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Posts tagged ‘Self-awareness’

Ready for School?

A few weeks back, I registered my daughter for kindergarten in the local school district. It was a moment filled with different emotions: excitement for the new experiences she will have, worry for the challenges, and also a bit of sadness because she is no longer my little “baby”. A moment of true self-awareness! Read more

3 Strategies to Navigate Emotions

I recently met with a fantastic group of principals. Two weeks into the new school year and they were already discussing serious issues taking place at their schools. You could almost touch the tension in the room. We started the meeting with a simple breathing exercise, so we could all (including myself!) get our minds ready to engage and participate in meaningful ways. Learning ways to navigate emotions and deal with the stress of daily life is a major goal in Social Emotional Learning that applies to both students and adults. Read more

I Do, We Do, You Do

“Mama! Remember… You cannot say stupid”. My 4-year old daughter does not let me forget that she is watching and learning from the way I behave, what I say and how I relate to others. As a parent, I need to be able to model the behaviors and skills that I expect her to develop and practice on a regular basis. As you have probably experienced at some point, children and youth are watching adult behavior all the time, and they often feel puzzled when we ask them to do things they don’t see adults doing. Intentionally or not, adults model social and emotional skills for children and youth. Read more

2y + 3x = SEL

It has been almost 6 years since the Common Core State Standards were released. The adoption of common standards in the US has brought exciting changes for students and teachers, and a fair amount of frustration, anger and fear of failure. Although the standards have received many criticisms, Montoy-Wilson, a 2nd grade teacher in East Palo Alto (California), describes them as a tool to address the achievement gap and equip all students with proper tools for the 21st century: Read more

Empathy is a Design Mindset – part 1

Melissa Pelochino is the Director of Professional Development at the K12 Lab, Stanford University Design School, known as the d.school. She plays at the intersection of design thinking and K12 education. We talked about design thinking, empathy and the connections between the two. Follow her on Twitter @mpelochino. 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

What do you do with your stress? Building Resilience through Emotional Intelligence

Resilience is the ability to withstand stress and catastrophe. Humans have an amazing capacity to adapt and overcome adversities and even after devastating tragedies, individuals and communities find ways to move forward and rebuild their lives. Linda Lantieri founded the Inner Resilience Program (IRP) in 2002 in response to the effects of the events of September 11, 2001 on New York City schools. Read more

Teaching is an emotional practice

One of my first teaching assignments was in a public school in Barcelona. I met the principal and the dean of students the afternoon before starting my new position and was told: “This is a very difficult group of students, some with challenging behaviors. Do you think you can do it?”. I really wanted to teach at that school, so (even if I had my doubts) I said “Of course!”. I didn’t sleep at all that night… I was scared and felt unprepared.

During my doctoral dissertation, I asked teachers why they had decided to go into teaching. Their faces lit up while they described their passion to provide students with the opportunities they had growing up, being inspired by their own teachers or having a social justice purpose in life. These same teachers also shared concerns about staying in the teaching profession where the work hours are long, there is a lack of work-life balance and they are “emotionally drained” by the end of each school year.

Emotions are at the heart of what teachers do and why they do it. Teaching is an emotional practice and we can’t ignore that teachers need support developing their own social and emotional competencies, so they can successfully regulate their emotions and manage the stress that comes with teaching. If you take a look aSix Secondst Six Seconds model of Emotional Intelligence (EQ), you might find that some of these skills come naturally to you and others might require some additional development. Like with our students, as adults, we also have strengths and challenges when it comes to our social and emotional competencies.

 

Jones, Bouffard and Weissbourd (2013) also point out that these skills are influenced by context. If you work at a school or organization where gossip and complaints are the norm, you will tend to display more negative behaviors; while if you work in a supportive environment, you will be more inclined to successfully manage stress or ask/offer help when needed.

In any case, developing your social and emotional competencies is a good investment because it will improve the relationships with your students, provide a different outlook to your classroom management and (hopefully) reduce some burnout. These are some resources that I have found valuable in the development of my own competencies. Try them out!

  •  Assess your EQ competencies. This is normally based on a self-report, and it provides with specific feedback on your skills and a framework to apply EQ in and outside of the classroom. If you don’t know where to start developing your skills, this is a helpful first step. Email me if you want to learn more.
  • Cultivate self-awareness. Are you able to name your emotions and explain why you are feeling that way? Emotional awareness starts with our ability to identify how we feel, not only the obvious feelings, but also the ones that are hidden. Reflect on what your emotions are telling you about a particular situation.
  • Incorporate reflection into your day. Remember we discussed the importance of reflecting to learn with our students? Building a reflection time for adults is key to develop social and emotional competencies. This can be done during team or staff meetings at your school, or you can do it independently at a time that seems feasible and sustainable for your schedule. Just try to be consistent!

Teaching is an emotional practice and teachers need support developing their own social and emotional competencies in order to successfully regulate the stress that comes with teaching. Assessing your EQ competencies, cultivating self-awareness and incorporating reflection time into your day are a few strategies to get started developing your skills. What strategies are you using to build your social and emotional competencies? Please share!

How emotions affect learning, part 2

In an earlier post, I discussed the concept of emotion and offered a few suggestions to build self-awareness and self-management in your students. After reading the blog, did you start identifying your different emotional responses during the day? Did you find yourself paying more attention to how your emotions predispose you to act? Understanding how emotions work is key to build our awareness! Today, we’ll explore how emotions affect learning.

Students bring to the classroom emotions from life outside of school; they might be dealing with an ongoing stressful situation at home, like a divorce or a parent loosing their job, or maybe something more momentary, like an argument with a sibling. If students didn’t have a chance to manage their emotions before getting to school, they will need your support to cool off and re-focus before they can move on with their day.

In addition, students also experience emotions that originate in the classroom and that are especially relevant for students’ learning (Pekrun, 2014):

  •  Achievement emotions relate to success and failure resulting from classroom activities. Students might feel hope and pride can they examination stresshave been successful, but they can also feel anxiety, shame or fear of failure. Taking tests, for example, is an achievement activity that tends to create high levels of anxiety and stress in our students. These emotions will influence how students approach the task and how well they perform. Remember our discussion on growth mindset?
  • Topic emotions pertain to the topics/subjects presented in class. Students might feel excited about a new art class, disgusted with certain lab experiments or saddened by the fate of a character in a novel.
  • Social emotions relate to teachers and classmates, as students (and teachers) work together and interact in the classroom. Compassion, envy, sympathy, anger or social anxiety can be present at different times during the day with any and all of our students.

working together As a teacher, it might be difficult to respond to your students’ emotions at all times, while you manage the classroom and attend to academic content. However, there are things you can do to incorporate students’ emotions when you are planning and also during class.

  • Offer a variety of tasks and activities, so students can feel successful during your class/period, and combine both achievement and performance tasks. Building self-confidence in your students by providing opportunities for success and accomplishment is key to promote a joy for learning and to avoid achievement anxiety.
  •  Provide contents that are meaningful to students and, when possible, allow students to define their own learning. You can make tasks more meaningful by connecting content to students’ current interest or relating them to their career goals. When possible, give students autonomy to select tasks or topics for learning. Both of these strategies promote students’ engagement and offer opportunities to practice social and emotional competencies.
  • Build regular check-ins with students (both at the beginning and during the day/class). This can take the form of a classroom meeting, but could also be a silent activity where students quickly show you how they are feeling. Check out this example. You can also use check-in time to ask for feedback about lessons, classroom routines or particular projects students are developing.

Students bring emotions from life outside of school that influence their disposition to learning. In the classroom, students experience emotions based on the activities, topics and social interactions that are presented to them. Offering a variety of tasks and activities for students to feel successful, providing engaging content and allowing for students’ autonomy in learning are a few examples of strategies teachers can use to incorporate students’ emotions in their planning. And don’t forget to have regular check-ins with your students to continue building awareness!

How emotions affect learning, part 1

Emotions are an important part of human life. We experienced emotions all the time, but we rarely pause to reflect on what emotions are and how they affect learning. Emotions drive attention, they influence our ability to process information and to understand what we encounter. They can energize our thinking or distract us from our goals. Part 1 of this post is focused on the concept of emotion. In part 2, we’ll discuss how emotions affect learning.

Emotions are complex states of mind and body, generally activated by an event, which is known as stimulus. Events can be external (you received great news from a friend) or internal (you have a toothache); they can be real or also imagined (you get excited when thinking about an upcoming party).

Danger-SignOnce a stimulus has been generated, there is a process to appraise (Lazarus, 1991) it. This process is automatic and determines if the event is perceived as positive or negative, which will produce an emotional response. For example, if I am riding my bike and a car gets too close, I appraise that I am in danger and this activates my emotional response.

We can identify 3 different emotional responses (Bisquerra, 2009):

  • Physiological: involuntary responses such as sweat, dry mouth, heavy breathing or rapid heartbeat.
  • Behavioral: facial expressions, body language or tone of voice.
  • Cognitive: this is the subjective experience of the emotion. It allows us to become aware and name our emotions. Having the language to name and describe our emotions is key to identify “what’s happening”.

Emotions drive us to take action, either by facing the event or by moving away from the situation that produced them. This predisposition to action is also known as flight or fly response, which reflects the two basic behaviors that ensure survival. Although emotions drive us to take action, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the action needs to occur. For example, if we feel offended by someone’s comment, we might feel the urge to respond aggressively. This predisposition to action can be regulated with with some training; this is where teaching SEL comes into place.

Captura de pantalla 2014-05-08 a les 2.22.02 PMModel of emotion (Bisquerra, 2009)

Developing students’ social and emotional competencies means helping students be aware of their emotions, so they can regulate them and avoid impulsive reactions. A few suggestions to develop your students’ self-awareness and self-management:

  • Implement Quite Time in your classroom. Quite Time provides students with a regular quiet, peaceful, restful period to meditate, do sustained silent reading or free drawing. It helps students de-stress and re-focus for better learning.
  • Develop students’ emotional literacy by discussing different emotions, building an emotion thermometer or identifying character emotions in the books you’re reading with students.
  • Help students reframe the way they think about their emotions and themselves. This is a great example of reframing.

Today, we explored how emotions are activated by events that we appraise as positive or negative, generating a physiological, behavioral and cognitive response and preparing us to take action. Implementing quite time, discussing emotions in the classroom and  helping students reframe the way they think about what they feel are some ways to develop students’ self-awareness, so they can better regulate their behaviors. 

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