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Blog: Thursday, May 17th, 2018

Social Emotional Learning at Clayburn

This year, all grade 6 classes participated in a series of 8 workshops that focused on understanding our brains and emotions and their connection to each other. This series was created to address some of the concerns we all have about our children and students and accurately answer the question: How can Clayburn Middle promote a culture of self-awareness, self-control, and compassion to be our best, do our best and exceed expectations?

Keeping in mind that “our best” is defined differently for every student, our Middle School Clinician, Kai Schindel and our school counsellor Jennifer Bell, set out to help students discover:

  1. the inner strengths and skills they already know and have
  2. create self-awareness by striving to focus on one task, thought, feeling or problem at a time
  3. promote compassion for self and others, by showing our kindness to others and ourselves as much as possible
  4. define self-control and discover how we can demonstrate it in our daily lives

In our many discussion and activities, we were able to: create characters that represented the parts of our brain and its function; perform and reflect on acts of compassion; learn about instinctive and reflective reactions, construct individual wheels of emotion; brainstorm ways to “get out of the red”; and learn a few skills and strategies that can help keep our amygdalas calm when we are feeling worried, angry, nervous, frustrated, elated and unable to focus. We are excited that students are learning about and using, common language and descriptions that demonstrate their understanding of how powerful and vital our brains and emotions are. 

This spring, our LSS team was able to attend professional development sessions aimed at creating social-emotional learning classroom, spaces and self-regulation kits. These kits were quickly assembled, explained and distributed to classroom teachers for immediate use. With the goal of each kit containing one item from each of the categories:  olfactory, kinesthetic, oral, visual, and audio. The idea is that if we can provide students with the tools and teach them how to use those tools in class, we will be extending their in-class learning time and will be creating opportunities for them to meet their needs, adjust their behavior and get back on task. 

Using the momentum we have built this year, we plan on continuing with the grade 6 workshop series and adding a workshop series for grade 7 students, based on the BC Friends program, in which our entire Learning Support Team was trained. Next year, we are looking at school-wide professional development at the start of the year to explore what it means for teaching through an SEL lens and creating environments that support an SEL learning environment using the CASEL framework. We are also in the midst of converting space into a self-regulation room for students who need a bit more support or a bit more time to self-regulate and then rejoin their class ready to contribute positively and productively. 

It is our goal that by the time our grade 8s leave our building they will be able to identify and explain their emotions, recognize the feelings of others, can consistently demonstrate responsible decision-making, show compassion for self and others and have a sense of self-worth, determination, and self-efficacy in and out of the classroom

For more information on the BC Friends Program, please visit the following website: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/child-teen-mental-health/friends-program

For more information on the CASEL framework for educational instruction, please visit: https://casel.org/what-is-sel/ 

JENNIFER BELL
Vice Principal, Clayburn Middle School