I started this podcast because I wanted to share the best of what I could find in the world-wide community of inspiring teachers. Listening, you'll gain fresh perspectives and practices that, until now, were not available on such a broad scale, on this very big topic of Social Emotional Learning. The BIG PICTURE Social Emotional Learning PODCAST features brief episodes, that always include: • Action steps • Successful mindsets • Research-based and experience-tested approaches
Do you ever get frustrated by the kids in your life (your students / your own offspring or young family members) who aren’t really taking in what you’re consistently trying to teach them about other people’s feelings? About how to get what they want without being obnoxious or breaking rules? About the best way to make friends? About sharing? About pushing? About yelling? About fighting? About everything that you think are the best ways for them to live happy and good lives?
I recently read an article in Psychology Today written by Peter Gray, a well-respected research professor at Boston College. In the article, Professor Gray shines a bright light on something we all know, in our heart of hearts, to be true… but as we’ve aged and grown farther away from our own childhoods, most of us have probably forgotten to one degree or another.
I want to share the core of his insights from that article with you, because they so powerfully coincide with my own experiences as an educator, and with the observations of all the educators that I most respect.
Much as we all wish there was a way to protect our young students from heartache caused by the death of loved ones - relatives, friends, animals … there is no getting away from it: Life happens, and sometimes Life is rough.
There are times when we are called upon to evoke our most courageous instincts to find the words and actions that will provide the greatest comfort to the young ones in our care.
What I’ve offered here are just a few ideas that, hopefully have started your own ‘wheels’ spinning in consideration of your own students. If you come away from this episode with a single impression, I hope it will be that talking about death is more necessary and potentially beneficial than not talking about it. Your classroom can be THE supportive, safe, gentle, trustworthy place where real and mutually respectful learning about inevitable challenges, like death, can be, as Mr. Rogers said … mentioned and managed when we are surrounded by love and trust.
Help Children Deal With the Death of a Grandparent: https://www.verywellfamily.com/dealing-with-the-death-of-a-grandparent-1695995
Signs of Grief in Children and How to Help Them Cope: https://www.verywellfamily.com/signs-of-grief-in-children-and-how-to-help-them-cope-4174245
Death of a Pet: https://www.preschool-plan-it.com/death-of-a-pet.html
Death of a Classroom Pet: https://www.petsintheclassroom.org/how-to-handle-the-death-of-a-classroom-pet/
Rusty May is a great example and a true inspiration for educators to understand and connect with all students, which results in more teachable time, more time on task, improved outcomes, including students’ social, emotional and behavioral skills …. all leading … so importantly: to teachers' increased job satisfaction.
In this episode, Rusty May shares important insights about Attachment Theory, with specific ways to nurture the development of the students in your class who have different attachment patterns. This is one fascinating and valuable conversation.
Rusty would love to connect with you. You can find him at https://www.facebook.com/rustymaytraining/ Once you’ve liked his page you’ll be able to get more mini-lessons from him, and you’ll also be able to ask him questions - directly. In case you couldn’t tell, Rusty is one dedicated and deep thinking educator.
We have a duty to teach children the ways of kindness and thoughtfulness within and throughout all of their actions. In this conversation, Wendy Zacuto deepens and expands the boundaries of what even our youngest students need and deserve to understand about the critical role of kindness in the world, which is in so much need of more kindness, more justice, more equity, more fairness, more compassion, more big picture awareness of the blind spots that we are often surprised to discover we have… and we are unknowingly passing along to the young children in our care.
If you have thoughts about this or other relevant topics related to young children’s social emotional learning and lifeskills development, please LIKE this podcast’s Facebook page. We’re starting to build a community of like-minded educators there.
Please check out https://wendyzacuto.com/ if you'd like to be in direct contact with today's guest. She is, as I'm sure you could tell, big-hearted, deeply knowledgable and clear-minded in the most well-balanced proportions... and I know she'd love to hear from you.
By the way, this episode really deserves all of your attention… so if you’re able to set aside any distractions while listening, I think you’ll be glad you did.
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Want to share experiences or discuss challenges with other listeners? Please connect with all of us on the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/BigPictureSocialEmotionaLifeskillsPodcast/). We’ve got a LOT of growing to do together.
Since 1980, Rae Pica has been an education consultant specializing in whole child development, children's physical activity, and the mind/body connection. Rae is a former college instructor, and she's the author of 19 books. Rae's experience and insights have been sought out by Sesame Street Research Department, Head Start, Centers for Disease Control, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Nickelodeon's Blue's Clues, Gymboree, Nike, and state health departments throughout the country. There’s more, much more … which you can find at her website: www.raepica.com.
I’ve been learning from Rae for years, but never made contact … until recently, when I saw that she’d created an online course to help early childhood educators with the massive challenge of creating smooth transitions between activities. What Rae shares with us, in this all-too-brief conversation, is some fun and practical ways to make everyone’s school time flow more smoothly for much happier days.
Have you subscribed yet? Hope so. Have you LIKED the Facebook page for this podcast? Hope so.
