“Do What You Think Like”

By: Steven Tobias, Psy.D. 

What do Character Education, Mindfulness, religion, emotional intelligence, Weight Watchers, and your mother all have in common?  They all want you to think before you act, which is actually hard to do.   

As human beings, we tend to do what we “feel” like.  When we act based solely on our emotions, we are using our reptilian brains, and then we shouldn’t be surprised when we respond like an alligator, chameleon, or snake in a highly charged emotional situation. Unfortunately, we have a strong tendency to respond reflexively with “fight or flight” triggered by primitive parts of the brain.   Thinking seems to be a fragile ability, which is why we have to strengthen it.

So, what can we do?  First, soothe the beast.  Take care of yourself.  Have fun.  Be with others you love.  Do meaningful and rewarding activities.  This reduces the stress that feeds the tyrannosaurus inside you.  Yes, you are too busy with work, needs of your family, home, and distraction of screens (but that’s for another blog).  Get your calendar  (I’ll wait)…  Put “ME” time on the calendar.  Do it now, or you will never “find” the time.  You can decide later what to do, but make sure it is what you want and is pleasurable.

The above is a prerequisite for thinking.  The more stressed you are and focused on others, the harder it is to think.  Now that your life is back in balance, let’s work on thinking.

  1. Reflect: What is going on? How do I and others feel? This stimulates your deliberate human brain to control your impulsive reptilian brain.
  2. Consider: What is your goal? This will give you direction and purpose.
  3. Decide: What can you do? What else?  What have you done before?  The more solutions you can brainstorm, the better chance of success.  Then, set a deliberate plan:  who is involved, what are you going to do, when are you going to do it, where are your going to do it, and how are you going to do it?  By the way, the “why” is so that you can get what you want.

This is doing what you think like, not what you feel like, and is more likely to get you what you want emotionally, socially, and materially.

Want to learn more? Join us for the next webinar in our SEL Expert Webinar Series presented by Steven Tobias, Psy.D. This webinar will teach how to be aware of and control emotions that lead us to poor decision making, how to set deliberate goals for oneself, and how to follow through with actions that are consistent with what one really wants.  The trick is to “think” while feeling, and this is harder than one might think.

By: Steven Tobias, Psy.D. 
Steven Tobias, Psy.D., is the director of the Center for Child and Family Development in Morristown, New Jersey. He has over thirty years of experience working with children, parents, families, and schools. Dr. Tobias feels a strong commitment to children’s social and emotional development and provides consultation to schools as a way of reaching many children, including those who are underserved in terms of their social and emotional needs. He has coauthored several books with Dr. Maurice Elias, including Emotionally Intelligent Parenting and Raising Emotionally Intelligent Teenagers. He has given lectures throughout the United States on topics related to parenting and children’s emotional development. Dr. Tobias lives in New Jersey. Maurice J. Elias, Ph.D Professor of Psychology at Rutgers., and Steven E. Tobias, Psy.D Director for Center of Child and Family development are the authors of several books including: Boost Emotional Intelligence in Students and Emotionally Intelligent Parenting.

Stressed Out? SEL Tips to Manage Stress before it Manages You

By Christina Cipriano, Ph.D.

Teacher attrition costs the United States roughly $2.2 billion dollars annually; an estimated half a million teachers either move or leave the profession each year.

Why? Because they are stressed out. In fact, in a report by the American Federation of Teachers put out last month, educators in the US aren’t just more stressed out than ever before, teachers are stressed out more than the average employee working outside of education. Hostile work conditions with colleagues, high pressure demands of high stakes testing, diminished autonomy, and inadequate planning time are cited as key reasons why this generation of teachers’ psychosocial health is on the decline and they are leaving the profession.

How can we expect our students to want to learn if their teacher’s don’t want to be there?

Stress is our body’s way of responding to events that threaten or challenge us. When we encounter stress, our bodies react by redirecting blood flow to our muscles, increasing our blood pressure and heart rate, and elevating our adrenaline circulation and cortisol levels. What makes matters worse, prolonged stress can lead to diminished physical and mental well-being, increasing your likelihood of illness and life dissatisfaction, circumstances which ironically increase your likelihood of being stressed! Research teaches us that individuals are more likely to feel stress when experiencing negative emotions, navigating uncontrollable, unpredictable, ambiguous situations, and when confronted with simultaneous task demands.

