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Finish the year strong! Celebrate your students’ growth

When I was a special education teacher, the last few weeks of school felt like being in a tornado. I was pulled in so many different directions that it felt somebody else was in charge of my life! My colleagues were not doing better and any small conflict would terminate in an argument or teachers snapping at each other. Everybody felt rushed, tired, often overwhelmed… and just plain done with the year! Yet, somehow we always managed to finish (most) projects, write report cards and even organize some fun activities for the students. Read more

Finish the Year with Gratitude

The days are getting longer, the weather is warmer… summer is almost here! For students, this means a few more weeks wrapping up final projects and for teachers, battling to keep students engaged while trying to finish their own final projects. At this point of the school year, everybody is plain done! With this in mind, what are some activities that teachers can do to finish the year on a high note? Read more

3 Misconceptions about SEL

“My district has been implementing SEL for years, and this is the first time I hear that SEL is not a behavior management system.” One of my students at Teachers College, Columbia University, shared this with me during class, after I described what SEL is and how it can be effectively implemented in schools. Although the student’s response did not surprise me–I have heard this before–it shows that there are still misconceptions about what SEL actually is and how we can use it to support our students’ growth, including those students who have been traditionally underserved by our educational system. 

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Summer is for Self-Empathy

“I don’t have enough time to do everything that needs to be done.” The end of the school year is a busy and stressful time of year―for teachers, students and parents. Schedules are packed with deadlines, school activities and family events, leaving everybody feeling stressed and overwhelmed. According to research, our perceived time pressure is about how well the activities we need to perform fit together in our heads and how much control we think we have over them. This is good news, because it means we can do something about it! Check out this article from Greater Good Science Center, if you need some tips for handling time pressure. Read more

Ready For Summer?

I’m heading to Spain this summer to visit my family (short trip to Portugal to attend the 6th International Congress on Emotional Intelligence and present my latest research with school principals). I look forward to seeing my kids playing on the beach where I grew up and nurturing their love for swimming, sand and ice cream! I also look forward to spending time away from my computer, reconnecting with family and friends, and getting (re)energized. Summer is such a special time of the year. It brings the necessary pause from the daily routines, the opportunity to rest and recharge, and the mental space to look into the future with optimism and hope. Read more

Got Anger?

A few years back, my principal and I had an argument about some testing that needed to get done. From my classroom, a remodeled closet above the gym, I could hear her heels coming towards my class… I started sweating and my heart was pounding; she was not even there yet, and I was already getting angry again! My mind was quickly building a catalog of all the situations where there had been tension between us, which made me even angrier. The conversation did NOT start with “I hear what you are saying…” and there were some passive aggressive remarks made… by me. Fortunately, we were able to work through the issue and made a plan to solve the problem. When she left, I felt so relieved. Read more

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