fbpx
Get Set – With a Plan to Get the Most Out of 1:1 Devices This Year

Get Set – With a Plan to Get the Most Out of 1:1 Devices This Year

Katie Rainey

Katie Rainey

Teaching Artist & Director of the Teaching Artist Project (TAP), Community-Word Project

Katie (M.K.) Rainey has been a teaching artist for over 10 years, and has taught poetry, fiction, theatre, photography, English as a second language and filmmaking in various parts of the world. She is the winner of the 2017 Bechtel Prize at Teachers & Writers Magazine, the 2017 Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest and the 2018 Montana Award for Fiction from Whitefish Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Lit Hub, Writer’s Digest, The Collagist, 3AM Magazine, and more. Find out more about her here: www.mkraineywriter.com.

This article is the first of three units in our "Get Set, Connect, Engage!" Back to School Series for Teachers. Today we're focusing on how teachers can Get Set for this unusual year by creating a plan to utilize devices so they can work smarter, not harder.

You can access the other blogs in this series here:

Recently, I wrote blogs about self-care for teachers and social-emotional learning. I work with 9th grade students at The Young Women’s Leadership School of Jamaica, Queens and I spent the majority of last year thinking and strategizing on how to best support my students' emotional needs, as well as my own. Reflecting on those blogs and that work last year got me thinking about preparation for this coming school year. Likely, our students will face even more difficulties and teachers will have a lot of new obstacles to face. So the more we can prepare ourselves with the technical side of teaching now, the more we can focus on our students' well-being during the year. 

As part of the "Get Set, Connect, Engage" series, today we're focusing on how teachers can Get Set for this unusual year by creating a plan to utilize devices so they can work smarter, not harder.

We know the benefits of 1:1 devices: in the long term, they save schools money, provide great student engagement, teachers can tailor learning experiences for individual students, and improve communication between teachers and students. Additionally, 1:1 devices can prepare our students to the ever-expanding digital world that awaits them outside of school. However, if we aren’t prepared to use these devices in our classroom, set up and implementation can cause more headache than help. You can use the following guide, as well as platforms like Kiddom, to prepare your 1:1 classroom for successful blended instruction and highly engaged students. 

1. Know Your Framework

It’s important to have and know the framework behind your 1:1 classroom thoroughly before going into this new school year. Make sure you are familiar with logins, profiles, and navigating any programs you may use throughout the year.

Double check your school’s internet access and speed to ensure as few pauses in instruction as possible. Additionally, know what to do in case of troubleshooting. Have a plan in place in case something goes awry so that you know who to call or what to do.

Platforms like Kiddom help teachers get their framework in place by coming with lots of tools and support – and it helps that it's so easy to use!

2. Integrate Tech Into Your Curriculum

Treat technological skill building as a part of your curriculum, rather than supplemental information. Have lessons on tech skills prepared, possibly in chunks as the semester rolls along.

This can even include creating opportunities for students to be leaders in learning by teaching their peers aspects of technology they may be skilled in.

Kiddom provides thousands of free lessons for teachers to use that will help building tech skills seamlessly.

3. Create a Culture Around Using 1:1 Devices

You can create a culture of using personal devices in the classroom through rituals and routines, making them a part of daily classwork. For instance, you can create activities students can do for bell work on their devices.

Additionally, you can keep your students prepared for blended remote and in-person learning by storing assignments in a digital place so that whether students are in person or at home, they'll always know where to go to see new assignments.

You can use a tool like Kiddom to have students login for the first 15 minutes of class and do a few auto-graded assignments like quick quizzes to test skills learned.

4.Work Smarter, Not Harder: Use Your Videos!

If you made videos for your curriculum last year, reuse them and spend more customizing the lesson for individual students. Using your pre-recorded videos on your classroom devices is a way for you to differentiate your instruction from student to student. You can send different materials to different students privately, so that their needs are met and they are each set up for success.

Kiddom allows you to assign individual assignments and tasks to each student – you can also create videos directly in the platform, which you can save in your Planner to reuse again and again.

