When my grade 9 math students ask me when they are going to use the skills of graphing lines or solving systems of equations in their daily lives, my honest answer is that, depending on what they decide to do in life, they might not. But, I explain, I hope that I am teaching them other life skills that will benefit them no matter what they decide to do.
When I first began teaching second grade inclusion, something surprised me. The activities I anticipated being the most fun and enjoyable parts of the day ended up being the most challenging. Learning games, independent literacy stations, recess, and PE were the most challenging parts of our day. I found that almost every day, students would return from recess yelling at each other, hitting each other, and crying.
“What will your students remember in five years?” was a question asked during one of our professional learning sessions with Transforming Education. Usually when you recall a memory, you associate it with a certain emotion - whether that is happiness, sadness, excitement, or anger. When building lessons for our novels this year, I wanted to focus on that question in my 7th grade English class. What will my students remember from this? What could I teach that would build a deeper connection to their own emotions? That is how I came up with this unexpected yet rewarding experience.
Young. Gifted. Black. I remember as a youth hearing others speak of me as an intellectual but completely rough around the edges. The truth was, I was a high risk student by all measures - I grew up in an impoverished one-parent household in a rough inner city neighborhood where some temptations swallowed other boys like me. I survived, but by all measures I probably shouldn’t be where I am today - excelling as a successful father, husband, and educator. How did I do it?
Supporting our Trans, Non-binary, and Gender Non-Conforming Students through Mindfulness and an Anti-Oppression Framework
Jersey Cosantino, teacher and student of mindfulness studies, explores the ways that educators can offer mindfulness through an anti-oppression lens to our transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming students. By integrating mindfulness practice and anti-oppression work, educators can offer students an additional tool to build resilience and foster positive-emotional well being.
Purpose in life might seem like a lofty goal for students, but it provides a host of benefits for adolescents, such as psychological wellbeing, physical health, hopefulness for the future, and satisfaction with life. Young people with purpose are goal-directed and have aspirations that drive them forward in life and help organize their planning for the future. At the Stanford Center on Adolescence, we define purpose as a personally meaningful aspiration to do something that makes a positive contribution to the world beyond-the-self.
In the era of initiative fatigue, the last thing most teachers need is another program that promises to improve teacher wellbeing, reduce stress, and benefit classroom management. So let’s not have that conversation. Instead, let’s talk about real, sustainable, systemic change for the better.
I first heard of growth mindset about three years ago when I had to do a mandatory professional development module at the end of the school year for my district. At a time when I am usually run-down and exhausted, this learning exhilarated me: I realized growth mindset could be a game-changer in the classroom. Carol Dweck says, “In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching, and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”
I think about growth mindset all the time, almost daily. The first time it reveals itself to me is in the morning when my twelve-year-old daughter asks me to braid her hair before school. You see, I’m not good at it. Usually I am rushing through the process because of the stress of weekday mornings and the fact that I know I’m not very good at it.
Advances in many fields—including neuroscience and psychology—have moved the work in social emotional learning (SEL) forward over the last fifteen years. We know that early experiences shape a child’s developing neurological and biological systems for better or worse, and that the types of stressful experiences that are common in families living in poverty can alter children’s neurobiology in ways that undermine their ability to succeed in school and in life (Thompson, 2014).