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Journal Staff

L e t t e r f ro m t h e E d i to r s

Dear Colleague,

Layne Hudes EDITOR-IN-CHIEF C U R R I C U LU M CO U N C I L P R E S I D E N T

Jackie Levine SENIOR EDITOR

Fred Ende SENIOR EDITOR

Joe Mannozzi COPY EDITOR

Tricia Herbold GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Dr. Marla Gardner D I R E C TO R O F C U R R I C U LU M AND INSTRUCTION SERVICES

Journal Subcommittee Layne Hudes ARDSLEY UFSD

Tim Kaltenecker BYRAM HILLS CSD

Angela White L E A K E A N D WAT T S

Annie Ward MAMARONECK UFSD

Julio Vazquez NORTH SALEM CSD

Steven Garcia PELHAM UFSD

Marla Gardner PNW BOCES

Fred Ende PNW BOCES

PNW BOCES

PHOTOGRAPH OF

In 2018, Dr. Marla Gardner, Director of Curriculum and Instructional Services at PNW BOCES, approached the Curriculum Council with the question of whether developing a publication would add to the Council’s learning and ultimately assist in reaching the Council’s goal. This journal, later to be titled Curriculum Matters, would be another avenue for Council members to share knowledge, experiences, and research that speak to the region’s unique needs. Further, this would be a pathway to share the wonderful work taking place within districts and the broader impacts on communities in and around the region. The Council was eager to engage in this work, and a subcommittee was formed to define the vision and specifications of this new endeavor. Most of the journals that the subcommittee studied for inspiration had a theme or focus for each issue, a unifying topic that would connect all of the articles and features. Therefore, Curriculum Matters adopted the same structure; the theme for the inaugural issue that quickly rose to the top was Social Emotional Learning. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is foundational to establishing pathways to success for all learners in our communities. As the region continues to shift toward further emphasizing components of social emotional learning, the Curriculum Council has responded by curating a collection of reflection, research, and review articles to highlight the importance of SEL in the region’s schools and the impact of the initiatives being implemented. Many thanks to the Curriculum Council, comprised of superintendents, assistant superintendents, directors of curriculum, and other curriculum leaders, who worked to submit these quality articles and insights along with their staff. Thank you for reading, and we hope you enjoy our debut publication.

Jackie Levine

COVER DESIGN BY

The Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES Curriculum Council is composed of administrators who are charged with influencing curriculum and instruction decisions for the region, and members of the Curriculum Council hold themselves accountable for making and following through with regional decisions (staff development programs, curriculum development projects). The Curriculum Council strives to be a caring and trustworthy community of learners dedicated to the professional development of its members, with the goal of enhancing teaching and learning throughout the region.

Sincerely, Tricia Herbold C H I L D B Y Elizabeth Slade

Layne Hudes

CURRICULUM COUNCIL PRESIDENT

Jackie Levine SENIOR EDITOR

Table of Contents

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Relationships Really Do Matter

By Julie Gherardi 3

Looking Within to Build a Culture of Well-Being for Staff and Students

By Dr. Frances Wills and the Putnam Valley Yale Ruler District Team 7 The Homework Experiment

By Anne-Marie Pasquale and Tim Kaltenecker 11 North Salem’s Story

By Julio Vazquez and Adam VanDerStuyf 13 A Mindful Morning Ritual

By Liz Slade

15 Why Mindfulness?

By Annie Ward 16 Meeting Students’ Social Emotional Needs by Focusing on Habits

By Dr. Marc P. Baiocco 18 Brewster Central School District

By Rebecca Archer, Nikki Horler, and Dr. Michelle Gosh 20 Teachers’ Emotional Intelligence as a Critical Component of SEL Implementation

By Brent B. Harrington 25 What Are You Reading?

Top five book recommendations from the region’s leaders


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Relationships Really Do Matter By Julie Gherardi

How can the relationships we build impact our communities?

Relationships really do matter. In life, in family, and especially in school. We all remember a special teacher in our own experience as students; someone who made a difference in our education, who made us feel smart and capable. Most likely, this person had a more far-reaching impact, and perhaps their care and connection helped shape the direction our life took. Throughout my 40 years as an educator, I recall the relationships I have had with students and colleagues, and the difference that those relationships have made.

my life as well. Elementary teachers have the benefit of “living” with their students for six hours or more of each day. I had the opportunity to ask questions about their lives, find out what they enjoyed or how they spent their free time. Taking the time to know our students, no matter their age, shows that we care about them as individuals and can be an ally if needed.

In my early years, working in schools and therapeutic environments, I discovered that no matter our life circumstance, the human connection was more powerful than anything. The pre-school children I taught in an inner-city Head Start program were eager to learn and open to love. Their smiles and joy captured my heart and soul, and my connection to them was strong. I believed that they could do anything and made sure they did. Along these liIt was the one-to-one conversations I had with patients in a state mental hospital that helped me know who they were (whether real or imagined) and allowed them to smile when I appeared. A genuine smile and real eye contact makes a difference for someone who lives in a psychiatric ward.

Taking the time to know our students, no matter their age, shows that we care about them as individuals and can be an ally if needed..

In the public school setting, it was important for me to know my students and for them to have some glimpse into

their lives. Sure, these were topics that students would ultimately write about, but they also provided glimpses into their lives and the things that held their hearts, and thus formed bonds that helped create a classroom environment that was built on caring relationships. The students in my classes wrote volumes and played with words that danced on the page and brought real emotions into our classroom. I was not afraid to laugh and cry with them, and the praise I shared was specific and genuine. The books we read gave us more opportunities to reveal emotions and connect as human beings. Relationships in a classroom mean that children and adults feel connected and cared for, and that makes all the difference. My focus on the relationships that form in school led to my desire to move into a leadership role. I observed that the relationships among the adults in the schools I worked in always had an impact on the climate and ultimately on the success and achievements of our students. Knowing that a focus on relationships would bring about the best results, I took what I had learned in the classroom and brought it to my work as a building and district administrator.

I employed a wide variety of strategies to “know” my students. Early in the year, surveys, icebreakers, and conversations each provided a glimpse into who they were and what they loved. Georgia Heard’s Awakening the Heart (Heard, 1998) prompted the creation of “Writer’s Hearts” in my second grade classrooms. The children and I took the time to think and create works of “heart” that contained words that represented the things they loved and that were most important in 1

For the past fifteen years, my work as an administrator has put me in closer contact with the adults in our schools: teachers, administrators, and parents. I must be able to answer the questions that are often silently posed by the adults in our learning organization before we can make any forward progress. Do you know who I am? Can you listen to and hear what I’m saying? Are you aware of my feelings, my hopes, my joys, my fears? Oftentimes, blocks to professional learning are connected to an emotion. In order to break through and to


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allow the freedom to take a risk or accept a loss, an adult must feel recognized, accepted, and cared about. Teaching is still an isolated profession and thus, a guarded nature accompanies many first attempts to create those relationships. Frequent visits to classrooms, noticing the work, and celebrating success helps the adults in our learning organizations feel recognized. Giving of our time and ourselves is a sure sign of caring and a way to start relationships that allow for open conversations and risk-taking. If I have connected with you and created a relationship based on our shared work, it makes all the difference in your willingness to stretch and grow without fear of failure.

W we create a space When where relationships are a priority, it makes all the difference.

In this current day, where technology can create either barriers or avenues for human connection and relationships, it is important that we choose the latter.

