The Educator's PLN

The personal learning network for educators

Social Skills Teaching Is Back In My Classroom!

It has been a very interesting year for me. Our school underwent some enormous changes with the implementation of RtI (Response to Intervention). For those who are not familiar with RtI, children are assessed in their language arts skills and then are grouped according to their ability. These children then switch classrooms for instruction.

My first reaction to such a change was, "NO! Not in first grade! These kids need consistency! Heterogeneous grouping is gone! How are we going to get kids of various levels to work together, help each other? How are we going to create a feeling of community with them switching off to different classrooms?"

Since then, I have seen both the merits and pitfalls of RtI. My colleagues and I try to do our best to creatively navigate the program's shortcomings (this is another blog for another day).

The beginning of the year was rough. Our schedule was stripped down to having only 15 minutes in the morning for Morning Meeting (minus the 5-10 minutes it takes to take attendance, lunch count and settle the kids). Again, my first reaction, "NO! Not in first grade! This is where we set the tone for the day, the week, the year!" This is the block of time devoted to teaching children how to greet each other; learn each other's names; learn how to listen when someone else is speaking; learn to respect each other's feelings; learn how to resolve conflict independently through role play. Also, as I am also a certified yoga teacher, this is the time when I teach children how to breathe when they are stressed, how to switch their attitude when it is not serving them or others, how to create their day through visualization, and how to calm and center their bodies (I can write a blog on this alone too).

What my colleagues and I discovered was that our students were fighting more with each other, had virtually no conflict resolution skills and were spiraling down a path of tears, temper tantrums and rudeness to others. How were these children going to be as they got older if they didn't learn these skills now? We were all feeling frustrated by the short time we had to teach our reading groups and the even shorter time we had for Morning Meeting to teach social skills.

So we decided to take matters into our own hands and suggest to the administration that we extend both our Morning Meeting time and our reading time. (It actually worked without much disruption at all to the rest of the day. It was even, dare I say, logical. We were supported by the administration and I am eternally grateful for that. I am also grateful that I work with such a flexible team that was willing to shake things up mid-year. So now I had a full 30 minutes at the start of the day to teach social skills as an isolated subject to be reinforced throughout the day and an hour and a half for my reading group.

The schedule change took some adjusting to for both the teachers and the students, but we all agree that it is the best move that we could have made. I was now able to teach these conflict resolution skills and give kids the centering and calming tools that they need. After only one month I see them beginning to use what they are being taught (we still have a way to go). They are becoming better listeners (to both the teacher and their fellow classmates), learning and exhibiting empathy and are beginning to apply the centering approaches when they are upset or anxious. I have even had a phone call from a parent, applauding the change that she is seeing in her child and how her child is passing some of these lessons onto her!

The reason for writing this blog is two-fold: (1) to stress the importance of teaching social skills in an isolated setting to be reinforced throughout the day (my colleagues and I saw the peril of not doing this firsthand) and (2) to thank my administrators for working with us when we saw that we needed to change the schedule without being told "Let's wait until next year."

Views: 11

Tags: Skills, Social

Comment

You need to be a member of The Educator's PLN to add comments!

Join The Educator's PLN

Comment by Brenda on August 26, 2010 at 2:54am
Hi Irene,

I know you posted your comment about the importance of teaching social skills way back in February, but I was wondering if you could share some ideas or things that you did. I am taking a university course right now and I am hoping to conduct a field study to examine exactly that. "How does building a strong classroom community promote student learning?" Did you use any forms of technology to support your teaching of social skills? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I am having difficulty putting my head around this whole idea. Thanks in advance!

Brenda
Comment by Irene Farmer on February 28, 2010 at 12:12pm
Diana,
So nice to see you on here! It has been a roller-coaster year, but that's always to be expected with change, isn't it? Better to make the necessary changes where you can than to feel shackled! How are you enjoying the ride?
Comment by Diana Marcus on February 28, 2010 at 12:04pm
Great post, Irene! It has, indeed, been a roller-coaster of a year. Congratulations on balancing the mandated changes with the needs of your students. It's an honor to have you as a colleague.

About

Thomas Whitby created this Ning Network.

Latest Activity

Gemma Gaten posted a blog post

5 Top Digital Teaching Tools for Educators

Technology runs almost every area of our lives in various forms. We embrace technology not only at home, at work but even in schools. Incorporating new technologies into the classroom is the latest trend in this digital age. Thus, many educators have evolved their practice and now using new teaching style to promote good…See More
Thursday
melodie badour joined Steve J. Moore's group
Thumbnail

New Teachers

This is a group for new teachers with questions, stories, and answers about the profession. Share your experiences and give encouragement. Veterans of course are welcome! We need your help as well!See More
Thursday
melodie badour joined David Spencer's group
Thumbnail

AEE Circle: First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Resources

The AEE Circle (Aboriginal and Environmental Education Circle) is a professional learning community (PLC) and sharing network of 340 educators, teachers, supporters and Aboriginal elders and leaders who gather to share resources, curriculum and teaching strategies that will help Canadian teachers integrate current cultural, environmental and historical contributions of our First Nations, Inuit and Métis Canadians into school curriculum. This Educator's PLN group is for educators and support…See More
Thursday
melodie badour joined Jennifer Berryhill Carroll's group
Thumbnail

Gifted and High Level Learners

A place for educators and specialists working with gifted children and high level learners. For those of us who understand the gifted child- curious, giddy, strong-willed, creative, day-dreamer, funny, artistic, leader, intuitive, flare, complex! Come share, discuss, inform and certainly... entertain!See More
Thursday
Katherine Maloney posted a status
"Wonderful professional learning opportunity: http://learning2africa.org/"
Thursday
Mitch Weisburgh posted a blog post

Keys to Change Leadership

Leading change to help school practitioners embrace not only technology in teaching but in assessment, grading, and outcomes can be a challenge. Systemic, meaningful change from an environment of rote learning to the collaborative nature in a 1:1 environment can be met with resistance. With his experience as an implementation change agent, Dr. Dillon served as coach, mentor and guide for school leaders and School Improvement Teams embarking on this change.As the picture of how to best support…See More
Thursday
Eileen Lennon posted a blog post

I thought I'd eventually be out of a job.

I ask a student to attach a file to an email and I get a blank stare.I tell the class to open a new tab so they have two websites open at the same time and I have to show them how to do that a few times.I assume that since they are growing up with technology they naturally know how to use it, but I am shown on a daily basis that this is not the case. They know how to get to their game website and play till their eyeballs fall out, but when I ask them to find a file they created yesterday, they…See More
Wednesday
Gemma Gaten posted a status
"“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ― Nelson Mandela"
Wednesday

Awards And Nominations

© 2015   Created by Thomas Whitby.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service