5. Collect That Data

Think about the data you want to collect – maybe student progress in a certain area. Think about ways in which you can track that data. Remember that bell work from earlier? You can use rituals to test your students’ mastery in different areas as the school year moves on.

Kiddom tracks standards mastery in a way that makes reading data easy, allowing you to better understand where your students are at and how you can tailor your curriculum to better suit their needs.

In Conclusion

The biggest plus to all this preparation is that should it be necessary for schools to go back to total remote learning for a while, this checklist will make that transition much smoother.

Your students will be familiar with their digital classroom, how to view lessons and complete assignments. 1:1 classrooms don’t have to be scary, even if you consider yourself a relative novice when it comes to technology. The more you prepare yourself and your classroom for this work now, the more you can spend time on what really matters – your students!

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one place. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

 

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

You might also be interested in these articles:

A Revolutionary Act: Self-Care for Teachers

A Revolutionary Act: Self-Care for Teachers

Katie Rainey

Katie Rainey

Teaching Artist & Director of the Teaching Artist Project (TAP), Community-Word Project

Katie (M.K.) Rainey has been a teaching artist for over 10 years, and has taught poetry, fiction, theatre, photography, English as a second language and filmmaking in various parts of the world. She is the winner of the 2017 Bechtel Prize at Teachers & Writers Magazine, the 2017 Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest and the 2018 Montana Award for Fiction from Whitefish Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Lit Hub, Writer’s Digest, The Collagist, 3AM Magazine, and more. Find out more about her here: www.mkraineywriter.com.

 Join the revolution! Teaching Artist and Director of the Teaching Artist Project Katie Rainey shares why self care is important and how teachers can prioritize it.

You know it when you find yourself grinding your teeth because yet another student has asked you to repeat the instructions. You know it when you want to scream upon receiving an email from the administration. You know it when you want to cry facing a wall of profiles because not a single student has their camera on. You know that you are done.

You’re fried. Burnt out. Exhausted. Depleted. So many of us teachers hit these moments well before holiday breaks or vacation time. So what do we end up doing? We push through. Every teacher knows that there is always another layer of exhaustion to be reached, another boundary to push up against.

Why do we do this? There are so many factors that contribute to teachers everywhere ignoring their own health for the sake of their classroom: pressure from administration, concern over test scores, papers to grade, curriculums to build, young lives to mold. Whatever the reason, I think it is safe to say that teachers are some of the worst at self-care. I know this because I am too.

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Competencies Are Helpful for Teachers, Too

Recently, I wrote a blog called “Teaching Social Emotional Learning Through Art in Times of Crisis,” about using art to support students’ social-emotional skills during the pandemic and beyond. The second competency of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is Self-Management or, as I refer to it, Self-Care and Self-Balance. In this blog, I wrote that for this competency we want students to ask themselves, “What different responses can I have to what’s happening around me? How can I respond to the world as constructively as possible?”

I want you to ask yourself these questions right now:

How are you responding to the world around you?

How are you responding as constructively and positively as possible?

For me, answering these questions made me realize that I was not taking care of myself. I analyzed my recent responses to co-workers and noted a shortness, an impatience, and a frustration in my interactions with them.

This is because my tank was empty. I had nothing to give because I hadn’t given myself time to refuel. I hadn’t given my emotions a place to work themselves out and so it came out on those around me. We want our kids to build healthy skills that will help them navigate the world, yet we neglect to build these skills for ourselves. 

How the Savior Mindset Hurts Teacher Self-Care

As teachers, I think we often get into a bit of a savior mindset. Not that we feel we need to “save” our kids, but rather that we must serve them first above all. This thinking is what leads to more than 44% of new teachers leaving the profession within their first five years—amongst many other factors.

While we must advocate for increased salaries, support, and to abolish standardized testing as a collective, as an individual these things are largely beyond our control. However, this is where self-care turns from a healthy Sunday break into a revolutionary act.

