Blended Social Emotional Learning – for today’s students

Posted by on Sep 29, 2015 in Uncategorized | No Comments

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Wait a minute…

In today’s world, the virtual reality is becoming more so than we, as immigrants to technology, ever thought possible. In fact, the reality of our world is that very little of it has substance any more. Most people do everything they can online. We entrust the internet to do our banking, locate our favorite cake recipe, chat with friends, shop for everything from baby diapers to homes, and the list could truly go on ad infinitum. Teachers clamor to get online in the morning. Valuable data to glean from tests to advise instruction, photos for history class, videos for discussion groups, are but a few of the tools for academia. Recently, LAUSD and several other districts decided enough was enough with out of school suspensions. What is their solution? Well, it’s not just sitting or napping, it’s not homework nor spit wads… it’s not even smart phones and text messages; it’s Social Emotional Learning/ Positive Behavioral Intervention software (PBIS). As a form of blended learning that truly engages the students, students have the opportunity to explore their behavior in an adaptable data driven trauma oriented manner. This modality is a safe place to explore the underlying causes and what to do about them. Many times, the kids who need the most help stay away from the counselors office for fear of shame or sometimes unfounded biases.

But where’s the catch? The catch is our kids still need to build toward trusting and learning how to develop helpful and meaningful relationships with counselors and teachers at school. PBIS isn’t just about posters on walls in schools nor can it be limited to the occasional assembly in which we all jump up and down while cheering only to walk back out into the halls to be bullied by peers who feel out of control in their personal lives. No, PBIS is about relationships. In a study by Columbia and New York Universities, it was found that students who were exposed to Ripple Effects, An unexpected finding was that strong trends for students who used the program without adult facilitated role-plays showed greater increases in pro-social behavior (77%) and greater reduction in aggressive behaviors (32%) than those who had additional adult intervention and role-plays (32% increase in prosocial, 22% decrease in anti-social), when both were compared to the control group. On the other hand, the group with the added teacher intervention had fewer remedial summer school referrals (62% fewer than control group) than the one without (42% fewer than control group). (Robin Stern, Teachers College, Columbia University and J. Theodore Repa, New York University)

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Today, in the districts where, at the very least, social justice is starting to come to mind, it is important for districts to offer support to teachers as well as students on new skill sets. We cannot expect our teachers to become experts in circles where peer intervention has become much like the group therapy some of us were exposed to back in the 1970′s. While the movement is laudable, it is finding a few challenges. One being the facilitation of circles and conferences. Our teachers, who were just hit with the common core state standards, are still reeling. Now to pile onto them the mandate that they facilitate RJ circles is daunting. We’ll touch on more solutions in the next blog but the point is this, student triage.

We blend learning for math, history, science and language… yet, we rarely take the time to put first things first. If we don’t address the behaviors or trauma prior to trying to teach the students, their capability of being able to absorb academic content is limited. Moreover, the students who are exposed to online support are far more likely to ultimately approach the counselors office for help. It is catchy as well. When students see their peers begin to behave in more positive and healthy manners, they are more apt to seek out solutions for themselves. If you have thoughts on this blog, please let me know… I am always open to read and learn different ways to reach students who stay away from authority. Have a GREAT October! Remember it’s anti-bullying month so let’s do something about it!

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