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Social networking can provide quick recognition and a basis for building a relationship. A like or love can mean, “I see you, I get you, I feel your emotion.” However, relationships must grow outside of social media platforms. We must look into the eyes of our people – children and adults – and acknowledge them with the spoken and unspoken language of human connection. What we share through social platforms – in picture or word form – speaks to our desire to connect. A more personal follow-up with a quick visit or personal note adds impact since it requires extra effort and time. Essentially, our time is one of the most impactful gifts we can give as instructional leaders. John Hattie (Hattie, July 11, 2016) recently recognized “Collective Teacher Efficacy (CTE)” as the number one influence related to student achievement. This factor describes the connection between teachers and the belief that together they can overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. The relationships among teachers and school leaders must be recognized if the organization hopes to impact student learning. 2

When we are connected and feel supported, we can support our students and create environments where students experience a sense of belonging. When we create a space where relationships are a priority, it makes all the difference.

Julie Gherardi is the Assistant Superintendent for Learning in the Somers Central School District. You can follow the SCSD via Facebook: Somers Central School District

REFERENCES Hattie, J. (2016, July). Third visible learning annual conference: Mindframes and maximizers. Washington, DC. Heard, G. (1998). Awakening the heart. Portsmouth, NH : Heinemann.


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Looking Within to Build a CulturE of Well–being for Staff and Students: How Yale Ruler Fostered a Language of Emotional Connection in Putnam Valley Schools. By Dr. Frances Wills and the P u t n a m Va l l e y Ya l e Ru l e r District Team

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Engaging in RULER has had an inspiring impact on the Putnam Valley School District community.

“Emotions are something that we rarely talk about, yet something that is so important. They affect us in so many ways and, if we can learn how to better embrace our emotions, then we can help our students to do the same, and to have a more positive school experience.” This response from a teacher on the Putnam Valley District RULER team to the first year of training in RULER indicates that the core beliefs reflected in the program are meaningful and relevant to participants. Recent research on the emotional health of youth has reflected the widening recognition of anxiety, mental health disorders, and depression as a pervasive influence affecting the personal lives and educational achievement of students. There is a new weight given to social emotional health as a condition for student academic growth and full participation in the learning process. Furthermore, schools have been at the intersection of the alarming opioid epidemic that is impacting families and serve as the mediator of an ugly bullying culture on social media that is victimizing the young.

We wanted to expand from events that occurred sporadically to a consistent effort to make human connections.

In reckoning with the social emotional factors that inhibit full participation in the learning process, the Putnam Valley School District established “building relationships” as its theme for cultural renewal, finding new, more effective ways to make connections with students and staff that would strengthen the emotional health of the district community. Some of our activities included a partnership with the public library, a “community read” of A Man Called Ove, and a very successful community potluck dinner fundraiser for Puerto Rico sponsored by our Make a Difference Club that included student musicians, with over 400 community members and families attending. The sense of human connection was something we wanted to deepen as part of the fabric of our district culture. We wanted to expand from events that occurred sporadically to a consistent effort to make human connections. There are a number of widely respected theories that support the concept of the emotional foundation of well-being and accomplishments. For example, in his widely discussed PERMA model, Martin Seligman incorporates Positive Emotions along with Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment/Achievement as building blocks for attaining “authentic happiness.” These concepts are embedded in RULER’s model as staff and students explore the vocabulary of emotion and develop 4

the tools to articulate and strategize more effective approaches to building relationships and finding deeper personal meaning in the educational process. The goal is to create a culture that supports positive relationships to counter some of the external environmental stressors that come to school with all who live within the educational community. Through the RULER training, the emphasis on the personal stories that illustrate specific emotional responses offers a collective empathy that deepens the well-being of the school community. With the opportunity to introduce the Yale RULER (Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating Emotions) program, the training of a district team became a fulcrum for looking at the district’s emotional health and thinking differently about how change could occur. By beginning with the adults in the schools and providing tools that they could use to impact their own well-being, the RULER program offered a new lens for selfknowledge and some practical tools to help teachers and students find common ground in self-understanding that would transfer to more meaningful learning experiences for both. RULER provides strategies, such as the “Meta–Moment” and the “Blueprint” that offer practical approaches to bridging conflict and distress that exist inevitably and naturally when human interaction is frequent and necessary.


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The district RULER team consisted of representatives from District administration, and each of the three schools in the district: elementary, middle, and high school, including administrators, teachers, and clinical staff. A middle school teacher who was doing an internship in the regional leadership program served as liaison to the team, providing reports and follow-up information. The team presented information at faculty and leadership meetings as well as district convocations. It was through the four training experiences that the team developed an understanding of the deeper meaning of RULER, which suggests a shift in how educators view their work and their responsibilities as teachers for the world they create in the classrooms with and for their students. During the meetings of the RULER teams and reflection on the experiences, it was clear the culture of teacher autonomy and social-construction of the isolated classroom was not compatible with a process of tapping into emotions and mood of self and others as a condition for well-being and learning in the school community of educators and students. In fact a number of shifts in perspective took place among those who participated in the RULER training, as teachers and staff members viewed themselves differently with regard to their emotional self. Some teacher comments included a change

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from the preferred stoicism reflected by teachers, who are used to “leaving everything personal at home.” An interest in interacting with others emerged, moving away from a culture that could be isolating in schools, as teachers identified their emotional quadrant and how it affected their classrooms. In contrast with the archetypal model of teacher autonomy (Lortie, 1975), RULER provides the benefits of community and empathy for practitioners who value their freedom to create and manage their classrooms, yet appreciate supportive interactions with colleagues. The phrase, “How can I help?” became a window to finding ways change moods and minds.

With the new approach to looking within, there is also an emerging awareness of the strategies of mood and body chemistry.

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As one member of the team expressed that change, “The RULER environment supports mental health by giving people permission to talk about feelings as opposed to culture that doesn’t seem to care how you feel.” There was a sense on the team that the administrator and teacher shared struggles and could be there for one another. RULER values the

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individual experience and the collective experience, as participants realize that their mood does affect their peers and students. There is a new awareness of the other: Who is the other and how is he or she feeling? Ultimately, there is an insight about responsibility for the classroom and school environment: Who is responsible for happiness? With the new approach to looking within, there is also an emerging awareness of the strategies of mood and body chemistry. Getting accustomed to identifying mood leads also to a new look at biases and how mood can affect grading and response to student needs. Ultimately, RULER training can lead to a shift in the way of being an educator. By getting to emotion, there is a shift from losing oneself by giving all to students, to taking care of oneself to become a better parent and teacher. The next step will be building a consensus around the work with the larger school community and equipping students with the skills to employ more flexible strategies when they become aware of their emotional self. Each school has already developed a contract to express the values that teachers identify as important to their well-being in the school community.


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TWO MEMBERS OF THE RULER TEAM SUMMARIZED THE IMPACT THAT THE PROGRAM HAD ON THEIR WORK WITH CHILDREN:

Dr. Fran Wills is the Superintendent for Putnam Valley Central School District. You can follow Putnam Valley Central School District via Facebook: PVCSD

Once we started the work, the approach resonated with us because it placed value on our feelings as professionals, and taught us how our mood and feelings may affect our work. In a culture where our feelings have not always been validated, this was a wonderful shift in thinking, as well as a healthy prioritization. RULER helps us to better serve students by eliminating bias based on our personal, and perhaps unrelated, feelings or mood. We are learning that we must be able to honor our emotions first in order to help our students honor theirs. We are also establishing professional norms for mindfully and productively addressing conflict in ways that work for everyone in the community. We are improving our own emotional intelligence so that we may teach our students to become emotionally literate and reflective problemsolvers with a bank of personal strategies for self-care, and a strong sense of empathy. We are excited to see where this work will take us!

