Addressing Social, Emotional Development, and Resilience at the Heart of Teacher Education.
Teacher education has found new direction in the demonstrated need for social-emotional development as a focus in our public schools. The imperative to prepare teachers who not only deliver academic curriculum effectively but also focus on their students' well-being is now widely understood (California Department of Education [CDE], 2016, 2019). This new direction is due, at least in part, to the expansion of assessment criteria beyond achievement test scores permitted in the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA), the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Most significantly, the recent report From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope (Aspen Institute, 2019) presented a well-articulated vision of what an appropriate education should be by integrating social, emotional, and academic development in constructing essential life skills. Twenty-three notable scholars, policy makers, and national, business, and military leaders authored the report, including Linda Darling Hammond, George Benitiz, and Timothy Shriver as co-chairs of the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. We have come a long, long way.
Tracking the synthesis of various fields of study leading to the present focus on social-emotional learning (SEL) helps to define the role teachers and teacher educators have to integrate this important dimension of human development into academic learning. Essentially, early childhood educators traditionally assert the value for social-emotional development integration. We can learn a great deal from Reggio, Montessori, nature-based early childhood programs, and the Child Development Project. A description of the Montessori Prepared Environment, as an example, is included later in the article. We can also learn from confluent education, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and evaluation studies of drug, alcohol, and tobacco prevention programs. With many pathways leading to the present, looking deeply at one teacher education program offers some options for effective preparation of SEL and resilience education. In the last section of the article, the voices of Antioch University, Santa Barbara's preservice teacher candidates and returning graduate students offer telling cases of positive outcomes when teacher education holds SEL at the heart of teacher preparation.
National educational organizations such as the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), with 114,000 members, and the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) promote professional growth opportunities that target social-emotional development essential to educating the "whole child." Edutopia, a growing network of progressive educators, promotes "what works," and the Responsive Classroom, whose influence has grown since the publication of Teaching Children to Care (Charney, 1991/2002), offers curriculum to focus on the now accepted relationship of academic success and SEL.
Beyond the professional organizations that promote SEL, the popular press, including Forbes (Childress, 2018), confirm that the last few years have seen an increased understanding of the value of SEL: "The new federal education law (ESSA) allows States to use an expanded set of indicators for school performance, including social-emotional learning (SEL)." Popular acknowledgment of the value of a social-emotional focus, though long overdue, is much welcomed.
How do we distinguish between an educational fad and an important purpose that should guide our practice? Is the focus on SEL one of those fads or an effort that has long been part of professional practice but not sanctioned as central to educational efforts? The Forbes article raises three important questions that hint at why it has taken generations to recognize the power and interrelated dynamics of social-emotional development and academic achievement. The first, "Is there consensus on which SEL skills are most important?" will be discussed in the following section of this article. The second, "What knowledge, skills and dispositions do teachers need to create learning environments that foster SEL?" will be addressed in the next section, along with a presentation of specific actions teacher educators at Antioch University have taken to provide that support. And finally, using exemplars collected from course assignments and data presented in research by graduate students earning master's degrees, some answers to the third question, "What evidence is there that Antioch's program has made an impact on teacher candidates' successful implementation of caring learning environments?" will be discussed. A vivid description of best practices emerges from telling cases of program implementation.
SEL/Resilience in Historical Context: Reaching Consensus on What "Counts" as Social-Emotional Development
Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer coined the term emotional intelligence (EI) in 1990, describing it as "a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one's thinking and action" (as cited in Practical Emotional Intelligence, n.d.). With the publication of Daniel Goleman's (1995) Emotional Intelligence, the term was soon popularized as Emotional Quotient (EQ), corresponding to IQ, or Intelligence Quotient, the acronym most commonly associated with the Stanford-Binet measurement of intelligence.
Mayer, Roberts, and Barasade (2008) defined the dimensions of overall EI as being able to accurately perceive emotion; to use emotions to facilitate thought; and to understand and manage emotions. Meyer's definition connects emotional and intellectual processes (Tolegenova, Jakupov, Man, Saduova, & Jakupov, 2012). The linking of emotional and "intellectual" processes in this definition is significant and has been validated with recent research on brain function (Caine & Caine, 1990, 2016; Felitti et al., 1998). Cognitive function as a process related to SEL will be further discussed in a later section of this article.
CASEL (n.d.), a longtime leader in the field, defined SEL nearly 2 decades ago: "SEL is how children and adults learn to understand and manage emotions, set goals, show empathy for others, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions." The resources found on the CASEL Web site evidence the organization's long-standing focus on SEL and its steady advocacy for schooling that includes social-emotional development. Edutopia (n.d.), George Lucas's brainchild organization, in promoting resources for teachers and school leaders, encourages visitors to its Web site to "find and share resources for creating a healthy school culture by helping students develop skills to manage their emotions, resolve conflicts, and make responsible decisions." Capitalizing on technological access, Edutopia provides a link to the entire Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope report.
The California Department of Education (2019) describes the social-emotional development domain in terms of defined skills, corresponding to the Nation at Hope report's definition:
Social-Emotional skills include the ability to:
* Set and achieve positive goals
* Feel and show empathy for others
* Establish and maintain positive relationships
* Make responsible decisions
* Understand and manage emotions
While there is some variance in what "counts" as SEL, the consensus language includes "empathy," "self-regulation of emotions," "positive relationships," and "the ability to make responsible decisions." These social-emotional capacities are sufficient to define the field for teacher educators to strengthen preparation programs and provide support for preservice teachers. Should there be any further doubt about the imperative to prepare teachers to address whole-person development, the research into adverse childhood experiences' lifelong effects should be convincing.
Adverse Childhood Experiences
Public health scholars contribute another powerful rationale for attention to the well-being and social-emotional development of our youth. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study claims to be one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and later-life health and well-being. Findings from the ACE Study provide an important perspective on just how critical teachers' focus on social-emotional development is for children whose lives are troubled by neglect and abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019),
the original ACE Study was conducted at Kaiser Permanente from 1995 to 1997 with two waves of data collection. Over 17,000 Health Maintenance Organization members from Southern California receiving physical exams completed confidential surveys regarding their childhood experiences and current health status and behaviors.
The ACE Study reveals how violence, abuse, and neglect in childhood affect health and well-being far into the life of the adult without positive, consistent, and responsive caregiving. Furthermore, we know, from a health perspective, how unrecognized toxic trauma leads to disruptive, disengaged student behavior and, ultimately, removal from school settings and incarceration.
According to Bornstein (2018),
over the past decade, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, the founder of the Center for Youth Wellness, in Bay View Hunters Point, San Francisco, has emerged as one of the country's strongest voices calling for a national public health campaign to raise awareness and a sense of urgency about the devastating and potentially lifelong health effects of childhood trauma. (p. 1)
Countless numbers of children on a pathway to incarceration have been excluded from schooling because their cognitive state of toxic stress was dismissed simply as unmanageable, intractable, and disruptive.
Dr. Burke Harris's (2018) book The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity outlined the important approaches to repairing the damage of toxic stress on childhood development. Importantly, the research on toxic stress has confirmed that there are indeed approaches and practices, mirroring the strategies promoted by the responsive classroom and others long ago, that work to remediate ACEs' effects.
ACEs present a social-ecological model of concentric circles moving from the center focus on the "individual" to "relationships," "community," and "societal" to consider the complex interrelationship of these factors affecting either negative or positive human development (Figure 1). The ACE model is useful to make inferences about how teacher educators might target learning experiences in the preparation of teachers.
