Social and Emotional Learning in Action! Part III: Inspiration Basketball

Our continuing series focuses on the social and emotional learning presented by extracurricular activities, and how these lessons reverberate through classrooms, schools and the lives of young people.  The inspiration for this exploration came from this basketball video:

Just to emphasize the empathetic awesome:

“I think, in a way, this is how sports should be…it’s just kind of showing the impact that encouragement and support for anybody can make.” –one of the Waco student basketball players, to the bemused reporter

Clearly, playing on a basketball team can create an organic space to grow and practice perspective-taking and empathy.  What other SEL skills can develop on a school basketball team, under the wing of a talented, nurturing coach?  Check out this letter from a parent to the principal of Lamar Middle School:

To Whom It May Concern:

Perhaps you are already aware of this great Coach, Teacher, Facilitator, Mentor of middle school students.
Either way, I feel compelled to share our perspective and what we learned from Coach Derek Wright.

This year our 7th grade son made the brave choice to try out for basketball at Lamar Middle School. He had never played before and had a lot to learn! He was nervous, but determined.

Coach Derek Wright was charged with developing a team ready to win on the court in just a few short weeks. Never an easy feat and one that takes a great deal of commitment, patience and knowledge of the game. Of course Coach Wright has all these qualities, as he’s been at it awhile. However, it’s his keen awareness of player’s strengths and needs that is truly inspiring.

We hoped our son’s basketball skills would improve and they did, but what we weren’t prepared for was the incredible change in his self-confidence, resilience and positive attitude.

Coach Wright deserves most of the credit for this positive growth in our son and many others. I watched in amazement many times as Coach Wright guided his players with a sense of calm, clear, specific goals. He seemed to know exactly what each player needed to hear in order to dig deep and find the strength to ‘win’ the game. He shared his love of the game in a way that made the experience fun, yet focused.

The Lamar Scotties 7th grade basketball team played their final game of the season on Thursday.
I would say it was a good season looking at the stats. Winning games is always a good feeling. Winning at life and learning skills that will stay with you forever…priceless!

Thanks for believing in your team Coach Wright!

A coach that recognizes the social and emotional learning opportunities inherent in athletic activities has the power to positively impact young people in ways that will stick with them their whole lives.  We saw teacher-coaches like this in last week’s post about Consuelo Mendez Middle School, and the first post in the series featuring conversations with former football coaches.  Compassionate educators who bring their SEL-infused coaching strategies from the gyms into their classrooms, schools, and leadership roles are truly educating the whole child.  And that’s the name of the SEL game!

hands_on_basketball

Social and Emotional Learning: Resources for Caregivers

Social and emotional learning is happening in AISD schools via evidence-based curricula, intentional integration, and collaborative planning.  But what about SEL at home?  Generally, caregivers are doing the best they can to support and create opportunities for social and emotional learning outside of school hours, but of course there is a lot that goes on in day-to-day life. How can families learn and incorporate new ideas for social and emotional development?

JugglingLife_layers_003

Luckily, the internet reflects the growing interest in social and emotional learning around the nation and the globe, so there are many SEL parent resources out there.  Here are a few to serve as inspiration, and show the wide variety of resources available to caregivers and families.

Family-450x280

The Kid’s Health Emotions and Behavior site has many clickable articles on lots of aspects of social and emotional development in children and teens, in English and Spanish.  You can also hear audio versions of the articles!

The Social and Emotional Development section of the Parent Toolkit website has tons of information and lots of additional resources, and is also available in Spanish.

Edutopia has an extensive Parent Resource Guide to Social and Emotional Learning, with material that is a bit more academic.   It has tons of articles and addresses many topics, from mindfulness to grit, empathy to social media!

i-nontraditionalfamilies

For lots of readable, quick parent information, the National Association of School Psychologists website has many articles geared toward caregivers on the NASP Families page, including quite a few in Spanish and other languages.

For caregivers and families with questions about children’s mental health, the NAMI website has a wealth of information and resources on various aspects of youth mental health and well-being in English and Spanish.

