It's also Boss's Day. What could be better than combining the two? Food Day on Boss's Day? Win-win!
Special shout-out to all the bosses who support this work. None of us in education right now went through SEL anything in our teacher prep or admin prep programs. It’s a leap of faith and an understanding that relationships, community, and belonging are the bedrock of anything that involves working with other humans - especially young ones! Thank you.
Quote: "In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life." -Albert Bandura
In 1961, Albert Bandura conducted his famous Bobo doll experiment, where the researchers physically and verbally abused an inflatable toy in front of preschool-age children. Later, the children mimicked the researchers’ behavior toward the doll.
His theory of social cognitive theory postulated that humans learn from watching other humans engage in activity.
We all know that as teachers, our students are CONSTANTLY watching us, questioning us, and judging us.
Think of your students now, and all the time they are spending on screens probably watching content designed for adults (or at least they probably have access to it even if they’re not engaging with it). What are they learning? How many of the behaviors we are seeing in schools are a result of Bandura’s social cognitive theory?
This week, try this: What did you explicitly learn from the Internet today (maybe how to do something, or what one of your friends is doing)? What did you implicitly learn from the Internet today (a reinforcement of gender roles in society, perhaps?)
Educators' Resource: Illinois State SEL Conference - Registration has been reopened to accommodate all the registrations. We are already at 467 registrations, so it will be closing again soon. Don’t miss out! Springfield, IL, February 20, 2024, 8:30 - 3:30 pm. with Michael Bonner, Carla Tantillo Philibert, and Gerry Brooks.
Dad Joke: 90% of bald people still own a comb. They just can't part with it!
I think the summer-like weather may be gone now. Rejoice in the cool temps - that means chili, fire pits, s’mores, apples, pumpkins, and spooky things. :)
It's also World Mental Health Day. This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has proclaimed the focus of 2023 to be ‘Mental Health is a Human Right.’ Too often, people do not have access to mental health services or education due to subjugation, poverty, geography, or whatever other reason. Just as education and self-awareness is the first step in a lot of my work with schools and people, awareness and education is the first step all over the world.
Quote: "One small crack does not mean you're broken. It means that you were put to the test and didn't fall apart." -Linda Poindexter
Over the summer, I was part of a group that worked to put together a framework around Collective Well-being in schools. One of the conversations that we had centered around the fact that mental health is often regarded as a problem - it’s addressed when there is something wrong.
In schools, mental health is often/usually addressed reactively rather than proactively. In special services meetings where potential services were discussed for students, it was because the student was facing a challenge - or that their performance didn’t match the school’s or assessment’s benchmark.
What if schools prioritized community and face-to-face connection?
I don’t think ANYONE can argue against that.
This week, try this: Have a conversation with your students about resiliency and how any cracks they feel are not indications that they are broken, but rather a chance to grow. Oh, and do it for yourself, too!
Educator Resource: Cake Wrecks. Remember how it’s Cake Decorating Day? Not all attempts at decorating are Instagram-worthy, and some are actually bad enough to deserve recognition for their #cakefail. Check out Cake Wrecks. There’s also a book that my son thought was the funniest thing back when he was around 11 or so (warning that there may be some inappropriate cakes!).
Dad Joke: To the person who stole my place in line: I'm after you now!
For many schools, it’s approaching the end of 1st quarter. Already. You’ve got this!
It's also Custodian Day. Last week we honored food service workers. This week, let’s thank our custodians! At one of the schools I used to work at, Mr. Hudson was way more to our community than someone who kept the place spotless. He was a mentor to students, the girls’ basketball coach, and one of the nicest humans ever. Who deserves a shoutout in your building?
Do you name your car? I do. I have a red Subaru Forester named Merlin. The car before that was a 2002 Honda Accord coup that my 4-year old named Gadget because it had power everything (…so it’s fitting that it’s now his car).
Quote: "Pleasure is the lightheadedness you get from a bit of grain alcohol; enjoyment is the satisfaction of a good wine, properly understood." -Arthur Brooks
This last week, I had the honor of watching Illinois State Superintendent Dr. Tony Sanders’s conversation with author Simon Sinek. Several interesting points were made (that may pop up in later newsletters), but one in particular caught my attention: the difference between pleasure and enjoyment.