Contrasting with the ACE Study, which identified the detrimental effects of toxic stress, other scholars identified strengthening resilience as another justification for a social-emotional focus in schooling (Benard 2004; Brown, D'Emidio Caston, & Benard 2001). Benard's work is seminal to the field. Her book Resiliency: What We Have Learned (Benard, 2004) updated the development of the field of scholarship on resilience from her earlier work Fostering Resiliency in Kids (Benard, 2001). She pointed out how the field had grown from 24 citations in the Social Sciences Citation Index of Resilience in the 1980s to 735 in the 1990s. Now we hear the word resilience on a daily basis. Some teachers and teacher educators justified their practice of including protective factors and a social-emotional focus throughout the 1980s and 1990s despite pressure to target rigorous academic standards to raise test scores. The prevailing "risk-orientation" (Brown et al., 2001, p. 3) during those decades also saw the rise of "zero-tolerance" policies rather than widespread adoption of practices that lent support to struggling students.
One of the more interesting outcomes of a comprehensive evaluation of the California Drug, Alcohol, Tobacco Education (DATE) programs (Romero et al., 1994; Romero et al., 1993), including Red Ribbon Week, DARE, and other well-intended programs, was the emergence of Another Side of the Story, the voices of students receiving the programs (D'Emidio Caston & Brown, 1998). Interviews with small focus groups of students identified by school personnel as "at risk" or "thriving" in 50 participating K-12 California districts provided powerful qualitative evidence of how resilience played a role in countering otherwise adverse effects of prohibited substance use. "Protective factors" (Benard, 2004, p. 44) helped explain why most students who experimented with restricted substances did not become abusers or imperil their school achievement. One of the important findings of the DATE study was the harm caused by "zero-tolerance policies" that promote detention, suspension, and expulsion to "punish" students into compliance. Perversely, such exclusionary policies had the opposite of the intended effect on the very students identified as at risk. The telling comment, "I mean they always do it like we're all bad people here. I don't think the schools are for like helping. It's just for getting the bad kids out... instead of suspending them and getting them out of school, why don't they help them?" (D'Emidio Caston & Brown, 1998, p. 110) typified the unfortunate ownership of a defiant identity construction and a reduction in an already poor level of school engagement as well as a plea for support. Students' perceptions of not belonging based on their negative relationships with school personnel were identified as a risk factor for poor school performance and dropping out of school altogether. Labeling students "at risk" coupled with policies that exclude rather than support them results in greater, if unintended, harm. This large-scale evaluation study of the California DATE program identified the harm caused by schooling that ignores the social-emotional development of learners, particularly those most likely to require intense attention to this area of their development.
Not unexpected, the DATE evaluation also revealed that the presence ofa trusted, caring adult or elder; consistent, high-performance expectations; opportunities to participate in healthy activities of interest; and positive self-messages supported the resilience of students who also experimented with drugs, alcohol, or tobacco but were identified as "thriving." Resilience Education, an early text identifying strategies to build and support protective factors, was a precursor to popular current strategies of using restorative practices (Davis, 2013) and mindfulness techniques (Hannay, n.d.; Langer, 1989) and encouraging growth mind-sets (Dweck, 2007). These recommendations are consistent with the approaches recommended by Burke Harris to remedy ACEs.
Confluent education, a pedagogy that integrates cognition with affective development warrants renewed attention. George Brown, the originator of Confluent education at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), made a cogent argument for attention to the "affective" domain in Human Teaching for Human Learning (Brown, 1990). He described the confluence of cognition and affect metaphorically as two rivers flowing together, an image reflective of SEL and academic integration (Frey, Fisher, & Smith, 2019). The important premise in Brown's work is that academic achievement is best accomplished when teachers pay attention to the learner's value and affective response to what is being taught.
Scholars whose focus was primarily cognitive science and academic achievement often disregarded Brown's leadership in the field. Critics asked the same tired questions: Why should we care about how learners feel about what they are required to learn? Does a confluent approach help learners pass standardized tests? Why are feelings a necessary focus of schooling? How do you measure affective growth and development? In a university setting, the affective domain of feelings and values seemed far too "soft" for legitimate study. Ultimately, the graduate confluent program unique to UCSB met its demise (Shapiro, 1998), but not before a confluent teacher education model had been transferred to a new generation of scholars and practitioners. The present focus on SEL and academics has revived the value of a review of this earlier model.
George Brown's contribution to teacher education is acknowledged in the two volumes of Advances in Confluent Education (Brown, 1996; Brown, Cline, & Necochea, 1999; DeMeulle & D'Emidio Caston, 1996). Referring back to the ACE model of concentric circles, the focus on the individual, relationships, community and societal dimensions map almost completely on the earlier model of confluent education (DeMeulle & D'Emidio Caston, 1996, p. 46; Figure 2).
The first ring of the confluent model is the intrapersonal domain, where focus on personal beliefs, emotions, values, and thoughts, all aspects of the "self," resides. An additional attribute, creativity, is also part of this domain. The second ring is the interpersonal domain, where communication, group dynamics, and group leadership reside. This second ring is also congruent with the ACE model, where the second ring focus is on relationships. The outer third ring of the confluent model is social-contextual, acknowledging the political, multicultural, societal norms impacting the inter- and intrapersonal domains. DeMeulle and D'Emidio Caston (1996) called for attention to the development of individuals who are socially responsible and the creation of policies and practices that are nonoppressive and democratic in nature. Brown's advocacy of education to empower the individual to make choices based on personal and socially just values was ascendant in the 1970s. The era is widely acknowledged as a time of significant social change. A confluent approach offered a reconciliation of academic outcomes with personal awareness through self-study. The approach is no less relevant in the present social-political context. The imperative for social-emotional integration with academics is now widely acknowledged.
What We Learned About Teacher Education From Confluent Education
Confluent education posits "the self" as a legitimate focus of study in teacher education. It is self-awareness that is the essential quality required to develop as an autonomous, self-determined, empathetic being. Self-study is also recognized in the reflective practice literature as essential to a learning organization (Cambron-Mccabe, Lucas, & Senge, 2012). Reflective practice occurs at the individual, interpersonal, and organizational levels to be effective. Confluent educators learn to meta-process as one of the practices most useful to developing an awareness of personal bias by making the implicit explicit. Meta-processing helps practitioners become aware of habitual self-talk. Meta-processing makes explicit the somatic experience of feelings causing an immediate shift in consciousness. Practicing meta-processing leads to personal development over time. Emotions, located in physical experience, can be consciously managed. Taking a "meta" perspective, even for a moment, to be aware of an escalating heartbeat, tight diaphragm, or shallow breathing, allows a conscious decision to repeat a pattern of behavior, or not. This particular strategy has enormous potential for supporting a teacher's capacity to work with children who have high ACE scores, special needs, insecure attachment, or disruptive behavior for any reason. Not only is the skill of "checking in with self" valuable in the moment of high emotional intensity but it is a valuable harm-reduction strategy inherent in resilience. Teacher educators can use the contemporary practice of mindfulness to achieve similar results. Human Teaching for Human Learning (Brown, 1990) presents techniques to promote "affective" integration in classroom applications.
Additional confirmation that a well-implemented caring community reduces the harmful effects of students' life circumstances is found in the many publications generated by the Child Development Project (see Battistich, Solomon, Kim, Watson, & Schaps, 1995; Solomon, Battistich, Watson, Schaps, & Lewis, 2000). Findings suggest that community as the mediating variable led to positive learning outcomes, greater attendance, and participation in outside school activities (Battistich, Soloman, Watson, & Schaps, 1997).