And, of course, don’t forget that your friendly Social and Emotional Learning team right here in AISD puts out newsletters with bilingual resources for families!  Check out the December and March newsletters that we’ve published so far, and click to the last page for our “Caregivers’ Corners!”

family

Thanks for reading, and share these resources far and wide so that Social and Emotional Learning can keep on flowing from school to home, providing our youth with tools to build a happy, successful life and learn  21st century skills.

SEL Summer Reading Series: Tom Rath, Author Focus

Today we are showcasing an SEL author who has had a lot of influence in schools, homes, and workplaces across the country. His name is Tom Rath.

Rath’s first, and possibly most famous book is, How Full is Your Bucket?, which he wrote with his grandfather, Donald O. Clifton. It became a New York Times bestseller and an instant hit.

This book describes imaginary buckets we all have over our heads. Throughout the day, different things can happen that fill our buckets- like someone sharing a treat with you, you helping a friend, or getting a good grade on a test.  There are also things that can dip into our buckets, like someone calling you a name or you hurting someone else’s feelings.  This book gives children a concrete visual to motivate them to show compassion for others.

How Full Is Your Bucket

Rath wrote several follow up books after this one, including How Full is Your Bucket? Educator’s Edition.

“Organized around a simple metaphor of a dipper and a bucket — already familiar to thousands of people — How Full is Your Bucket? shows how even the smallest interactions we have with others every day profoundly affect our relationships, productivity, health, and longevity.Co-author Donald O. Clifton studied the effects of positive and negative emotions for half a century, and he and his colleagues interviewed millions of people around the world. Their discoveries contributed to the emergence of an entirely new field: Positive Psychology. These same discoveries are at the heart of How Full is Your Bucket?”

-Source: http://www.amazon.com/Full-Your-Bucket-Educators-Edition/dp/159562001X/ref=pd_sim_b_11

How Full is Your Bucket Educator Edition

In 2007, Rath wrote a book version of his online quiz, Strengths Finder.  This book applies the same theories of positive psychology to the workplace. Strengths Finder gives the reader tools to assess their strengths and knowledge about how to grow their talents into even fuller buckets.

Strength Finder

In the video below, Rath explains the background behind his bucket filling philosophy.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What is your favorite bucket filling book? Please share with us in the comment section below!

Happy Reading 🙂

SEL Summer Reading Series: Bystander Power

Today we will be looking at SEL books that have a focus on building active bystanders in students. A bystander, for this purpose, is anyone who knows that bullying is happening. Bystander Power is when someone takes action against bullying behaviors.

Our first book is for adults and it discusses how to use empathy and character education to combat bullying behaviors. “Emily Bazelon’s intelligent, rigorous “Sticks and Stones” charts the experiences of a few bullied children and synthesizes the scholarship on how to contain or prevent such harm” (NY Times Review).

sticks and stones

Another great book for adults is, ‘Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls‘ by Rachel Simmons. This is a groundbreaking book that was one of the first to identify and acknowledge the dynamics of relational aggression that is often seen in girls. The newest edition of this book shares great strategies for managing these social interactions in person and online.

Odd Girl out
Now let’s look at some books for kids that can help build active bystanders and encourage prosocial behaviors.  ‘My Secret Bully’ by Trudy Ludwig is a helpful book for students to get them talking about relational aggression.  This book tells the story of Monica who is being excluded by her friend Kate. This book opens up the conversation about how to handle being excluded and how to be an active bystander.

My Secret Bully

‘Mr. Peabody’s Apples’ by Madonna is another children’s book that can help prevent bullying behaviors, in particular, gossiping. This book illustrates a beautiful metaphor demonstrating the power our words can have.

Mr Peabody's Apples

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What are your favorite books about bystander power and addressing bullying? Please share with us in the comment section below!

Happy Reading 🙂

SEL Summer Reading Series: The Teen Years

Today we will be looking at SEL books that have a teen focus.  The teenage years are ripe with opportunities to develop social and emotional learning skills. It is also often a time when communication between adults and teens can break down.

Our first book looks at building understanding in adults about how the teenage brain works.

The Primal Teen discusses the science behind the teenage brain and what these findings mean for our interactions with this vital group.  An excellent summer read for anyone who lives with or works with teenagers.