After digging into this difference a bit further, I found a couple interesting definitions:
Harvard Professor Arthur Brooks says pleasure happens to you; enjoyment is something that you create through your own effort.
Simon Sinek says that pleasure is personal; enjoyment is pleasure with another person.
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes that pleasure is when we feel our biological needs are met within the context of our societal expectations. Enjoyment comes when we go beyond meeting biological needs and push ourselves forward into the realm of novelty and accomplishment.
In my trainings, I’ve often said that in order to remain in your resilience zone, you should choose activities that are inside > out rather than outside > in, meaning that contentment and resilience after a long day come when you choose activities that involve part of your inner self, for example writing instead of reading.
I think it’s all along the same idea.
This week, try this: At the end of a long day, regain your equilibrium with another person or by engaging in an activity that will challenge you to grow. You may not find immediate pleasure, but you’ll find the enjoyment afterglow will stick around longer than the hangover.
Educator Resource: Positivity, Energy, & Purpose Conference (PEP Con) Michael Bonner, Joe ‘Mr. D.’ Dombrowski, and Monica Genta all in one place. FREE! February 21, 2024 at the Gateway Center in Collinsville, IL. 8:30 am - 3:00 pm. Lunch on your own, Funded by the ISBE SEL Hub #5. Limit 300 people.
Dad Joke: My principal asked me why I only get sick on school days. Must be my weekend immune system.
October! I say that Fall is now officially here. Find some time to go outside and enjoy the cooler weather.
It’s also Food Service Worker Day.
I heard once that Turkey Tetrazzini was the overall favorite cafeteria food. What does your cafeteria make that’s amazing? At one of my former schools, Tanya and crew made the best grilled cheese I’ve ever had - Texas toast that was crunchy on the outside and extra cheese inside.
Need procrastination fodder? Check out “10 One-Hit Wonders and the Stories Behind Their Brief Fame.”
Quote: "Anxiety is extremely contagious, but so is calm." -Harriet Lerner
Research has shown that day-to-day anxiety (as opposed to diagnosed chronic anxiety) is one of the most contagious emotions. Therefore, it’s more a function of groups than of individuals.
How we respond to this type of anxiety is most likely a product of our first family. How did your family respond to stress? What was your role in the family in times of stress?
Harriet Lerner says that there are two types of responses: over- and under-functioning. Brene Brown summarizes them well in this podcast episode.
Over-functioners go into hyperdrive, making lists, doing all the things, leaning into doing rather than feeling. Under-functioners retreat into themselves and lean into their emotions rather than taking action.
Understanding how we show up in stressful situations is a huge piece of becoming self-aware. Once you have an idea of how you respond when something goes sideways in your life, you can name it. And when you name it, you can tame it.
This week, try this: The next time you enter into a stressful situation, try these calming strategies, because just as there are people who radiate anxiety and stress, there are also people who exude calm.
Dad Joke: When does a joke become a Dad Joke? When it becomes apparent.
We’ve got this! I hope this last week of September is relatively stress free, and that (more importantly) you are able to navigate the stress with aplomb.
It's also Cheeseburger Day! But let’s celebrate the dessert. Our daughter makes the best Rice Krispies treats (is it ‘Rice Krispies or Krispy Treat?). Her hack is to mix in MORE mini marshmallows with the cereal so that there are whole marshmallows mixed throughout. So. Good.
Quote: "Identity is not inherent. It is shaped by circumstance and sensitivity and resistance to self-pity." -Dorothy West
In my opinion, the key to grabbing onto your life so that you don’t feel like you are constantly in overwhelm mode is to truly understand who you are.
What makes you who you are?
I don’t think anyone knows for sure, and it’s probably completely different for each of us. Back in the 60’s, my parents believed in nurture over nature - that when they adopted me and then my sister 18 months later, the home they created would determine our outcome, not our genes. Even though we were besties growing up and still have a good relationship, my sister and I have always been very dissimilar in our identities.