From the ACE and DATE study findings and heightened professional and public awareness of the essential focus on SEL, the crucial role of schooling to provide opportunities for young people to have a sense of belonging and purpose, develop empathy, and manage their emotions is incontrovertible. Schooling in the 21st century must support learners' construction of positive productive identities that are resilient to the difficult challenges they face. By reaching a consensus that SEL is an imperative, the foundation for professional development is firmly established. The next hurdle is to create widespread professional understanding of the teachers' knowledge and skills that most likely support their students' achievement of self-knowledge, empathy, positive relationships, and the autonomous growth mind-set to accomplish life goals.
Teachers' Knowledge and Skills
Ifteaching requires more than deep content knowledge and pedagogical content skills to support learners' social-emotional development, what do we now expect teachers to know and be able to do? Derived from the preceding discussions, the following section offers some answers to this question.
Teachers' Disposition to Care
A teacher's caring disposition is the foundation of social-emotional best practice. Caring, however, is a complex and relational dynamic. Many elementary teachers enter the field to make a difference in children's lives, precisely because they care. A caring teacher must have the capacity to listen and be responsive to learners' needs; to hold realistically high expectations; to encourage growth mind-sets; and to offer relevant opportunities to participate in meaningful activities involving choice, decision-making, and problem solving. However, none of these intentions "count" unless the children perceive these intentions as caring. The work of Nell Noddings (2005) is instructive. Noddings asserted that caring resides in the perception of the "one cared for" as well as the intentions of the "caregiver." Students must perceive and value the care intended by the teacher, including persistent and unqualified value for the children who present the most difficult challenges (Watson, 2003). Additionally, the moments that demonstrate to the students that the teacher cares are almost invisible--a glance, a smile, a welcoming gesture, a tone of voice--yet they are also cumulative. They are the opposite of micro-aggressions, a term used to signify the moments that hurt rather than support. Caring requires micro-bonds, moments of positive connection intended by the caregiver and perceived as caring by the "cared for."
How do teachers who attend to the social-emotional development of their students know if their students perceive their intentions as caring? Teachers can get a sense of students' perspectives by establishing routines where the students can give feedback anonymously. By setting such routines, students get a sense that the teacher wants to know how they feel, and teachers gain important insight into how students perceive their teacher's intentions. While being aware of students' perceptions may not ensure action, knowing how learners feel provides opportunities otherwise concealed.
Teachers must have the habit of mind of a reflective practitioner to regularly examine their own values, beliefs, and unacknowledged bias. A teacher must be able to observe, recognize, and respond appropriately to toxic stress symptoms, patterns of disengagement, or disruption. In this regard, the promise of teachers' "mindfulness" taps current popular psychology. When a teacher practices mindfulness, he or she responds to difficult situations with greater presence. Teachers who are self-aware and capable of establishing micro-bonds with even the most challenging students can learn to help their students become self-aware, empathetic learners who see themselves as capable of establishing positive relationships. We need teachers who can model appropriate emotional expression and who are able to decenter their own emotions when young people share traumatic stories. Ongoing, reflective self-study, often supported by a mentor or colleague, targets awareness of self-talk and patterns of behavior central to the teachers' intrapersonal growth. Armed with a caring disposition perceived by the learners, a reflective habit of mind for self-study, the teacher's intrapersonal growth operationalizes the center of the concentric circles in both the ACE and confluent models.
The second ring in both models is the interpersonal dimension where attention to and development of positive relationships and empathy occur. The interpersonal relationship ring makes visible another principle: care for others, which is in essence the capacity to have empathy. An "effective" environment that promotes SEL is responsive to the realities of the learners. A caring classroom environment attends to the learners' relationships with each other, the relationship of learners to their teacher, in addition to the relationship of learners to the required content. The individual child's well-being and sense of belonging as a member of the learning community is paramount. Several ways to establish positive inclusive relationships in the classroom follow.
Build trust. Primarily, teachers need to establish trust (Watson, 2003). Watson's Learning to Trust showcases one teacher's experience using methods from the Child Development Project. The book highlights a yearlong conversation between Watson and Laura Eckens, a second to third grade teacher in a multiage classroom in Kentucky. The children presented with varying levels of "risk factors" that we now know as ACEs. Laura's students had little reason to trust adults given insecure attachment issues. The book recounts many teaching strategies used during the year to provide a relevant, consistent, inclusive learning community that the children could depend on, contrary to their previous life experience. Laura's story in Learning to Trust documents the complexity of the challenge to sustain a positive disposition to care in situations where children face extreme adversity. Her story is instructive as well by documenting the power of a mentor to support self-study and perseverance.
Teach active listening. Explicit instruction in how to listen actively, to paraphrase what is said before responding, and to enter conflict situations as a problem solver supports the establishment of a caring community. Role-playing helps students practice active listening in a low-risk situation in preparation for real-life contexts.
While we are focused here on the teachers' knowledge and skills to strengthen SEL, active listening is also necessary to improve engagement in academics. It is a universal life skill.
Routinize class meetings. Generations of teachers have used class meetings to develop classroom norms and to provide opportunities for learners to express feelings and deal with emotions. From A. S. Neill's Summerhill in the early 1960s to restorative justice circles now being implemented, class meetings have potent effects on the social relationships in classrooms. Class meetings are the interactive structure where students co-construct behavior norms that establish and sustain the caring learning community. There are three important ground rules to begin. First, each person uses the first person I when speaking: "I feel," "I need." Speaking from I positions whatever is being said from the individual's voice. Second, each person has the right to "pass." In a class meeting, learners can use their voices to express their thoughts and feelings in an authentic manner. Forced communication or a sense of obligation to speak reduces the sense of autonomy of the speaker. In some support groups, the speaker is given a specified time to speak or remain silent with no interruptions. In such a case where silence is accepted, everyone has time to think before taking a turn. Third, what is said in circle is "confidential" to those present at the time. While other norms can be established, such as the use of a talking stick to designate the rightful speaker, the three norms described above are essential.
The teacher plays an essential role in sustaining the norms, using his or her skills to manage the powerful emotions that may be expressed. Teachers need to build class meetings into their regular classroom routines, not only when trouble occurs. Once the students learn to express their feelings in a safe, protected space, they can use class meetings to plan projects, solve problems, and develop social-emotional capacity.
Attend to the strengths and interests of learners. Another component of the teacher's knowledge and skills required to develop students' decision-making and problem solving and a healthy engagement in learning is attention to the strengths and interests of the learners. Getting to know each student as an individual starts with observation, keen attention to students' conversations, and giving time and space to celebrate successes of all kinds. To foster social-emotional development that includes the ability to set and achieve meaningful goals, teachers must give opportunities for students to expand their interests and pursue meaningful experiences in the school and local community.
Offer appropriate choices. The importance of "choice" maps easily onto the notion of "autonomy" described in Constance Kamii's (1989) article "Autonomy: The Goal of Education for Piaget." Once teachers internalize the value for learner's choice and decision-making, it becomes pervasive in their practice. Learners have opportunities for choice and decision-making daily, weekly, and with the introduction of units of study.
Prepare the environment. Another early-20th-century influential scholar/practitioner, Maria Montessori, offered an important skill set for teachers who integrate SEL with academics. Montessori's work in the early to mid-1900s promoted "prepared" learning environments that allow children to make choices in their learning. She described children in her model as being able to focus for long periods of time on "work" of their own choosing from among the accessible learning apparatus. Montessori's method privileges students' decision-making and choice with a high regard for students' academic engagement. The role of the teacher in Montessori's method is to observe carefully, present materials and learning tasks that correspond to sensitive learning periods, and document the capacity of the child to focus and complete tasks at a self-determined pace. Montessori teachers value the child's self-initiated repetition of activity, deep concentration, and self-regulated movement. All of these attributes speak to the expectations and outcomes of teacher preparation that meet social-emotional and academic integration.