Children’s sharing is definitely a topic that belongs in any conversation about young children's Social Emotional Learning, but sharing is not a Black & White topic for Cassie Tondreau, today’s guest on the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast.
In fact, sharing is SO not a Black & White topic for Cassie, that she describes sharing as a subject that is “murky” and multi-layered in its challenges... and in the many opportunities it provides for everyone to grow and to develop richer relationships.
What I love about this conversation is Cassie’s extreme honesty about her own approach to sharing in a variety of her own life’s situations… and I can so relate to the examples she raises. I wonder if you’ll be able to relate, as well.
To get the full force of Cassie’s insights from the article she wrote for Exchange Magazine, go to the July/August 2019 issue. https://www.childcareexchange.com/catalog/product/248-july-august-2019/4324800/
Cassie has many more important insights to share with us, so I hope you’re subscribed… and I hope you’ve told a friend or two about all the great educators' wisdom we’re privy to on this podcast.
And remember, you are always invited to LIKE the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast FACEBOOK page. (https://www.facebook.com/BigPictureSocialEmotionaLifeskillsPodcast/)
As an early childhood college instructor, Francis Wardle sees his job as more than just teaching teachers what is best for children. He also sees a big part of his responsibility to teachers of young children as giving them advice, guidance and tools for resisting inappropriate expectations from “the powers that be,” so that teachers can most effectively advocate for what their education AND their direct classroom experience validates as being best for children’s enriched learning environments … far, far beyond the narrow and uniformed scope of developmentally inappropriate practices sometimes mandated by “authorities” who’ve actually never set foot in an early childhood classroom… or who are mandating approaches that have long since been invalidated by current research on successful early childhood development practices.
Here's the podcast's Facebook page... hope to meet you there soon: https://www.facebook.com/BigPictureSocialEmotionaLifeskillsPodcast
Recently two dear friends of mine gave birth to their second child, and their first children, who had been the center of their parents’ attention, were having a time with adjusting to their new life with a new family member … one who required a LOT of attention and energy.
Why is this topic on the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast? Because, and I’m sure you know this, social emotional learning and development needs to start wa-a-a-a-y before school age. Looking at things from others’ perspective, exercising patience and consideration, being true to feelings without negatively impacting others … all those life lessons, and much more, need to be exercised very early in life, in age-appropriate ways … as soon as relevant situations arise that require more BIG PICTURE and INCLUSIVE responses that feel right and make sense to the older sibling.
My return guest is Deborah Stewart, a highly respected and well-loved preschool and pre-kindergarten teacher AND a grandmother. Listen as Deborah shares her experiences and wisdom with generosity.
Want to learn more from Deborah? Check out her website: TeachPreschool.ORG And, if you haven’t already, please LIKE the Facebook page for this, the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast. We’re starting to build a community of like-minded early childhood educators there… and one of my top priorities for this year is to strengthen our community around the values that motivate us to keep growing our selves, our knowledge and our skills for the ever-increasing benefit of our students.
In this our second conversation about his book, Francis deepens our understanding about How & Why the specific needs of young boys in early childhood environments must be appreciated and appropriately addressed. Francis also provides practical advice for bringing men into young boys’ learning environments in ways that fulfill everyone’s “goodness-of-fit” requirements.
Francis does not in any way disparage the current quality of most early childhood learning environments, with their emphasis on nurturing and the gentler side of raising kids. He is simply expanding our awareness, helping us to move past some of the unconscious biases most of us are probably carrying into those environments and into our work with young boys. His voice is strong and clear … and in this episode, Francis shines a bright light on the many ways that men can be much more meaningfully included in young boys’ social, emotional and lifeskills development.
Just as with our first conversation, Francis invites you to ask him any questions you’d like… I promise: his interest in your questions, concerns and challenges could not be more sincere … Just head over to the BIG PICTURE SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING PODCAST Facebook page, LIKE it and post your question… or send an email to me at ASK@KIDSOWNWISDOM.COM
Again, the title of Francis’ book is: OH BOY! Strategies for Teaching Boys in Early Childhood…you can find it at https://www.childcareexchange.com/catalog/
As a mother of two sons, the conversation you’re about to listen to is extremely personal for me. If you have sons or work with boys, I hope you’ll find it valuable, and I’d also like to encourage you to read the book upon which we’ll be basing our discussion. The title of the book, OH BOY!, was written by my guest, Francis Wardle, formerly a Head Start Director, a Head Start education manager, an elementary school teacher, an administrator of a national child care company, as well as a dedicated family man with 4 kids and 4 grandkids of his own… Francis wrote the book because he saw a HUGE gap of appreciation and respect for the differences between boys’ and girls’ early developmental needs.
Francis and I are planning to share more conversations on this podcast, so please accept this very sincere invitation to submit any questions you’d like Francis to address … including any specific challenges. Francis would love to hear from you.
Feel free to send your questions or comments to: email@example.com OR, even better: just go to FACEBOOK and like the page for this, the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning Podcast Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/BigPictureSocialEmotionaLifeskillsPodcast/
Thinking is an on-going, non-stop process for all of us, starting from our earliest ages.
