Main Idea: Self-awareness is the key to everything.
I’ve had several conversations this year with other people in the SEL space, and the one thing we all come to by the end of the chat is that self-awareness is the key to everything. As in - truly - the world would be a different place if every person took even 10 seconds each day to think about what they’re thinking about.
The Illinois SEL Standards and the CASEL Wheel are both built on the foundation of Self-Awareness.
A Harvard Business Review article summed up some research:
This week, try this: As you look to become more self-aware, shift your questioning from WHY to WHAT. Rather than, “Why am I so miserable at school?” try, “What can I do to make my day more enjoyable?” According the article, “‘What’ questions help us stay objective, future-focused, and empowered to act on our new insights.”
Quote of the Week: "I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion." (Billie Jean King)
Educator Resource: The Salesman [Greg Warren Standup Comedy Routine] - This family-friendly comedy special is by St. Louis native Greg Warren. It actually has nothing to do with SEL or education other than if you were part of our SEL Summer Summit in 2022 or will be attending in 2023, he’s part of our final celebration. Well, I guess laughing is definitely SEL-related! :)
Dad Joke: What did the sushi roll say to the bee? Wasabi
This is the last installment for the 22-23 school year. I'll see you back here (or in your inbox) in September!
~Matt Weld, ROE #40 SEL Coach
Main Idea: Joy comes from within. Shifting your mindset is key to finding (and keeping) joy.
Those of you who know my wife, Martha, will probably agree that she is the most positive person you’ve ever met.
She would never cause anyone pain, is always looking to help other people be their best, and is positive 99.9% of the time (y’all wouldn’t believe me if I said 100%).
Where does all this positivity come from? It’s just there. She doesn’t read self-help books to learn what to say. She somehow just knows that the secret to personal peace is internal joy.
Jon Gordon talks about bringing your own positivity in The Energy Bus.
Simon Sinek has heartwarming and motivational conversations on A Bit of Optimism.
But each one will tell you that ultimately, the joy comes from within. At last summer’s SEL Summit, we gave out a tumbler that had the phrase, “Happiness is an inside job” emblazoned on the side. (It was the most popular)
This week, try this: As your inner reserves are wearing down, remember what good things happened. As you look at your calendar in the morning, take a minute and bring to mind each person you’ll be interacting with that day. Then consider how much each of those people enhance your life.
Quote: "Nothing can bring you peace but yourself." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Educator Resource: Determine the Size of the Problem - Last week, I had the pleasure of working with a first grade class on ‘Big Deal / Little Deal’ where I used the visual of a traffic light (even though they don’t have one in their town!) to illustrate the size of a problem, and (probably more importantly) discuss what appropriate responses to each size would be. The link above has an elementary lesson and a secondary lesson, because I know of adults who will respond to little problems with big actions.
Dad Joke: I paid $1 for a hair piece today. It was a small price toupee.
The joke is especially funny to my since I'm bald!
Main Idea: It's human nature to compare ourselves to the people around us.
How many saying are there about comparison? “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” or “Keeping up with the Joneses.”
Back when the human brain evolved, we had a small group of up to 80 people to compare ourselves with. This comparison kept us all together.
Now we have the ability to compare ourselves to anyone in the world with access to the Internet.
I’ve noticed that I tend to play the comparison game harder when I’m weaker: physically tired, emotionally exhausted, or in pain.
I also am on my phone more often when I’m tired (or as my Grandma used to say, “I’m tired, worn out, broken down, and undone”). And thus the downward spiral into self-pity, feelings of unworthiness, and search for like-minded connection and a community intensifies (and can lead to unhealthy relationships).
Remember three things:
This week, try this: Ask yourself these two questions: 1) Who is your go-to person when things are tough? 2) For whom are you the go-to person when things are tough? People who can answer the first question are happier than those who can’t. People who can also answer the second question are even happier. The government of Bhutan actually uses these two questions to measure their Gross Domestic Happiness
Quote of the Week: "We struggle with insecurity because we compare our behind-the-scenes to everyone else's highlight reel.
Educator Resource: Self-Esteem Worksheets - This treasure trove of resources is intended for therapists, but there are some things here that I could see using in the classroom. If nothing else, they are a good idea generator/starting point for creating your own stuff, too.
Dad Joke: Did you know that 10+10 and 11+11 are the same? 10+10=20; 11+11=22.
Now’s the time when the self-care practice you’ve been cultivating will really show its benefits. Don’t have one yet? It’s never too late to start.
Main Idea: Sleep is Underrated
May is also Better Sleep Month
Dov Davidoff may be a comedian, but sleep is very real, and our need for good, restorative sleep is way overlooked. It’s often the first thing we skimp on when we get busy.
My wife and I recently gave into the Smart Watch craze and now have Pixel watches with FitBit that tracks your sleep and gives you a Sleep Score every morning.