REFERENCES

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SAMHSA. (2014, June). School and Campus Health. Retrieved from https://www. samhsa.gov/school-campus-health Luk, J. W., Wang, J., & Simons-Morton, B. G. (2010, December). Retrieved from https:// www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ar ticles/ PMC2975801/ PERMA™ Theory of Well-Being and PERMA™ Workshops. (f.w.). Retrieved from https:// ppc.sas.upenn.edu/learn-more/perma™theory-well-being-and-perma™-workshops Safety Net: Cyberbullying’s impact on young people’s ... (f.w.). Retrieved from https:// youngminds.org.uk/media/2189/pcr144b_ social_media_cyberbullying_inquiry_full_ report.pdf The Anchor Tools. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://ei.yale.edu/ruler/the-anchor-tools/ Trueschler, J. (1975). Schoolteacher, a sociological study. By Dan C. Lortie. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago, 1975. NASSP Bulletin, 59(394), 119-120. doi:10.1177/019263657505939422


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T h e

Homework Experiment The Story of a 7th Grade Math Teacher Who Challenged Her Beliefs About Homework B y A n n e - M a r i e Pa s q u a l e a n d T i m K a lt e n e c k e r

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To validate the initial work and identify needs as the District moves to teach students the basic elements of the RULER program, an action research model will be implemented through a brief qualitative, semi-structured interview conducted by the team with their peers on the District committee. From elementary school through high school, homework is a key tenet of our education system. Teachers assign homework. Students do homework. It’s given for various reasons – but do we ever question those reasons? Is homework a necessity, or just a rote part of our collective educational model? In thinking about this, a few key questions come to mind: What if some students are wasting their time doing homework that does not challenge them? What if other students are wasting their time doing homework just to satisfy the teacher’s requirements? What if some students are crying over the amount of time it takes to complete homework, and never feel successful at it? For my colleagues and me in the Byram Hills School District, one BIG question came to mind two years ago: What if all this could change; what would happen if we stopped assigning homework? All of this began because the superintendent in my district had a theory: our testing, grading, and homework practices may, in part, be contributing to student stress and anxiety. He wondered if we could reduce student stress – and potentially increase student success – by changing an aspect of our practice that we, as teachers, control. To test this theory, the superintendent asked for volunteers to join a committee that would study and experiment with alternative ways to test, grade, or assign homework in order to analyze the impact on student stress. I decided to join, as I was seeing firsthand the rise in anxious middle school students over the years. The teachers who joined the committee were assured by the superintendent that there would be no consequences to our experimentation. If our plan failed, then so be it. The superintendent insisted

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that we had his full support and the full support of the principal. He encouraged us to take a leap, to try something ambitious. It was truly liberating to be able to try something new without fear. As a committee, we considered areas in our teaching where we saw high levels of stress and anxiety. We were provided articles, books, and research to stimulate our thinking. We discussed ideas and shared our experiences and wonderings together. This is where the question of homework comes in: it was the one area that troubled me most. I had just switched from teaching eighth grade math to seventh grade math, and I was surprised by the volume of homework given to students. My seventh grade team was discussing homework, and as a school we were considering Dr. Carol Dweck’s research on mindset. As these ideas swirled about in the back of my mind, I began doing my homework on homework.

What would happen if we stopped assigning homework?

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I wondered if the young learners I taught could make their own decisions about what to study. w

Dr. Douglas Reeves, founder of Creative Leadership Solutions, an organization that seeks to improve educational opportunities for students, challenged my assumption that completing homework improves student achievement. He notes in the article Busting Myths about Grading that the real driver of student learning is the feedback students receive. My current homework structure did not allow opportunities for students to get immediate feedback or for them to respond to and learn from mistakes they made. My focus was on students completing homework, not on the learning of the mathematics from the homework. Furthermore, Dr. Cathy Vatterott, author and founder of Homework Lady, advocates for connecting 8

homework assignments to student learning on assessments. She goes further to include students as decision-makers; in her article Making Homework Central to Learning, she describes a model where “students decide whether completing the task will further their understanding of the topic.” I wondered if the young learners I taught could make their own decisions about what to study. During my research phase, my math department was studying the work of Stanford University professor Jo Boaler (2016), who says, “The highest achieving kids in the world are the ones who see math as a big web of interconnected ideas, and the lowest achieving students in the world are the kids who take a memorization approach to math.” This is further highlighted in a Washington Post article by teacher and author Jessica Lehay, who shares her story about her mathematics experience as a child: My mathematical education was characterized by drills memorization and instructions to accept abstract axioms and mathematical order of operations as 'simply how it’s done,' concepts, my teachers promised, I would understand later. I dutifully followed their directions, memorized the steps and regurgitated on demand, but the understanding I had been promised never materialized. What I got instead was a raging case of math anxiety and the belief that I am not a math person. Simply put, this was not the math teacher I wanted to be! When I got to the point of considering not assigning homework, I had a number of thoughts and concerns. Would it make a difference for students? What impact would it have on their learning? Would parents question my sanity? But without the fear of failure, I was ready to take the leap and see if it would have a positive effect on my students. Here was my plan: I would continue to “post” assignments so students could practice the content learned in class if they chose. But I would not assign specific problems, and I would not collect or check the assignments.


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It was right after Thanksgiving that I introduced my students to “The Homework Experiment.” I told my seventh grade students that I would not assign or check homework for the next four weeks, through our holiday vacation. This deadline gave me an exit strategy for this very unproven experiment. I would, however, continue to post assignments, and I told my students they could and should continue to do these assignments for practice. But it was their choice. It was important not to make students feel homework is a bad thing. Instead, I wanted them to see that there might be better ways of approaching homework that could be beneficial. Maybe homework could actually be appealing to students, instead of a must-do drag. To help me analyze this experiment, and to make students feel invested in it, I collected some initial impressions of homework in a survey at the beginning of our four weeks. One student reported that she felt pressure to complete the assigned homework, spending hours on it, despite my constant attempts to advise students to stop after 15 minutes. Other students reported that they stressed over the homework. I changed my policy a few years ago by not grading homework and only checking it for completion, but this did not seem to alleviate stress.

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The initial four-week phase of The Homework Experiment went quickly, and yielded immediate findings. I noticed quickly that: • I gained instructional time. Checking homework daily took me five to ten minutes at the start of class, and the conversations with students never centered on the math, just the completion of homework. Now, I was starting class doing and discussing math, increasing my instructional time by 25 to 50 minutes each week. • Student were less anxious. Those who didn’t complete homework no longer had to hide or make excuses. Other students didn’t worry the night before if they didn’t understand the problems. Instead, we started class learning and doing math together – exactly what school is supposed to be about. • Students gained more free time. In our overscheduled world, students need time to be kids, enjoy family time, and pursue their own interests. • Achievement was unchanged. Many teachers hypothesize that, “If I don’t assign homework, students will not learn.” That most certainly was not the case. I analyzed students’ quiz scores, and their collective performance was the same during the experiment as it was previously. That is, students who did well on quizzes continued to do so, and those struggling on quizzes continued to struggle. Additionally, 9

the New York State Math 7 assessment results remained consistent with previous years’ results. • Students want more homework! That’s right — now I get requests for additional homework from students, proving that they continue to choose to work on assignments to practice their math skills. In fact, some students request different types of problems, and some ask for videos that review the content from class. • My time shifted. Counterintuitively, The Homework Experiment created more work for me! Remember those 25 to 50 minutes of instruction time I gained? Well, I had to plan and fill that time. I was also expanding my homework repertoire by including more variety in the types of work students could practice. By student request, I was organizing my optional homework by topic, including answer keys so students could self-check, and including recommendations for students who needed suggestions. Simply put, after four weeks of The Homework Experiment, I was seeing success. I was no longer struggling with students on the logistics of homework; instead I was helping them choose what resources are best for them and how to organize their work, and talking to them about the mathematics. I was helping them be more successful.


