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By Joy Brooke on 3/31/2014 10:35 AM

My first year of teaching my goal was to have a well managed classroom because I had heard so many of those stories about “the first year teacher” who couldn't control her kids! I was determined that wasn't going to be me, my first year… or ever. I read all the books about classroom management and implemented many strategies, but after a few months, even though my classroom was “managed” pretty well, I still felt there was something lacking in my classroom environment. Even though I was following all the standards and doing a pretty darn good job as a first year teacher designing individualized education for each of my students, there was still some element missing, for me and for them.

Mrs. Brooke’s SEL Classroom
By Joy Brooke on 3/24/2014 11:53 AM

Who would have thought Songs and Chants bring FOCUS?  To start the day I have always sung the “Good Morning Song”. Sung to the tune of Happy Birthday, I begin by singing “Good Morning to you, Good Morning to you, Good Morning dear *second grade, Good Morning to you!” This tells my students it is time to stop whatever they are doing, put away their things, and have their hands folded and eyes on me. They of course are encouraged to sing along too, which helps them stop conversations they are having and get them focused on beginning class. If it looks like some aren't quite ready, I sing another verse (and usually use some hand motions encouraging them to hurry up with a smile of course-). Using singing is a great way to start the day and teach focus.

Mrs. Brooke’s SEL Classroom
By Kim Gulbrandson on 3/10/2014 12:38 PM

There are many sources of stress in life: Taking care of siblings, dealing with peer pressure, finding food and shelter, doing homework, dealing with family problems, dressing in style, passing tests, getting into college, finding a place to live... Whether we are old or young, male or female, live in the city or a small town, come from affluence or poverty, we are all faced with stress on a regular basis.

Talking SEL and More
By Joy Brooke on 2/28/2014 12:27 PM

I got to witness one of the best writing celebrations and Valentine celebrations ever this past week. To end a unit of study on letter writing, my son's school celebrated by having secret pals. Each student in the school (K-5) wrote an initial letter about themselves and then that letter was handed out to a secret pal. The students wrote back and forth with their secret pals these past few weeks as the teacher strategically made sure the letter went to the right child. Every child always received one. Parents helped at home by knowing the due dates for each letter.  But if one was forgotten, the teachers helped the child write a quick letter on the spot so that every child always received one on the day of the deliveries.

Mrs. Brooke’s SEL Classroom
By Emilie Coulter on 2/28/2014 11:26 AM

A recent blog post in the Washington Post discusses nine education predictions for 2014 made by educator and writer Larry Ferlazzo, covering such topics as computerized standardized testing, political forecasts, and one-to-one school computing initiatives. But it was number eight that jumped out at us. Ferlazzo posits that although social-emotional learning will continue to grow in popularity among schools, some “school reformers” (his quotation marks) will try to use this positive shift to “minimize the role of poverty and other causes of academic challenges and push their agenda instead.”

SEL at Home
By Joy Brooke on 2/28/2014 11:17 AM

A champion uses positive self-talk, there’s no doubt about it. After watching the Winter Olympics, I am even more convinced self-talk is an important emotional skill that we must teach our students. Athletes don’t get to the Olympics by telling themselves they can’t, they’re not sure, or they’re not going to even try.


Mrs. Brooke’s SEL Classroom
By Kim Gulbrandson on 2/21/2014 10:36 AM

Have you ever felt on any given day that the negatives were hard to overlook? Maybe you woke up and read about a sad event in the news, or upon arriving at work you listened to various co-worker complaints about their challenging students. Driving home, you may have come across an angry driver with road rage, or someone at the grocery store who cut in front of you in line. Then, perhaps during dinner, your children got into a heated argument. Although days are not always like this, there are times when the positive things are not so easy to see.

Talking SEL and More
By Kim Gulbrandson on 2/19/2014 12:40 PM

I offer one final series of reflections on the subject of my last two blogs; the bullying situation of Connor and his parents. Here are some thoughts and comments that have flooded my mind as Connor’s parents and I continue to stay in touch. They are important to share, especially with those of you who may be having similar experiences yourselves, or with your children or students.

Talking SEL and More
By Kim Gulbrandson on 2/11/2014 12:06 PM

In Part 1 of this story, I shared some of the experiences of Connor’s parents, as well as my own, when hearing about his bullying situation. Now, I would like to look at what happened at the school level.

Talking SEL and More
By Kim Gulbrandson on 2/4/2014 1:57 PM

Some friends contacted me recently about a situation their son was having at school. He was frequently teased by a group of three boys. They would call him names, trip and push him: in class, at lunch, in the hallways, and at recess. Other students would join in or watch. I immediately recognized that this was a bullying situation since the stories involved repetitiveness, unequal power, and intent to harm.

Talking SEL and More
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