from Principal Tom Jones
Social Emotional Learning
This month is the second in a recurring theme for my newsletters: social emotional learning competencies, which our teachers are fostering throughout the day during distance learning. You are likely supporting at home too perhaps without even giving it much thought. The five areas are: self-awareness, social awareness, responsible decision making, self-management, and relationship skills.
Responsible decision making is the focus this month.
Responsible decision making is "the ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety concerns, and social norms. The realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and a consideration of the well-being of oneself and others." -CASEL 2017
During distance learning, our students are experiencing a very different way of learning; the opportunity for responsible decision making is ever present. Here's how you can support your children in developing this competency.
In order to support our TK-2 students with developing and growing their responsible decision making it is worth focusing on just one or two areas at a time. Kids at this age are capable of recognizing they have choices in how they respond to a situation. They are also quite aware that all choices have consequences; some are positive while others not so much. When students are in school with us, I sometimes find myself sitting in my office with a student (sometimes a couple students) working through a response that didn't have a very good consequence (ie. someone was hurt). A big part of my discipline process is working with students to identify alternative responses to a situation which would have been in alignment with our school rules/expectations. It can be time consuming, but is so very important to give students the opportunity to process and navigate. Helping students get their needs met in appropriate ways is key to developing responsible decision making. The power of taking a breath when frustration or anger is beginning to peak is a powerful strategy adults can model and instill in our kids. TK-2 graders are capable of making stop, take a breath (we call them brave breaths), think, and act a go to habit.
Our 3-5 students are generally more skilled and can not only demonstrate sound decision making for themselves, but participate in the process within a group. Just this Friday I observed students in break out rooms on Google Meet working together to reach a shared conclusion to some complex math problems. Listening to them interact, ask for clarification or justification, and then assuring agreement prior to reporting to the classroom teacher made me smile. At home, you have ample opportunities to practice responsible group decision making - something as simple as Movie Night or which park to ride bikes to are opportunities for developing this important social emotional competency.
There is a lot more to this competency, but I hope each month's brief introduction serves as a catalyst for your support at home with your children.
Now, you just need to make a responsible decision on what kind of cookies to bake . . . I recommend snickerdoodles just because it's fun to say.
Next month I will explore relationship skills . . .
Tom Jones, Principal