.  What a wonderful way to end their first year as an SEL campus!

Zavala Award Ceremony

Eastside VT
Let’s wrap up today’s post with a note of appreciation written by a student at Eastside Memorial.

SEL Highlights 2012-2013: Pilot Campuses & Special Projects

Our next feature highlights the amazing work of our pilot SEL schools and the Athletic Department.

So, without further ado read on to learn about their amazing progress!

Andrews Elementary:  During a Parent Coffee at Andrews this year, the parents were very interested in the Peace Path process as a process they could use in the home with their children.  After seeing the process modeled at the parent coffee, the Andrews Parent Support Specialist received a request from 20 parents for the Peace Path template!

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Andrews Peace

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Casey Elementary developed it’s very own calm down song and dance! Those Casey Crocodiles really know their Croc Rock!

Teachers at Casey also take turns leading the SEL morning assembly each Tuesday that reinforced their Monday morning Second Step lessons.

Perez Elementary has structured their Second Step lessons so that all staff participates in a lesson. Cafeteria staff, office staff, special area teachers, etc. all join a classroom to help with the lesson.  They also each have a mini Calming Down poster and a Problem Solving poster to wear with their badges. What a wonderful way to build a common language and skill base across campus!

Perez

Character Education in Athletics Project

This year AISD Athletics, AISD Department of Social and Emotional Learning and SafePlace entered a collaborative project to enhance character education within AISD athletics. Each month four 30 minute lessons are written and sent to each of the high school athletic directors to be distributed to head coaches in every sport. Coaches are trained by staff at athletic director meetings each month on how to use the lessons. Coaches use the lessons, enhanced by their words and personal stories to best teach the topics to the student athletes. Each school is also sent bulletin board materials created by Safe Place and designed to match the topic.

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This project has reached over 10,000 athletes and will be expanded to both middle school athletics and high school band programs next year.

Moments of greatness awards were given to athletes that personified some of the character lessons throughout the year in public settings. This year’s highlights were great lessons on sportsmanship, teamwork, decision-making, drug prevention, and priorities. One lesson on respect culminated in entire teams of athletes signing the resolution of respect after a rich discussion. The most recent lesson on relationships and abuse was a very strong attempt to reduce violence against women by using the influence of coaches to teach respectful / healthy dating and relationships.

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SEL Highlights 2012 – 2013: Austin High Vertical Team

For the next week and a half we will be highlighting different campuses each day on our blog. Please follow along to hear about all of their SEL successes this school year!

Join us today as we celebrate Austin High Vertical Team’s accomplishments. Be sure to share comments, ideas, and questions with us below!

Austin High School: Austin High has been implementing a pilot class called MAPS: Methods for Academic and Personal Success to teach social and emotional learning skills to incoming Freshmen.

The three year data continues to show remarkable improvement.

The freshman class at Austin High School has had a 41% decrease in number of failures and a 38% decrease in the number of disciplinary referrals. We can’t show causality, but we believe the data does show correlation.

Students have built a strong classroom environment and learned many SEL skills over the course of the year. There have been many special events including: a student panel on SEL for CASEL Learning Event, an etiquette luncheon, and a special field trip to hear one of the freedom writers (Manny Scott) speak.

This May, students and families will gather at an area park for a Good News pot luck, where students will share highlights from the year and finish with a positive social event that includes their families.

Students are currently completing semester projects where they will present one SEL skill. They will create a lesson, poster, brochure, movie, short story, or song designed to promote positive social and emotional skills among their classmates.

O. Henry Middle School: The Second Step resource is being implemented during RODEO (advisory) time weekly. The two SEL facilitators and the principal have been supportive of the teachers and students during this time by making sure that materials are readily available to the teachers and by participating in classroom discussions. Next year, O. Henry will have an elective class that will be devoted entirely to SEL. O. Henry has welcomed many interested visitors this year specifically to look at a successful middle school model for SEL implementation. The principal is very proud of the fact that his referral rates have reduced since O. Henry became an SEL campus.

O Henry

O Henry

Barton Hills Elementary:  The teachers at Barton Hills have done a nice job of structuring supportive and nurturing classrooms that promote student learning and sharing of ideas. They experienced their first SEL Learning Walk this year and were proud of the positive feedback they received. Classrooms are implementing SEL instructional strategies in many of the academic areas.