As educators, one of our major responsibilities is to awaken students’ awareness about how to expand their thinking processes to achieve more and more constructive outcomes … meta-cognition is an essential key.
Please subscribe to this podcast, and LIKE our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BigPictureSocialEmotionaLifeskillsPodcast
Pretty much all of us appreciate that Mr. Rogers related to young children in ways that were truly, genuinely, unquestionably meaningful to kids.
Children’s innate radar for what is True, what is Real was never a stumbling block for Mr. Rogers… because connecting with children, with their hearts, with their spirits was as natural to him as breathing … because, truly, he “saw” each child he met, saw how to BE with each child… how to BE with them so they felt the truth of their own unique significance, of their own unique mattering …
Mr. Rogers was profoundly, uncommonly respectful of young children… and one of those ways was in what he calls ‘graceful receiving.’
Because this is November, the time of year, in the U.S., when we celebrate Thanksgiving, I’m hoping that you’ll appreciate these words from the good and pure heart of Fred Rogers about the gentle art of graceful receiving …
With his living example, he shares some of the highest wisdom we need to live as an example for our students’ social emotional learning … because, in alignment with the Golden Rule, who of us would not like to be received the way he intended to receive all people… whatever their age?
And…. who among us doesn’t know what a challenge it is to truly receive others for exactly who they are? I’ve worked on that challenge all of my adult life … and I’m fully aware of what a major challenge it is, but when I manage to catch myself in judgment mode, and I manage to open up and just BE with a child, or a relative, or a peer WITHOUT judgement, with simple and graceful receiving … the way that shift in my mindset affects others, is hugely rewarding… yet, in all honesty… I am the one who is the greatest beneficiary… because I am the one who has freed up my mind and limiting pre-conceptions to really hear, to really see the children and others in my world.
Of course, really receiving people… receiving them for who they are… exactly as they are … is not something we DO, so much as something we DON’T DO… something we step aside and let BE, and it’s not so much an emotional response, as it is a choice we make. We can choose to “receive” each child, each other… or we can choose to not receive each child, each other —to take each other for granted… or to NOT take each other for granted.”
And, I hope you won’t think of this episode as a lecture… but much more as a reminder… because with life as intense as it is, with ALL of our energy required to deal with ALL that we’re dealing with… we ALL need reminders… me, most definitely.
A reminder, too, about an unfortunate distortion of graceful receiving: false enthusiasm, or forced expressions of positivity and appreciation. Mistakes in the right direction, perhaps, but definitely mistakes, because kids know what’s real from what’s not real, even if they don’t consciously know that they know… THEY KNOW.
And the most respectful way we can treat children is to acknowledge the fact of their innocent intelligence and their natural born wisdom by being fully present with them… so that their innate intelligence and wisdom can gain a stronghold and flourish throughout their lives
Jordan’s perspective is profoundly respectful of the kids he works with, (even, and perhaps especially, the so-called ‘troublemakers’). The foundational philosophy of Jordan’s approach is that kids, all kids, have everything they need to succeed… within themselves… and he’s just there to help them bring it out from within themselves… which is why our conversation eventually came around to the most powerful motivating engine of all: personal responsibility… which, I hope you’ll agree, is an essential component of social, emotional and lifeskills development.
Jordan earned a bachelor's degree in business marketing with a minor in social and personality psychology from San Diego State University, where he was recognized as a top student leader, and, at graduation, he received 24 job offers from the corporate world (companies like Amazon, Salesforce, 3M, HP and others wanted to hire him). Jordan acknowledges that the money would have been great, but it just wasn’t a motivator for him … so he went on to earn his Master's in Education at Harvard University ('18) as an Urban Scholar Fellow focusing on Prevention Science and Practice and positive youth development where he focused on learning highly effective ways to help students work through trauma, societal challenges, as well as gaining insight into the wide reaching benefits of social-emotional learning.
If you’d like to learn more about Jordan and his impactful work, check out his website : jordanjharrison.com because I actually could have spent another 10 minutes, at least, during the introduction to this episode, highlighting his many admirable achievements …
… on another note …
During the conversation Jordan and I just shared, I briefly referenced Dr. Ross Greene, who has very effectively observed and responded to the fact that, “Kids do well if they can,” which clearly is a philosophy totally in line with Jordan’s efforts at developing kids’ personal responsibility. Dr. Ross Greene is definitely worth a Google search.
Documentation has been deemed necessary by the profession of early childhood education, which is why I think you'll appreciate ANN PELO's approach to reclaiming the task as one that is rich with potential to name and honor each child’s uniquely lived experiences of joy, grief, angst, curiosity, intelligence, their unique proclivities, and ... you know … the full range … (in addition, of course, to reporting on what each child has done, said, learned and accomplished).
