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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in social emotional learning

Posted by on in General

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As the New Year begins, we all stop and think about the past one and how we will choose differently. For me, my greatest challenge ahead stems from the past election chaos. Did I do enough to prevent the results and every time I ask myself this question, the answer is no. I too have taken for granted the freedoms we so cherish and have become passive in stepping up to the plate to engage in a more assertive demonstration of preserving them. Oh sure, I donated money, signed petitions and spoke of the frustrations of language and actions that sullied our homes, work environments, schools and foreign relations. But did I get out and work, no. Did I alert my senators and congressman of my concerns, no. I passively watched as our country was swept into our past of racism, antisemitism, slanderous threats, and the possibility that the freedoms and services we have worked so hard to attain be perhaps on the chopping block. 2016 was not an emotionally intelligent year.

I am scared, worried, concerned and angry at myself. What now! First of all, what does an emotionally intelligent year look like? It looks like a greater emphasis on empathy and kindness. Making choices that build self-confidence and motivation by thinking positively and taking actions to mindfully do so. Helping wherever we can and placing other’s needs before our own. Managing our emotions and not letting them control what we say and do. Being accountable for those actions with apologies and doing it differently. Having quality play time that promotes relational activities teaching compromise, sharing and being a good friend. And last but certainly not least, being grateful for what we have and who we are and not allowing ourselves to feel victimized by the actions of others and of a life that can be unfair.

Taking positive action to prevent the loss of our civil liberties, begins with what we teach our children. For in teaching our children how to be emotionally intelligent, as adults we too will have to model what it looks like for our children mirror us each and every day. My voice will have to louder and more demonstrative about preserving these rights we have accomplished in the past. Let’s model and teach how children how it is done! Join me in stepping up to plate for the real progressive change that must take place in this country! This works and we can do this!

 

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Posted by on in ** Sponsored Post **

“Mister, why do we have to do this? I’d honestly rather work on math right now. Or anything else.”

This was advisory class (also known as “guidance”). I was a certified high school math teacher, but like so many of my peers, I also taught advisory. In advisory, teachers met with students to develop their social skills and help them explore college and career options. The class sounds practical, particularly because I taught in New York City alternative high schools serving at-risk students.

 Oddly enough, New York City’s academic policy mentions advisory only once, in a footnote:

“There are no standards in ‘guidance’ or ‘advisory’; such courses may only bear credit if they are taught by appropriate subject certified teachers…”

This might explain why advisory was so often treated as an afterthought in New York City public schools. We weren’t provided thoughtful or engaging curriculum and yet, every student took advisory multiple times in a year to accumulate elective credits and meet graduation requirements. I rarely felt underprepared teaching math, but unfortunately it was advisory that helped me perfect the art of improvising.

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Posted by on in Classroom Management

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This was the week I retook control of all aspects of my life. Things would be different this week. Everything would turn around and become better this week. Instead, I wasn't good enough this week and my students did not hesitate to let me know.

This week I started waking up a half hour earlier (3:45AM!) to start my morning workouts. This week I managed to start going to bed earlier. This week I refocused my eating habits to reflect my fitness goals (Elite Spartan Beast on 4/29) . This week was the start of a journey that required me to conduct 17 formal teacher observations in 8 days (12 days including post-observation conferences). This week the lessons for my 3 daily classes were absolutely on-point. Everything was going so well for me this week, until...

Then my students informed me that I am a grumpy teacher. One of my students coined the term "Grumpy T" (T for Thom) to describe me. This started a class-wide discussion in one period where the class agreed that I had been grumpy and different all week. This shocked me and I felt incredulous when I heard this. My body felt great from the workouts, I was getting more sleep than before, I was eating much healthier, and I was loving all the observations and genuine conversations I was having with teachers. How could I possibly be grumpy?

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Posted by on in General

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While I realize that the football's regular season is coming to an end, I can’t help but think that we in education are continuing to imitate a technique often seen in this national pastime. It is one that annoys me every time I see it and yet I am beginning to think that I am sometimes guilty of it myself.

It didn’t hit me until last weekend when I overheard my wife reprimanding our daughter. I was in the other room, but I could not believe my ears. My daughter knew better than to do what she had just done. Her attitude and actions were wrong. I was a second away from storming into the room and reiterating what my wife had just said when it hit me.

One scolding at that moment in time was probably enough. That didn’t mean that she wouldn’t need another strict reminder later on in the day. But at that very moment my daughter did not need to hear it from me that she had messed up. She knew it.

And yet I think, how often do we do this to our students? Many of our students are broken and bent before they even walk through our door each morning. We know who they are. They are already down.

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Posted by on in Leadership

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There I was, standing in the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center staring in awe at the Gettysburg Cyclorama painting while listening to the story of Pickett's Charge with my students. Hearing the story of the bloodiest battle in the Civil War, with more than 51,000 casualties, immediately made my head spin. 

Events of this magnitude are hard for us to fathom. At one point, I turned to my students and we started to discuss how people were willing to take such a hard stand and fight and die for the freedom of others. Imagine seeing the oppression and abuse from slavery and finally deciding that this was not acceptable. What goes through the minds of people upon realizing that they may die to obtain liberty for a group of people that they do not identify with?

While there were people ready to make the ultimate sacrifice to change the lives of others, surely there were others who were not willing to get involved. What were these people doing during these times of struggles? Were they sitting home nestled in the safety of their carefully crafted reality ignoring what was unfolding around them? Did they lean toward one side or did their opinions reflect a more ambiguous mindset? What did their silence say about them?

Here we are in 2016, over 153 years removed from the Battle of Gettysburg and the looming end of the Civil War and slavery. We are still witnessing acts of violence and intolerance directed towards people who are minorities in our country. We have a president-elect who continues to stoke the flames of hatred and inequality by appointing a self-proclaimed racist as his chief strategist, who owns stock and has financial interests in a company trying to push our indigenous brothers and sisters off their land, and who continues to appoint individuals to positions of power that have histories of standing against what America stands for. 

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