How the Second Step Program Has Changed Me | By: Committee for Children Today’s blog was written by Jake Olsen, school counselor at Cedarhurst Elementary in Burien, WA. Last year, I started by piloting the Second Step program in kindergarten classrooms, and ended the school year teaching some fourth- and fifth-grade lessons under the watchful eye of some video cameras. After seeing positive social and academic results from last year’s work, I continue to pilot the Second Step Kindergarten through Grade 3 curriculum this year. Partnering with Committee for Children and using the program directly with students has been an unbelievable resource for me, my school, our teachers, and our students. My involvement in developing and using the curriculum has changed me as an educator tremendously. As a counselor and educator, my purpose is to help facilitate the academic, social, emotional, and career development of all the students at my school. The curriculum is like a vehicle to help make all of this happen. It continually challenges me to think about how students learn and how I teach them. The Skills for Learning, emotion management, and problem-solving strategies give me a focus when I’m teaching preventively or intervening reactively with students. To be honest, piloting the curriculum, discussing student behavior with colleagues, and delving into my newfound interest in brain research (linked to positive student growth and development) has rejuvenated me as a professional. It’s fun, it’s exciting, I know it works when it’s taught and reinforced consistently with fidelity, and it’s best practice for teaching students academic, social, and emotional skills. But I have to say that the benefits of the Second Step program go beyond what it’s done for me as an effective professional. It really has benefited our entire school. Second Step gives us schoolwide common language to use for students in the classroom, in hallways, and on the playground. This common language carries over to students’ homes too. The vocabulary and skills we teach have added to the existing skill sets of many of the teachers I work with, and in some cases, improved classroom management and teacher-student interactions and relationships. I have found Second Step to be a research-based resource I can count on while collaborating with school staff and parents. I use the vocabulary and strategies from Second Step to help teachers and parents help students learn, manage their emotions, and solve their own problems effectively. Over time, school staff and parents become fluent in things like Listening Rules and Skills for Learning and How to Calm down and integrate them into everyday interactions with their students and children.