Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Social/Emotional Goals in the Classroom

Philosopher Martin Buber once said, "Education worthy of the name is essentially education of character."  We spend so much time talking about test scores that we often forget to talk about the stuff that really matters.  What do employers say they are looking for?  ACT scores?  Reading scores?  I'm not saying that academics do not matter, but the way our students learn to conduct themselves in society speaks volumes about them and effects the opportunities that come their way.  And those are just the extrinsic motivators.

Too often the only time attention is paid to students' mental/emotional well-being, the discussion has been spurred by tragedy.  Do we really need to wait for that, though, before we prioritize it?  

Looking for ways to incorporate it?  Here is my top 10 list:

1) Check out this list of 40 assets.  They are a researched list of internal and external  assets students can have in their life that have been shown to help them succeed.  There are 8 categories, and most all of them have assets that we can help develop as educators.

2) Incorporate real life issues into the curriculum.  (Note: This approach is designed especially for "at risk students.")

3) Teach them what employers look for.  Teach them what those traits look like and sound like.  Have them self assess how they come across to others.

4) February is Friendship month.  Celebrate it with your students.

5) Be aware of your students' emotional health.  While we are not qualified to diagnose or treat serious issues and should not try, it is good to be aware of the warning signs.  If your students are old enough, it might be good to have them go through some self assessments.  There are a lot of surveys available online for free.

6) Use novel studies to allow students to discuss issues in the third person.  

7) Have students work in groups.  Learning team work is an invaluable skill.

8) Familiarize yourself with the national social and emotional learning standards.

9) Use journals to help students work through issues with complex answers.  Use interactive journals to make it a social exercise.

10) Incorporate minds on learning tips.  

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