Into newly charted waters: social emotional learning

Into newly charted waters: social emotional learning

To premise this post with some context, my class this year has been one of my best during their English blocks. It has been a long time since I’ve had a group of learners so eager to use their English and so motivated to participate. My classes, in the whole, have gone exceptionally well this year.

That said, my students this year have struggled a great deal with their interpersonal relationships, both among themselves and with other teachers. To address these needs, I’ve begun integrating social emotional learning strategies and activities into my daily and weekly practices.

SEL & Restorative Circles in my Classroom

I’ve seen a great deal of success with restorative circles, affording students the opportunity to discuss their feelings. We’ve discussed how to listen and empathize with one another. Students are given opportunities to sit with peer groups when issues arrive, to navigate the tumultuous waters of preteenhood and budding hormones. As the semester has progressed, my students have become proactive problem solvers, addressing the social needs of themselves and their peers.

Of course, we are a far cry from perfection. But I realize this is both fine and necessary. They will spend their entire lives applying what they’ve taught themselves in my classroom (and most of the credit is in fact theirs, not mine). But they will inevitably meet issues that challenge them. It is equally important that they understand not every issue comes with a neatly packaged solution.

The Cost of Destructive Behavior

In the face of this post, I thought I would share a fun episode of Mind Field by Michael Stevens of vsauce. I intend to play this next week (you’ll need a YouTube Red subscription to view the video in its entirety).

He explores the nature of destruction, of anger and catharsis. His demonstration puts how we act when angry into meaningful perspective. He contrasts the choice many if my students face when they are at one anothers’ throats. Act on one’s anger, vent your frustration through hostile acts, or stop and reflect on how you feel. In the end, the choice my students make affects their relationships in the long run.

The fact is, it might alter how they choose to act when new issues arise later. No surprise, those who express their anger in a destructive manner tend to be more destructive down the road, not less.

Give it a watch. It’s a fascinating episode.