The third circle of the ACE model, similar to the social context ring shown in the confluent model, is a connection to community. In thinking about the teacher's knowledge and skills to support SEL, the construct of "community" has several layers of meaning. The classroom as a "caring learning community" is one layer most relevant to this discussion. Another is the notion of the school as a community. Social connectedness of shared values among faculty and administration within the school establishes the school as a caring culture. Yet another layer is the community of school personnel and families. When the school culture includes the families, the basis for healthy interpersonal relationships supports social-emotional development of all members. Teachers are the essential connecting force in developing these relationships. Cultural sensitivity, anti-bias training, critical pedagogy, and multicultural education are all pathways in teacher preparation to promote school cultures that include families.
The teacher provides a powerful protective factor and potent antidote to trauma by connecting learners to these various layers of the community. Students thrive when teachers provide opportunities to identify and perform needed services, solve problems, or take care of their environment. David Sobel (2005) called this place-based education. The opportunities that learners have to see themselves as contributing members to their school and local communities in elementary school can be the foundation for service learning in secondary schools.
Highly regarded professional organizations, such as the National Association of Education for Young Children, CASEL, and the ASCD, identify social-emotional development as essential to successful educational achievement and lifetime fulfillment. Research has coalesced around a common set of social-emotional skills. The congruence of two theoretical models, confluent education and ACEs, serves to organize a range of teachers' important knowledge and skills. What can teacher educators do to support new teachers to create learning environments that foster SEL? What do teacher educators need to know and be able to do given the current widely regarded value for schooling that includes social-emotional development? Attention must be paid to best practices teacher educators use in preparing and supporting teachers to be proactive in creating the environments that promote thriving, emotionally healthy learners.
What supports do teachers need to integrate SEL into their academic programs, and what is the role of teacher education in supporting SEL in new teachers' professional practice? These questions are addressed in the following section of the article.
SEL and Resilience in Teacher Education: The Teacher Educator's Role
Widespread implementation of teaching and learning strategies that promote social-emotional development secures the promise to educate all learners and therefore must be a focus of teacher education. We can learn from programs that have long understood the value of social-emotional development as the foundation of academic learning. In the following case study, promising practices of one teacher education program are presented.
Case Study: Antioch University Santa Barbara
The following case study describes program design, instructional methods, and interactive structures that Antioch teacher educators use to promote and integrate the focus on SEL. From 2000 to the present, Antioch Santa Barbara has had an intentionally integrated focus on the caring learning community as the foundation of classroom practice.
Program design. Antioch offers the Multiple Subject credential with a master's of education degree and a Dual credential with a master of arts degree for candidates interested in both Multiple Subject and Education Specialist for Mild Moderate Disabilities. The Multiple Subject credential with MEd can be earned in five quarters. The Dual credential with an MA in education is earned in 2 years. Multiple Subject and Dual credential candidates take the majority of courses together in the first four quarters, separating for the more particular content required for an education specialist. The program requires two carefully chosen school placements, increasing time in the placement from 4 mornings to 4 full days over the school year. Classes are held in the evenings 4 days a week. The majority of candidates are adults who have had different careers, have children, and work at least part time. Given the geography of the California central coast, Antioch students may come from Ojai to Oxnard, Santa Ynez and Santa Maria to Lompoc, as well as from the local Santa Barbara and Goleta areas. Including both credential pathways, the average number of beginning candidates each year is 15-20. The number of candidates is limited to meet Antioch's educational value for personal attention and small class size. In the last 3 years, 44 candidates have completed their preparation year. It is important to note that while Antioch's program is very small compared to California state universities and University of California programs, the important emphasis on social-emotional development in a small, nonprofit, independent university should be scalable to larger institutions.
Methods. This case study is presented as a collection of best practices, with evidence collected from 2014 to the present. The voices of the teacher candidates are found in the telling cases used to provide descriptive examples. The power of narrative as an inquiry process is well defined by Clandinin and Connelly (2000); the stories told in the voices of teacher candidates carry authenticity, "offering readers a place to imagine their own uses and applications" (p. 42). Research methods that are exploratory do not assert generalizable results. Rather, narrative inquiry is heuristic in that it seeks to understand the nature of a phenomenon, the contours, edges, salient themes, and patterns, from multiple perspectives. Narrative carries a sense of continual formation and reformation in the telling of participants' stories.
An important aspect of a program is the coherent value orientation of the faculty that is woven through all the coursework and communicated with the cooperating teachers (CTs) who share the preparation of candidates. The social-emotional development of children is highly regarded at Antioch, with organizational structures designed to prepare teachers in both elementary and special education tracks to address social-emotional needs as well as academics.
Intentional placements. Intentional placement of candidates in classrooms where teachers promote the integration of SEL with academics is a powerful strategy to strengthen the widespread integration of SEL. University field supervisors identify teachers who create caring communities and use interactive structures, such as class meetings, check-ins, and inclusive micro-bonds, regularly. CTs who regularly implement class meetings and conflict resolution strategies serve as models for Antioch's teacher candidates.
Communication with CTs. Given the geographic range of placements, the challenge to create a community of CTs who share Antioch's value for SEL has been addressed over time. In any given year, the majority of candidate placements are with returning CTs. Regular participation of CTs supports the shared values informing the culture of the program. New members of the CT community are brought in to the culture during the regularly scheduled CT meetings.
Opportunities for CTs to learn from each other include regularly scheduled support circles for CTs held at the university or at the school sites where clusters of candidates are placed. All university supervisors are present at the CT meetings. During these meetings, CTs share ways they have included the candidate in the classroom community, different ways to communicate with their candidates, progress and challenges their candidates face, and strategies to promote growth. CTs experience support from each other, learn important mentoring and coaching strategies, and share new methods for including focus on SEL. The meetings are held in a circle similar to a class meeting format.
Supervisor, cooperating teacher dyads, and triad conferences with the candidate, university supervisor, and CT are other interactive structures that foster communication. These grouping structures do not supplant written communication, field manuals, coaching workshops, routine feedback questionnaires, and periodic program celebrations of candidates' accomplishments. Through these various formats, a program culture is established and sustained.
University field supervisor meetings. If SEL is at the heart of Antioch teacher education, university field supervisors are the pulse of the program. Each supervisor is assigned a small group of 5-7 candidates to visit and meet with each week. The supervisors meet every 2 weeks to ensure consistency among small groups, review coursework expectations, generate program directions, track student progress, and problem solve.
University field supervisors' meetings include meta-processing at the end of most meetings. Meta-processing allows members of the group to share how well they felt heard and their personal satisfaction with the process and outcome of the meeting. Meta-processing at the end of a meeting allows the "first person" expression of feelings without the burden of other members' responses. Opportunities for free expression of feelings give every member a chance to hear others, reflect on their own participation, and change behaviors as appropriate. Meta-processing also allows the group to work more cohesively as the implicit is made explicit. Meta-processing allows members to repair relationships they may not have realized were damaged.
Small-group seminars. Trust is more likely to be established in small-group seminars where candidates meet with their university field supervisors every week. The ground rules for participation, similar to the norms of class meetings, include confidentiality, use of the first person in sharing thoughts and feelings, and the right to pass. These norms model the type of class meeting that candidates could try in their own placement classrooms.
