In recent years, educators have been working carefully to meet the ever-growing social and emotional needs of the students they serve. This includes attending professional learning opportunities, exploring new resources and connecting with educators in other districts to hear about how they are approaching SEL within their learning environments. One of the ways that Community Schools has been able to support SEL at the classroom level is by modeling the use of some of the new SEL resources developed by our Learning Resources team, commonly known as ‘SEL Kits’.
As educators within the region started to learn about the new SEL Kits, some had asked for support in how and where to use them within daily instruction. The ‘Be Brave Kit,’ is a great place to start when integrating SEL Kits into the classroom, as the contents of the kit are simple and versatile, yet facilitate some critical learning around neuroscience and emotion, particularly anxiety. The ‘Be Brave Kit,’ contains three books by the author Karen Young, “Hey, Warrior,” “Hey Awesome,” and “But We’re Not Lions.”
Recently, I had the pleasure of joining Kristin Rocco’s life skills classroom at Ellicottville Central School and Danielle Norton’s second grade classroom to model the use of “Hey, Warrior,” and help students understand why anxiety feels the way it does and where the physical symptoms come from. In collaborating with both teachers, we decided best to utilize the circle format to illicit maximum engagement in the lesson, as students are familiar with the process. Each class separately engaged in conversation around “scary” feelings, being worried and what happens in our bodies when we are anxious. We were able to use the book to add to our conversation and share some new learning about what happens in the brain and body when our amygdala switches on and fear and worry drive our actions. Students were able to practice some familiar skills of belly breathing and positive affirmations and make connections into how such skills can empower them in uncertain situations that may provoke feelings of anxiety.
It was an honor to witness such profound learning taking place in each classroom at ECS and we thank both teachers for partnering with Community Schools to explore one of our new SEL Kits. If you are interested in exploring any of the SEL Kits that are available, please visit resources.caboces.org or reach out to Alex_Freer@caboces.org. If your classroom or district is interested in collaborating with Community Schools to facilitate a lesson in SEL, please reach out to Kathryn_mendell@caboces.org.
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools
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