Contemporary teaching is by definition, therefore, a stressful endeavor!

What if there was a way to reduce teacher stress, while also improve behavioral and academic outcomes for students school-wide? There is, it’s called SEL, and there is mounting empirical evidence to support the claim that SEL provides teachers with the strategies, culture, and collaboration they need in their school day to reduce their stress and optimize their teaching.

So you have too many demands on your plate? You can’t possibly get all you grades and evaluations in on time? What are you going to do about it? Think again- there’s always a way to dissolve the threat by making that stress a challenge to overcome!

SEL teaches us to turn a threat or stressful situation into a challenge. Appraising the cause of your stress as a challenge works to reduce your stress by changing how your brain is processing the event. When we phrase a threat as a challenge, this reappraisal opens up pathways for increased neural connectivity and message sending to promote your effective problem solving to meet the challenge. It’s not simply will power, its science!

I’ll show my principal that I can get this done by tomorrow well. It will take up my time this evening but my other demands are not as time sensitive and I can show myself that I can push myself to achieve when I put my mind to it! The reality is that when we switch our mindset to view a stress as a problem we can solve we promote the achievement of solving the problem!

Note that not all stress is bad. Research suggests that we have an optimal range of stress which is productive, rather than detrimental, to our health, well-being, and happiness. Some stress is actually healthy for promoting our productivity and happiness. How? We need that adrenaline and cortisol release to drive our productive behaviors and our satisfaction with experiences.

The SEL evidence-base provides insights into how to manage stress before it manages you.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Mental Health and School Psychologists

By Kristen Cain, M.A., LSSP

WHAT DO SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS DO?

According to the National Association of School Psychology (NASP), “school psychologists provide direct support and interventions to students, consult with teachers, families, and other school-employed mental health professionals (i.e., school counselors, school social workers) to improve support strategies; work with school administrators to improve school wide practices and policies; and collaborate with community providers to coordinate needed services”.

WHAT ROLE DO SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS PLAY IN SCHOOLS?

School psychologists play an important role by helping schools to successfully promote positive behavior and mental health. Here are 5 ways that school psychologists help to promote positive behavior and mental health:

  • Improving student’s communication and social skills:
    • School psychologists work to improve communication and social skills by providing teachers and students with strategies and resources they need to be successful in the school and community settings. Research has shown that children’s developmental competence is integral to their academic competence (Masten et al., 2005).
  • Assessing student’s emotional and behavioral needs:
    • According to the Department of Health and Human Services an estimated 15 million of our nation’s young people can currently be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. There is a great need for these student’s to be assessed and provided with the best social-emotional services in the education setting based on their needs. School psychologists work with students and their families to identify and address learning and behavior problems that interfere with school success. School-based behavioral consultation has been shown to yield positive results such as remediating academic and behavior problems for children and reducing referrals for psychoeducational assessments (MacLeod, Jones, Somer, & Havey, 2001).
  • Promoting problem solving anger management, and conflict resolution:
    • School psychologists work with students in individual and group settings to help provide emotional/behavior services to help improve student’s outcomes.
  • Reinforce positive coping skills and resilience:
    • School psychologists work with students and their families to support students’ social, emotional, and behavioral health and research has shown that students who receive this type of support achieve better academically in school (Bierman et al., 2010; Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011; Fleming et al., 2005).
  • Make referrals and coordinate services with community-based providers:
    • School psychologists work with parents and administrators to respond to crises by providing leadership, direct services, and coordination with needed community services and research has revealed that school staff rate the crisis intervention services provided by school psychologists as very important (Watkins, Crosby, & Pearson, 2007). These referrals are often made to community services agencies, related to mental health needs.

School psychologists have extensive training in assessment, progress monitoring, instruction, child development and psychology, consultation, counseling, crisis response, program evaluation, and data collection and analysis. Their training is specific to applying this expertise within the school context, both general education and special education, and includes extensive knowledge in school systems and law (NASP 2010a, 2010b).

Learn how Rethink Ed supports School Psychologists at www.rethinked.com.

Press Release: Cultivating Safe, Supportive Schools & Communities: City School District of New Rochelle Partners with Rethink Ed to Roll Out New Learning Initiative

With every new school year comes the promise of a new beginning: new academic subjects, new teachers, new classmates, new friends, and, of course, new opportunities to learn, grow, and develop.

And so it is for the students, teachers, administrators, and parents of the New Rochelle Public School district.