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Anne Marie Pasquale is a 7th Grade Math Teacher at H. C. Crittendon Middle School in Byram Hills Central School District. Dr. Tim Kaltenecker is the Deputy Superintendent for Byram Hills. You can follow Byram Hills CSD via Facebook: BHCSD REFERENCES Boaler, J., & Dweck, C. S. (2016). Mathematical mindsets: unleashing students’ potential through creative math, inspiring messages and innovative teaching. First edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; a Wiley Brand. Boaler, J. Our mission. Retrieved from youcubed.org Hulsman, S. (December, 2016) What do you mean my kid doesn’t have homework? Education Week Teacher. Retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/tm/ articles/2016/12/06/what-do-you-meanmy-kid-doesnt.html

When asked to provide feedback about The Homework Experiment, student comments included: • “I liked it because I could practice as much as I wanted to without being stressed over too much homework.” • “I feel that selecting my own homework pushed me to work harder, and it helped me. It also helped me on the quiz because I really worked on things I didn’t understand. “ • “It was nice only to practice something when I needed practice and not practice something others needed when I needed something else.” Two years later, The Homework Experiment continues, but it has evolved. Notably, I focus on flexibility and choice. Every student has different needs and, what now appears obvious to me, they need different homework. I see a goal of my teaching, in addition to the math content, as helping students 1) reflect on their learning, 2) make decisions about where they need to grow as learners, and 3) manage their learning environment. Some students need more guidance than others, and this applies to both homework and activities in the classroom. One size does not fit all. What I see now are students trying math that they never would have tried before. After I was “liberated” by my superintendent from the fear of taking a chance and failing, I now liberate my students from the risk of failing on homework.

I am convinced that The Homework Experiment is having a dramatic impact on my students as math learners and as young adults. But also, I have come to realize it has made an impact on me as a teacher. First, I realize that no student should cry while completing homework. Every student can learn math, and it is my job to be certain I give each student the tools to do so. Second, students should not be doing school work just to please the teacher. It’s time to end students just “doing school.” Instead, I want students to find the joy of math. A 12-year-old should still be in awe of the world around her, still discovering what interests and excites her. Students can make good choices about what to do, when to do it, and when to seek help. If they make mistakes, which they will, we, as educators, guide them to learn from the mistakes. Third, I could not have taken this risk alone. Teachers need partners; we need others to provide encouragement and honest feedback. Finally, we need environments where taking risks for the benefit of our students, without consequences for failure, are encouraged and rewarded. I was free to try something new, and, as a result, I no longer waste my students’ time or my energy on random assignments.

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Lehay, J. (2018, May 15). This is why it is so hard to help with your kid’s math homework. Washington Post,. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/ news/parenting/wp/2018/05/14/mathhomework-we-dont-understand-and-theproblem-of-failing-to-see-students-asmath-people/?noredirect=on&utm_term=. a275ea76f295 Reeves, D. (2017, Spring) Busting myths about grading. All Things PLC. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/mm905/docs/ atplc_magazine__spring_2017_look-in Vatterott, C. (2011, November) Making homework central to learning. Educational Leadership, 69(3). Retrieved from http:// www.ascd.org/publications/educationalleadership/nov11/vol69/num03/MakingHomework-Central-to-Learning.aspx Vatterott, C., & Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. (2009). Rethinking homework: Best practices that support diverse needs. Alexandria, Va: ASCD.


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North Salem’s Story B y J u l i o Va z q u e z a n d A da m Va n D e r S t u y f

How one school district addressed SEL at both the elementary and secondary levels. In North Salem we have found success by nurturing and supporting the work of our teachers. We found our best results in providing social-emotional supports for our students by encouraging grassrootsbased initiatives that begin with the drive and motivation of our teaching staff. Our building and district administration work side by side with our teachers in developing and implementing socialemotional programs for our students. We want to share our story with you as to how we have implemented two programs, Ben’s Bells Project and Yale RULER, to support our students both at Pequenakonck Elementary (PQ), our K-5 school, and at North Salem Middle School/High School.

K Kindness is a universal topic with opportunities for education, recognition, and celebration.

Ben’s Bells Project is a program that was introduced at PQ in 2013 by one of our teachers, Michele Grossman. The Ben’s Bells Project was founded by Jeannette Mare. The core of the program is based on the belief that everyone has the capacity to be kind, and that kindness can be cultivated through intentional practice. Kindness is a universal topic with opportunities for education, recognition, and celebration. Michele Grossman worked with Lisa Siegel, special education co-teacher, to plan and intentionally incorporate kindness each day. Michele and Lisa’s efforts extended into the broader school community with the support of Mary Johnson, PQ’s principal. Together they coordinated a community event in 2014 which began our formal relationship with Ben’s Bells Project. The event was the first Ben’s Bells Family Night with an attendance of 120 community members and it was the first Ben’s Bells event in New York.

In 2015, PQ staff began using the lessons provided by Ben’s Bells, Kind Campus materials, with our students. Ben’s Bells was integrated into PQ’s PBIS. Julio Vazquez, who was assistant principal at PQ at that time, planned monthly assemblies with Lisa and Michele and conducted these monthly assemblies with each grade level to reinforce the daily lessons in class. In addition, students 11

began nominating other students and staff members to receive a Ben’s Bell based on intentional kind acts performed. Jeannette Mare, Ben’s Bells founder, also visited North Salem CSD in 2015 and met with students at PQ and at North Salem Middle School. Jeannette also met and conducted a presentation for parents, faculty, and staff.


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In September 2018, School Counselor Melissa Smith replaced Adam VanDerStuyf on the implementation team. Since then, the implementation team has allocated time during faculty meetings and staff development days to learn about recognizing emotions in self and others, understanding the causes and consequences of emotions, labeling emotions accurately, expressing emotions appropriately, regulating emotions effectively with an overall goal of using the power of emotions to create a healthier and more equitable, innovative, and compassionate school experience for all.

In 2016, we held our second Ben’s Bells Family Night and continued our assemblies and daily work with students. Our art teachers, Jayne Silverblade and Tara Carl, created two beautiful Ben’s Bell murals with our students. In 2017 and 2018, grade-level assemblies were presented by a combination of grade level teams and Stephanie Bell, the new PQ Assistant Principal. She has also worked with staff to record student and staff intentional kind actions, which are displayed throughout the school, and she has begun a kindness club for students. Students in the kindness club volunteer to be a part of the club at their grade level and generate ideas to spread kindness throughout the school through individual acts as well as greater school activities. At the Middle School/High School, the exploration and implementation of RULER began with a tweet by eighth grade social studies teacher Eric Pechenko on a Saturday in March 2018 while learning about Yale’s Center for Emotional Intelligence at a weekend event in his hometown. By the following Monday morning, North Salem’s Director of Pupil Personnel Services, Adam VanDerStuyf,

and Middle School/High School Principal, Vince DiGrandi, were meeting with Eric about his takeaways from the weekend event. It was during this brief meeting that Adam and Vince learned that not only did Eric share their interest in extending an SEL framework from PQ to the Middle School/High School, so did many other faculty and staff in the building. It was then that a RULER implementation team was formed and a new journey began. In June 2018, North Salem’s RULER implementation team consisting of Adam VanDerStuyf, Vince DiGrandi, Assistant Principal Kate Murphy, Eric Pechenko, Special Education teacher Damien Holst, and Art teacher Diana Marinovic attended their first meeting on the grounds of Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES along with teams from across the Hudson Valley to learn about the RULER Anchors of Emotional Intelligence. It was during this time that the Middle School/ High School team began planning their yearlong rollout of the framework to maximize faculty and staff personal and professional learning, and had fun crafting an initial emotional intelligence charter in the process.