Ann shines her bright light of heartfull wisdom and well-reasoned insight on the task of documentation for the profound purpose of inspiring teachers to be fully intentional about observing and acknowledging… not just WHAT happens in each child’s day at school, but the meaning (the human heart of each child’s story… by telling stories that matter about each child's life… that will matter going forward, because what we observe and DOCUMENT, will permeate how we relate to those children in our care… which will have major impacts on our expectations, our judgments, our openness to the ALL of who each one of them is … which, as Ann will explain in our conversation, very definitely has an impact on their social and emotional learning and development. It might seem subtle, but actually, the impact isn’t that subtle… its reverberations are quite pronounced.
Ann warmly, and with great love, invites teachers to turn the concept of documentation on its head… that even though it’s about the children … to honestly, courageously and consciously acknowledge that what teachers observe speaks volumes about the personal lens through which educators determine what is meaningful, what is worthy of their focus, their time… Ann explains the importance and impact of being fully mindful, fully present in the documentation process, with genuine curiosity, with a fresh and un-biased mindset, with self-awareness that makes room for, even welcomes, uncertainty and openness to new understandings.
Info and links to learn more about Ann Pelo’s ideas and offerings:
This episode of the BIG PICTURE SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING Podcast is specifically focused on upcoming Halloween celebrations, and the ways in which teachers and parents can provide thoughtful environments for children who’ve been effected by trauma, which implies that they might be, or will probably be, more sensitive to the intensity of experiences they’ll be encountering around October 31st.
Kelly Vrchota is a founding member of the Hope Connections Team, which is on a mission to support Trauma Sensitive Teachers who are helping ALL students feel SAFE, LOVED, & CAPABLE. There will be more info about the Hope Connections team at the end of this brief episode …
Kelly has a degree in elementary education and has worked with many students who’ve been impacted by trauma. She is a mom of 5 -2 biological and 3 adopted … so, as you listen to our conversation, I’m confident that you’ll see: Kelly does, indeed, walk her talk.
If you’d like to learn more about Kelly’s work, please go to her organization’s website at: www.ToHaveHope.com.
ToHaveHope exists to support those who seek to parent, teach, care for, love, know and relate to children who’ve suffered trauma, especially trauma connected with abandonment and adoption. Trauma deeply affects children’s ability to develop socially and emotionally… which is why ToHaveHope provides multiple levels of tools, strategies and coaching for families, caregivers, and teachers to help with healing and open the way for increasingly more positive outcomes.
Here's a link to the article I referred to at the beginning of this episode: https://www.tohavehope.com/tstblog/halloween-and-kids-whove-been-impacted-by-trauma
As we all know, students need to feel safe before they’ll ever be able to get any real advantages from their time at school. Brenda Yoho, our guest educator on this episode of the Big Picture Social Emotional Learning podcast, is a heartfelt proponent of communicating through back-and-forth journal writing as an effective tool for establishing students’ all-important sense of safety, and equally important sense of being seen. Unfortunately, there is a low-level background buzz during our conversation, but if you can get through that, you’ll hear some touching stories about the impacts of Brenda’s approach during her 20+ years as a Teaching Assistant, Teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal and Director of Educational Support Programs.
Rusty May is a practical, deeply passionate educator, and a former basketball coach, committed to helping teachers create connected, caring, working relationships with every student. In this episode, Rusty provides us with unique and highly educated insights for interacting with even the most challenging students that walk into our schools and classrooms. Rusty was the son of a 3-Star General who tended to parent as a 3-Star General, by emphasizing punishments over communication and thoughtful age-appropriate discipline. Rusty’s childhood experiences were pretty rough, made all the rougher by the fact that his home was a different military base every two years… so he can relate to many of the challenges of disconnection that today’s youth are experiencing, even if they’re not growing up in military families. Rusty and I shared a conversation that will provide you with a wealth of evidence-based, feet-on-the-ground, time-saving, effortless-to-implement tools that can support you in generating more positive and productive learning environments. Please share this episode with teachers and parents who you know will appreciate and benefit from its content.
You can learn more about Rusty and his offerings at www.schooltoolstv.com. Take him up on his offer to give you 2 free months, rather than a 1-month free trial to his daily videos. All you have to do is mention that you learned about him on this podcast to get that extra free month. And if you do take him up on his offer, I’d love to hear what kinds of responses and effects start showing up as a result. Meantime, thank you for all that you do… and, if you haven’t already, please subscribe, because this podcast is just getting started at shining a light on all the great people who are building belonging in and out of today’s school environments… for everyone’s healthy social, emotional and lifeskills development.
CHOICES ARE GOOD for children because they create a sense of being RESPECTED, and because legitimate choices provide the opportunity for children to move from reactionary impulsiveness to more mindful and considered evaluation of available options that are constructive, which, of course, lights up important - in fact - critical areas of neuronal development that might otherwise not get the exercise needed for their brain’s development.
A fundamental theme of this podcast is BUILDING BELONGING. Providing constructive choices for children is an essential element of BUILDING BELONGING… because providing constructive choices is a natural way to build mutual respect within classroom environments, the environment everyone shares and contributes to.
