Amplify Austin ISD SEL and Whole Child Education!

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Today is the day!  Amplify ATX is 24 hours (March 8th 6pm-March 9th 6pm) of community giving to local non-profits all over the Austin area, and once again Austin Ed Fund is participating to raise funds to support Austin ISD’s innovative whole-child education initiatives!

From Austin Ed Fund:

Help us support excellence and innovation in Austin Independent School District (AISD)! Your investment in our urban district, serving more than 83,000 amazing students at 130 campuses, ensures that every student has access to innovative opportunities and enriching experiences.

Your generous contribution will:
• Fund teachers’ creative project ideas for their classrooms or campus through our Innovation Grants program
• Expand AISD’s nationally-recognized Social and Emotional Learning program, which teaches students the skills to resolve conflict, manage emotions, and succeed in the classroom, career, and life
• Fund economically-disadvantaged and first-generation students through our Student Opportunity Fund.

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AISD’s Social and Emotional Learning team works with every single campus in the district to create safe and welcoming learning environments, foster meaningful relationships between students and teachers, and teach 21st century skills like collaboration, communication, time management, and self-efficacy. Funding that supports AISD’s Social and Emotional Learning comes largely from individual donors, partners in the Austin community, and national donors and foundations, so your Amplify AISD donation really does make a huge difference!

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Schedule your donation now, or participate today (March 8th) starting at 6pm through 6pm tomorrow (March 9th) , by visiting:

Austin Ed Fund’s Amplify Overview Page

Katie Cameroneil’s Amplify Whole Child Education Page

Caroline Newman’s Amplify Our Students, Our Teachers, Our Future Page

Thanks so much for being a part of AISD’s Whole Child, Every Child education movement!

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Follow along on Twitter too: @AustinISDSEL @AustinISD_OID (Office of Innovation and Development) @AustinEdFund and keep up with the hashtags #AmplifyATX and #InvestinAISD!

 

Real Teachers Talk Part II: Spring Semester SEL

Austin ISD is chock-full of passionate, compassionate, talented educators bringing Social and Emotional Learning to their students in every part of our fair city, every single day. Last time on the blog, two amazing teachers from Bedichek shared their insight on the importance of intentional self-care during the stresses of the spring semester.  Today, seven more outstanding teachers lend their thoughts and practices from around the district.  They are all at different schools in different capacities, and they have this in common: they know their students, and they know SEL!

Mr. Howard, 6th-8th Grade Math Teacher, Learning Support Services

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Mr. Howard works one-on-one with students experiencing long-term in-school suspension, teaching math and being a strong, positive, compassionate adult connection. He works hard to engage with each student authentically, so that their relationship facilitates lasting learning. He says that he does his best to stay relaxed and focused on one task at a time, so that he doesn’t get overwhelmed.  “I try to know about and anticipate obstacles and challenges, so that I can make a response plan,” he says.  “You can’t always predict what’s going to happen, but thinking through some possible responses to challenges that may arise helps me avoid feeling worried and reactive. This allows me to stay calmly focused on my students.”

Ms. Williams, 3rd Grade ESL Teacher, Linder Elementary

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Ms. Williams is a big fan of the Peace Area, a special place in classrooms where students can choose to go to manage strong emotions, resolve interpersonal conflicts, or just take a self-care break.  Many teachers like Ms. Williams have experienced professional development dedicated to the creation and effective use of Peace Areas in the classroom environment, and she even has one she can take with her wherever her students might end up!  “The Peace Area is a great tool to use in de-escalating and problem solving. I grab it and take it with me as I’m walking out the door with the kids. Since it’s portable I can bring it to recess or other places. It’s just a wonderful tool for me to use when modeling [social and emotional skills] for the kids.”

Peace Areas often contain soft stuffed animal friends, squeezy stress-balls, “calm down” bottles full of slow-settling glitter to watch, pictures of faces for emotion identification, paper and art supplies for self-reflective writing or drawing, and many other creative ideas for peace-making.  Many include a “peace path” and conflict resolution script for students to practice interpersonal assertive communication.  

Mr. Light, 9th-12th Grade English Language Arts Teacher, Alternative Learning Center

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Mr. Light covers his desk and classroom in quotes from famous folks addressing kindness, self-efficacy, and inspiration for learning. One in particular, from Oscar Wilde, serves as an important daily reminder: “Life is far too important to be taken seriously.” He builds and draws on his sense of gratitude as a self-care practice. “When the everyday drudgery settles in, when students become ‘snarky’ and push the buttons they know so well, when the work seems to keep piling up and you might wonder, What am I doing here? . . . These are the times to remember to set your mind on the bigger pictures (your dreams, your passions) and not merely what is in front of you. It helps you remember to enjoy life and to be thankful. It helps you remember to enjoy your students and to be thankful for them. It helps you. It helps them.”

