Social Emotional Learning can best be described as teaching ourselves and students to be
aware of our internal environment. Giving ourselves space to identify and recognize our
emotions isn’t necessarily a new idea, however it is powerful to explicitly teach our students how
to recognize what is going on internally. Only when we become aware of our feelings are we
able to help ourselves move through when we are in the grips of intense emotions.
Trauma-Informed Classrooms cultivate a culture of safety and focus on the external
environment for students to thrive. When educators focus on the external environment they
intentionally work on creating space for students to thrive and practice the skills needed for
Resilience is our entry to thriving, not just surviving. Recently I attended an ASCD virtual conference and heard Elena Auguilar share her ‘12 Strategies to Build Resilience in Yourself and Communities’ which we can put into practice immediately.
1. Right here, right now, everything is ok
2. Feel your body
4. Recognize, name and accept emotions
5. Stay connected to people
6. Take care of yourself
7. Practice perspective taking
8. Be kind to yourself
9. Distract yourself
10. Look for bright spots
11. Practice gratitude
12. Practice “maybe”
When individuals struggle with big emotions we owe it to our students to give them the words and means to move through their emotions and practice resilience. Resilience can be thought of how we weather the storms that life throws at us. Take a moment to remember a time you weather a small challenge and you emerged stronger than you were before. This practice helps to cultivate resilience. There is power in remembering the smaller challenges that you were able to overcome and if you have an opportunity to share your story (and hear another person’s story) it builds resilience in both individuals. When we share our stories it helps to expand our perspective, normalize our experiences, and boosts our oxytocin (which is so healthy and combats our stress hormones!). We all have resilience and we all have the ability to build it. A stress check is a great visual for students to use in order to self evaluate if they are learning ready. This stress check can also be used with a worry box. This graphic has been borrowed from peardeck, as their website has featured some free social-emotional templates. https://www.peardeck.com/studentpaced-demo-resources
A worry box is a great way to have students identify something that may be concerning them
and write them down on a strip of paper and drop into their box. The idea is once the worry is
written down and placed in the box it is captured inside and no longer needs to take up space in
your mind. At the end of the day you can come back to the worry box and see if it still is a worry
or if the worry was resolved throughout the day. If the worry was resolved then it can be thrown
away, if the worry grew the idea is to take it out and place the worry in the teacher’s worry box
so the worry can be problem solved together.
Another idea to cultivate a safe environment and build resilience is to have your students participate in the ‘Hands of Promise’ activity. In this activity the left hand serves as the past and the right hand the future. Students write and/or draw pictures to express their fears on the left hand and what they are expecting and looking forward to on the right hand. This activity can be used to help kids move their thoughts from the past into the present.
It is so encouraging to know that resilience can be cultivated and developed in anyone. We
have the opportunity to continue to practice, model, and develop resiliency skills in ourselves
and others. And, if 2020 has taught us anything it is this…..we are resilient!
By: Jessica Schirrmacher-Smith, CA BOCES Professional Development