Sometimes, when something or someone is markedly different from what we’re used to, our minds automatically jump to conclusions based on something or someone we've previously encountered… or maybe just read about, or just seen on the news or even in a movie …
Science explains that automatic response, which we all have - to one degree or another, as the brain’s attempt to maintain a sense of order within the high volume of sensory input all of us encounter every day ~ all day. To put it mildly, it’s the brain’s attempt to manage the overload that is life in the 21st century. The trouble with that automatic response, if we’re not careful, is that we get loose and sloppy with how we judge people, and therefore how we respond to them… sometimes negatively, sometimes disrespectfully, sometimes fearfully, sometimes hurtfully.
When I met Sarah Ansari and learned a little of her story, a little about her values, I couldn’t NOT invite her to join me in conversation on this, the Big Picture Social Emotional LIfeskills Podcast, and I made an assumption that you too, good listener, might have some curiosity about Muslim women’s identity and how they fit into an America that seems to be leaning more strongly towards division than towards mutual respect regarding differences … which as educators, I hope you agree, is an area of students’ LIFESKILLS development that is our responsibility to constructively nurture.
I hope and trust that you will appreciate Sarah’s perspective, her grace, her intelligence, and the dignity of her heart as expressed through her answers to my questions and concerns… with an apology in advance for the abrupt start to this interview, due to some pesky techno glitches.
~~~ The BIG PICTURE SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LIFESKILLS PODCAST is a non-commercial podcast, but I encourage you to visit Sarah’s website, because I feel that her company’s mission deserves to be acknowledged and shared. Her company’s website is www.artizara.com: The mission at artizara is:
"We truly believe that people are alike in many more ways than they are different. The Artizara aesthetic is all about crossing geographic divides to create beautiful products that not only celebrate the deep richness of Islamic artistic heritage but also find common ground among people of all backgrounds. We hope to help build a world where all people hold their heads high and celebrate their identity."
There are so many ways to build healthy belonging in schools... ways that require little to no formal training in order to implement. This episode suggests just a few of the wide-ranging options available:
Therapy dogs in the classroom are dogs specially trained to provide both physical and emotional health benefits for students. According to one study published by the National Institutes of Health(NIH), having a dog present in the classroom promotes a positive mood and provides significant anti-stress effects. The simple act of petting a dog lowers blood pressure and heart rate. Pet therapy also lowers stress hormones, like cortisol, and increases happiness hormones, otherwise known as endorphins. In other words, just being in contact with a therapy dog calms kids down when they’re upset and helps to reduce their anxiety... enabling them to better focus on getting along with others, while increasing actual learning ability.
Additionally, the NIH study states that interacting with a therapy dog leads to “increased stimulation of social behavior.” These relationships build trust and trustworthiness in children and help them develop a greater capacity for empathy. https://www.weareteachers.com/dogs-in-the-classroom/
And then there’s the phenomenal value of genuine, honest-to-goodness laughter in the classroom … https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/laugh-and-be-thankful-its-good-for-the-heart-20101124839
According to research (yes, they even do research on laughter) … laughter induces real, measurable, physical changes in the body. Laughter stimulates the heart, lungs and muscles, while increasing endorphins (those naturally-produced ‘happy’ hormones.)
Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations, and … this is important … when shared in a group, laughter helps people of all ages to connect with each other. And connection is what we all want and need to feel and act in ways that work better for everyone.
There are so many ways to bring laughter into a classroom, and since it’s been shown to relieve stress and help people connect … why not do a little research on some of those ways … books, videos, games, songs … once you start looking you’ll be amazed at what’s out there on the internet ….
Visit the website for Dr. Greene’s non-profit organization, LivesInTheBalance.ORG This website includes general information about Dr. Greene’s model - which can be initially summed up with the understanding that ‘kids do well if they can/when they know how’. The website provides answers to lots of questions about applying Dr. Greene’s model in school settings; as well as LOTS of other info, articles, and research papers. The website also provides streaming video, which is fantastically helpful and hope giving.
Linda Glaser, a former LAUSD teacher, created Community Circle LA over 7 years ago. Linda is on fire about this program, because it’s proven to be powerfully effective at helping students, TK thru 5th grade, focus on and improve their social interactions, their emotional well being and their life skills development. Her program is uncommonly creative and wide reaching… and it is the most effective approach to creating family engagement that I have yet to learn about. LINDA'S WEBSITE: https://communitycirclela.wixsite.com/ccla
High school junior, Enrique Alverde and I met at a day long community forum which invited attendees to build a collaborative tomorrow by participating in interactive study sessions with the local board of education and also with district leadership. There were a lot of great adults there… educators, parents, coaches, volunteers, and just 3 students… Enrique was one of those 3, and I couldn’t resist the chance to have him share his thoughts and ideas with all of us on this podcast… so I invited him and he accepted. In this interview, he respectfully describes some of what’s working and some of what’s not working according to him and his classmates. This is a uniquely refreshing interview with a voice from the other side of the classroom, which IS a voice of the future. I hope you enjoy listening as much I enjoyed this conversation with Enrique Alverde.
