This is not a book review. It is a celebration. Officially released in December 2019, Cultivating Genius caught fire in the pandemic era, becoming a widely popular resource for ensuring equitable classroom learning experiences. Two years later, this masterwork by Dr. Gholdy Muhammad via Scholastic Publishing deserves its spotlight – better yet, birthday candles – for a few key reasons.
Ask anyone who has studied Bloom’s Taxonomy and they’ll tell you that just because students learn something once does not mean they have internalized that learning, can connect it to something else they know, or apply it to new situations. By “learning,” we refer to anything that children learn, like how to tie their shoes, multiply fractions, or recognize and label their emotions.
Educators across the nation are now faced with the unique challenge of distance learning, all while living through a global pandemic. Are my students healthy? How is their mental health? How do I do this distance learning thing? How do I support my colleagues or staff? Why am I washing dishes again?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many district leaders are grappling with the new challenges of social emotional learning, among other things, in a virtual learning environment. Particularly when teachers, administrators, and counselors are not accustomed to remote learning, several questions emerge on exactly how to continue cultivating relationships and environments that support social-emotional skills and mindsets.
Excerpt: There are so many innovative ways that, as a team, [teachers and counselors] can plan how to collaborate. What would this look like? It could look like...a Counselor in your room for one period a day, rotating homerooms throughout the week, solely checking for executive functioning skill development which has been pre-planned into your content curriculum. It could look like a Counselor in the classroom as the teacher is teaching, and if a student has a meltdown or issue, the Counselor can attempt to address it within the classroom, or physically close to the classroom, in order to decrease out of classroom time for students.
As a Black woman who grew up in Hartford, I know all too well the potentially fracturing effects of not teaching the Whole Child. I was mistakenly labeled as a special education student instead of having my social and emotional needs addressed. After discussions about my home life (being separated from my parents and siblings and placed in foster care), being taught social skills, ethics and coping mechanisms, I began to flourish...