Social Emotional Learning Corner

Trimester 2 Edition

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January is "Get Organized" Month

January is the perfect time to Get Organized! Many students and parents start off strong with their organizational skills but they seem to fizzle throughout the fall. January is always a second chance to re-organize! As you have seen over the past few months or even past few years, the school environment changes in the middle years. Instead of loads of structure and guidance, as your child had in elementary school, students are expected to manage more of their life on their own. At the same time, the students themselves are changing. They are less motivated to please adults and more motivated to impress peers. As they search for their own identities, the social scene becomes more important. It is a confusing time for students , but with the right support, they can thrive!

When it comes to middle school organization the best thing parents and teachers can do is keep it simple. Follow these rules to help your child get the most out of these critical years — building independence and self-esteem along the way.

What Parents Can Do

GIVE YOUR CHILD A PLANNER. Make sure your child has a thin, spiral-bound planner. The format inside should let him see a full week at a glance, and should also include a monthly calendar. The right planner is the first step toward keeping track of due dates and appointments. There is too much going on in middle school to keep it all in your head! A planner works only if it’s used every day. Discuss the times throughout the day when she should be using the planner, and check it each evening. Consider providing a reward or incentive to help get her started. It is a very important skill to teach your child to REVERSE PLAN. This means plugging in dates of future long-term projects or tests into their planner and working backwards to plug in shorter study sessions or work sessions in days leading up to the due date. Students often know when test dates are but leave all the studying until the last minute. Getting into the habit of chunking studying into 15-20 minute blocks each day reduces stress and increases retention of content.

TAKE TWO — That is two minutes to organize papers every day. As your child begins homework each evening, have him take the first two minutes to clean papers out of his bag and organize them into folders. This simple habit helps students transition into doing homework.

ESTABLISH A HOME PAPER STATION. When folders get full, students need to clean them out. But they should hold onto returned notes and assignments; these become valuable study guides.

AVOID MORNING MAYHEM. Have your child pack his bag every night, using his planner to verify that nothing is left out. Your child should be charging his/her Chromebook nightly and packing and bringing a fully charged device to school each day. Being prepared ahead of time, makes for a stress-free morning with a feeling that they are prepared to have a successful day ahead!

What Teachers Can Do

USE MINIMAL SUPPLIES. The worst thing to do to a student is to saddle him/her with a bunch of tools to manage and organize. Let students combine all their folders and notebooks into one binder. Inside the binder, they can organize their papers and notes by subject, using vinyl binder folders.

MAKE PLANNERS MANDATORY. Tracking due dates and test dates is key to success in school. Everyone’s memory fails sometimes, students with have the most to gain by writing things down, even if it is posted in Aspen or Google Classroom. They must develop the habit of recording their assignments and important dates. Discuss transition points (switching classes or FAST), the times throughout the day when students should use their planners. Encourage them to use their planners; make it part of their grade.

DO BAG CHECKS. Randomly check book bags for extra credit. Award points for bags with no loose papers, no trash, and assignments in folders.

DO LOCKER CHECKS. Check lockers during homeroom. Make sure all trash is removed.

DO NOTEBOOK/BINDER CHECKS. Note-taking is a new skill to our 6th graders. To be frank, some students, especially those with executive function weaknesses, don't even know where to begin taking notes. I often see students open their notebook on random pages and just start writing! Teachers, especially in 6th grade, will need to model and guide this skill with students. Grading students on notebook/binder organization is another great way to support and encourage students to take notes and store them in an organized fashion. Developing these habits in middle school will be a life-long skill that students will carry with them throughout high school and beyond.

A friendly reminder to all, one of the best ways to foster organization in children is to model good habits! Happy Organizing!

Books That You May Find Helpful When Organizing Your Teen

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RULER is an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning (SEL).

Through training in the RULER approach, teachers and leaders learn the skills to create and sustain a positive emotional climate, as well as support individual development of emotion skills for students and adults. You might remember in our last newsletter we introduced to you tool #1-The Charter. The Charter is a collaborative document that helps schools (and homes) establish supportive and productive learning environments. ... Together, the community describes how they want to feel at school, the behaviors that foster those feelings, and guidelines for preventing and managing unwanted feelings and conflict. All clusters at BMS have created a Charter and are using it as an anchor in their daily practice. This trimester, the BMS community is bringing Tool #2-The Mood Meter, into daily practice.