The skeptic in me wonders how much it can really tell about your sleep based on your heartbeat, but if nothing else, I’m very aware of my sleep now.
Part of a good night’s rest is good sleep hygiene. Part of what enables you to sleep well is your behavior and choices leading up to bedtime. Matthew Walker has written a great book on sleep and outlines some important actions to consider for a decent sleep:
This week, try this: Keep a sleep log. Record when you go to bed, when you wake up, and a general sense of how well you slept (how rested do you feel, what does your body feel like, etc.). Maybe a simple 1-10 rating. Even something simple like this ensures that sleep becomes more of a priority and you will start to see correlations between daytime behaviors and success with sleep.
Quote: "Lack of sleep is only bad if you have to drive, or think, or talk, or move." ~Dov Davidoff
Educator Resources: Amazon’s Best Sellers in Children’s Sleep Issues - Not sure why it’s ‘Sleep ISSUES’, but these look like good ones, even for the kid in all of us adults. Top 13 Books on Sleep - If you’re more into big-kid books, here’s a list of books on sleep (who knows? Reading one may just put you to sleep!).
Dad Joke: Where to rainbows go when they've been bad? To prism, but it's a light sentence.
May?! What? Looks like we're heading into the home stretch, y'all. Stay healthy!
Matt Weld, Area 5 SEL Coach
Main Idea: Avoiding things can be more harmful than good.
I had a conversation with the wise and wonderful Lisa Dinhofer this week, and one word leapt out at me: AVOIDANCE.
That had me thinking about my day-to-day and how much I avoid doing things that I think will be uncomfortable. Not just the painful stuff, but the merely uncomfortable.
Then I got my butt out of my chair and went for a walk and ‘had a think’ (one of Lisa’s phrases) about the significance and the prevalence of avoidance in schools.
And let’s be honest: actually doing it is (99.9%) never as bad as we imagine it will be.
This week, try this: On your to-do list, find the thing you least want to do. Take a few seconds and figure out why that’s so, and then do it first.
Quote: "The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a struggle. The denial of failure is a failure. Hiding what is shameful is itself a form of shame." ~Mark Manson
Educator Resource: First Five - Jumpstart reader April B. recommends this resource. Her school uses it and loves it. You receive an email everyday that has a bundle of resources for primary, and a bundle of resources for secondary. Some are super-quick (a meme or a joke you can use in class), some are longer activities. Produced by Edtomorrow. Register.
Dad Joke: What can't you breed an eel with an eagle? It's eeleagle.
Wherever you are, keep one eye on the sky and stay safe!
Matt Weld, Area 5 SEL Coach
Main Idea: Where I work through the concept of "You are enough."
To be completely honest, I’ve always had a bit of a “hmmm” + *scrunchy face* reaction when it comes to the phrase, “You are enough.”
I mean, doesn’t ‘enough’ imply you’re not quite there yet? According to Mirriam-Webster, the second definition is ‘fully, quite”. The third definition, “in a tolerable degree” was more what I had in my mind when I scrunch my face. Without going down a semantics rabbit hole, let’s agree to use “fully, quite” as the definition behind this phrase’s intention.
Then I read an interesting blog post by Makeda Pennycooke on ‘What Being Enough Means’. She writes that it means:
As I leaned into Ms. Pennycooke’s writing and contemplated Mr. Blake’s quote, I remembered when I first learned about using non-examples as a way of defining something. I was in a first grade classroom as a tech coach helping them make books on iPads about amphibians. One of the pages the teacher required was a non-example. #mindblown! I was not taught about using non-examples as a junior high teacher, but what a useful tool!
This week, try this: I think that remembering you’re enough is partly a stand against perfectionism (see JumpStart on this topic). The next time a student asks you, “have a written/run/done/whatever enough?” ask them what more than enough might look like. OR, think about this: “Am I more than enough?” / “When am I more than enough?”
Quote: "You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough." ~William Blake
Educator Resource: Lose the Very - OK, so this isn’t necessarily SEL-related, and it’s most likely the ELA teacher/writer/tech coach in me that geeked out, but it’s a simple, handy tool when you’re looking for a better word than ‘very something’. For example, very + pretty = statuesque.
Dad Joke: I found stir fry all over my bed this morning. I must've been sleep wokking again.
Big Idea: Watch out for the people who use apologies as a manipulation tool!
An apology can be one of the best tools for the Passive-Aggressives and the Manipulators out there. It catches people when they are down and vulnerable and can send snarky, fake, sarcastic messages designed to keep the hurt party feeling hurt.
Not only is an apology without change manipulative,
After reading through this, I wonder how you think our modeling of the use of apologies with students (particularly in a disciplinary situation) might be changed?