Modeling community building through a class meeting format is one of the most important skills teacher educators can use to build empathy. Ample resources are available for teachers to learn how to hold and manage them (Kriete, 2002).
Create cohort community. Faculty developed program structures to create a caring community of practice among the candidates beginning with applicant group interviews. Through a group project, applicants get a quick sense of the people with whom they may be working. When they meet each other at orientation, they already have familiarity with a few others in the group.
Orientation is set up with many opportunities for candidates to get to know each other. They meet in a circle. They share "talking artifacts" or a "Me Bag" and come to consensus on a cohort name. Orientation is layered with self-study and moderate-risk personal disclosure. It also models consensus decision-making. By the end of the orientation week, candidates are ready to begin their classes as members of a nascent community.
Lesson plan frame with affective and social objectives. Krathwohl, Bloom, and Masia (1964) proposed the taxonomy of affective objectives in book 2 of a series that began with Bloom's (Bloom, Engelhart, Furst, Hill, & Krathwohl, 1956) seminal work Taxonomy of Cognitive Objectives. The revised Bloom's taxonomy is, to this day, widely taught in teacher education programs. Sadly, the second book of affective objectives has had less influence. Abbreviated, Krathwohl et al.'s (1964) affective taxonomy considers the student's value for the proposed learning. Candidates are expected to think about how learners might respond to what is being taught, from initial awareness to internalization of the valued information and integration with the learner's worldview. The affective domain is a broader construct but includes the emotional response to a given experience.
Supervisors and instructors generated the prompt for an affective objective, included it on Antioch's Formal Lesson Plan template, and implemented it program-wide. The prompt requires candidates to think about and come to understand the interdependence of cognitive and affective development. A third objective on the template requires candidates to describe the social expectations for the lesson.
Several strategies are introduced to support candidates' focus on the affective domain. Assignments that require candidates to apply what they have learned about whole-child development from readings and coursework are woven carefully through the year. One of the first assignments, for example, based on the work of Pat Carini (2000), is the Descriptive Review, a holistic case study using ethnographic methods of observation of one student. The initial program assignments are detailed in Carolyn Frank's (1999) Ethnographic Eyes.
Introduction of important resources as required texts. Ruth Sidney Charney's (1991/2002) book Teaching Children to Care promotes the program's orientation to class management. In addition, the text Morning Meeting Book (Kriete, 2002) and other resources published by the Northeast Foundation for Children and the Developmental Studies Center support the important function of a caring community with practical strategies. These resources continue to inspire teacher candidates who now see their CTs using these strategies in their placement classrooms.
The materials generated from the Child Development Project add engaging and explicit focus on the importance of classroom community. These materials include several books, video segments of classroom events, and multiple peer-reviewed articles. A review of the project and findings can be explored in Developmental Studies Center (1988).
Learning from CTs. Antioch holds quarterly CT meetings where CTs share and grow in their roles. The book Company in Your Classroom (Watson & Schoenblum, 2000) continues to be a valued resource for CTs. The chapters include how to build a relationship with the teacher candidate, ways to communicate when both have many obligations and little time, how to support and critique the candidate's progress as a coach, and generally how to mentor the candidate as a caring educator. Communication between the university and school-based CTs is multidirectional.
An example of communication that was generated in a CT's classroom that directly influenced the program culture follows. Through observations and interactions with a kindergarten teacher who regularly hosted teacher candidates, one of the most relevant practices that promoted a caring learning community was articulated as "Take care of yourself, take care of each other, and take care of this place" (C. Million, personal communication, September 22, 2005). This ethical trinity, as it has come to be known, has become a program maxim.
Antioch program courses. Following are some courses offered in the program.
Conflict Resolution and Mediation. This three-unit course is taught in the first quarter of credential preparation. It is highly self-reflective and generally orients candidates to the entire program philosophy and pedagogical approach. We have the benefit of a systematic study of the effects of this course on candidates' practice. After taking this class as an experienced educator in the masters of arts program, Katrina Soltero (2009) focused her thesis on how the course influenced her own and her classmates' practice. Through the exploration of her own personal narrative and the stories of the colleagues with whom she took the Conflict Resolution and Mediation course, she examined the following questions:
What content and experiences from the course on mediation and conflict resolution stand out for its participants approximately eight months after the conclusion of the class? How do these educators feel that the course content has impacted their work with students? How do these educators feel that the course content has impacted their relationships and interactions with other key stakeholders: parents, colleagues, and administrators?
Through the use of narrative methodology and interviews, she captured the voices of 10 of the 20 participants from that summer class to uncover ways the course impacted them as professionals. Her selection of study participants included three teacher candidates, three beginning teachers, and two experienced educators returning for their master's degrees; herself; and the course instructor. By interviewing teacher candidates, beginning teachers, and experienced teachers who all participated in the course, Soltero gave a picture of the range of effects of this course across different periods in the life of teachers. She then analyzed their stories using constant comparative methods and "restorying" (Cresswell, 2005, p. 480) to determine common themes. Soltero clearly outlined the significant aspects of the course most salient to her participants. Her narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000) identified four important constructs: lower self, I messages, council, and conflict resolution.
Beginning with an introduction to emotions and a sharing of personal backgrounds through quick writes, Soltero (2009) confirmed a level of safety, "which allowed us to express our ideas in a fluid, safe way, knowing that we would not have to share . . . with anyone unless we wanted to" (p. 66). Candidates explored "big" emotions--sad, mad, glad--and brainstormed as many variations for each to develop emotional vocabulary. After discussing emotions more generally, course participants explored, "What happens when we lose it?" (lower self). Individually, participants identified their own patterns of behavior when emotion overwhelms and they slip into their "lower selves."
Soltero (2009) asserted that the purpose of the activity "is to sharpen awareness so that you're better able to recognize when you are going off track" (p. 68). This goal relates directly to the previous discussion of self as the object of study in teacher preparation. The prevalence of data in Soltero's study identifying "lower self" as a construct confirms the value of exercises that prompt self-awareness.
The second construct Soltero (2009) identified is "I messages" (p. 71). Participants were taught "steps" to compose an I message. First, state what I observe, see, hear, remember, imagine, free from evaluation: "When I." The second step is to state "I feel" in relation to what I observe. The third step is a statement of need: "What I need or value." Finally, make a clear request of a concrete action: "Would you be willing to?"
One participant stated (Soltero, 2009),
The I messages stood out because I had a lot of trouble doing them [laughs], and I think maybe other people did too because I remember them saying "it's weird to talk like this." It really stood out how we role-modeled and practiced the messages. (p. 82)
Using I messages is an important life skill, but for teachers, it is an imperative. Even more essential is to teach the children how to speak using I messages. Soltero's thesis gives multiple examples of the candidates' attempts to implement what they learned, adapting the process to fit the circumstances:
I didn't have any problem using the I Messages with the boys in the class but with the girls it was hard to get them to express their feelings in a positive way without making the other person feel badly, like "I felt badly when you decided to be mean to me." So sometimes with the girls . . . I definitely did a cool-down period . . . and then checked back. At that point sometimes the girls would say, "No, we're fine now," because they had cooled off. (Soltero, 2009, p. 82)
Council is another form of class meeting and the third construct emerging from Soltero's (2009) interview data. Council requires a talking piece and a dedication, which sets a serious tone. "In class the instructor discussed 'empathetic' listening, also known as 'active' listening. Key components of council are open heartfelt expression, attentive, empathic listening, a process for building inclusion, influence and community" (Soltero, 2009, p. 72). In several cases, when candidates did create opportunities for their learners to share their thoughts and feelings in class meetings, remarkable changes (see "Steve's Story" in Appendix A) in their class climates occurred.
