There's a radical - and wonderful - new idea here . . . that all children could and should be inventors of their own theories, critics of other people's ideas, analyzers of evidence, and makers of their own personal marks on the world." - Deborah Meier, Educator
In an era when test scores have consumed so much of the oxygen around student success, we welcome the turn to social-emotional development as a key factor in a young person’s education.
In Belonging and Becoming, WKCD authors Barbara Cervone and Kathleen Cushman document five American high schools that, by design, include social and emotional in their DNA. For years, CASEL (Collaborative on Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) has been gathering data about the power of a range of programs to enhance students' SEL skills.
Designs and programs like these have yet to gain full force. However, the opportunity to create small but regular occasions for young people to build social and emotional fiber exists in every classroom or program, regardless of its circumstances.
The social-emotional “workouts” we offer here (ten in all) are a starting place. They take 10-15 minutes, making them a suitable bell ringer, warm up, or advisory activity. We’ve created four categories: quotations, questions, video clips, and photographs. There is no formula for using these workouts with students (just as there are no right or wrong answers). Each stands on its own. Mix them up and sprinkle them into your ongoing work, knowing that your students will embrace the chance to flex their social-emotional muscles.
Pick a quote. Ask students to write down, on their own: (1) what they think the quote means, and (2) how it applies in their own life. Then ask for volunteers to share their thoughts with the whole group/class.
"I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." – Michael Jordan
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." – Eleanor Roosevelt
"Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life." – Steve Jobs
Pick a question (and its follow-up). Ask students to discuss their answers in a small group--and to appoint a representative who will share their responses with the whole class.
Why can it be so hard to say, "I'm sorry?" (Can you remember a time in your own life when you did something wrong or hurt someone but just couldn't apologize?)
How can you tell if a person is smart? (What makes someone smart?)
What happens to your body and your emotions when you feel really stressed? (What do others see or not see?)
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
In these short video clips, part of WKCD's Just Listen series, students talk about what they are learning about themselves and what keeps them motivated. Pick a clip to watch with your students. (You will need a way to show it full screen.) Use these suggested prompts to stimulate discussion, either in small groups or as a whole class.
Maranda, 16 | Getting help [0:38] Why can it be a struggle to ask for help?
Elijah, 17 | A new perspective on myself [1:01] What helps you get a new perspective on yourself?
Wilson, 16 | I try to push myself [1:03] Sometimes we're too hard on ourselves--or not
hard enough. What's been your experience?
Garlyn, 15 | Humor takes out the sting [0:40] What have you tried to take the sting out of
negative feedback or
OTHER PEOPLE'S LIVES
These photos come from WKCD's collection of more than 10,000 photographs taken by youth worldwide. Below each photo is the caption provided by youth photographer, along with our discussion prompt. Click on the picture for an enlarged version.
Irene Esonga, 16, Nairobi, Kenya
"The Beauty of Dreams”
Many will dream of how to improve their living standards by studying hard at school so that they can kill the monster called poverty. As they say, the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams, no matter how displaced. Obstacles should never stop us from dreaming. If one runs into a wall, do not turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work your way around it--and that is how one can achieve their dreams. Let us fill our minds with thoughts of peace, courage, health and hope for our dreams are what our thoughts make them.
Irene Esong lives in Nairobi, Kenya in one of the biggest slums in the world. Food is in short supply and there is no electricity or running water. What, do you think, keeps her strong?
Zhang Yi Chi, 11,
“Her Hopes Come True”
A Tibetan girl near Qinghai Lake carries a lamb waiting for people to take her photo. Sometimes she sings a song for the people also. She gets $0.74 for one photo (about 5.00 RMB in Chinese money). Her hope is so small and easy to fulfill. She looks happy with a hoping gaze.
Zhang Yi Chi took this photo of a Tibetan girl, probably around her age, when she was on a family vacation to western China. What do you think the girl will do with the money Zhang gave her for her picture?