Happy New Year! I apologize for not being more diligent about updating my little section of the Silver Hill world... I am hopeful in the coming months and years ahead I will find my groove with this.
As I have settled in and started to build trust and connection with staff, students and families, I have started to learn more about the day to day social challenges that present themselves. And while I have found that our Second Step bullying prevention curriculum certainly has its rightful place and serves it purpose, I have been reflecting a bit on what might be missing and where I can enhance the social emotional supports in the school.
It is my feeling that we can do more to provide our children essential "soft skills" in addition to all of the important hard skills that they learn day to day. Our children will only be able to problem solve (as well as negotiate and compromise) through social issues and truly utilize empathy and kindness if they are provided the skills to do this and given a chance to practice. One thing I treasure about Silver Hill, is that it values the social emotional learning component. This is something we should be proud of and I feel so grateful to be in a role where I can lend myself to enhancing this in the classroom.
With all of that said, I am rolling out some classroom lessons (beginning only in grades 3-5 to start, but hopefully to expand throughout)...I am SO excited to be able to get into the classrooms and connect with more of the amazing kids in our building. I think every child can benefit from being able to pull apart a situation and look at it with new eyes, and perhaps reflect on ways to deal with challenges in more productive ways in the future.
I have introduced myself in all twelve classrooms and explained that I would like to hear about their "challenges". In my initial visit with each class, I provided a mini lesson differentiating between bullying and peer conflict, as what I would like to do is meant to complement a bullying curriculum. (Incidents of bullying should be addressed immediately). I am hoping they will share their day to day disagreements, peer conflicts and social challenges so that we can utilize real life scenarios (while respecting anonymity) in order to act things out and create classroom lessons and activities. In this, I believe that we can help them learn and practice tangible problem solving skills, so that they can begin to work things out effectively on their own. I am also working to develop empathy and kindness as a lens through which children can begin to see things. In theory, if we can successfully build these skills and practices, we should be able significantly reduce the incidents of peer conflict.
I am in the early stages, but I am truly optimistic that we can begin to support children in a new way. When children are better able to self advocate, engage in perspective taking and solve problems for themselves, they are in a much better place to learn academically...and kindness will flow naturally.
Yay! Stay tuned for more updates...I am excited to get going :)