Student Voice: A series focused on Social Emotional needs in the classroom

There is something about Saturday mornings that gets me so giddy.  I think it is the opportunity to sit down with my coffee, refreshed on sleep so that I have the ability to think clearly and reflect.

I have been engaged in a sort of “passion project” of my own these days.  It started as just doing what I do in my classroom, and that is getting to know my students.  As a huge advocate of Student Voice, I ask input on a consistent basis regarding lessons, methods, efficiency in workflow, choice of lesson design, seating choices, music for background, etc.  As I began doing this with my seventh-graders this year, I noticed that much of what I was needing to know was centered on the social and emotional wellbeing of the child.  The Whole Child.  The Adolescent Whole Child, which is another whole ballgame.

I thought, hmmm…I might look into this further.  The reason is simple.  Academics are important.  We know students learn more and best when they feel like they have a relationship with the teacher.  We know relationships are built intentionally and take time and effort. We also know that even if you spend the time and effort, building relationships will not happen if we are not super aware of the social and emotional needs of our children that directly affect behavior.  So, in my opinion, this is where it all starts.

If I am going to reflect and go through this journey of really digging into the behavioral aspect of Student Voice in the classroom, I want to reflect about it through writing a series of posts. Hopefully, this will spark conversations about the social and emotional behaviors and how important they are to teaching and modeling these for our children.  If we all share what we know is best, we learn more and we all benefit!  Hope you will share your thoughts with me.

I Won’t Give Up

It is no secret that I am a HUGE advocate for children who need more than the traditional teaching. In the past 5 years, my passion has grown bigger for advocating for the Whole Child, children with ADD/ADHD, children with characteristics of Dyslexia, Whole Brain Teaching, integrating curriculum and teaching those important soft skills for life.  This quote most definitely sums up my mission!

As each year goes by I see more and more need for the Whole Child, Brain-Based background in teaching.  When we stop and think, it really is just great teaching.  Knowing your students.  Knowing their needs.  Knowing how to meet each one where they are and help them be successful by using strategies that work for them.  Knowing that every child learns differently and taking action to differentiate for their needs.  Seems simple, right?

We just cannot forget that these needs include MOVEMENT. (I wrote all about this in another post here.)  I am not just talking about brain break movement, but movement with learning concepts.

Here is something I often see: Children who have struggled for years to learn how to read or write.  Their self esteem is low.  They do not speak up on how they learn best.  Is it because they are afraid?  Maybe they have never been shown how to do this appropriately?  Is it because they have never been given the opportunity?  I don’t know.

Here is what I do know.  THESE are the children who cannot learn to the best of their ability when forced to sit all day without moving, discussing, singing, making those important connections.  Yet sadly, there are still classrooms where this is happening.  It crushes my heart and has me upset as to why it still goes on.

Why, when we know what the research says about this? Why do we continue putting our children through this? Little AND big children!

I write this not to criticize anyone, but because I want SHARE some really great research and resources on these topics.  My hope is that this reaches one person that may have never considered how this all plays into learning and they try one of these strategies!  Our children deserve it!

Have we ever considered that our students are not intentionally tuning us out? They are not intentionally losing focus.  They want to remember what we are teaching them.  They want to do well.  There are just so many other factors that play a part in this Whole Child’s learning experience. What we need to ask ourselves is this:

What are WE doing to help them?

Here is a fantastic Edutopia article on brain research written by a neurologist suggesting educators have a neuroscience class that updates them on current educational research on the brain.  That would be amazing! (In my opinion!)

Here is article from the Integrated Learning Strategies website on Brain-Based Learning Crossing Midline activities that help all children.  It puts the brain research into action!

Here is a great Whole Brain Teaching article on how it is used from Kinder-College with great results.

Here are some of my Pinterest Boards where I house information I find.

Follow Bridget’s board ADD/ADHD on Pinterest.

Follow Bridget’s board Brain Research on Pinterest.

Follow Bridget’s board Dyslexia on Pinterest.

I am teaching Summer Enrichment classes that revolve around brain-based learning and movement, wellness and stress management for kids (think yoga) and dancing!  I will be posting resources I am using when the time is closer.

Advocating for the WHOLE CHILD is my passion! Like the quote above says, there was that moment I realized, I won’t give up!  Our Kids Deserve It!!!!