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Posts from the ‘Pedagogy’ Category

Teaching with the Heart in Mind

You may have been wondering why I haven’t been publishing lately. Well, there is a good reason—I am writing a book! I feel excited, scared and proud all at the same time! My new book, Teaching with the Heart in Mind, is a practical guide to nurturing Social Emotional Learning in the classroom. It will cover many of the topics and tools that I have discussed in this blog (emotions in learning, importance of relationships), and some new ones (how adversity affects learning, teachers’ resilience). Since I started working on the book, I have been thinking a lot about this quote from Brené Brown: “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”  This book is my way to show up and share with you what I have learned from being a teacher, and from supporting educators and schools to implement SEL. My hope is that it will help you in your work with students, families and school communities.

After some time writing, I am now ready to start sharing some of the content with you. Every few weeks, I will share an excerpt from the book. If you want to receive these excerpts directly in your email, sign up for updates! Every chapter contains practical tools that you can implement in your classroom and personal life. Do you have specific tools or topics that you would like to find in the book? Please send me a message. I love receiving your thoughts and questions; I use your feedback to inform my writing and the tools that I bring to schools.

Now to the content! Here’s a snippet from chapter 1 – We feel, therefore we learn:

Many educators have had students that ask “why are we doing this?” when presented with new information, or others that say “are we doing this again?” Well, there is a scientific reason for these questions. The brain does not waste energy thinking about things that don’t matter to us. We only think deeply about things for which we care. This is the reason why learners pay attention and stay focused when the subjects or topics discussed in class are personally relevant to them.

Unfortunately, schools often resort to things like “This unit is going to be on the test” to draw students’ attention for the content discussed in class. Students may have no internal reason to engage with that information, but they do it nonetheless for other emotion-related reasons: fear. They may be afraid of failing that class, disappointing their families, or feeling ashamed. Immordino-Yang argues, however, that fear shifts your thought patterns and memory, putting students in a fight or flight response, which is not conducive to deep engagement with ideas or skill development. Students’ learning is impaired when they are fearful, traumatized, or overcome by challenging emotions.

On the other hand, curiosity is a much better emotion for meaningful learning. Curiosity fuels imagination and creativity. When students feel curious, they are open; they may feel intellectually playful and willing to explore new possibilities. Great innovators, such as Thomas Edison or Leonardo da Vinci, had curious minds. For educators focused on creating productive learning environments, this means that we need to find more effective tools to increase curiosity; we need more “emotional hooks” to induce emotions that support deeper learning in the classroom (you will find practical examples about emotional hooks in chapter 9).

Do you want to be in the loop about the book? Sign up for updates or follow #teachingheartinmind on Twitter. I’ll be sharing another excerpt about the power of relationships soon. Stay tuned!



Where did trust go? Strategies to earn your students’ trust

After several months into the school year, you might find that you have established positive relationships with most of your students… but maybe not all of them. Although, as educators, we care deeply about our students, there are certain relationships that may be more challenging and require a bit more work. In my experience, there is one ingredient that allows for honest communication, a sense of respect towards each other, maybe even a shared purpose. Do you know what it is? It’s trust. Trust is at the heart of any successful relationship. Read more

Teachers’ Voices on SEL

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is becoming a world-wide phenomenon.” These are the words of Dr. Elias and Dr. Hatzichristou in the latest issue of the International Journal of Emotional Education. It appears that SEL competencies are valued across countries and cultures, and more and more teachers and administrators are ready to teach these skills in schools. Great! AND we know that SEL programs and practices help students be more engaged, resilient and ready to learn. So… let’s do it! 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

Educating for Freedom

In an earlier post, I encourage my readers to explicitly name the great virtues they would like their students to have. It is important that we (educators) ask ourselves these important questions to find and give meaning to the work we do with children and youth. For me, education was (and still is today) the way to freedom; the necessary tool to empower others and create a better future. Paulo Freire, one of the founders of critical pedagogy, believed that all education (in the broadest sense) was part of a project of freedom, a prpaulo-freire6eparation for a self-managed life. In this post, I want to offer an “SEL perspective” on Freire’s work and identify the social and emotional competencies we need to teach and practice in order to fulfill Freire’s dream: to develop self-determined citizens that engage in civic life and critically contribute to society. Read more

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