Skills, USA: a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. You can learn more on their website: www.skillsusa.org
Ann Pelo, author of “From Teaching to Thinking,” brings potent energy and waves of intelligent insight to the profession of early childhood education. Get ready to have your assumptions and habits jostled a bit, but with true respect for you and your noble profession as an educator.
Ann's publisher, Exchange Press, is offering a 20% off coupon code: FT2T. Go to www.ChildCareExchange.com, then go to the PRODUCTS pulldown menu, and you’ll see several books being offered. Just click on Ann’s book, “From Teaching to Thinking” and you can figure out the rest from there.
You and I have internal navigation systems, or at least that’s how we started out in life … but maybe, by now, some of us have lost touch with our natural born guidance systems…. you know … from lack of use … which probably happened because we stopped trusting that our natural born guidance systems could actually steer us in the best directions, in the smartest directions, in the directions most right for our own unique and individual selves.
Can we just “BE” around kids … so they can just “BE” themselves, because when kids are free to just BE themselves … simply in tune with their own navigation systems, they’re growing stronger within themselves AS themselves … and if we can be one of the people who safeguard and protect that most basic of human rights: to be themselves, to trust in themselves, to remain connected to their own internal navigation systems. … then we can be certain that we are doing right by the kids in our care.
Young children are just naturally the center of their own universes, but one of our many responsibilities, as teachers, caregivers and parents, is to expand immature horizons of self-interest. In this episode we make a few suggestions that sincerely hope will help you help the kids in your life grow smoothly through this dimension of their social and emotional development.
Sometimes, even when it's awkward and causes discomfort, change needs to happen for progress to continue at an optimal pace. The newly revised name of this podcast aligns much more appropriately with the intention of this podcast, which is to deepen everyone's perception about the wide-ranging relevance, application, and inclusivity (not to be confused with exclusivity) of social emotional learning. Any questions? Please know that your questions and comments are always welcome.
Here's the LINK to everything you need to try out the ideas presented in this episode: BLOG on Kids' Own Wisdom, dated 7.29.19
Even though many so-called “poor readers” can sound out words when they see them in print, they often do not comprehend most of what they’re sounding out. Comprehension, it turns out, is a whole other ‘ball game,’ and it requires at least 2 other layers of enrichment besides the ‘decoding’ skill: LAYER #1: a Continually expanding vocabulary, which needs to be exercised in their daily lives and interactions, and, equally important … LAYER #2: factual and experience-based knowledge of the subjects they’re reading about. In a word: RELEVANCE. In 7 words: IN WHAT WAYS DOES THIS MATTER TO ME? In 8 words: How does this show up in my life?
What does this have to do with students’ social, emotional and life skills learning? Well, most of us agree that for general well being and success, kids need to grow in openness to others’ perspectives (a close ‘cousin’ of empathy). They also need to increase their capacity and willingness to be personally accountable and take responsibility. They need to notice and be able to read social clues. They need to be aware of and appropriately express their own feelings. They need to engage in mutually respectful relationships, and on and on … and on …
Those are mighty big concepts and simply discussing them, or reading stories about them, or having a lesson or 2 or 3 that illustrate those concepts in action has not been shown to create deep or long lasting impacts on children’s behaviors … BUT … there is a way to enliven RELEVANCE, which creates ENGAGEMENT, which hasbeen shown to INCREASE retention and carry over influence, (often referred to as transfer of learning). I’m talking about carefully and respectfully designed peer group discussions, which are structured around wide ranging, not-so-predictable, but topic-related questions. Questions to which students in the group will not necessarily have the same answers, but questions to which most of students will have answers that the other students will be interested in, which works to everyone’s advantage. How?
When kids collaboratively answer and discuss questions, based on their own knowledge, understanding and life experiences, they gain the benefit of self-expression, of course, That process of self-expression also establishes ownership of what they know, which they and everyone in the peer group discussion observes and shares, for present and future reference, in the classroom and on the playground… with more and more independence and self-sufficiency.
In addition to remembering what you’ve taught them, do your students actually transfer knowledge into new, related, but distinctly different situations and challenges? Intentionally developing those kinds of skills for your students requires less effort than you might, at first, imagine....
This is the second part of my conversation with Lisa McCrohan, a heart-full and highly respected licensed Somatic Experiencing® psychotherapist, integrative coach, educator, author and poet who is dedicated to creating a more compassionate world for all ... one in which "mean girls" receive mindful and constructive guidance from us in the direction of becoming "includers," rather than "excluders."
Who among us doesn't have a story to share about mean girls? Either your feelings were hurt by them when you were in school... or you have them in your classroom, or... HORRORS.... you're the parent of one. Any one of those perspectives will be adequate motivation to listen in on this interview with Lisa McCrohan, a heart-full and highly respected licensed Somatic Experiencing® psychotherapist, integrative coach, educator, author and poet. Her practical wisdom goes wide and deep. Enjoy.
Statistical evidence of declining moral values in our schools is attributed, in part, to the sad fact that many teachers are overwhelmed by the pressure and time demands required to deliver academic content. Focusing on values and character development, most teachers feel, is just one more demand on their time constraints....
