🗣 Newsletter Take 5 for SEL

Your connection to social, emotional & academic learning

February 2022 : Showing Up for Each Other in Challenging Times

Take five minutes and settle in with your favorite mug to learn more about supportive home & school practices to reduce sources of stress, strengthen core life skills and support and maintain positive relationships. Stay safe and stay warm!

Social, Emotional & Academic Learning at Hays CISD

Social emotional learning (SEL-HB 4454) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.

What is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)?

5 Core Essential Skills for Successful Learning and Life Outcomes

Self-Awareness: I understand who I am and how my feelings about myself and others influence my actions. I know my strengths and opportunities for growth. I know when I need help and how to get help

Self-Management: I express my feelings and handle my actions in effective ways. I set goals and I achieve them.

Social Awareness: I care about and work with people like me and people different from me. When I understand and respect others thoughts, feelings and points of view, it makes our community stronger.

Relationship Skills: I interact in ways that build positive relationships with others. I am able to handle conflict and overcome setbacks and obstacles in healthy ways.

Responsible Decision Making: I act in ways that are respectable and safe. I am accountable for my actions. I consider how my choices will affect myself and others.

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School-based Practices

  • Programmatic Elements: 7 Mindsets, Cloud 9 World, Leader in Me, and Character Strong are just a few of the programs in place in Hays CISD
  • Character Building: 14 Character Traits
  • Defining "character" comprehensively to include thinking, feeling and behavior
  • Explicit and intentional teaching & learning during Morning Meetings, Advisory, Homeroom, and Mindset/SEL classes.
  • Accountability-based approaches to school discipline
  • Establishing and maintaining practices that support positive school culture and climate.
  • Campus wide initiatives, such as No Place for Hate.
  • Support from the Guidance and Counseling Dept. and our amazing school counselors!
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Feb 7 - 11 is National School Counseling Week!

WE LOVE OUR #SCHOOLCOUNSELORS! Hays CISD is excited to recognize the work of our school counselors.

Showing Up for Each Other

Right now it seems like everyone knows at least one person who is struggling to cope. While some are managing to get by in these uncertain times, many of our neighbors, colleagues and loved ones are facing significant struggle due to multiple life stressors. Checking in with ourselves and our people is one way we can show up and strengthen our community. As we strive to care for each other in this time of shifting schedules, last minute changes, and needed recovery time to heal from illness, it can be helpful to understand the impacts of too much stress.

Too Much Stress Can Feel Like an Overloaded Truck

When trucks are overloaded with too much cargo, it places undue strain on the axels and mechanical component of the truck, making it more difficult to control. When a driver cannot properly control their truck, they face an increased risk of a serious accident.

Carrying too much stress places a strain on our nervous systems. As adults, we often internalize our stressors, or feel the need to conceal the true weight of our stress load. This shows up in our ability to function and could look like:

  • Increased outbursts of anger, or negative reactions that are out of alignment with our values.

  • Decreased ability to hold and retain information and make decisions.

  • Increased frequency in sleepless nights or experiencing poor sleep.

  • Difficulty staying on top of returning texts, phone calls and emails.

  • Struggling to feel at ease. Persistently feeling jangled or frazzled.

  • Shoulder, back and neck pain.

Similarly, when children are overloaded with stressors it may show up in behavior like more frequent emotional meltdowns, difficulty sleeping, avoidance or overall negativity. Teens may be on their devices more often as a way to 'check out' from the stress load. We may need to make realistic adjustments to how much we expect ourselves, and others, to take on.

Check-in To Take Charge of Our Emotional & Relational Health

Address the main four pillars: Interest, energy, sleep & appetite. Any changes in these baselines indicates stress .Give your kids and teens time and space to recover from the day. A closed door is not necessarily a warning sign, but a quick check-in helps parents and kids stay connected and shows support and comfort .Convey care and concern in a calm tone and don't be afraid to ask direct questions about moods and behaviors. "You seem really tired lately, are you feeling stressed or having trouble sleeping?" Teens especially respond well to conversations taking place shoulder-to-shoulder, rather than eye-to-eye. (Talk while riding together in the car - but not right when they get out of class) Keep the lines of communication open and low-key.

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Check In With Feelings Thoughts and Needs

We can help our kids assess their own changes in moods and physical states. This helps kids know when they are regulated versus unregulated. Ask your child to take a few slow deep breaths and state how they are feeling physically and emotionally. Do they have aches and pains or feel completely exhausted? Next, talk about the thoughts racing through their minds. Are there any worries that seem to play on repeat? Finally, what do you and your people need to feel comforted and calm right now? Who can help? This quick exchange gets family members into the habit of talking about mental health and finding solutions together.

Name-it to Tame-it

Wait, isn't it better to not talk about feelings and just move on? Won't talking about it make me feel worse?

While we don't want to get stuck in big feelings, when we don't name what we're experiencing, we have less control over our responses. In order to make sure big feelings aren't directing decisions and behaviors, we acknowledge emotions so that they become data, not directives. Accurately naming our emotions helps us unlock core needs.

Family Movie Night With A Side of Hot Chocolate

Everyone benefits from time to just 'be', with no set agenda or pressure to be productive. After being in "on" mode at school and work all day, we often want to check out and forget about our stress at the end of the day. Our young people need time to decompress after a long day and it's also essential to create an open-door policy for talking about all kind of stressors they confront each day. Teens will talk when they trust their grown-ups to listen without judgment or immediate solutions.(More curious scientist, less judge.) They are also more likely to engage in deeper conversations when they don't feel 'watched', so shoot some hoops, walk the dog together, play a board game or cook something together while you talk. "If it feels like when engaging with teens nothing works, meet them where they are by connecting over text."

There are no easy fixes, and we can't simply wave a magic wand and eliminate the stressors of life. But we can create space to step away from stressors, reduce the sources of stress and sink into the comforts of positive interactions at home. Everyone needs one supportive person in their lives to have their back, wrap them up in unconditional support and walk them through this time. Expressing gratitude for what your people are managing and the ways they are showing up makes a difference. We are stronger together when we offer support and appreciate each other which helps build core skills for success in school, at work and in life.

Adapted from author and child and adolescent psychotherapist Katie Hurley, LCSW. Find more of Katie's writings at Practical Parenting

Explore Further

8 Ways A Child's Anxiety Shows Up As Something Else

Connect with ESSER SEL Specialist Tracy Mayhue


March 4th - look for the March issue of Take 5 for SEL, featuring

  • International #SELday https://selday.org/
  • Pi Day! And how SEL practices support Math skills, and more!