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Recent efforts at the Middle School/ High School have been focused on engaging all faculty in developing the charter for the building. The charter is a collaborative document that helps schools establish supportive and productive learning environments. It is created by members of the school, outlining how they aspire to treat each other. By simply asking, How do you want to feel? and then, What actions can we control to help us get to that feeling, each and every day? and How will we help each other have these feelings?, charter development at the Middle School/High School is well underway. The North Salem Central School District aims to provide social-emotional supports for our students by encouraging grassroots-based initiatives that begin with the drive and motivation of our teaching staff. Our building and district administration work side-by-side with our teachers in developing and implementing the Ben’s Bells Project and Yale RULER to support our students both at Pequenakonck Elementary (PQ), our K-5 school, and at North Salem Middle School/High School. It is the goal of the district to maintain a relevant and effective social emotional program across the K-12 continuum for our students.

Julio Vazquez is the Director of Instruction and Human Resources for North Salem Central School District. Adam VanDerStuyf is the Director of Pupil Personnel Services for North Salem. You can follow North Salem via Twitter: @NS_Learns


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A REFLECTION ON HOW MINDFULNESS PRACTICES CAN SUPPORT SEL B Y

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It is early morning in a first grade classroom. The children are just gathering on the rug. A girl stands in front. I stand in back, a participant along with my students. “The Eagle Breath,” the girl announces. She breathes in as she raises her arms slowly overhead. She breathes out, lowering her arms. As she repeats the sequence, her classmates follow: arms and breath, rising and falling together. After a few rounds of the sequence, she places one hand on her heart and the other on her belly. Her classmates and I do the same, and we take a few quiet breaths together. She smiles and goes back to her seat. Already, the classroom appears to have an air of greater ease. A boy comes to the front. With a confidence founded on daily repetition of a favorite activity, he gets out the classroom chime, a metal block suspended on a small block of wood. He sits down, cross-legged, facing his friends, and places the chime next to him. “Put on your mindful bodies,” he whispers. His classmates wiggle up tall, waiting expectantly. Diligently, he lifts the chime, and gently strikes it. He closes his eyes, and so do some of his classmates. The reverberations of the chime bring with it a sense of stillness that seems to settle upon the room. The students listen carefully until the sound of the chime dies away - attempting to catch the last moment of reverberation. “And now, let your attention rest on your breath,” I remind them. “When your mind wanders away from your breath, just notice, and come back to the breath.” A few children twist, one or two rhythmically wave their hands with the rhythm of their breath. Still, others are motionless. Quiet. After a few more breaths together, the “mindful leader” rings the chime once more and the practice ends. A sense of calm pervades the room; a sense of settling. A small moment of stillness. I walk to the front of the room and sit down. I smile at the children. “What did you notice?” I ask. “I got distracted,” Andy comments. “I kept opening my eyes to read the morning message.” “Wow,” I respond. “You noticed what your mind was doing. That noticing is being mindful!” “Yeah,” he answered, “and then I would say to myself ‘breathing in, breathing out,’ and I would remember to focus on my breathing.” Another child raised her hand. “It made me feel calm,” she sighed. “Hmm,” I say. “It helped you to feel calm. What is another time when you might want to use mindfulness to help you feel calm?” She looked at me with interest. “At night, I think. When I am scared to say goodnight to my mom.” “Give it a try,” I urge her. “Let us know how it goes!”

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Neuroscience teaches us that a state of calm, relaxed presence is conducive to collaboration, problem-solving, and decision-making—whether we are a team of chemistry teachers planning a unit or a group of fourth graders debating ideas in a book club. For that reason, like many districts, Mamaroneck is committed to creating a stable and engaging learning environment for adults and children alike, one that values social and emotional growth alongside intellectual and scholarly development. Mamaroneck supports and encourages exploration of SEL and mindfulness in a variety of ways. Teacher leader Elizabeth Slade facilitates ongoing study groups and workshops for her colleagues and families, drawing on her own robust classroom practice. Recently retired, Ms. Slade now coordinates SEL and mindfulness initiatives for the district, identifying, vetting, and circulating promising resources. She curates a “Mamaroneck Mindful Teaching” Google Classroom full of practical resources for all levels with accessible entry points. Mamaroneck school and district administrators have participated in a yearlong study group with Linda Lantieri, Senior Program Advisor at CASEL, to develop shared understandings and practices of SEL and mindfulness. Intrigued by neuroscientist David Rock’s keynote at a Tri-State Consortium conference, administrators have also studied and applied his SCARF framework to reduce anxiety surrounding classroom observations. The MUFSD web site features a SEL/Mindfulness page that communicates the district’s commitments in these realms. M U F S D S E L / M I N D F U L N E S S PA G E H E R E :

https://www.mamkschools.org/teachinglearning/social-emotional-learning

Liz Slade is the Coordinator of the Mindful Teaching Study Group and a teacher for Mamaroneck Union Free School District. Annie Ward is the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction in Mamaroneck. You can follow Mamaroneck UFSD via Twitter: @MamaroneckED REFERENCES

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (2017). Key implementation insights from the Collaborating District Initiative. Chicago, IL. (2) Lantieri, L. & Zakrzewski, V. (2015) “How Mindfulness and SEL Can Work Together.” Greater Good, Berkeley, CA. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley. edu/article/item/how_social_emotional_learning_ and_mindfulness_ can_work_together

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Classroom mindfulness practices, such as those described above, can deepen and support our SEL endeavors. Essential to SEL are CASEL’s five core competencies: self-management, self-awareness, responsible decision making, relationship skills, and social awareness (CASEL, 2017). Mindfulness, while very much related, is less about skills and more about an inner process: the process of intentionally bringing our attention to present moment phenomena, and doing so with curiosity and acceptance. We can be mindful of physical sensations, sounds, emotions, and even our own thoughts. Mindfulness, when woven into classroom life, can provide students with deeply felt embodied experiences which, when practiced over time, can reinforce and complement our SEL instruction.

SUPPORTING SELF-MANAGEMENT In the morning ritual described above, students start the day by settling together and accessing a collective sense of ease. With repeated practice, and the opportunity to reflect, these young students are developing an experiential understanding of their own capacities to regulate their emotional and energetic states. Student leadership further strengthens ownership and internalization. Group discussion helps the students generalize this experience to more challenging experiences that they encounter throughout the day.

SUPPORTING SELF-AWARENESS The students in the vignette purposefully direct their attention to a number of domains: to mindful movement, to the sound of the chime, and to their breath. As they focus on their breath, they are invited inward to watching their own internal interplay of breath, sensation, thought, and attention. As they notice where their attention goes, they practice returning it to the anchor of their breath. Afterwards, the children are invited to reflect on their focus, on how the activity felt, and on how they might want to translate these skills to the rest of their lives. They are building an understanding of how their minds work, and of the range of feeling states that can be noticed once they are calm. The metaphor of “practice” has special power for our students. We are not expecting perfection; rather, we are slowly and steadily building capacity. The intentional cultivation of an accepting and compassionate stance supports inquiry, even when tasks are daunting.

SUPPORTING RESPONSIBLE DECISION MAKING As students begin to self-regulate, and to let their emotions and energies settle, the hope is that they can think more clearly and make good choices in the face of stress. The reflection and conversation that often follow mindfulness activities can help students anticipate challenging situations, and explore mindfulness practices that might support them at such times.

SUPPORTING SOCIAL AWARENESS AND RELATIONSHIP SKILLS While not highlighted here, mindful attention can be brought to the process of listening to others, to communicating with others, to the experiencing of emotions, and to the building of empathy and care. In my personal experience, compassion practices, such as noticing and savoring moments of kindness, can foster a more optimistic outlook and have significant impact on classroom community. The struggle to meet individual learning needs is a challenge for every school; however, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is at the forefront for the Elmsford Union Free School District (EUFSD). Students find time to discuss social and emotional learning through a series of specialized opportunities that focus on nontraditional experiences that were planned throughout the school year. The initiative began at Alexander Hamilton High School (AHHS) approximately five years ago when the staff highlighted concern for students’ motivation towards learning. As a kindergarten student so aptly states, “Mindfulness is fun. It helps when you are cranky.” 15


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Meeting Students’ Social Emotional Needs by Focusing on Habits B y D r . M a rc P. B a i o c c o

Questions about motivation led Elmsford UFSD to a bigger conversation about SEL.

