Complete an online course on Teaching and Learning for Greater Good and the Basics of Social Emotional Learning, Mindfulness, and Character Education offered by the Greater Good Science Center and complete a TED Masterclass on Public Speaking to create a venue and a community for space for students and teachers to share their best ideas.
I think that my students have a wealth of experience and ideas that they want to express. As a teacher I want to draw these out effectively and also provide them a venue to unpack their thoughts and feelings and share their ideas, and even better, move them to action. So I hope to come up with a "place" for students to be able to share as well as listen to others - both students and also staff.
What is a meaningful life and how is it connected to education? It has been shown that one of the ways to cultivate happiness and develop a meaningful life is to do prosocial behaviors. And one of the 4 ways through an SEL activity to have meaning in their life is - belonging, purpose, transcendence, and storytelling - giving a chance for people to tell their story is to say that I value your story, to give a voice to “cultural, historic, and everyday lived experiences” of students.
I will create a blog page to feature interviews of students and staff talking about their life experiences. It will focus on a narrative of who they are (identify) and what they want to become (purpose). Their interviews will be shared in class and other students can also be inspired to share about themselves as well. This is a blogsite work in progress which means we can keep adding more featured interviews outside of our class.
The greatest impact I've seen is that my classroom of students and staff (instructional aides) have gotten to know each other better and have show more appreciation for who they are - their strengths and struggles in life. I think it created a sense of belonging in the classroom and a recognition that each person is important. This feeling of safety and acceptance has created a more openness to learning new things and more curiosity about the other than just what they already know abou them.
Some students have shared their interview videos with their parents and peers. The staff (teachers and instructional aides) have shared their videos with their own family members. Another teacher shared his interview in his social media group of special education teachers. A few more students (and staff) are scheduled to do an interview and be featured. The blog site is growing and creating a small ripple of effect, however small, but it is a good start.
Going through the importance of SEL key values has made me reflect on my own values. Especially coming from a very stressful pandemic schoolyear last year, the summer learning experience really help me get off on a great start this year. I reflected on my life and thought about the all important question of why I teach. I was also mindful that the students and the aides were also figuring out a new "normal" and with the whole Innovation Circle experience, I felt more prepared to teach this year.
A key moment for me is was during the Summer Learning Experience where I where I had transformative SEL process myself. I found myself journaling my thoughts, reflecting on my life, value checking my teaching philosophy and why I teach, and also starting to do some key habits of mindfulness - for example I started a journal, I revived my talent of drawing to incorporate it as mindful practice. I thought it was important for me to practice mindfulness to be effective in teaching SEL lessons.