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Tool #2: The Mood Meter

The Mood Meter is the foundational tool for building the RULER skills. It is the second Anchor Tool introduced to students, after the Charter. It is a tool for building self-awareness and social awareness.

The Mood Meter has two axes. The X-axis is pleasantness: your subjective, private mental experience. The X-axis goes from -5, the most unpleasant you have ever felt, to neutral in the middle, all the way to +5, the most pleasant you have ever felt. The Y-axis is energy: how much physical energy is running through your body. The Y-axis goes from -5, when you have extremely low energy, are lethargic, asleep even, to neutral in the middle, all the way to +5, the most energetic you have ever felt. The two axes cross to form four quadrants, and each has a color: red, blue, green, and yellow.

How to Use the Mood Meter:

R: Where are you on the Mood Meter?

U: What is causing you to feel this way?

L: What word best describes your feeling?

E: How are you expressing this feeling? Are you comfortable expressing? What are the urges that these feeling words are encouraging you to want to do?

R: How do you want to feel? What strategy will you use to stay or shift? Are these urges on track to your best self goals?

Family Mood Meter Activity

1. As you sit down with your family to watch your favorite Netflix show, watch a good movie, or read a book together, decide on one character to focus on.

2. Pay attention to the emotions the character feels and displays.

3. Discuss the following questions together...

-What were the main events of the story?

-How did the character influence or respond to these events?

-What do you believe were the beliefs or emotions that drove the character's behavior?

-What are 8 different emotions you think the character felt? Plot on the mood meter.

-Which emotions were serving the character's goals, and which may have been getting in the way of the character's goals?

-Did the character regulate or not regulate their emotions at key moments? If that had been different might the story have had a different ending?

-Can you think of an example of how a skillful self-regulation strategy could have shifted the story?

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Some SEL Books Your Middle Schooler May Enjoy!

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January 2020-RISAS Parent Newsletter- New Year, New Decade, New Parenting Opportunities

This month's newsletter focuses on opportunities to connect with your child. Research has shown when a child feels more connected to their family, their chances of engaging in high risk behavior decreases.

Also, myself and the East Bay Youth Tobacco Council will be conducting a presentation about Vaping at the next BMS PTO Meeting on 1/27 at 7pm.

Thank you and Happy New Year!!

Katie Hamel, BMS Student Assistance Counselor

Please click on the link below to read the RISAS Newsletter
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Save The Date---The BMS PTO is Hosting a SCREENAGERS NEXT CHAPTER viewing---January 14---7pm

Screenagers NEXT Chapter: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience

From the director of SCREENAGERS: Growing Up in the Digital Age comes Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience and is about helping young people thrive in our screen and stress-filled world.

Filmmaker and physician Delaney Ruston uses a personal lens and professional eye to help us all flip the script on stress, anxiety, and depression. We follow Delaney as she finds herself at a loss on how to help her own teens as they struggle with their emotional wellbeing. Ruston sets out to understand these challenges in our current screen-filled society, and how we as parents and schools empower teens to overcome mental health challenges and build emotional agility, communication savvy, and stress resilience.

We witness Delaney as she finds her way from ineffective parenting to much-improved strategies. We follow other personal stories of families from an array of backgrounds with a spectrum of emotional challenges. We also observe approaches in schools that provide strategies relevant beyond the classroom setting. Interwoven into the stories are surprising insights from brain researchers, psychologists, and thought-leaders that reveal evidence-based ways to support mental wellness among our youth.

The impact of social media and other screen time is incorporated in all the topics raised Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER, how it may be impacting our teen’s mental health, and what we can do to help foster youth in the face of struggles.

Hope to see you there!

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6th Grade School Counselor-Krystal Sleboda

7th Grade School Counselor-Stephanie Nary

8th Grade School Counselor-Jaime Poirier

School Psychologist- Mary Ellen Tillotson

Clinical Social Worker-Courtney Canario

Student Assistance Counselor-Katie Hamel

Guidance Secretaries:

Kathy Bulman 401.247.3160

Kelly Nelson 401.247.3160