When we stop and say, “I don’t care if these tests are graded by tomorrow, I need to focus on my mental health today” that is a revolutionary act. By setting the example for our kids on how we take care of ourselves, on how being human is a process not a product, we can shape an entirely new generation of humans with a healthier, less capitalistic mindset towards life. That right there makes self-care a revolutionary act.

We can’t control the relentless pressure from administration, the bad behavior of parents, or the willingness of a student to participate in your class. What we can control is our reaction to these things and we do that by focusing on ourselves first. 

Art as Therapy

I teach creative writing to 9th graders and I train artists who want to become teachers through a program called the Teaching Artist Project. As a director of this program, my job often feels akin to that of a therapist. I think that’s because many of the folks I work with are artists who don’t have access to mental health services and have had little opportunity for mentorship throughout their budding careers. So I frequently fill that role for them and one-on-one conversations often turn from curriculum support into life coaching.

These young adults weren’t taught as students to take care of themselves and now they are having to unlearn everything they learned in school. They come to TAP and find a space in which we value a person’s wellbeing over their curriculum and 9 times out of 10 they cling hard and fast to this because it was a value they didn’t realize they needed. Sometimes they have a hard time accepting that they deserve self-care (I know I struggle with this) without working themselves into the ground serving their students first. Somehow it’s become a mode of thinking that you have to earn self-care.

I see this in so many teachers I work with. My students are an entirely different story. They have not yet reached the point where they think they have to earn self-care. They are game to jump into healthy practices because it’s still an innate part of being human to them. This is what I aim to build off of in my class before the world does its work on them—the point where they are still in touch with themselves and they come before any product in their minds.

Self-Care is Not Selfish! Reframing Self-Care as a Connection to the Self

In her TED Talk on self-care for teachers, Kelly Hopkinson talks about self-care being a connection to the self. This kind of thinking is really helpful for me and maybe it is for you too. It makes self-care less of a “selfish” thing—which I believe so many of us have, whether consciously or subconsciously, been taught to believe—and more an extension of our humanness, a way to connect all the parts of us once again. In a world where this is not prioritized, self-care becomes a radical act, a revolution against a system that would rather work you to death in order to profit.

So, it would seem that it is imperative we teachers prioritize ourselves. How can we do that though? Maybe you don’t need help here. Maybe you already know what self-care works for you. However, if you're like me and sometimes need some inspiration to get started, I compiled here some things I do for self-care, some suggestions from teacher friends of mine, and a few resources to check out.

Teachers Self-Care Activities

1. Reclaim Your Sunday

I’ve stopped working on anything on Sundays. Well, anything that doesn’t pertain to my wants and dreams. So I still write on Sundays. But, I want you to do it. Say right now that you will reserve your Sunday for you and you alone. Or Saturday if that feels better, but either way one of those days is completely for you and you will not look at your email/curriculum/assignments at all.

2. Journal

I know, I know, you’ve heard it before. But I can’t tell you how helpful it is for me to write out all the things that burden my mind. It’s a real release and it frees me up the rest of the day to think about other things. A helpful exercise I do with my students when first starting to journal is free writing. Put 5 minutes on the clock and don’t stop writing. Put down whatever comes to mind, no matter how weird or incomprehensible. If you don’t know what to write, write “I don’t know what to write” over and over again until you do.

3. Take a Walk

A lot. It helps that I have a dog who needs to go out regularly, but I would go on my long walks even if I didn’t have her. I’ve taken lately to listening to audiobooks from the library on my walks and it has been amazing. I’ve listened to so many books already. I just finished The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. Highly recommend.

4. Make Soup

This might be just a me thing, but I find making soup to be incredibly healing. I make everything from scratch, including the broth, and I often do this on Sundays. I usually work without a recipe—soup is pretty intuitive like that. But in case you’re looking for some, I really like this lentil recipe, this minestrone recipe, or any good french onion soup recipe.

5. Learn Something New

I’ve been learning to play the ukulele and found that practicing it helps keep me present. I’ve been using the app Yousician (the free version) and found it really helpful.