The team shared their findings with the entire staff at AHHS. For most, the discovery was not surprising. The moment of truth came when one courageous staff member raised a hand and offered, “How do we address student motivation when the fire that once burned for us may no longer be there?” It was at this moment that the staff had a revelation that resulted in a truthful discussion about their own level of motivation. The group that once set out to investigate student performance now faced an entirely new predicament: the staff ’s social and emotional needs. More discussion ensued about motivation and strategies for meeting everyone’s social and emotional needs in our learning community. To foster deeper conversation on this issue, the staff engaged in a book talk. The book of choice was Stephen Covey’s, The Leader in Me.

Like any school, AHHS had its accelerated students who were mindful of the requirements needed to succeed at AHHS and the commitment required to accomplish their goals, but there was also a group of students who were struggling academically. The staff came together to examine student performance more critically. There were thirteen volunteers among the teaching and support staff who attended a session to determine the root cause of students’ academic concerns. Following the fourhour intensive appraisal of student performance, the group reached a consensus that a major concern pertaining to student performance, regardless of where students ranked academically, was motivation. Upon reaching consensus on motivation, the group began to examine a more complex challenge - how to address students’ individual learning needs.

How do we address student motivation when the fire that once burned for us may no longer be there? 16


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By selecting Leader in Me as a roadmap, the staff was able to develop a program that met the social and emotional needs of the entire learning community. Additionally, there was a commitment to two of the basic principles addressed in the book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and the Baldrige Excellence Framework. The focus for this article is how the 7 Habits provided a means to addressing social and emotional needs.

Among the research, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning identified five competencies, which guided the efforts for the staff at AHHS: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. Using the tenets discussed in The Leader in Me and being mindful of the five competencies, committees were devised and included one-hundred percent of the staff ’s participation. In lieu of traditional faculty meetings and professional development days, the staff met in their respective committees with the goal of devising non-traditional learning experiences that promote awareness of the five competencies. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People were developed by Dr. Stephen Covey for personal and professional growth in leadership capacity. The principles that were once germane to corporations that relied heavily on the training to promote leadership capacity within their organizations were now emerging in practices that foster leadership among students. In 1999, Muriel Summers, a principal from A.B. Combs Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina questioned the application of the 7 Habits for children. Muriel’s story and the journey

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of implementing the 7 Habits in education was chronicled in The Leader in Me. The accounts at A.B. Combs stressed the importance of having the adults learning the habits and then teaching them to their students. For the staff at AHHS, The Leader in Me was the framework for an action plan that would address both staff and students’ social and emotional needs. Following a staff training in the 7 Habits, the AHHS community began brainstorming strategies to effectively introduce the principles into the school community. Four half days were scheduled throughout the school year for professional learning opportunities. A collective decision was made to use a portion of the half day to expose students to the 7 Habits. Subsequently, the school developed a Peers As Leaders (PAL) initiative that encouraged students who demonstrated leadership potential to apply, interview, and agree to take an elective course of study that focused on leadership. The objective for this group of students was to prepare the PALs to deliver training on the 7 Habits to their peers on the newly scheduled leadership half days. Once the PALs were formed and the coursework began, students learned the principles of the 7 Habits, as well as instructional delivery methods that underscored engaging their peers through activities planned for the leadership half days. The activities were developed to embody the practices explained in The Leader in Me, as well as an emphasis on Dr. Covey’s use of the metaphor, "Emotional Bank Account." The "Emotional Bank Account" refers to the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship” (2004, p. 188).

1. Understanding the individual 2. Attend to the little things 3. Keep commitments 4. Clarify expectations 5. Show personal integrity 6. Apologize sincerely when you make a withdrawal. During the leadership days, students learned the art of making deposits, as opposed to “withdrawals,” which can be detrimental to a relationship. This is accomplished by engaging activities and team building exercises to help students understand Synergy, which is the sixth habit. Now in its fifth year at AHHS, through The Leader in Me and 7 Habits, the SEL program has been expanded to a districtwide initiative. The PALs component also broadened its scope of work into the district’s primary and elementary schools where high school students introduce students to grade-appropriate learning experiences during leadership days. Through the 7 Habits, the district is working as a community to develop leaders, while addressing student and staff motivation.

Dr. Marc Baiocco is the Superintendent of Schools for the Elmsford Union Free School District. You can follow Elmsford UFSD via Twitter: @EUFSD. REFERENCES Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (2017). Key implementation insights from the Collaborating District Initiative. Chicago, IL.

The metaphor describes the relationship between trust and interdependence. According to Dr. Covey, there are six major deposits we can make in another person’s emotional bank account: 17

Covey, S. R. (2004). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Restoring the character ethic ([Rev. ed.]). New York: Free Press. Covey, S. R. (2014). The leader in me: How schools and parents around the world are inspiring greatness, one child at a time. London: Simon & Schuster.


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Brewster Central School District

Mindful Moment Room By Rebecca Archer, Nikki Horler, and Michelle Gosh

Schools can make good use of spaces for students to decompress.

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At a professional learning workshop this past summer, Brewster High School’s (BHS) Health and Physical Education (PE) Teacher, Mrs. Rebecca Archer, shared the idea of a Mindful Moment Room with BHS Principal, Mrs. Nikki Horler. The goal of this space is to create an accessible and tangible opportunity for our students to check in with their thoughts and emotions on an as-needed basis throughout the school day. This concept supports the greater district goal of fostering the academic and social-emotional growth of our students, as we endeavor to create civically responsible individuals who can think critically, persevere, adapt through challenging circumstances, and collaborate and communicate effectively. Upon entering the room, students or staff are asked to ‘check in’ with their feelings both emotionally and physically. Students partake in breathing exercises and have a variety of hands-on activities designed to help students ‘be present’ and self-regulate. Upon leaving, students ‘check-out’ using the same criteria as when they enter, in order to gauge any progress made. What makes this idea even more powerful is that we are empowering our students to not just partake in the activities, but to oversee and help facilitate them as well. Mrs. Archer trained 29 students and eight staff members to volunteer in this space, assisting their peers upon entering. This work is an extension of Mrs. Archer’s Mindfulness through Movement PE course, into which juniors and seniors can self-select. We look forward to continuing to foster this idea at BHS through explicit curricular and instructional connections, and to create more assured experiences for our students. We are also interested in measuring the use and impact of this space through both qualitative and quantitative measures. All Curriculum Council colleagues are invited to attend at any time! Rebecca Archer is a Health & PE Teacher for Brewster High School. Nikki Horler is the Principal of Brewster High School. Michelle Gosh is Assistant Superintendent for Brewster Central School District. You can follow Brewster CSD via Twitter: @brewsterschools.

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Teachers’ Emotional Intelligence as a Critical Component of SEL Implementation By Brent B. Harrington

The entire school community benefits when we start with the social and emotional wellness of our teachers.