Clearly, Dorothy West (major female author of the Harlem Renaissance) believes the opposite. It sounds as though in her mind, our identity is defined by how we respond to things - in our resiliency.
I feel as though we treat people as though they are mirrors of ourselves. We expect things out of them that we would expect from ourselves. We assume they will react to situations, humor, gossip, etc. in the same way that we do. However, perhaps they way we respond to situations is REALLY tied up in our identity and that each of us is REALLY different from the next.
This week, try this: Stop for a minute and describe yourself.
Educator Resource: Identity Lesson Plans:Grades K - 2: “Teach Young Kids About Identity” This page describes lessons that are for sale, AND has a great list of books to read to your kiddos. You could absolutely generate your own lesson around the book list and the pictures of her lesson cards.
Grades 3 - 5: “Discovering My Identity” In this lesson, students will describe aspects of their identities such as race, gender, ability, religion and more. Then after exploring Marley Dias' Black Girls Books campaign, students will analyze book illustrations and write their own book review noting how characters are similar and different from them. https://www.learningforjustice.org/classroom-resources/lessons/discovering-my-identity
Secondary: “Personal Identity Wheel” The Personal Identity Wheel is a worksheet activity that encourages students to reflect on how they identify outside of social identifiers. The worksheet prompts students to list adjectives they would use to describe themselves, skills they have, favorite books, hobbies, etc.
Dad Joke: I was really confused when my printer started playing music. Turns out the paper was jamming.
We’ve got this! Last week, I ended by saying that this week, I was going to add another paradigm shift. (Un)fortunately, I can’t remember what I was thinking. Maybe next week… We are already half-way through September! The pelicans have shown up around here on their way to Mexico for the winter.
I'm sure you're off to a great start! By this point, I’m hoping you’ve learned the kids’ names, they know(ish) your procedures, and this email won’t automatically get archived. For those of you who were teaching on 9/11/01, tell your students about that day - keep the story alive. If you don’t remember that day, ask a veteran teacher what it was like. I’ll bet they remember EXACTLY what they were doing when they heard the news (I do!). Also take a moment to reflect on how your community came together after that time. How can we bring that back in our own small way?
Quote: "Avoiding mistakes is an underrated way to improve. It's easier to fend off a bad day than acheive a perfect day. Rather than do you best, avoid your worst." -James Clear
This past summer was super busy for me. In addition to fitting in some travel, we have been working with the people at Mindful Practices in developing a new framework and toolkit for schools to use as they work toward Collective Well-being. Our hope is that this framework will one day be as famous as the CASEL Wheel! :)
Of the hours of conversations we’ve had as a design team, one of the biggest shifts that will need to happen (in my opinion) in order for organizations to be well, is to move from ‘Whatever it takes!’ to ‘Give today’s best.’
Just the idea that not striving for 100% everyday is OK makes my stomach flip.
Yet everyone is worn out, fragile, and not coping well. What if we backed of just a bit? Everything would still get done, and we will be able to be more present in the moment and actually take an easy breath at the end of the day rather than feeling out of breath when we finally climb into bed for less than 7 hours of sleep (but that’s another week!).
This week, try this: Pick a day this week. Maybe it’s on a weekend for starters, or perhaps it’s today. Follow James Clear’s advice and avoid your worst for one day. At the end of the day, reflect on your expectations, your emotions (and how they are in your body), and how it affected your interactions with other people. Just notice those things, name them, and set them aside to think about later.
Educator Resource: First Five by EdTomorrow. I shared this last year, but if you’re new or didn’t jump on last year, it’s a biggie and worth getting in with at the beginning of the school year. You receive an email every day that has links to a PRIMARY and a SECONDARY webpage. On each page, there is a whole list of quick resources to use in your classroom under these headings: Connect (Meme, Questions, At the Door, Quick Connect); Care (Check-In, Mindfulness, Positivity); Character (Quote, Video). That’s 8 resources for one day. Every day. Oh, and it’s free.
Dad Joke: Why is a pirate a pirate? Because they ARRRR.
SEL Coach Matt Weld creates and delivers in-person and online SEL-related content.