6. Doodle, Write, Play Around

In other words, I create. Recently, a friend of mine published a creativity workbook. I’m currently working through that book and it feels more like a practice in mindfulness than work. I highly recommend it to anyone who needs support in building a practice of creativity and self-care: “Creativity and Gratitude: Exercises and Inspiration for a Year of Art, Hope, and Healing” by Amy Oestreicher. Amy’s book got me to doodle in a way I haven’t in years and it’s been incredibly freeing.

These are some things that work for me. However, if all of these sound a bit too crunchy for you, I polled some teacher friends to ask for their (more humorous) recommendations:

More Teacher Self-Care Ideas

1. Chelsea recommends you watch “Love Island,” “Temptation Island,” or basically anything with an island in the title and hot people saying dumb things. “It works for me,” she said.

2. “I watch episodes of ‘Would I Lie to You’ and find a full body massage bed to lie down on,” says Meher.

3. Ariel, one of the teachers in my TAP program said, “I dance in my teaching space to mark my territory,” which I find hilarious.

4. When asked “What’s your best teacher self-care activity?” my friend Melissa helpfully offered “Not teaching.” —thanks Melissa. But she added “baths and wine,” which we can all get on board with. I know another friend who has gotten into making soaps and bath bombs, which might add an extra layer of care for you.

5. And if all else fails, Erika has a great White Claw cocktail for you to try. I’ve had it. Highly recommend.

Here are some other teacher self-care resources to check out:

1. The New York Public Library offers free ebooks and audiobooks for library card holders (as mentioned above). The process of accessing those is pretty easy.

2. If you are a teacher of color and dabble in any kind of art, my friend Ariel (mentioned above) runs a BIPOC Artist Salon on the last Sunday of every month called “The Salon”. Even if you don’t want to share, it’s a great space to meet folks and spend an evening in community with others.

3. Spotify Playlist: Lofi Hip Hop Beats (for a soothing afternoon). A friend also just introduced me to this one: Lofi Fruits Music. Side note: I use these playlists for creative time with my students.

4. Mentioned above and I can’t recommend this book more: “Creativity and Gratitude: Exercises and Inspiration for a Year of Art, Hope, and Healing” by Amy Oestreicher

5. If you need a quick laugh, go check out Tony Baker’s animal videos on Instagram. Although I wouldn’t otherwise recommend social media as a self-care practice, sometimes I just need to laugh.

I hope some of this helps, but do whatever works for you. Gardening, doing your nails, making an at-home spa, throwing darts… it doesn’t matter. The point of self-care is to do what makes you feel joyful and whole. Reconnect with yourself. Think of the revolution we could start if every teacher just practiced a little self-care.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one place. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

 

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

You might also be interested in these articles:

Teaching Social Emotional Learning Through Art in Times of Crisis

Teaching Social Emotional Learning Through Art in Times of Crisis

Katie (M.K.) Rainey

Katie (M.K.) Rainey

Katies is a is a Teaching Artist and Director of the Teaching Artist Project (TAP) at Community-Word Project. She has been a teaching artist for over 10 years, and has taught poetry, fiction, theatre, photography, English as a second language, and filmmaking in various parts of the world. She is the winner of the 2017 Bechtel Prize at Teachers & Writers Magazine, the 2017 Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest and the 2018 Montana Award for Fiction from Whitefish Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Lit Hub, Writer’s Digest, The Collagist, 3AM Magazine, and more. Find out more about her here: www.mkraineywriter.com.

Teaching Artist and Director of the Teaching Artist Project Katie Rainey shares how she uses art to teach social emotional learning skills in times of crisis.

Do you want to talk? Or do you want to make art? The decision was unanimous and we got to work.

Through the arts education nonprofit Community-Word Project (CWP), I train teaching artists in a program called the Teaching Artist Project (TAP). Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve led professional development workshops on virtual learning, power and privilege, art as activism, and social-emotional learning based on the work I do as a teaching artist.

A Little Background

I teach creative writing to 9th graders at The Young Women’s Leadership School of Jamaica, Queens and have done so for the last six years. In those six years, I’ve seen my students face unimaginable difficulties, but this past year has been the worst of it. For nearly a year now I’ve taught remotely and we’ve spent my classes unpacking our emotions and giving them an outlet through art, while navigating the difficulty of virtual learning.