By the end of this course, the candidates had become a caring learning community that supports them throughout the following quarters and far into their placements and careers (D'Emidio Caston & Soltero, 2009).
Resilience Education and the school community. A three-unit course on resilience is required for teacher candidates earning a master's degree. This course requires Watson's (2003) book Learning to Trust to reinforce the practices of inclusion that inspire a sense of belonging and empathy for the most challenging students. The book has become a central resource for several master's action research projects. It continues to inspire the teacher candidates as they enter the profession. The second text for the course is Resilience Education (Brown et al., 2001), which introduces the notion of meta-reflection through the model of self-reflective practice of participation, observation, and reflection, leading to transformation (PORT). The second section of Brown's book presents this model with participatory exercises to give the readers opportunities to engage in the process as they read the text.
There are three significant assignments. The first is a self-reflection on the use of PORT in day-to-day experience. The intention of this assignment is to practice the meta-processing that is essential to managing emotions. The second assignment is a case study that requires a caring connection as a significant support for a student chosen by the teacher candidate as warranting a special focus. These projects always result in advocacy for a child who might otherwise "fall through the cracks." In one case, it resulted in a child receiving attention to a visual disability and a pair of glasses. In other cases, it results in families having access to support systems in the community that they had not previously known about. The range of projects is impressive, allowing all members of the class to recognize the power of advocacy for the social and emotional development of the children.
The third assignment is a Year Long Plan to integrate SEL practices in their classrooms. Tailored to their own grade-level situations, this plan is a head start on actually implementing social-emotional and resilience practices in the following year. As the course is taught in the summer preceding the fall opening of school, the plan is a framework to structure content curriculum on the foundation of the caring learning community.
Teacher education best practices: Target SEL assignments. The following are program best practices.
Sociogram. One of the requirements for the field-based practicum is an assignment to uncover the social dynamics of the classroom. The Sociogram is taught in the Seminar course, using Group Processes in the Classroom (Schmuck & Schmuck, 1992), a text applying group dynamics research to classroom practice. The assignment begins with the candidate's assumptions about the class dynamics, which are then checked by data collection from the students to confirm or deny the original assumptions. The process makes explicit what is often painfully clear to the learners: Who is friends with whom? Who is an isolate? Which students are in cliques or dyads, or does the class have healthy inclusive dynamics to support membership of every child in the social group? This assignment is given prior to the take-over of all classroom responsibilities so that the candidate can group students to advantage and strengthen the inclusive culture necessary for a caring community. Candidates' bias and incorrect assumptions are often revealed in reflections on this assignment. Again, a telling case is found in the voice of a teacher candidate's reflection in her second placement in a K-1 classroom:
I thought this assignment was going to be easy. Why? Well, I thought I had figured out the dynamics of my classroom. I had been closely observing these students for the last three months. I would have to say that some of predictions were correct but some were very wrong.
After describing the Sociogram data and presenting her analysis, the candidate includes her meta-reflection on the value of the Sociogram assignment:
I think this was a great way for teachers to find out what is going on within their classroom. Doing this in the classroom will also help teachers take steps to creating a better classroom community. There are students who were not chosen at all and this should not be the case at all. I feel like every classroom should function in a way where it cannot function unless all students are needed and/or wanted. I plan to do more ice breakers and/or activities moving forward to help change this. I incorporated a game during a Morning Meeting that showed the students how we are all attached through our similarities and how similar interests bind us all. I had the students look to their left and their right. I wanted them to notice that perhaps there was someone to their left or their right who they would never think they would be linked to. I believed that the activity was very effective. (preservice candidate's Sociogram reflection)
In the tool kit of the new teacher, the Sociogram becomes a support for the construction of the caring community so necessary for SEL and the academic success of all learners.
Caring Learning Community Plan. Prior to the initial four-morning takeover of classroom responsibilities, the candidates are required to write a Caring Learning Community Plan (Appendix B). Although this is generally understood in teacher education as a "management plan," framing the assignment as a Caring Plan shifts the focus to the strategies the candidate will use to create a positive climate. Primarily, the plan supports how the candidate will group students for instruction, how and when class meetings will be held, and how the norms for behavior will be established and maintained. Candidates use the various theories they have learned in the Conflict Resolution and Mediation course to justify their decisions. The Morning Meeting Book (Kriete, 2002) and resources from the Child Development Project also support the candidates to provide the activities that build community.
Who Lives With Me. Over the course of almost 20 years, this assignment has changed considerably. It was suggested by one of the field placement school principals as Who Lives in My House, with the intention of becoming familiar with the home lives of the children. The goal was to have a deeper understanding of the family and extended family living with the children. It began with a simple question that could be implemented as suitable to various classrooms and grade levels. Young children could draw who lived in their houses; older children could write their answers. This assignment was soon recognized as biased toward the stereotype that all the children lived in houses. The assignment was changed to Who Lives in My Home? (Appendix C) and, finally, Who Lives With Me? to avoid any assertion that the child lived in a home and not a car or a homeless shelter.
One of the important notions generated from the ACE model is the community context and social dynamics affecting the lives of the children. The evolution of this assignment in terms of teacher educators' knowledge makes this evident. Who Lives With Me has become one of the first formal lessons and at times full units that the candidate designs and teaches. It is open ended enough to allow great creativity in lesson design while supporting language arts and social studies learning standards.
Measuring the effectiveness of integrated SEL teacher education. The previous discussion of a coherently articulated theoretical frame and pedagogical approach that supports the integration of SEL and academics helps answer the question of what teacher educators need to know and be able to do to support the preparation of teachers. But there is an increasing need to know the outcome effects of teacher education, not only on those who graduate a program, but also on the students they teach. Thus, for a teacher education program to be effective, the measure of analysis must first obtain the fidelity to which the graduates conform to that program's intended learning goals (implementation). Second, an analysis of the effects of those professional practices with their actual students in real classrooms must be reported (effectiveness). Naturalistic modes of inquiry coupled with narrative descriptions may provide the best insight into the effectiveness of any particular teacher education program (LaBoskey, 2004).
Soltero's (2009) study, described earlier, examined the broader question, In what ways does the study of SEL impact educators professionally, whether as experienced teachers continuing their careers or as first-time teachers? Her findings support the fidelity of program implementation of the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and contextual dimensions of learning, beginning in the first course in Conflict Resolution and Mediation. By engaging in analysis of individual stories, including her own personal experience, she illuminated the way that teachers are influenced by knowledge of SEL at various points in their careers. Such an approach was found explicitly in her participants' responses assuring fidelity to the program's goals.
This study was particularly useful in the quest to understand the impact of a teacher education program on credential students. As one of Soltero's (2009) participant groups included the new cohort of credential candidates, the findings from her study supplied data for the exploration of effects of purposeful focus on caring and community in preservice teacher education.
In addition to Soltero's (2009) study, a second action research study by a novice teacher completing her master's degree (Morosin, 2008) explored the effects of strategies the candidate learned during her preservice year enacted in her own classroom with her first-grade students the following year (see Appendix D). In fact, the MA theses of both graduate students complement each other to present a powerful narrative of both theory and practice promoted by Antioch. By presenting these two projects, a more detailed picture of how novice teachers actually use the education they receive is generated. We get a window into their classroom practice.