That’s because the 2018-2019 school year is bringing with it an extended partnership with Rethink Ed and the implementation of Rethink Ed’s Social and Emotional Learning Solution, designed to promote active learning, mutual respect, and well-being within the entire district, for all students.

“We couldn’t be more excited to expand our six-year partnership with New Rochelle Public School District by implementing our comprehensive SEL Solution,” says Diana Frezza, senior vice president of Education for Rethink Ed. “Not only is SEL scientifically linked to improved academic outcomes, it’s shown to have a profound effect on increasing prosocial behavior and creating higher quality relationships. Ours is a comprehensive, first-of-its-kind SEL Solution for alllearners, including the educators who teach them and the parents who support them.”

Amy Goodman, Assistant Superintendent for Student Service, has her district keenly focused on SEL, or social and emotional learning.  SEL refers to evidence-based practices rooted in applied learning and rigorous social psychology. These practices underscore the why and how behind understanding, using, and managing emotions, which then leads to a whole host of positive changes academically, socially, and emotionally.

All human thoughts, actions, and behaviors—what we pay attention to, how we manage our time, the decisions we make, the way we feel about ourselves, how we treat others—are driven by emotions. Fundamental to Rethink Ed’s SEL Solution is a series of interrelated social and emotional skills that support learning, promote development, improve achievement, and encourage connectedness. The results of successfully implementing a whole-community SEL Solution is remarkable: engaged learners, happier teachers, and socially healthy communities.

That, coupled with the district’s prior work with Rethink Ed on training and support to the New Rochelle Special Education team and students, led the district to extend its partnership with the EdTech innovator and research-based content provider.

Naturally, the City School District of New Rochelle is equally excited about the extension of the alliance, says Amy Goodman, the district’s interim assistant superintendent for Student Support Services.

“Not only does Rethink Ed’s SEL Solution align with the national competencies set by CASEL,” she says, “it extends and enhances the value of the work we’re already doing in our Multi-Tiered System of Supports initiative. That means our Rethink Ed SEL initiative will touch all students, across all grades, in all our schools, as well as every administrator, educator, and parent.”

Ms. Goodman adds “The advantage of implementing Rethink Ed’s whole-community SEL Solution is that it helps advance the vision of district administration to foster cooperation and increase collaboration with Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) teams, principals, and community outreach.”

“Rethink Ed’s comprehensive, all-learners, whole-community approach to SEL complements the positive and forward direction this district is headed,” says Goodman, “which is to create and sustain healthy and supportive school, family, and community environments.”

About Rethink Ed

Rethink Ed combines the power of technology and research to deliver innovative, scalable, and evidence-based instructional materials that positively impact educators, students, and their families. With a comprehensive suite of tools, Rethink Ed ensures that every student develops the academic, behavioral, and social & emotional skills necessary to succeed in school, at work, and throughout life.

The City School District of New Rochelle

The City School District of New Rochelle works to provide a high-quality education for every child within a safe and nurturing environment. The District seeks to embrace its rich diversity, and to further student success in partnership with a dedicated team of parents, teachers, administrators, and staff.

Learn More: https://go.rethinkfirst.com/l/83952/2018-08-20/b4c9hx

School System Leaders Convene in Chicago on meeting the needs of the whole child–including social and emotional development

“We are proud to partner with AASA, The School Superintendents Association and launch the first SEL superintendent convening”

Rethink Ed and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, announced last week their joint collaboration in pioneering the first SEL Superintendent Convening, Educating the Total Child through Social Emotional Learning, in ChicagoOct. 19-20.

SEL is an innovative practice scientifically linked to successful student development, enhanced school climate, improved well-being, and greater connectedness among administrators, teachers, students, and parents.

“SEL is an evidence-based practice designed to help children and adults understand, use, and manage their emotions to learn,” said Diana Frezza, Rethink Ed’s senior vice president, education. “Because SEL programming for all learners contributes to healthy and supportive school, family and community environments, it only makes sense for us, as creators of the first comprehensive social and emotional learning solution, to partner with AASA to empower school administrators to transform their schools with SEL programming.”

Throughout the two-day symposium, leading superintendents will discuss why and how SEL contributes to educating the whole child, as well as hear from leading experts, learn strategies for enhancing social and emotional skills in children and adults, and examine real-world success stories.