We’ve focused a lot on developing social-emotional skills and, when I woke up on January 7th, 2021 to 40+ poems in my inbox all in response to the riots at the capitol, I was reminded just how much art supports that work. In the wake that all our students have faced over the last year—a global pandemic, protests sparked by racial inequality, civil unrest, and a divisive election year that peaked last month with rioters in our nation’s capitol building—social-emotional health must be a priority in the classroom.

Defining Social Emotional Learning

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), defines Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) as “how children and adults learn to understand and manage emotions, set goals, show empathy for others, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”

SEL does not mean shying away from difficult situations or subjects, but creating a nurturing environment in which students can explore those subjects and feel safe. It’s a place for them to get curious about their emotions.

As I tell the teaching artists I train, it is impossible to assume teaching and learning can occur during a crisis without first attending to our emotions. It’s important to normalize and give space to talk about them.

Yet, as our classrooms are forced to meet virtually, SEL repeatedly gets overlooked because of academic requirements and the challenge of digital learning. Our students are missing those connections and relationship building opportunities, so we have to work harder than before to make sure they get the support they need.

Social-Emotional Learning through Art in Times of Crisis

In a workshop I led recently called “Social-Emotional Learning through Art in Times of Crisis,” teaching artists were able to participate as students and experienced SEL through art-making. In this workshop, we looked at art through the competencies of SEL, I gave examples of how I use that in my classroom, and allowed space for teachers to develop their own activities to bring into the classroom.

The following is a breakdown of that workshop, of how I use SEL in my classroom, activities I do with my students, and an exploration of best teaching practices for creating a positive classroom culture where our students can build these skills through art.

Understanding Ourselves (Self Awareness + Self Management or Self Care/Self Balance)

At the outset of the workshop, participants were tasked with an opening activity that I call “Map-Making”. Using whatever materials they have handy, I ask my students to make a “map” of their emotions over the last several months/year (March 2020 to present day). This map can be any shape, form or style they wish, meaning they can draw a traditional map, they can make a body map through dance, a sound map with an instrument, etc.

Next, after brief introductions and an overview of what exactly SEL is, we plunged into our first activities and the meat of how we can implement SEL in the classroom with an activity I call “Body Awareness”. In this activity, I ask my students to close their eyes and name whatever emotion they are feeling right now; happiness, sadness, anxiety, etc.

Then, I ask them to pinpoint in their body where they feel that emotion the most and one descriptive word (adjective) about that body part. They should now have three words that I ask them to put together in this formula: The [Emotion] + [Adjective] + [Body Part]. This will serve as the title of a piece of art they will create.

I then ask my students to take some notes on that title. I give them a few prompts to help them: What does that body part look like? What might it say or sound like? What does it feel like? What causes it to feel this way? How is it reacting to the world right now? What does it think about what's happening?

After a few minutes of journaling their responses, students are then given time to create a piece of art with this title. It can be any form they like: dance, a piece of music or visual art, a monologue, poem or story, etc.

Addressing Self Awareness and "Self Balance" SEL Competencies

The first two competencies of SEL are Self Awareness and Self Management. However, the latter I prefer to call Self Care or Self Balance. Why? I believe in the power of language and therefore, as teachers, we must be critical of any framework we use. It’s important to call out bias in ways that we regulate our emotions.

I believe the term “management” and the definition CASEL gives for it polices students, rather than helps them to develop skills for processing their own emotions. Different bodies expressing emotions are perceived differently because of the society we live in. For instance, Black students are disproportionately punished for subjective behaviors like “defying authority” and “insubordination”.

We must take extra care with the language we use when talking about SEL. What we’re really trying to build here is an ability for a student to positively process their emotions and work through them. So why not use language that works towards that?

For self awareness, we want to create activities that allow our students to ask themselves, “What are my thoughts and feelings? What causes those thoughts and feelings? How can I express my thoughts and feelings respectfully?”