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Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the capacity for one to recognize, understand, and manage individual emotions. As such, students’ pro-social skills are nurtured through a sustained and committed approach to Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) that further develops one’s EI. The Collaborative for Academic and Social Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines SEL as “the process by which students and adults acquire and apply necessary skills to understand and manage emotions, demonstrate empathy towards others, maintain healthy relationships and make responsible decisions” (CASEL, 2018). CASEL is the leading organization comprised of distinguished scholars and educators that provides national leadership and guidance on SEL in schools. The work of CASEL represents a commitment to SEL in schools that validates EI as a significant intelligence that can and should be developed in students. As such, school districts have increasingly embraced the growing research on the positive benefits that well-implemented SEL programs have on the culture of a school community. Critical to the effective implementation of SEL in schools is training staff to interact with students in ways that promote competency in areas of emotional regulation and healthy decision-making (Greenberg et al., 2017; Jones and Doolittle, 2017). Jones and Doolittle (2017) make clear that “if adults lack SEL skills themselves or suffer from stress or poor physical and mental health, their ability to support their students’ SEL may be severely compromised” (Jones & Doolittle, 2017, p. 9). Aside from the benefits SEL has on at-risk students in a building, the benefits of a universal SEL program have the potential to impact the norms, behaviors, and attitudes of an entire school community (Greenberg et al., 2017). The work of teachers is highly complex and stressful, placing them at risk for poor social-emotional well-being. The daily management of students with various academic and social-emotion needs within a political landscape that has increasingly focused on greater accountability through standardized testing has often resulted in increased

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pressure and angst amongst educators as they work to ensure students’ growth and achievement. Understanding a staff ’s emotional intelligence is critical in a successful implementation of any SEL program (Schonert-Reichl, 2017). Indeed, teacher competency influences their relationship with students, which in turn drives the fidelity of SEL implementation. Schonert-Reichl (2017) further emphasizes the importance of teachers’ SEL competency, stating: Classrooms with warm teacherchild relationships promote deep learning among students. Children who feel comfortable with their teachers and peers are more willing to grapple with challenging material and persist at difficult learning tasks. Conversely, when teachers poorly manage the social and emotional demands of teaching, students demonstrate lower performance and on-task behavior (p. 139). Prior to any well-implemented, evidencebased SEL program, teachers’ existing beliefs, values, and philosophy around student discipline may influence the extent to which a program is implemented with the fidelity necessary for its success. Longstanding policies and procedures associated with discipline and a school’s code of conduct may be at odds with the goals and skills expressed within an SEL program. As such, the development of teachers’ SEL competencies are important for the following three reasons: • Teachers’ SEL influences their relationship with students • Teachers’ level of EI influences their ability to model emotional regulation for their students when faced with stressful situations • Teacher SEL practices influence their daily classroom organization and management. Simply, students learn from the way in which teachers manage their emotions, remain focused on the instructional goals of a lesson, and utilize different strategies when faced with adversity and frustration (Jones, Bouffard & Weissbourd, 2013). Ultimately, it is the quality of relationships that teachers cultivate with their students 21

Thoughts Around the Region Why is SEL Important to Your District? We asked Curriculum Council Members why SEL is an important initiative for their district. Here’s what they had to say: We have seen an increase in depression, anxiety, and schoolphobia in the past decade. As a school with rigorous academic program, we feel responsible for balancing the high academic expectations with support for students' emotional health. Therefore we have been working toward exploring ways to focus on wellness throughout the entire organization. – Dr. Tim Kaltenecker, Byram Hills

Social-emotional learning is an integral part of teaching and professional learning in our school community. We believe students can optimize their academic success when they are supported socially and emotionally. Social-emotional learning is one of our district's four priorities, which has led to a wide variety of trainings and programs, including Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), Therapeutic Crisis Intervention in Schools (TCIS), and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). – Alex Levine, Garrison


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Teachers using the RULER approach are expected “to model the effective regulation of a range of emotions and to deliver emotion-related content through the teaching of a sophisticated feeling words vocabulary” (Brackett, et al., 2012, pp. 230-231). The RULER framework emphasizes the need to target adults’ SEL competencies in the first year of its implementation before using its resources with students. Marc Brackett, founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and developer of the RULER framework notes, “RULER starts with shifting adults’ mindsets about emotions, followed by training on explicit skills—building educators’ own emotion vocabulary and enhancing their emotion-regulation skills” (Bracket, 2018).

that are linked to positive student outcomes. The importance of nurturing such relationships is often neglected in teachereducation programs, often assuming that these skills are already developed in staff that seek to have careers in classrooms with children. Relationships can be particularly complex in diverse school districts where teachers may be working with students from significantly different cultural and social-economic backgrounds. Educators’ ability to understand their students’ cultural norms and cues, albeit complex, are essential in building a healthy rapport with students (Benn, 2018). With this reality in mind, the Anchors of Emotional Intelligence through the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence provides a framework by which schools nurture and support a healthy school climate, providing students with the tools to recognize and regulate their emotions and thus, improve student behavior in a school building. The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence touts its framework as an evidence-based approach for integrating social and emotional learning into schools through its RULER model. The demonstration of pro-social skills through a RULER approach, an acronym that teaches students to recognize, understand, label, express and regulate individual emotions, is rooted in research and provides specific resources to help support students’ emotional intelligence (EI).

Thus, a positive impression of an SEL program along with a belief that the program will provide the teacher with practical skills to support their daily work with students is critical for a successful implementation. Unfortunately, research on the impact of SEL increasing staff ’s EI is limited. Only one study has been conducted indicating a positive impact that prevention and SEL programs have on teachers’ EI. Domitrovich et al. (2016) conducted a study assessing the impact of two prevention programs—one with an SEL component. Findings suggested that an SEL program can have a positive impact on teachers’ beliefs and perceptions (Domitrovich, et al., 2016). Nonetheless, research has shown 22


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that an overwhelming percentage of teachers—95 percent—have indicated that SEL is critical to educating the whole child (Bridgeland, Bruce, & Hariharan, 2013). Despite only a single study on the impact of SEL programs on teachers’ EI, strong teacher SEL competencies have shown to have a strong impact on student outcomes. Jennings and Greenberg (2009) note: Socially and emotionally competent teachers know how to manage their emotions and their behavior and also how to manage relationships with others. They can manage their behavior even when emotionally aroused by challenging situations. They can regulate their emotions in healthy ways that facilitate positive classroom outcomes without compromising their health (p. 495). As such, students’ perception of teacher support increases motivation and investment in learning. Students feel less alienated and less likely to engage in antisocial behavior. Research on SEL, however, stresses the importance of teacher commitment to EI. Collie, Shapka, and Perry (2011) demonstrated the positive impact school climate has on teachers’ commitment to SEL. Conducting research of 664 public

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school teachers from British Columbia and Ontario, Canada their study concluded positive gains in teachers’ general and future professional commitment to SEL. The challenge for building leaders, however, is the effective implementation and commitment from staff when implementing SEL in schools where the culture may not yet be positive, and teachers may report lower levels of teacher efficacy. Reyes, et al., (2012) studied the impact of RULER and its effective implementation to produce positive outcomes. Effective implementation relies on the quality of lessons conducted by teachers and the attitudes of staff, specifically their buyin to SEL as a critical component to their daily practice. The authors note, “Delivery style is vital to SEL programs because they require teachers to deliver the lessons in an effective manner, consistent with the program’s philosophy and goals” (Reyes et al., 2012, p. 84). Implementation quality can be difficult to operationalize and as such, fidelity of implementation often relies on teacher training and frequency of lessons. The quality of teachers’ delivery of such lessons remains a challenging component to assess and reflects a gap in the literature (Reyes et al., 2012, p. 85). And, one might assume that the quality of teachers’ lessons is a reflection of both buy-in and their existing mindset and EI competency. Nonetheless, teachers’ beliefs in the importance of SEL has a

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significant impact on student success (Brackett et al., 2012). With this reality in mind, leaders must consider and plan for extended training of staff as a critical component any effective implementation—a key component of the Anchors of Emotional Intelligence’s rollout. Simply, high-quality implementation has shown to have a greater impact on such student outcomes as social competence, problem-solving and emotional literacy (Reyes et al., 2012). More research, however, is needed around the effective implementation of an SEL program, specific to teachers’ EI. Durlak and DuPre (2008) note, “Transferring effective programs into real world settings and maintaining them there is a complicated, long-term process that requires dealing effectively with the successive, complex phases of program diffusion” (Durlak and DuPre, 2008, p. 329). As such, school leaders must balance the realities of adapting programs to their context while ensuring key components are implemented with fidelity. Further, each of these must be measured and assessed during implementation of a program (Durlak and DuPre, 2008, p. 341). Identifying the key components of RULER or any evidence-based SEL program that are critical to its success are essential in “finding the right mix” of fidelity and adaptation (Backer, 2002; Durlak and DuPre, 2008).