The second study was done during the year following the teacher's credential preparation, while she was teaching her first-grade students (Morosin, 2008). Her action research project explored the use of many specific strategies she learned during her preparation year. This teacher, however, in contrast to Soltero, who began the year with a value for the social-emotional dimension as a learning focus, began with a more traditional orientation to teaching and learning. She described the need to employ the strategies as a result of observations of her own students. In her words,
teaching tolerance, compassion and building a strong caring community within the classroom is sometimes a struggle with the demands of administration and district policies to teach to the test but this year, teaching compassion, tolerance and building a strong caring community for the students in my classroom is necessary. Only two students in the first-grade classroom have an IEP [Individualized Education Program] plan, yet five others of the 20 students have behavior plans due to excessive behavior troubles within the classroom. The behaviors range from not sitting still during any period in the classroom to excessive tantrums that disrupt not only the entire classroom, but also the neighboring classrooms. I have found through observation that the class does not have a great sense of "community." Although there are groups within the classroom that are strong, there are some students who do not like to interact with one another. There are times when others may be different, but I want my students to still be tolerant and compassionate towards each other within a caring community. As a researcher and as an educator, I took the role this year to create a curriculum in which I am able to teach my students to be compassionate and tolerant with one another within a caring community. I want to provide ways for them to show concern, kindness and consideration. I want the children to learn to have an open-mind, be accepting and have patience for others. To do this, I planned a set of lessons that were implemented throughout the school year. One lesson was taught per month, followed by council sessions in which students discussed their progress with the lessons. (p. 5)
These data confirm the coherence between Antioch's program philosophy and pedagogical approaches used by our graduates. While we cannot generalize to any larger population of teacher education programs from this study, we can gain insight into how a program that promotes SEL is implemented. We have dense descriptive data of the strategies most useful to achieving the caring learning community as an effective social-emotional intervention.
Conclusion and Implications
Teachers in public schools are buffeted by new curriculum adoptions on a regular basis. Historically, changes occur with such rapidity that teachers have little time to become familiar and comfortable with new curriculum. Add the pressures of high-stakes testing and teachers are likely to experience stress just in managing their administrator's expectations. Resilience strategies, such as support groups and meta-processing, contribute to the continuous growth and professional well-being of teachers working in challenging situations.
This article provides a historical context to the current widespread agreement that 21st-century education requires SEL integrated with academic expectations. One of the implications gleaned from looking deeply at processes and practices over time is that SEL needs to be valued throughout any educational institution to be effective. Common understandings of the pedagogical practices that are most effective--meta-processing, I messages, mindfulness, conflict resolution, class meetings, micro-bonds--must be introduced in preparation programs and supported by school leadership in the field.
Further study may entail a focus on the effects of a caring community on learners' reading and/or math achievement, or, for an even more targeted SEL learning outcome, a study could focus on learners' construction of positive productive, resilient identities.
Curriculum that supports SEL needs to be generated and integrated by communities of practice, in teachers' face-to-face or online learning communities. A teacher's self-study within a learning community informs and builds the caring learning culture. This article argues that school relationships are well within the purview of teachers who take care of themselves, take care of each other, and take care of the community, including families. Finally, it is an imperative to build communities of practice that promote an outcome of schooling where students become self-aware, empathetic learners who see themselves as capable of establishing positive relationships. We need teachers to model caring, expressing and managing emotions, and overcoming complex challenges. Our teacher preparation programs must build teachers' capacity to listen and be responsive to their learners' needs, to hold realistically high expectations, to encourage growth mind-sets, and to offer relevant opportunities to participate in meaningful activities involving choice, decision-making, and problem solving that lead to productive and fulfilled lives. Twenty-first-century teacher education needs to put the well-being of every student at the heart of the profession.
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Steve's Story--Repairing a Damaged Community by Using an Appreciation Circle During His Take-Over
To start off my take-over, I received an email from the school principal. The classroom had been having a series of conflicts and the situation had gotten bad enough that the sheriff was getting involved because there had been threats of violence and parents were now standing up for their kids against the other students in the classroom.
The principal was doing whatever she could to contain the anger and frustration that was building. In the middle of all of this chaos, I was meant to do my two week take-over. I was meant to carry on plans like any other normal day. If any place, this place was a perfect environment to inject empathy into the community and observe the impact. I really could not have imagined a more well-suited environment for my working theory. "What would happen if we stopped "playing school" for the day and interacted like humans? What would happen if we dared to talk about the pain and anger rather than bottle it up.
On Day 2 of my take-over, I changed up my plans and started to integrate empathy. I dressed up a language arts lesson to be nonthreatening, but meaningful. The lesson was on "Giving a Compliment." We talked about all of the ingredients of a good compliment. I asked the class what they thought made up a good compliment. I asked what they thought the difference was between compliments that last for years as compared to a compliment that just fades away as quickly as it was delivered. We studied all of the attributes of a compliment that had lasting power. As the students came up with ideas, I wrote them on the board for review.
Steve invited the class to take a risk to give a compliment. After one young woman raised her hand to share and quickly put it down again when the teacher challenged her to say if the compliment met the "ingredients," the teacher held the role of facilitator to establish and maintain the emotional tone, that this was a serious activity. In a short time, another member of the class volunteered to share.
"Melanie," she said, "I want to compliment you because you have always been a friend to me. On my first day of school I was afraid and alone. You asked me to sit with you and have lunch together. That was five years ago and I have never forgotten how nice you were to me."
Now that the room was filling with trust, we took one more step and added vulnerability. I stopped the circle and announced that we were going a step further. "Compliments have allowed us to look for the best in each other. Now, we need to clean out the closet and rebuild the past. Has any one of you said anything to anyone else that you wish you could take back? Have you ever said something that you wish would have never been said? If you have, now is the time to say you are sorry and ask to start over."
The responses demonstrated "real" authenticity. They also indicate that slights, put-downs, teasing, and insults have great staying power in memory, for the aggressor as well as the victim. Our contemporary Restorative Circles have great potential in healing these long-held wounds.
"Stella, I have always been mean to you. You never deserved it. I'm sorry."
"Ryan, for the last four years I have tried to hurt you because you hurt me. I'm sorry." The apologies kept coming. As the apologies flowed, so did the tears. I don't recall many dry eyes in the room.... Finally, an amazing and unexpected event unfolded. There was one boy in the class that was at the center of all of the bullying. The parents were trying to get him removed from the school. He had very few friends, and people feared sitting next to him. He had one flower in his hand. He slowly stood up and silently gathered everyone's attention. If anyone was going to make fun of this process, it would be him. He took his flower and walked to the middle of the circle.
"I only have one flower," he said. "I want to put this flower in the middle of the circle because I want to apologize to everyone. I have wronged you all and I am sorry." With that, a wave of emotion hit the class. Even I was crying. It was the most impactful day that I have ever had in a classroom. I will never forget the depth that poured out. As the flower lay on the floor of the room, no one dared to move. Finally, a small voice from the corner said, "We love you." (excerpt from Steve Schapansky, Inquiry Project, 2018)
When we used ethnographic methods and narrative storytelling, having an event "triangulated" with other data sources confirms the reliability and validity of the data. In this case, we also have the cooperating teacher's notes.