And for self balance, we want them to ask, “What different responses can I have to what’s happening around me? How can I respond to the world as constructively as possible?” Looking at the above activities, what are ways we gave space for these questions to occur? How did we reframe our emotions so that students could look at them with curiosity? Reframing doesn’t mean we diminish hard things or dismiss them. Instead we try and look at them another way.

Additional Activities to Address SEL Competencies

After completing these activities and unpacking them through an SEL lens, we can start to imagine other activities that address these competencies in the classroom: journaling, meditation, using a feeling wheel to identify our emotions, building a toolkit of self-care practices with our students, or a Jamboard or Mentimeter of current thoughts and feelings.

Here are two student poems that were created from this Body Awareness activity:

 

“Am I a threat?” by Sy’rai

My skin
Do you see my skin
The rich melanin
The soft, smooth, brown surface called skin.
Does it scare you? Do you feel threatened?
Am I a threat that has to be eliminated immediately?
Is my skin a hidden weapon that permits you to shoot my brothers and sisters?
What do we have to do so that the shackles that we carry will finally be released?
When will we be able to walk the streets without a big red target on our backs with a sign that says “shoot me”?
When will my people stop being killed because they “looked suspicious”?
When will we finally have to stop fighting for rights that we should have?
When will we be able to rejoice in saying that I can breathe?
When will we be free?
And you know what…
I am tired of hearing people say all lives matter
All lives can’t matter until black lives matter
My life matters
My black brothers and sisters' lives matter.
We aren’t a threat. Remember that.

"Hopeless Heart" by Aaliyah

Pink, Red, Gray
Screams of terror, it's not okay
"I can't breathe" is what they say
I hate it here, because they can't hear
He's Dying!
Now his mother is crying
I hate it here, because they can't hear
We're the future?
But you destroy our hope
We're the future?
But you destroy our courage
We're the future?
But you destroy our confidence
Damaged beyond repair
Who are we?
What's next for us?

Understanding Others (Social Awareness)

One of the easiest ways to build social awareness in the classroom is to encourage students to share what they create with the rest of the class. However, this is not as easy as it sounds, especially when you have a room full of teenagers who are acutely self-conscious at all times. There must be a layer of trust built in order to get to this space. One way that I build this trust in my classroom is by sharing a piece of myself first.

I have been an avid journaler since I was six years old. On the first day of school each year, I give my students a journal that they will use during our time together. As a way to model bravery and vulnerability, I read a page from the journal I kept in high school for them. This always helps to break open the class and get my students to feel more comfortable quickly. Sharing something personal of yours will help your students feel more connected to you and more willing to open up.

Once this atmosphere of trust is built, sharing becomes easier and easier. Each week I start my classes with a five minute free write, just to get whatever we’re obsessing over out of our heads. On the first day of school, no one wants to share what they wrote. Yet, halfway through the first semester, I have to limit the number of shares each week, otherwise we wouldn’t have time for anything else.

Following up on the body awareness activity, participants are invited to share their creations if they feel comfortable to do so. Students aren’t compelled to share, however. Choice is one of the most powerful things in the classroom and one simple teaching practice that can build social-emotional skills.

When a student does decide to share, I follow up with a round of snaps and praise when they are finished, and then I open up the room for observations. I steer students away from what they “liked” or “didn’t like” about a piece of artwork, and instead ask, “What did you notice about this piece? What feeling or emotion do you think the artist wants us to understand? What makes you say that?”

These questions provide a way for students to engage with each other’s artwork without judgment and help to create a culture of empathy, i.e. social awareness. Sharing and reflection allow students to ask of themselves, “How can I better understand other people's thoughts and feelings? How can I better understand why people feel and think the way they do?”

Understanding Others (Relationship Skills + Responsible Decision-Making)

Moving from individual art-making and sharing, our next activities focus on collaboration and the final two competencies of SEL: Relationship Skills and Responsible Decision-Making. Participants are sorted randomly into breakout rooms with approximately 4-5 to a room. 