The Primal Teen

The next book is an interactive workbook for teens that uses art as a medium for developing SEL skills. It is written by Art with Heart, a nonprofit that specializes in books and programs that encourage therapeutic and artistic expression.

Ink About It

Check out this short video created by teens that explains how they use the book.

Have you used either of these books before? What did you think? What are your favorite books for teens? Please share with us in the comment section below!

Happy Reading 🙂

SEL Summer Reading Series: Early Childhood Edition

Today we will be looking at Early Childhood books that have an SEL focus.  There are many to choose from and it was very hard to pick only two!

Free Spirit Publishing has a series of books teaching children positive social skills.  One of my favorites is Hands Are Not for Hitting by Martine Agassi, Ph.D.

Hands Are Not For Hitting

This book gives children concrete ideas for what we can do with our hands, like hugging and playing. It repeatedly asks children to consider, “What are hands for?”

If you like this one, be sure to check out: Feet Are Not for Kicking, and Words Are Not for Hurting.

Our next book is a wonderful resource for any parent or educator with young children.  Austin ISD has adopted it for Prekindergarten and Kindergarten teachers to learn from. The book is called, Conscious Discipline by Dr. Becky A. Bailey. The book teaches how to create a positive classroom management system that encourages the growth of emotional intelligence.

conscious discipline

Have you read either of these book before? What did you think? What are your favorite Early Childhood books? Please share with us in the comments section below!

Happy Reading 🙂

SEL Summer Reading Series: One & Mindset

Welcome to the Second Edition of the SEL Summer Reading Series! We have two books to share with you this Wednesday.

To start us off is a beautiful children’s book, “One” by Kathryn Otoshi.

One by Kathryn Otoshi

This book emphasizes the power of one person standing up when someone is being mistreated.  The art work alone makes this book worth a read. Watch below as the author reads her book accompanied by a dramatic interpretation performed by students from Trace Elementary School in San Jose, CA.

Our next book is geared towards the adult SEL learner, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by: Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.  This book looks at how to shift our thinking for achievement, happiness, and success.  It focuses on how to switch from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

Mindset

Have you read either of these book before? What did you think? What books are planning to read this summer? Please share with us in the comments section below!

Happy Reading 🙂

The Compassionate Parent Summer Series!

Summer is here and school is out! Summertime often allows us the opportunity to spend more time with our children and The Center for Nonviolent Communication provides some incredible parenting tips that we believe you will find useful! Here is the first part in our summer series:

“Is your intention to connect or to correct? Parents who can define their parenting purpose or intention can help meet children’s vital needs, including stability, security, safety and guidance.

What is your purpose or intention? To correct and manage your children or to connect with and enjoy them?

For one week, count the number of times in a day you correct your child, and then count the number of times you connect. Which number is greater? What might this information tell you?”

~The Center for Nonviolent Communication

One way to connect with your child is by making something special with them. Since Father’s Day is coming up, here is a great way to bond with your child and be prepared for this Sunday!

Fathers Day Card Craft

Here are the instructions for this Father’s Day idea and many more you can do with your children!

Crafts with your Kids!

Making time for family dinners is another way to connect with your children. This Emotional Life, a series developed to improve our social well-being and development provides many resources as well as this blog with more suggestions on 10 Tips to Connect with Your Child.

SEL Summer Reading, 1st Edition!

Now that school is out for the summer, the SEL team at Austin ISD is excited to share some excellent SEL summer reading with you all. We are starting a new series each Wednesday where we will share some of our favorite SEL themed books for adults and youth.

To start us off, I will share one of my favorite resources as an educator. Drum roll please . . . . . .

How to talk so kids will listenHow to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by: Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

This book gave me very clear and concrete tools for how to talk to children in a calm, empathetic, and VERY effective way. The tips are easy to implement and will greatly improve the culture and climate in any home or classroom.  Each section has a comic that accompanies it which helps to illustrate the technique they are discussing.  Here’s an example of one such comic:

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen- Comic Example

Notice how on the right, with a little active listening and a touch of empathy, the child is able to find a solution that works for him/her with minimal struggle.

Have you read this book before? What did you think? What books are planning to read this summer? Please share with us in the comments section below!