Quote of the Week: "An apology without change is just manipulation." ~Sierra Monaee
Educator Resource: I Want to be Mad for a While! by Barney Saltzberg [kids’ book] - Discover a universally relatable story about one little cat who just wants to be MAD... at least for a little while! With gentle text and bold, vibrant illustrations, Barney Saltzberg encourages readers to "feel what they feel" and express their emotions, helping young ones develop key tools for social-emotional literacy. A must-have for any toddler caregiver. This book empowers children on the topic of anger, letting them know that it's okay to feel mad sometimes. Because after you let yourself feel mad... then you can start to feel GLAD! (Contributed by JumpStart reader Kristin Rydholm.)
Dad Joke: I've often heard that 'icy' is the easiest word to spell. Looking back, I see why.
It's April - Storms are a-comin'!
Matt Weld, Area 5 SEL Coach
Big Idea: Discipline is the missing ingredient to achieving out goals.
Consider these five things that I have run across recently:
Quote of the Week: "Discipline is about making choice after choice that's aligned with our intentions. In any moment, we can make a choice that supports an intention; or we can make a choice that supports an old habit, a lack of intention, a fear." ~Chetna Mehta
Educator Resource: April Book Study (100% online & FREE!) - Look Beyond the Clouds: Transform Your Daily Habits to Overcome Burnout and Find Joy in Teaching Again The final book study for this school year on TeachIllinois is starting TODAY, but it’s not too late to join. This title was recommended by a teacher friend, and a great way to end the year on a positive note. Illinois educators can earn 6 PD Hours. Out-of-State people will get a certificate of completion for 6 hours.
Dad Joke: The word 'vaccine' is the only English word that two consecutive letters are pronounced differently. Don't ask how I know - I found out accidentally.
It's APRIL! Warm weather is coming!
Matt Weld, Area 5 SEL Coach
Big Idea: Anger can be a signpost that something needs to be addressed.
Last week, I started out with this line: “Think about the last time you felt angry - that sudden, intense feeling that made you want to do something big.” I then went on to talk about how anger is part of the fear response.
This week, let’s take it from a different angle. What about the time when your anger made you want to do something small? A news program made you change the channel, your friend said something that made you disagree with them (hopefully in a constructive manner, perhaps with an “I” statement :)?
This week, I was listening to an interesting podcast where Gabor Maté was talking about ‘healthy anger’ and how women are more likely to have autoimmune disease because our society teaches them to suppress their healthy anger.
According to Dr. Maté, healthy anger is simply a boundary defense (start at about 16:00), and we share that circuitry in our brains with all mammals.
Think about your mammalian pets for a minute. What happens when they get angry? They react (re-establish a boundary) and then move on. Why don’t we do this more often? What is it about being human that gives us the ability to a) react to a situation with more anger than necessary to re-establish our boundary, and then b) hold on to that anger in ways that don’t ultimately positively serve our wellbeing (grudges, revenge, etc.) ?
This week, try this: The trick here is the pause between feeling the anger and reacting with your anger’s energy. This is where we can bring in our humanity, because our pets can’t do this. The next time you feel anger, pause - even for the space of an inhale - before you react. If it’s healthy anger, let ‘er rip so your boundaries remain defended. If it’s based on fear, or it’s too big, think of another strategy. And then, do your very best to move on.
Quote of the Week: "Anger can be a sign that something that matters to you is being threatened. Listen. Pause. Respond. Move on." ~Matt Weld
Educator Resource: Would You Rather…? (School Edition) - Most people have played this game before, and it’s probably NOT been school appropriate. Here are a list of questions that you can ask anyone. Give it a boost by having people move to either side of the room depending on their answer.
Dad Joke: I'm not a fan of elevator music. It's bad on so many levels.
Keep your head up!
Matt Weld, Area 5 SEL Coach
Big Idea: Anger is the outward expression of hurt and fear.
Think about the last time you felt angry - that sudden, intense feeling that made you want to do something big.
It’s all part of the fight/flight/freeze response. The desire to say or do something big is a natural reaction when something comes up against who you are. I’ll bet the last time you felt anger was when something or someone made you feel afraid, or hurt your pride, or caused intense frustration.
Usually what makes us angry is something unexpected. Our brains can only handle so much unexpectedness before they invoke the body to help remove it (or us) from the situation.
Think about fear itself. You can read a thriller or watch an action movie or go through a haunted house and it’s invigorating.
Too much more, and you step over the boundary into anxiety and aggression.
This week, try this: To manage anger, self-awareness is the key (good thing it’s the first goal in the Illinois SEL Standards!). Sit for a minute and explore what makes you angry, and what triggers your anger. Once you know your own triggers, you can avoid them, or be aware enough to enact your calming practices before anger makes you do something you’ll regret.
Quote: "Anger is nothing more than the outward expression of hurt, fear, and frustration." ~Unknown
Educator Resource: How to Help Students Manage Their Emotions - EDUTOPIA ARTICLE - Four tips AND scripts for each one to help you start a conversation with a student.
Dad Joke: Thinking of having my ashes stored in a glass urn. Remains to be seen.
Warm days are coming!
~Matt Weld, Area 5 SEL Coach