In a classroom, the next few activities would take place over a series of lessons. Students are tasked first within their groups to share their maps and individual art-making from the first two activities. Some students find it less stressful and are more open to share with a few students, rather than the larger class. 

When they’ve shared, I have a series of discussion questions I give each group to talk about amongst themselves: Thinking about that emotion(s) you expressed in your maps or in your artworks, how did you (whether positively or negatively) express that emotion when it occurred? What are creative ways you can address that emotion with yourself? With others? 

Students will unpack their feelings with each other and build community, i.e. relationship skills. They begin to build a support system for one another and see in real time the way their emotions affect the people around them. They can reflect on the questions, “How can I adjust my actions so that my interactions with different people turn out positively? How can I communicate better with other people?”

Finally, once we’ve reached this point, we move into collaborative art-making. For poetry pieces, this might look like the creation and performance of a community poem. Each student contributes a line(s) from their individual pieces to a shared document. Then, together, the students revise and edit their collective project.

 

“Rebirth: Through The Dark” 

I survived
Tonight
This night
I am coming out
                to fight
the light of fear
beyond the tears
of the cruel realities of life
I come to strife
This life of mine
from agony and pain
of my mind
from being disgraced to being respected
being victorious from being defeated
Tonight
this dark night
I fought the demon that thought they
had control over my life
I dodged a knife multiple times
I survived
I survived
I am a survivor

I survived
This year
Year
It hasn’t
Been good at all
This year
what a roller coaster
it has been
filled with many fails
and very little wins
Year
Year
Why to me?
What have I done for you to
cause me this pain?
Year
Year
Maybe next year I will gain

I survived
Right now
                Right now
I found my true self
coming in and out
                of my old self
Sometimes it shows
                sometimes it hides
I found my true self
                I found my true self
Now I am here where I want to
be, no one can stop me
from who I want to be

I survived
This day, today
I discovered a
new me
thriving and

free
This day, today
I’m in love
                with myself
I fell and got back
up
I brushed off
my pain
I discovered a
new me

For their performance, my students chose to create a “music video” of sorts, which unfortunately I cannot share because of permission issues. But in this video, they each filmed clips of things they felt brought the poem to life and cut those together over the track of one of them reading the piece. This collaborative project allows students to ask of themselves and each other, “What consequences will my actions have on myself and others? How do my choices align with my values? How can I solve problems creatively?” Combining their respective individual pieces causes students to handle each other’s work respectfully and with care, i.e. responsible decision-making. 

And students have a choice here of what they create and what art forms they contribute. In their video, some of my students danced, some acted out the parts, and some created visual art pieces. 

Additional Teaching Practices for Social-Emotional Learning

 There are many best practices for teaching SEL, but no matter what you use ultimately the goal is to have students take ownership of their own learning. We’ve already looked at a few ways to do that. Explicitly, through inquiry-based learning, experimentation, and choice.

Other ways to create an environment where students can build these skills are by using practices such as check-ins, circles, greetings, and sharings, which will help to create a sense of security and routine for your students in a space that may feel new and scary.

Sharing the agenda or even letting students build it with you the week before gives them control over what you do together. Encouraging partnerships and collaboration in art-making will build those relationship skills.

Discussion boards with open-ended questions like, “How are you feeling today? What emotions are you experiencing right now? What can you do to make the day better?” can gently open your classroom each day and allow for natural transitions into this work.

Most importantly, make space for talking—no teaching. Some days, my students want to talk or to only share their journaling (as I mentioned before) and I have to let that happen.

The day after George Floyd was murdered, however, I asked my students, “Do you want to talk? Or do you want to make art?” The decision was unanimous. They needed to process their feelings through art, and SEL goes hand-in-hand with activism. The poems above came out of that class, as well as this anthology, which we in turn sent to their city council members and the Mayor’s office.

Since then, my students have published their poems in literary journals, used poetic devices to unpack what they’re feeling, and sent me writing in response to what’s happening in the world. When Social-Emotional Learning is made a priority in the classroom, all of the other elements—learning, activism, art-making—are able to happen as well.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one place. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

 

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

You might also be interested in these articles: