SEL in Schools:  Why I Want My Children to Learn More Than Academics

SEL in Schools: Why I Want My Children to Learn More Than Academics

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SEL – What is it? For parents, this may be a new acronym around school.  For educators, it is likely a familiar term but not necessarily understood. SEL or Social Emotional Learning has become a hot topic in schools, but has also faced some criticism. For some, it is viewed as a ‘buzzword’ or ‘bandwagon’ or something light and fluffy.

The new curriculum in BC focuses on much more than academic skills.  We now teach competencies rather than just curriculum. This means less memorizing, and more skill building.  Ideally students will develop the core competencies and transfer these skills into all aspects of their life.  These are the core competencies.

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So – why have schools made this shift? Why are SEL skills so important?  A child’s ability to self regulate in kindergarten is a better predictor of their success in adulthood than their academic achievement in grade school.  Schools that teach SEL see an improvement in social emotional skills AND an average of 11% increase in a student’s academic performance.  Basically, when we teach kids how to recognize and manage their emotions and care for themselves and others, they are happier children and end up doing better at school. Continue reading

Why Write, If Not to Put Pieces Together?

Unknown-3I love to write. There is nothing that soothes my soul more than a quiet hour with a chai tea latte and a notebook or a blank screen.  When I travel somewhere new, I look through the eyes of a writer and search for that peaceful place where I can turn my thoughts into words.  Finding solitude, with pen and paper grounds me.  It’s in these moments that I truly reflect. When I write I give myself time to question, to challenge my own thoughts and ultimately, I get to know myself better.  It’s how I put my pieces together.

When life gets busy, finding solitude to reflect and write often takes the shape of a very early morning or a very late night.  However, If I let too much time pass without writing I become antsy and crave solitude in a way an athlete craves a game (or so I imagine… embracing the idea of flying projectiles coming towards me is not something i will ever comprehend).  Like the athlete, I need these moments to feel truly alive.  For me, writing awakens my soul.

Last year, while attending a conference in Denver, I copied down this quote. Continue reading

Mid Life: Advice to My Younger Self

Mid Life: Advice to My Younger Self

Have you ever googled mid life? In search of an image to match this post, I googled the simple words ‘mid life’.  Nothing positive popped up.  Instead, 1000 images referring to a mid life crisis filled my screen.  But here’s the thing – I’m not having a crisis.  At least not today and hopefully not anytime soon. I am simply acknowledging that I am half way.

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Today is my birthday.  I’m 43. Not a notable number like 40 or 50, but significant in that this means I am statistically mid life.  According to the freely accessible life expectancy calculator found on Google, I am destined to live approximately 86 years.  This means that today is roughly my half way point.  Similarly, I began teaching in 1999 – 18 years ago.  According to my pension statement, a good time to retire with an unreduced pension would be 18 years from now in  2035.  This means that I am very likely half way through my career as well. Continue reading

When Life Gets Tough: A Different Learning Journey

When Life Gets Tough: A Different Learning Journey

When we think of learning, we often think of opportunities available to us: courses to take, books to read, conversations to have.  We reach out, we search for information and we soak up facts, opinions and ideas as a way to expand our minds.

Sometimes, learning takes a different shape. Sometimes life happens to us and we learn from our experiences. Each challenge in life is a chance to look in, to reflect, to find ourself, or to discover what we are really about.

I’ve always considered myself to be a strong person. I like to think I have grit.  I am the classic multi-tasker, the over-scheduled working mom, and generally able to have a positive mindset while managing work, family, community involvement and personal or social commitments.  I thought I was rather resilient.  And I was – until life got tough. Continue reading

The Decline of Rules: Losing Control of Today’s Kids

The Decline of Rules: Losing Control of Today’s Kids

The world is changing.  So are schools.  Sometimes it’s hard to understand why.  We are creatures of habit, and sometimes, as adults, we expect schools to be the way they once were when we went to school.  After all, we turned out ok, right?

When we went to school we walked to and from school, followed rules, memorized facts and wrote tests to show what we had learned.  In fact, the rules were so engrained in our heads that we can easily finish these commands:

  • Be ________!
  • Sit ________!
  • Don’t _____ in the halls!

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All Voices Matter

All Voices Matter

I am sure I speak for most educators, or perhaps most of society, when I say our hearts are heavy this weekend.  We don’t have to search far to find a friend or colleague influenced by Trump’s US policy discriminating against people based on their ethnicity.  I have read about friends whose vacation plans or business trips have been cancelled.  I have watched in dismay as the news covers heart breaking stories of innocent people being detained for no reason other than their race.  It seems like a bad movie: one we don’t want to watch but cannot escape.

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I Want THAT Kid Suspended

I Want THAT Kid Suspended

I want THAT kid suspended.

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I have a rule of thumb I use for blogging.  If something is playing on repeat in my mind all weekend, I often feel it’s a topic worth exploring.  This weekend, I am having trouble letting go of a message I read this week.  The note was not written to me, but was written about our school.  It suggested we are not doing enough when children misbehave, and wanted punishment for THAT kid.   And I get it.  Especially as a parent.  I have two boys, and if one of them was picked on at school I would want to make sure it didn’t happen again.  I too may wonder what the follow up would be for THAT kid.  Really, my need would be for safety.  I want to send my kids to school and know they are safe from harm.  I know deep down that is also the desire of parents when they ask about THAT kid. Continue reading