... but one possible solution, one powerful solution in my experience as a teacher with 22 years of teaching experience, is to intersperse age-appropriately challenging issues into Shared Thinking Circle Time discussions. Discussions that mainly focus on familiar, day-to-day encounters and experiences —not, in any way, imposing values, but, instead, exploring values and perspectives in an environment of mutual respect - which takes the form of wide-ranging questions accompanied by genuinely interested and respectful listening.
In this episode, our very special guest educator is Lani Mednick who grew up in a family of well-respected educators in Seattle, WA. She has taught and tutored all grades, TK - 6th, mostly at low-income schools in Denver, San Jose and Oakland.
Three years ago, Lani was recruited to be coach and mentor teachers in the early literacy program in the Oakland Unified School District. Her responsibilities have since expanded to include coaching other teacher coaches to create foundational learning for all youngest students in her district.
In this episode Lani shares many insights from her many layers of experience and honest self-examination, including Lani’s perspective on the value of facilitation, as well as her description about her own reservations about letting go of total control in her classroom by introducing open-ended questions to her young students.
The 21st century with its previously unimagined challenges and colossal opportunities is where we've landed, and I’m wondering … has it become apparent to you, yet that those previously unimagined challenges and colossal opportunities are making it absolutely essential for all of us educators to rethink not only WHAT we teach but, far more importantly: HOW we teach.
The time is NOW for us to be exercising even our youngest students’ natural born abilities, namely: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity ~ often referred to as The 4 C’s...
Mistakes happen. There’s no avoiding them. They’re part of the learning process. When we understand the brain science of learning, we can be all the more skillful at using mistakes to increase and accelerate our students’ SOCIAL EMOTIONAL learning for everyone’s advantage.
There are BIG differences, and BIGGER consequences to be considered, when we compare parenting and teaching approaches. Deborah Stewart, a highly respected early childhood educator, has noticed stark effects on young children's behaviors, and development of their potential as competent and confident individuals, when they're been 'helicoptered' most of their young lives.
The April 8th, 2019 issue of Education Week, was titled “4 Things Teachers Shouldn't Be Asking Their Students to Do.” Those 4 things were (1) BEING SILENT, (2) SITTING STILL, (3) FORCING APOLOGIES, and having (4) ZERO TOLERANCE FOR FORGETFULNESS.
Today's interview is the Sheila Marshall, a First/Second Grade teachers. Sheila addresses a variety of challenges in ways that help her young students grow as engaged, cooperative, empathetic, considerate and mutually respectful learners.
Please excuse the technical difficulties that make his recording a bit clunky.
Fortunately, today's educators can be even more effective than our own teachers thanks, in part, to contemporary brain science of learning which, if we implement its basic principles - which aren’t all that complicated, we can make a world of difference in our students’ social, emotional, cognitive and life skills development.
This second episode about helping young children move through the times and the challenges that cause them to feel frustrated explores some of the not-so-obvious factors that are all part of the mix. Wendy's insights, as always, are heartfelt, honest, and academically sound.
Frustration is a powerful emotion experienced by young children, and they need our help to navigate those choppy waters. New teachers will very likely experience children's expression of frustration as one of their biggest challenges, which is why we invited Wendy Zacuto back to share more of her insights from her decades of experience as a teacher, a principal, an academic researcher, a parent and grandparent.
3 Habits that get in the way of being the kind of listener that creates real connection and mutual respect with young students: Learn to appreciate how essential it is to be a fully present listener with your young students... even just for brief moments. .. and then consider the simple advice we share about how to break the habits that are getting in the way of your being a fully present listener.
Insights and experiences, from a kindergarten teacher with 22 years classroom experience, around the all-important topic of LISTENING … a topic some consider to be a nearly insurmountable challenge, yet which Bill Hotter and I agree warrants far more attention and respect… because it’s a worthwhile challenge that, even though it may take us out of our ‘comfort zones’ …. it will definitely bring us into more meaningful connection.
Wendy Zacuto has always sought to integrate the finest wisdom of her mentors and the numerous educational approaches she has studied, with her own innate instincts about how real learning is elicited and nurtured in our youngest students. She is a Master Educator in the truest sense.
Wendy requested that this interview be respectfully and lovingly dedicated to the memory of one of her most important mentors: Jeneé Gossard - about whom she shares much inspiration in this interview.
Creating Cultures of Thinking, by Ron Ritchhart, is a book so rich with benefits for every classroom in the world … including, most definitely, benefits for your young students’ social emotional learning and development, that it only makes sense to create at least one episode focusing on a number of Ritchhart’s main points about the words we introduce and use in our classroom that have subtle, yet POWERFUL impact if we use them intentionally and consistently.
Learn why a facilitation approach deepens young students' ownership of the social, emotional and life skills that make life happier, healthier and better for everyone - in the classroom, on the playground and beyond ...