Cooperating Teacher Notes
After apologizing for not witnessing the entire lesson, he wrote the following:
When I did get into the room, students were seated on the floor in a circle, and it was apparent I was in at the tail end of the appreciation circle. Steve had a bunch of flowers and was passing them out, one at a time, to those students who wanted to appreciate another student. The student would take the flower, walk to another student, present the flower, and give a verbal appreciation. This went really well, but it was what happened next that left me, frankly, stunned. A few of the students in the class had, to varying degrees, been the victims of verbal, and some physical, harassment. Steve and I had done our best to have the kids talk through these incidents in conflict resolution meetings, the principal had been involved frequently, and parents had been called in. So when Steve said that what they had done so far was great, but that he wanted them to push themselves further by apologizing for things they'd done or said, I was dubious. The format was to be the same: If a child wanted to publicly apologize to another student, she or he would stand, approach the student, and hand over the flower before saying what he or she was sorry for. Steve let the kids know he wanted the kids to take this seriously, and they should only volunteer if they were to take this with the right spirit. What followed made me wish I'd instituted something similar at the beginning of the school year. The first student was indeed serious and sincere in his apology, and this set the tone for the rest of the session. One after another, students apologized for some of the hurt they'd caused. One child in particular stands out, because he had not taken responsibility for his actions all year. He walked over to another boy and said, "I'm really sorry,---, for always making fun of the teams that you like. I feel bad that I hurt your feelings." Unfortunately it was time for recess with more kids wanting to participate. Over the next days the children asked several times if they could continue with the process. I'm really glad that Steve was able to give them this gift and head off to summer on the right foot.
We also have the student reflections to add validity to the experience (see Figure A1). It is apparent that healing on going and old hurts was begun with this Compliment Circle.
Caring Learning Community Plan
You should build on knowledge you gained from assignments in TEP 5370 and TEP 5360. Include (a) the rules for the class; (b) instructional groups and how they are used and formed; (c) how students get materials and drinks of water when needed; (d) transitions into and out of the classroom and between activities; (e) how to get students' attention; (f) how students are expected to respond and to get help; (g) expectations regarding seatwork; (h) how to deal with interruption, both in the class and from others entering the class; and (i) any specific behavior supports you will use with particular individuals. These will also appear on your lessons in the appropriate section of the plan.
This is your time to create your own modifications to the existing plan, including strategies for proactive management, conflict mediation, and modifications for specific students as needed, and how you will determine whether your classroom is a caring democratic learning environment.
Who Lives With Me--Antioch Lesson Design Frame
Grade Level(s): Early Kindergarten
Title of Lesson: Who Lives in My Home?
Materials: Material World: A Global Family Portrait, art from scrap materials, scissors, tape, glue, duct tape, Smartboard; Little Human Planet video Homes Around the World (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi-li6hprCs)
Instructional Structure: Small Group
Context for Learning: There are 6 students in my class ages 4 and 5. English is the first language of all 6 of my students. One little girl is also spoken to in Chinese at home.
Adaptations/Supports: I will modify my lesson and evaluate my plan as the students are engaged. Some of my students will need extra help cutting, taping and gluing objects and designing their home. The abilities of my students are wide ranged. Some students are very capable of following directions, using scissors, and finishing in a timely manner. However, others need extra assistance and re-directing frequently. My cooperating teacher will be able to assist through this process while I instruct the rest of the class.
Lesson Rationale: I plan to teach this lesson to my Early Kindergarten students so they can get a better sense of the world outside their own homes and communities. Most of my students come from higher socioeconomic backgrounds and are often unaware of those less fortunate in the world. This lesson fits with our Early Kindergarten curriculum because it focuses on the community at large throughout the world. We will be studying communities and the various community helpers throughout the year. I hope for the students to reach a better understanding of the different types of living environments around the world. I also hope this lesson helps students to appreciate their own living situations, while seeking more knowledge of other cultures.
All Standards, Objectives, Instructional Procedures, and Assessments should align.
Content Standards: Which Common Core State Standards
Content: I will be teaching the students about the various different homes families may live in around the world. We will focus on using our creativity and fine motor skills to develop a model of a fantasy home each child would like to live in.
Cognitive Objective(s): I would like for the students to carefully design and construct their own creative versions of where they would like to live. I will have various options of recycled building materials for students to choose from. They will demonstrate their learning by asking questions, participating in a discussion on homes, and finally building a model of a home. Students will practice their fine motor skills by cutting, taping, and gluing objects together to form their final pieces.
Affective Objectives: I would like for the students to feel confident in their designs. I would also like for the students to be able to look at the homes in the presentation and reach a better understanding as to how other people live. I will encourage students to think out of the box and attempt to build structures unlike normal homes.
Social Objectives: I want my students to behave in a respectful manner by sharing materials, asking for help when necessary, and sharing their final projects. Students will be expected to use their manners when watching the BBC video clip and looking at pictures in the book.
Academic Language: Students will be asked to take part in a discussion after watching the video and showing pictures of homes. Students will take turns sharing their thoughts and feelings about the various homes. There will be no written work for the students since it is not age appropriate, but students will be asked to communicate clearly what their final project is and why they chose to build it.
Assessment of Student Learning: Students will engage in performance tasks such as listening, sitting quietly on the carpet during instruction, following directions, and producing a miniature home of their own. I will monitor students' learning by listening to their conversation and answering their questions. I will recognize if the students are not understanding the task or lesson by carefully watching and helping them build. I will provide positive feedback and extra eyes and attention toward each of my students. I understand that these young students are working on building fine motor skills and will need extra help at times. I will bring extra prepared materials to accommodate those students in need so they do not reach a level of frustration.
Materials: I will need the Smartboard to present the video clip, a book to read to the children introducing homes around the world, scissors, glue, tape, construction paper, toilet paper rolls, boxes, and other objects.
Management Plan and Safety Issues: I will place all materials in an organized area for students to reach. I will give a short lesson on the proper use of scissors and glue before moving forward.
Instructional Procedures Time Sequence of instruction Purpose and research 7-10 min Hook and Hold: I will The purpose showing hook the students with a the video clip first fascinating BBC Little is to grab the Human Homes Around the attention of the World video clip. This book students and get them will begin to initiate interested in the curiosity as where other topic. people live. After leading a Introduce Lesson: I will discussion about the follow the video clip by video clip, I will sharing a few pictures of follow with more homes around the world intriguing pictures and their families. of homes around the I will share the importance of world to give safety and purpose of these students more ideas homes. Are these homes strong to build their own. enough and weather appropriate? I will then ask a series of questions about the student's living situation to further engage and make the content relatable. -Do you have your own room? -Do you know where you live? -Can you walk to school? -Does it take a long time to get to school? -Do you have stairs in your house? 15-20 min I will introduce the lesson by Through my clear explaining clearly how to use directions, I hope materials and equipment to that students will build their own homes. not feel confused or Students will be asked two at frustrated with their a time to choose materials for work. their structures. I hope that the I will direct them to their seats calming music will to build. help students to feel I will play nice, relaxing classical relaxed, allowing music their creativity to n the background of their busy flow. work. 10 min As a closing, I will have students I strongly believe in present their homes to the class the importance of and explain what each object building confidence represents. at a young age. By standing in front of the class, this will help to build students' confidence and public speaking skills. I will ask students to give positive comments on each home as well.
Caring School Culture
This year it became really clear to me that the emotional stability of each student affects the entire class.... The solution is not just bumping kids from school to school, because that won't resolve their issues. At some point, someone needs to work through it with them. The school that has the most prepared teachers with the complete tool bag of strategies to help will be the one that can really help that child. There will be bullies in every school, so let's be aware of who those bullies are. Then we need to help both the students being bullied and the ones who are bullying, because they might be lashing out from build-up of emotional strain.... I believe [working on feelings is] the most helpful foundation if you're going to really get your kids far in their academic learning. (Morosin, 2008, p. 95)
Marianne D'Emidio-Caston is a professor and director of teacher education in the Department of Education at Antioch University, Santa Barbara, California.
Email address: email@example.com
Please Note: Illustration(s) are not available due to copyright restrictions.
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|Publication:||Teacher Education Quarterly|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2019|
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