I am so excited that spring is finally here. I was able to ride my bike to Ridgeway last Saturday, and I really enjoyed it. As the school year winds down, we only have 38 days of school before summer is here. It seems hard to believe, but there have been many exciting things happening for kids and families over the course of the school year. The issue I am most excited about is Social Emotional Learning. As we implement these important changes in our curriculum, staff and student mindset, students are gaining skills. At least once a week, I am tuned into a learning opportunity on Social Emotional Learning. I am going to take this opportunity to share some of the screen shots and information on SEL with the readers of the Howard-Winneshiek CSD weekly update. There are several definitions of Social Emotional Learning, but one I saw this week from Panorama, defines and outlines SEL in this manner:
Social Emotional Learning is so important because every person is created for relationships. To have deep, purposeful connections with others in your family, your friendships, your relationships and in every day life. If a student has difficulty in creating and maintaining these positive connections, they experience frustration, sadness and even severe depression. One data point that is critical for student success, is that all students need at least ONE positive adult connection in school. At Howard-Winn, we try very hard to form these connections through our School Connectedness Initiative, Home Base, Success Team and constant communication between home and school.
When this definition is reviewed, the first word that comes to my mind is Executive Functioning. Executive Functioning is housed in the frontal lobe part of our brain. Last Monday, during our Professional Development day, I trained 28 of our associates on what Executive Functioning is, what it looks like in behaviors and what strategies are put in place. The training lasted around an hour, and I was concerned because no one was really saying anything to me or to each other. That is unusual for a large group primarily made up of women! At the end, the associates stated they were in awe of the information and as the training went on, they just kept thinking of the kids they worked with! This made me super happy. At Howard-Winneshiek, we take Social Emotional Learning to the next level. We look at how Trauma affects students' lives, poverty, lack of assets and supports at home as well as the role in what they do with their spare time. In a nutshell - we look and examine matters of the heart. By combining both the cognitive aspects of student lives and their home lives, great things can happen for kids in supporting them in student achievement.
During the first weeks of school, the Howard-Winneshiek Community School District invited Trevor Reagan of "Train Ugly" to train our entire staff and later the community on Growth Mindset. Growth Mindset has been a focus for our entire school year. Through Growth Mindset a new class will be included for our high school students next year, elementary teachers have focused and trained their students and failing forward is a common phrase that is echoed by students and staff alike. Growth Mindset is a way of life for the Howard-Winneshiek CSD and this way of thinking will continue to be emphasized in all we do for kids and families of the school district.
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