Happy Reading 🙂

Powerful Parenting from CFChildren

Here is an article on Powerful Parenting from Committee for Children, the authors of Second Step (the resource PK-8 teachers in AISD are using to explicitly teach SEL).

parents

Powerful Parenting: Building Relationships and Instilling Confidence

As parents, you worry about the risks your children face and the choices they will have to make. But if you have a strong relationship with your children that is built on a foundation of trust and open communication, they are more likely to tell you about their problems and gain from your values.

If your children have confidence in themselves, they are more likely to handle situations assertively. If your children have self-management, relationship-building, and problem-solving skills, they are more likely to make safe and healthy choices. As a parent, you can help strengthen these areas of your children’s lives.

Love Them for Who They Are

Unconditional acceptance of your childKren not only builds a strong relationship with them, but encourages them to have confidence and trust in themselves. Separate who your children are (their being) from what they do (their behavior). Remember, behavior can always change.

Help your children discover their interests and passions and encourage them to pursue their interests by providing opportunities and support.

Spend time with your children. This helps build strong relationships and provides opportunities for you to teach and model essential skills. Use words, gestures, and touch frequently to let your children know that you love them.

Take time to have extended conversations with your children. Bedtimes, meals, and car rides are often good times. As often as possible, have family dinners where you can share news, discuss problems, and make plans. Research shows that children who have dinner with their families several times a week are less likely to smoke or use illegal drugs, have sex at young ages, and get into serious fights.

Have frequent, brief playtimes with young children (5–10 minutes can make a difference). Allow your children to direct the play.

Read together and talk about the characters’ feelings, challenges, and solutions.

Talk about your family’s culture(s). This will help your children feel more strongly connected to their ethnic background and their culture’s values and beliefs. Research shows that positive cultural identification can improve a child’s self-esteem and protect against emotional problems.

Discipline and Guide

Positive guidance and discipline promote children’s self-control, teach them responsibility, and help them learn to make thoughtful choices. Specialists suggest that inconsistent, harsh discipline that includes physical force, threats, and negative comments may interfere with healthy development. Here are some key components of positive discipline:

  • Pay attention to what children do right. Children thrive on positive attention and are more likely to repeat a behavior if you notice it and comment on it.
  • Use consistent, caring consequences for unacceptable behavior. The consequences should be reasonable, directly related to the misbehavior, and respectful of the child.
  • Give the message that mistakes are a chance for learning.
  • Offer choices whenever possible to provide practice in making decisions.

Get Involved in Schoolwork

When you are involved in your children’s schooling, it gives the message that school is important and that you value this significant part of their lives. It also helps children achieve higher grades, finish more homework, and have better attendance, behavior, and attitudes. Here are some ways to be involved:

  • Ask your children about their day. Use open-ended questions: “What was the most fun thing about school today?”
  • Communicate frequently with your children’s teachers about your children’s progress and how to help them out at home.
  • Be aware of your children’s homework. Set a time and place for them to do it. Be around to answer questions, but do not do the homework for them.
  • Attend school activities as often as possible.

Teach Social Skills

Model and teach your children social-emotional skills. These are skills people use to deal with their feelings and dilemmas and to interact with others. Social-emotional skills include the following:

  • Empathy, which is knowing one’s own feelings and being able to recognize and respond sensitively to others’ feelings.
  • Emotion management, which is managing strong feelings such as anxiety, frustration, and anger before they become overwhelming.
  • Problem solving and decision making, including conflict resolution.

Many of the parenting skills outlined in this article can help you model and teach social-emotional skills:

  • By listening to your children and respecting their feelings, you model and teach empathy.
  • By responding to misbehavior with caring, thoughtful, and consistent consequences, you model emotion management and problem solving.
  • By giving children choices, you give them opportunities to practice decision making.
  • As you talk through plans and problems at dinner, you model and teach problem solving, decision making, and conflict resolution.
  • By reading with your child and talking about the stories, you provide opportunities to learn about empathy, emotion management, and problem solving.

As a parent you have power: power to influence, model, and listen, and power to connect with and love each of your children. By using your power in positive and thoughtful ways, you can provide a measure of protection for your children.

For more information from Committee for Children, check out their blog.