“School administrators not only have a responsibility to ensure academic performance but, as child advocates, they must also meet students’ needs for social and emotional development,” says Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “SEL is proving to be a catalyst for doing just that, so we’re excited to partner with Rethink Ed to host an event that will inform and inspire district leaders who are committed to meeting the varying needs of all children.”

More details about the event, including the agenda, speaker bios, and registration can be directed to Rebecca Shaw at rshaw@aasa.org.

In the meantime, Rethink Ed invites school administrators to receive a complimentary superintendent SEL Toolkit. For additional information on how Rethink Ed can support your schools SEL implementation please visit www.rethinksel.com or schedule a demo today.

About Rethink Ed 

Rethink Ed combines the power of technology and research to deliver innovative, scalable and evidence-based instructional materials to those who work with students with disabilities. The comprehensive suite of tools ensures that every student develops the academic, behavioral and social & emotional skills necessary to succeed in school, at work and in life. Rethink Ed positions educators, students and families for success.

About AASA

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.

Read More: https://go.rethinkfirst.com/l/83952/2018-08-09/b45bh8

What’s the big deal with SEL?

By Christina Cipriano, PhD

Social and Emotional Learning, or SEL, refers to interrelated sets of cognitive, affective, and behavioral competencies that underscore the way we understand, use, and manage emotions to learn. Emotions drive how we think, pay attention, make decisions, manage our time, and countless other processes that impact how students and teachers show up in the classroom.

The Rethink Ed SEL for ALL Learners platform is a school-based social and emotional learning (SEL) program for enhancing the psychosocial health and well-being of teachers and students while creating an optimal learning environment that promotes academic, social, and personal effectiveness. Psychosocial health and well-being refers to the knowledge and skills needed to promote mental health, emotion regulation, and prosocial behaviors—knowledge and skills that are necessary for optimal development.

Educators, parents, and legislators acknowledge the need for schools to address the social and emotional needs of students in order to provide a rich learning environment. In fact, a systematic process for promoting SEL is the common element among schools that report an increase in academic achievement, improved relationship quality between teachers and students, and a decrease in problem behaviors.

Ideal SEL curricula are those that address the full spectrum of children’s needs by cultivating a caring, supportive, and empowering learning environments that foster the development of all learners in the school. Rethink Ed SEL was designed specifically to meet these criteria.

6 Reasons We Love Social Emotional Learning (And You Should Too!)

If you’ve been to a conference, spoken with colleagues, or read the news lately, you’ve probably been hearing quite a lot about Social Emotional Learning, or SEL. SEL helps students by promoting self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. If you don’t already love SEL, here are 6 reasons why you should:

  1. Students learn how to deal with complex emotions. Navigating emotions can be difficult, especially for children and teens. In fact, a child or teen commits suicide every 3 hours and 33 minutes. One of the major focuses of SEL programs is to help students successfully regulate their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different scenarios. This helps students change their way of thinking to better manage stress, motivate themselves, and make better decisions.
  2. Teachers feel less stressed. According to a recent survey, 73% of educators report feeling stressed often at work, and 24% report feeling sometimes stressed at work. These educators also report feeling emotionally or physically exhausted at the end of the day. SEL programs can help improve student success, which certainly helps reduce educator stress. Additionally, educators can benefit from improving their own SEL skills, by learning how to manage stress, make better decisions, and communicate with others more effectively.
  3. SEL provides schools with a bullying prevention toolkit. Students who are bullied are twice as likely as their non-bullied peers to develop negative health effects. According to the CDC, defiant & disruptive behaviors are associated with engaging in bullying behavior, while poor peer relationships & low self-esteem are associated with a higher likelihood of being bullied. SEL programs help students improve their ability to empathize and take the perspective of others, respect others, negotiate conflict, and seek help when needed. SEL programs also help to increase self-confidence.
  4. Students are more employable. According to a recent report, employers are looking for employees who have strong communication skills, are self-motivated, able to solve problems independently, and work well with others. These are all skills SEL programs focus on!
  5. Students are less likely to be incarcerated. A longitudinal study found that the level of aggression exhibited by children at the age of eight is a strong predictor of criminal events over the next 22 years. With current statistics showing that a student is arrested every 31 seconds, we should all be looking at strategies to prevent conduct problems & reduce aggression in our schools. SEL programs help students develop impulse control, respect others, and make ethical decisions.
  6. School districts save money! For every dollar school districts invest in SEL interventions, there is a return of 11 dollars! An 11:1 return on investment is pretty fantastic!

