Perhaps this book wasn’t on my radar of books to read. Perhaps even when my district choose a summer book study I neglected it at first. Perhaps after a second reminder email, I signed up. Perhaps I even forgot to go get the book and didn’t read it for all of July.
What a mistake all that was!
This is definitely a book worth reading. Not only does it address how to bring SEL into the classroom at all levels of instruction and all content areas, but it also gives some great ways to use SEL to further students work with it.
If you are not familiar with the ideas behind SEL then definite, All Learning is Social and Emotional by Frey, Fisher, and Smith is the place to start. In today’s ever-changing world we must recognize that students need to feel connected and supported in their schools. As the new school year begins, no matter the format of formal education, we must recognize that our students are dealing with uncertainty, chaos, and confusion. Their home life may not be as stable as it once was, or they may not even have the life situation they once had, and for that, we must recognize that everyone (adults included) need a different kind of support and skills to learn/grow/deal/conquer.
But let’s return our focus to the nitty-gritty of the book. I enjoyed the examples given of how teachers embedded skills practice into their daily routines. One of the teachers discussed how they create a rotating presentation schedule based on the daily presentation. It sounds confusing but it’s not. The teacher begins the rotation with a 5-minute presentation. In the end a student pair is chosen. They must reflect on something presented that they would like to know more about. They spend that period researching and preparing their 5-minute presentation for the next day. And so it goes.
What I love most is that I believe this idea will flow nicely into our upcoming hybrid model of education and prepare students for a whole new level of SEL. The skills we will practice to support all our classmates, both those in class and those at home should benefit our changing world.
And this is the essence of the book. It is chalked full of useful, practical ideas that can be implemented for all the skills a teacher might want to have in their classroom.
Since this book was read as a book study, our district completed the first of a series of professional development activities. Some of the comments, all positive, were the ideas that could assist our students. From having admin cover a class so the teacher can speak with a disruptive student to doing emotional level authentic check-ins.
The book even discusses the pros and cons of purchasing a learning group package. Our district is set to create our own unique SEL environment and I for one am excited by the commitment that this book has given our entire staff. It will certainly be interesting to see how the district carries this out – as the book suggests, the best outcomes are found when it is the culture and everyone is involved.