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Brent B. Harrington is the Principal of Pocantico Hills Central School District. You can learn more about Pocantico Hills CSD by visiting its website: https://www. pocanticohills.org/ REFERENCES Backer, T. E. (2002). Finding the balance: Program fidelity and adaptation in substance abuse prevention: A state-of-the-art review. Rockville, MD: Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Benn, Gabriel “Asheru.” (2018) “You Don’t Know Me Like That!” Educational Leadership. September 2018. 76(1). 20 -25. Bennett, T., & Department for Education, (2017). Creating a Culture: How School Leaders Can Optimise Behaviour. Brackett, Marc A. (2018) The Emotional Intelligence We Owe Students and Educators. Educational Leadership. September 2018. 76(1). 13 - 18. Brackett, M. A., Kremenitzer, J. P., Maurer, M., Carpenter, M., Rivers, S. E., and Elbertson, N. (Eds.). (2011). Creating emotionally literate classrooms: An introduction to the RULER approach to social and emotional learning. Port Chester, NY: National Professional Resources. Brackett, Marc, A., Reyes, Maria, R., Rivers, Susan E., Elbertson, Nicole A., and Salovey, Peter. (2012). Assessing Teachers’ Beliefs About Social and Emotional Learning. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment. 30(3). 219 -236. DOI: 10.1177/0734282911424879 Bridgeland, J., Bruce, M., and Hariharan, A. (2013). The missing piece: A national teacher survey on how social and emotional learning can empower children and transform schools. A report for CASEL. Civil Enterprises. Retrieved from www.casel.org/wp-content/ uploads/2016/01/the-missing-piece.pdf. Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), (2018). Educating Hearts, Inspiring Minds. 815 W. Van Buren Ste. 210. Chicago, IL. 60607. http://casel.org. Collie, R. J., Shapka, J. D. and Perry, N. E. (2011), Predicting teacher commitment: The impact of school climate and social– emotional learning. Psychol. Schs., 48: 1034– 1048. doi: 10.1002/pits.20611. Domitrovich, C. E., Bradshaw, K. P., Berg, J. K., Pas, E. T., Becker, K. D., Musci, R. Embry D. D. and Ialongo, N. (2016). How Do SchoolBased Prevention Programs Impact Teachers? Findings from a Randomized Trial of an Integrated Classroom Management and Social-Emotional Program,” Prevention Science 17(3). doi:10.1007/s11121-015-0618-z

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Durlak, Joseph, A. (2015) What Everyone Should Know About Implementation. 395 - 405. Durlak, J. A., & DuPre, E. P. (2008). Implementation matters: A review of research on the infl uence of implementation on program outcomes and the factors affe cting implementation. American Journal of Community Psychology, 41, 327–350. doi: 10.1007/ s10464 – 008-9165– 0. Durlak, J., Dymnicki, A., Taylor, R., Weissberg, R., & Schellinger, K. (2011). The Impact of Enhancing Students' Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405-432. Durlak, Joseph A., Weissberg, Roger, P., and Gullotta, Thomas, P. Eds. (2015) Handbook of Social and Emotional Learning: Research and Practice. New York: The Guilford Press. Greenberg, Mark T., Domitrovich, C. E., Weissberg, R. P. & Durlak, J.A. (2017). Social Emotional Learning as a Public Health Approach to Education. The Future of Children, 27(1). Princeton-Brookings: New Jersey. 13 - 32. Retrieved from https://www. wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/ pages/the-future-of-children- social-andemotional-learning.aspx Gregory, Anne and Fergus, Edward. (2017). Social and Emotional Learning and Equity in School Discipline. The Future of Children, 27(1). Princeton-Brookings: New Jersey. 13 - 32. Retrieved from https://www. wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/ pages/the-future-of-children-social-andemotional-learning.aspx Jennings, Patricia, A., & Greenberg, Mark, A., (2009). The Prosocial Classroom: Teacher Social and Emotional Competence in Relation to Student and Classroom Outcomes. American Educational Research Association (AERA). March 1 2009. https://doi.org/ 10.3102% 2F0034654308325693. Johnson, B., & Stevens, J.J., & Zvoch, K., (2007). Teachers' Perceptions of School Climate: A Validity Study of Scores From the Revised School Level Environment Questionnaire. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 67(5), 833-844. Jones, Stephanie, M. & Emily J Doolittle. (2017) Social Emotional Learning: Introducing the Issue. The Future of Children, 27(1). PrincetonBrookings: New Jersey. 13 - 32. Retrieved from https://www. wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/ pages/the-future-of-children-social-andemotional-learning.aspx Jones, Stephanie, M., Bouffar d, S. M., & Weissbourd, R. (2013). “Educators’ Social and Emotional Skills Vital to Learning,” Phi Delta Kappan 94(8) doi: 10.1177/003172171309400815.

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Mayer, John, D., Salovey, P., Caruso, David, R. (2001) Emotional Intelligence as a Standard Intelligence. Emotion, 1(3). Retrieved from American Psychological Association http://0-psycnet.apa.org.library.uark.edu/ buy/2001-10055-002. Nathanson, L., Rivers, S.E., Flynn, L.M., & Brackett, M.A. (2016). Creating emotionally intelligent schools with RULER. Emotion Review, 8(4), 1-6. http://0-journals. sagepub.com.library.uark.edu/doi/ pdf/10.1177/1754073916650495. Reyes, Maria Regina, Brackett, Marc, A., Rivers, Susan, E., Elbertson, Nicole A., and Salovey, Peter. (2012). “The Interaction Effec ts of Program Training, Dosage, and Implementation Quality on Targeted Student Outcomes for the RULER Approach to Social and Emotional Learning,” School Psychology Review 41(1), 82–99. http://0-eds.b.ebscohost. com.library.uark.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/ pdfviewer?vid=3&sid=5e0de731-a7a3-4252af82-e1850d94f7e2%40pdc-v-sessmgr06. RULER. (2013) Supported by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. http://ei.yale.edu/ ruler/. Schonert-Reichl, Kimberly A. (2017) Social Emotional Learning and Teachers. The Future of Children, 27(1). Princeton-Brookings: New Jersey. 13 - 32. Retrieved from https://www. wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/ pages/the-future-of-children-social-andemotional-learning.aspx Sauter, Michael B., Stebbin, Samuel, Frohlich, Thomas C., & and Comen, Evan. (2015, September). Cities Spending the Most (and Least) per Student. 24/7 Wall St. Retrieved from http://247wallst.com/ specialreport/2015/09/28/cities-spending-the-mostand-least-per-pupil/ Taylor, Rebecca D., Oberle, Eva, Durlak, Joseph A., and Weissberg, Roger P., (2017), Promoting Positive Youth Development Through School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Interventions: A Meta-Analysis of Follow-Up Effects. Child Development., 0(00), 1-16. Williford, Amanda, P., & Wolcott, Catherine, Sanger. (2015). SEL and Student-Teacher Relationships. 229-243. Durlak, Joseph A., Weissberg, Roger, P., and Gullotta, Thomas, P. Eds. (2015) Handbook of Social and Emotional Learning: Research and Practice. New York: The Guilford Press.


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