Bryker Woods Elementary: Bryker Woods has done a great job with promoting a positive culture and climate on their campus. Every grade has participated in classroom and school wide activities that promote SEL. When walking in the halls of their campus you can see many beautiful bulletin boards that display SEL related themes.

Bryker Woods

Casis Elementary:  Casis students have enjoyed working on their “No Place for Hate” activities this school year, but especially devoted a lot of time and dedication to the “Peace Pedals” project. The culture and climate at Casis is a positive one and can be felt instantly as one enters the building. The primary classrooms are especially proud of the class promises they have made to their peers and teachers.

Casis Elementary

casis 3

Casis

Mathews Elementary:  Mathews held their SEL assemblies every Friday. Each grade level was responsible for a mini presentation that reinforced an SEL skill or concept. These assemblies also allowed for the appreciation of cultural diversity and for celebrations of staff and student accomplishments.

Mathews Elementary

Pease Elementary: Pease Elementary scheduled monthly faculty meetings that focused on SEL related topics. The principal, campus facilitator, and SEL coach met monthly to plan for these meetings. Pease has been proud of keeping their commitments to the staff and class social contracts.

Peace Elementary

Sanchez Elementary: The students and staff at Sanchez worked very hard this year on their “No Place for Hate” school wide projects. Visiting Sanchez parents eating lunch with their children have been impressed with how the cafeteria monitors have been using the “How to Calm Down” strategies and “Problem Solving Steps” in the cafeteria during lunch time.

Second Step Posters

The large Second Step posters hanging in the cafeteria as well as the mini poster lanyards the monitors have been wearing, have served as good visual reminders for using these strategies.

Sanchez Elementary

Zilker Elementary:  The students in the primary grades at Zilker Elementary have been consistent with their use of the Peace Areas and Peace Paths. The principal reported a drop in the referral rate, which correlates with the implementation of these processes.

This year the students in the “No Place for Hate” coalition produced, directed, and edited an SEL infomercial. The video was posted on Vimeo and received many favorable reviews!

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/62585085″>Zilker Elementary No Place For Hate Video</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/btothehill”>Brian Hill</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Small Middle School: Elective teachers from grades 6-8 have been teaching the Second Step resource during TRACK time once a week at Small. Activities that promote a positive school culture and climate have emerged this school year. Students have been receiving Cougar Kudos for using SEL skills. This year staff members submitted fellow colleagues’ names in a box in the office for demonstrating exceptional team work and collaboration. During faculty meetings, there were drawings for recognizing these teachers.  The teachers whose names were drawn received gift cards!

Small Middle School

Small 3  

 Oak Hill Elementary:  Oak Hill has enjoyed celebrating cultural diversity by displaying international flags representing countries from all over the world in their cafeteria. The Oak Hill PTA has organized social gatherings periodically for the school staff, parents, and other members of the community to meet and have international food tastings on the weekends at Oak Hill.  More Peace Areas have been seen in classrooms this year! Oak Hill

Oak Hill Elementary

Patton Elementary:  Patton has been especially proud of their “Bully Blockers” initiative. Students in grades K-5 sign a pledge to not be bullies and to be allies to those who may be targets. They also receive bracelets after signing the pledge. Squad leaders are selected from each grade level to lead a squad that helps to empower other students that may be experiencing bullying. Each squad can earn points for modeling “ally” behaviors.

patton

Patton Elementary

The Compassionate Educator

Linder Elementary filled a whole bunch of buckets this week during STAAR testing! Primary teachers, students and staff showed empathy for the intermediate students and teachers that tested this week by “adopting” a class and showing them love and support in many creative ways. These bucket fillers gave out goodie bags to those that were testing and hung posters with words of encouragement to acknowledge all of the hard work their fellow students and colleagues have done this year. Thank you Linder Elementary for leading the way to our next tip in the compassionate educator series!
Linder Elementary

“One of our important needs is empathy.

To meet this need and to increase student-to-student connections in your classroom, consider organizing an empathy buddy system that students could be part of.

Set aside a time of the day or regular times in the week for students to share with each other, and give and receive empathy.”

-The Center for Nonviolent Communication