Ms.Gandomi, 2nd Grade Teacher, Blackshear Elementary Fine Arts Academy

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Ms. Gandomi has found ways to weave her Social and Emotional Learning knowledge straight into challenging learning experiences for her scholars. “Subtraction with regrouping was really frustrating my students. I needed to find a way to teach my students to be kind and patient with themselves,” she says. “I created a lesson to teach them a more positive approach toward learning. First, we had a class discussion about neuroplasticity and my students learned how neurological pathways develop in the brain as we learn something new. This was a game changer! My students got excited when a lesson or strategy was difficult because they knew their brains were growing. I have overheard my students say, ‘This is hard! It’s okay because I’m creating a new neuropathways in my brain!'”

Neuroplasticity is the process by which the brain physically grows and changes in response to learning new information and trying new things.  Many teachers in AISD have participated in professional development around neuroplasticity and growth mindset, helping their students foster intellectual resilience and positive self-talk to help work through challenging learning experiences.

Mr. Sikes, 8th Grade Math Teacher, Fulmore Middle School

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Mr. Sikes makes sure his students feel safe and welcome in his classroom by teaching about stress management, and also by helping each student feel heard and seen. “I like to show my kids what types of stress triggers I have during second semester and how I know to read my bodies warning signs. We can’t avoid stress, but how can we cope with it when it arises?”  Mr. Sikes teaches from all parts of his classroom, checking in and reinforcing connections with each young person as he moves between the groups of seated students. “There is a lot of [student change and movement] as well at the beginning of a semester, so we take time every week to reintroduce ourselves and share things about ourselves that makes us unique, so that all students feel heard and valued no matter how ‘new’ they are to the school, or city, or state.”

Mrs. Roberts, 4th Grade Science Teacher, Widen Elementary

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Shown here among emotion identification words and steps for calming down in her classroom, Mrs. Roberts takes time each day to take care of Social and Emotional Learning business before getting down to the business of learning science. “SEL allows me to internalize and model emotional management skills throughout the school day, and transfer those to the kids,” she says. Like many teachers throughout AISD, Mrs. Roberts is skilled at using SEL concepts and practices to maximize learning time. “I love the rituals of Morning Meeting and breakfast in the classroom and the sense of community it instills. Words can’t describe how beautiful it is and the impact it has on our community.”

Mrs. Lozano-Studstrup, 6th Grade English Language Arts, Mendez Middle School

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Mrs. Lozano-Studstrup works hard every day to create a warm, engaging, culturally-relevant, connected learning environment.  Student work and drawings adorn the walls, and each class’ social contract is prominently displayed. A large portion of her classroom is dedicated to a cozy space with a bookshelf full of diverse books, a colorful floor lamp, and a comfortable area rug primed for the unhurried enjoyment of reading for fun. “I love my students, and I try to connect with each one of them every day they are with me,” she says. “I try to make sure each of them feels seen and heard and valued. When students feel safe and connected, that’s when authentic learning takes place.”

These amazing educators represent how Social and Emotional Learning is infusing lessons, classrooms, practices and schools across our district. To all seven talented teachers who shared their faces, expertise and insight for this post, thank you! With your dedication, compassion, and unique style, you are demonstrating the very best of SEL and Austin ISD!

Peace Through Pie Through Pictures

On Monday, January 25th 2016, Lamar Fine Arts Academy hosted their annual Peace Through Pie event as part of their school-wide No Place for Hate yearly campaign. AVID students and student council representatives helped to put the program together.  They were guided by ELA teacher/NP4H Coordinator Dorothy Winburne, and Social and Emotional Learning facilitator/AVID teacher Constance Ledesma.   Kerren Campa, active parent and member of Lamar’s SEL Steering Committee, took on a leading role as well, getting pizza and pies donated from local businesses and taking care of logistics like cups, plates, water, and pie slicers.  She also managed the mild chaos of middle schoolers serving pie to other middle schoolers with effortless grace.  Check out all the awesome that happened on that peaceful evening!

Beautiful pies created and donated by Lamar parents and community partners–before the peaceful devouring

The devouring begins…peace can come through sharing all kinds of pies, including pizza pie!

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Mr. Andrew Bennett, Assistant Principal and SEL Administrator Extraordinaire, enjoys a peaceful pie piece.

The program for the event

Beautiful mandalas created by 6th grade Lamar art students…

20160125_172853…Encouraging event participants to create their own mandalas for peace.

Student leaders got into peace promotion by wearing, singing, and reading for the theme…

…And performance groups lent their multitude of talents to the evening.

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Parents, teachers and students added the names of famous peace promoters to this banner…

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And Ms. Dorothy Winburne had the last word, sharing Lamar’s dedication to increasing the peace on the planet.

Thanks for another successful, delicious Peace Through Pie, Lamar Fine Arts Academy! We sure are #AISDProud of y’all!

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

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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!

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

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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