Learning what really matters, discovering the value of one's own particular form of intelligence, heart and courage are the benefits Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion received by taking on the challenges presented to them by the Wizard of Oz. Listen to this episode to find out what that has to do with Social Emotional Learning from the Kids' Own Wisdom perspective.
This episode will expand your perspective on the topic of APOLOGIES, and very likely confirm your own deepest insights about meaningful and truly effective APOLOGIES that genuinely benefit young children’s formative interactions.
I am so grateful to long-time teachers Deborah Stewart and Bill Hotter for their contributions … different, each from the other, yet entirely and completely complementary … and both so wise.
Kids love, even crave, our attention. One valid reason is that gaining a teacher’s or a parent’s attention means being ‘seen’ by the people who matter most to them, and being ‘seen’ equates to a feeling of being valued. Feeling valued is one of THE most important markers for kids’ healthy social-emotional learning and development.
We all know - and have experienced - that some kids will sometimes engage in behaviors that make us want to do ANYTHING but give them our attention. This episode offers some insights on workarounds that work for everyone: you and your students. (We LOVE Win-Win's.)
Here's a practical question for you: how much time, effort and rewards are required to motivate kids so they'll engage with learning? So they'll cooperate more and more of the time? What does the research tell us about rewards for positive behaviors? Students' social emotional learning is woven into every moment of every day ... and that's especially true for our youngest students. The more we can bring genuine respect into all interactions with our students, the more they'll be intrinsically motivated to respond in ways that create Win-Win's for everyone. Bill Hotter, an elementary school teacher just embarking on his 23rd year in the classroom, tells us how he "gets there" with his kindergarteners.
It’s SO important to understand how praise effects young kids, and to distinguish between the kinds of praise that deepen and nurture kids' healthy self-awareness and self-esteem vs. the kind of praise that kids, even young kids, interpret as undeserved, therefore insincere, thereby making the person who gives the praise untrustworthy.
Building belonging in the classroom is one of the most important formative influences we can bring into young children's lives.
For young ones, just starting out in the new adventures of preschool, kindergarten and first grade, discovering shared values, feelings and instincts with classmates and peers is a powerful approach to building the healthiest kind of belonging. The kind of belonging that - very long term - can help to neutralize feelings of isolation that, respected research has shown, are one of the deep-rooted influences that, so heartbreakingly, result - later on - in school shootings and student suicides.
Elisabeth shares with us from her heart, which is grounded in 25+ years classroom experience, along with parenting 3 children. Learn more about Elisabeth Stitt at:
Kids DO understand consequences, and they are capable of making choices that result in happier consequences more and more of the time… without constant reminders from us. They just need consistent opportunities to consider their own answers to the right kinds of questions, under the right kinds of circumstances, to activate and exercise their own critical thinking and collaborative problem-solving skills.
SELF-RESPECT is a healthy, ground-zero, foundational sense (which goes beyond ‘words and thinking’) to a core of spontaneously responding to the fact that each of us is worthy of being acknowledged, and worthy of being treated well, in spite of our imperfections. Healthy self-respect, cannot be forced, but it can be activated, engaged and it must be exercised for students' enduring social emotional development.
Empathy is a wide-ranging topic. We began by clarifying the differences between emotional empathy, perspective taking, and authentically caring behaviors. Then we briefly discussed the different ways that people’s empathy is expressed - whether in ways that we expect and can relate to or not, and we looked at reasons for some of the those differences. We concluded with some very practical starting points for providing the most effective Social Emotional Learning in our classrooms.
Children pick up on our attitudes and feelings towards them - no doubt about it. This episode’s topic is deeply personal for me… Our attitudes and feelings toward our students are central to what we do, who we are with our students, and how much gets accomplished every day in our classrooms. I hope you agree, but if you don’t, or if you’re on the fence, I hope you’ll listen and share your thoughts in the comments. Thanks!
Granted, sometimes it can look like children only care about what’s ‘FAIR’ for themselves, and not about what’s fair for others, but what’s really going on when we see those kinds of automatic reactions and behaviors from our young students? And what are the positive, long-term implications of enabling students to expand their personal definitions of FAIR?
Deborah gives us a fresh and important perspective on young children's challenging behaviors. Let us know what you gained from this interview, and if you think it would be a good idea to bring Deborah back - often. Include questions, if you'd like to.
Are your students engaging with and growing their social emotional skills with your current approach, whether or not it’s a structured approach? Are your students able to adapt social emotional lessons when they need to apply them in the context of new challenges? Ready for more Not-Your-Normal Social Emotional Learning ideas?
Social emotional learning, (which has a huge effect on class management, because it has a huge effect on all the interactions within your class) is the natural starting point for our youngest students to develop their critical thinking skills ... for everyone's benefit ... yours and theirs ... short and long term.
This podcast introduces the possibility of discovering how much more we can accomplish with students' Social Emotional Learning (SEL) than behavior corrections, awareness about feelings, and character development. Even though all that is good, we can do so much better. Students don't need to be "fixed." Instead, students need their innate empathy, critical thinking and collaborative problem-solving skills to be exercised and anchored - easier for teachers, and so much better for students' long term wellbeing.