 

Join the movement: Check out Rethink Ed’s upcoming SEL product line.

10 SEL Skills to Prepare Children for the Future

Preparing students for the future has been the role of schools since their inception. For today this means that schools must prepare students to function with the fourth industrial revolution, a time when technology is radically changing the way we live and relate to each other. I have heard many educators say that it is impossible to prepare children for future jobs as there is no way to know what job a student in kindergarten might encounter twelve years from now. One thing that is clear is that future employment skills will require skills that students can begin to learn today.

10 skills that will be needed in 2020 according to the World Economic Forum:

  1. Complex problem solving
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People Management
  5. Coordinating with Others
  6. Emotional Intelligence
  7. Judgement and Decision Making
  8. Service Orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive Flexibility

Many of these skills are encompassed into social and emotional learning (SEL). SEL is the process though which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.  Schools are embracing SEL to prepare children for the future.

Rethink Ed is committed to meeting this education need with our new SEL curriculum. With quality educational supports we can ensure all children are prepared to successfully meet current and future world expectations.

Integrating Social and Emotional Learning into Everyday Instruction

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is emerging in schools throughout the country. Some states are even developing and implementing social and emotional standards. The desired outcome of SEL, children and adults who apply understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions (CASEL, 2018), is admirable. Every teacher would hope their students would achieve these outcomes during their school years. But how do teachers make this happen? What should teachers do doing the day to produce this outcome for students?

There is agreement that SEL instruction should be integrated into activities throughout the day. This might include helping students engage in relaxation activities prior to taking an exam to assist with self-management or prior to exiting onto they playground student are prompted to look around and see what they might do to include a peer who might be feeling excluded in the activities. It’s important that teachers are prepared to teach these skills and that they are systematically applied in an effective manner that supports acquisition.

To promote student’s skill developing teachers can model the social and emotional skills themselves and provide direct instruction to their students. Students can also be prompted to practice these skills to support generalization. If a student is learning calming strategies like breathing prior to an exam they might be asked to practice this skill over a weekend when something stressful happens and report back when they return to school on Monday. Or a writing prompt of empathy might be given during literacy lessons, assisting a student to reflect on their own strengths and weaknesses in their application of empathy.

The responsibilities of schools have extended past just teaching academics. Students need social and emotional skills that will allow them to succeed in a world that is multi-cultural, requires collaboration and that celebrates effective communication. Educators are developing repertoires to teach social and emotional skills into their daily practice.

Why we must support SEL for At-Risk Students

By Christina Cipriano, Ph.D.

Spotlight on the uninformed educator. Maybe you know one?

Who still believes in the assumption that schooling has next to nothing to do with emotions and the greater educational and social climate. Someone who is unaware of the mounting evidence from neuroscience and education that validate the role of social and emotional learning (SEL) in high quality classrooms. SEL is the key: high quality classrooms are in support of, rather than dismissal of, student emotional health. SEL is more than the foundation for student’s learning in the classroom; SEL is the brush that paints the picture of what quality instruction and learning look like.

The areas of our brain that process and regulate our emotions are inextricably tied to areas of the brain responsible for our learning and cognition. This means that when a student is angry, upset or anxious, their brain focuses its energy on how they are feeling while they are trying to attend to what they are learning. Such emotions, when unsupported and unregulated, can decrease a student’s attention to the learning processes – the ability to meaningfully attend underscores human information processing and all learning! These temporary interruptions in attention diminish a student’s ability to listen, understand, and engage in learning meaningfully alongside their peers and teachers.

But what if these interruptions happen more often than not? Some students chronically struggle with their affective responses and regulation. Underperforming students, including students with special education needs as well as students who are low-achieving, are at increased risk of emotions that can override their attention.  Unfortunately,  focusing on just academics, since their scores are low, won’t address these needs. Many students struggling in school, need support to address their social emotional health. Students with special education needs, such as those with diagnoses of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (EBD) and Learning Disabilities (LD) can experience prolonged disruption to performance in school by their symptoms. When students are struggling and school performance is poor, they are more likely to find school and learning as a source of anxiety, manifesting in diminished self-efficacy, motivation, engagement, and connectedness with school.

Think about it. When confronted with a challenge, it may feel natural to shy away and disengage. Neurologically, tasks that are difficult, complex, and new, actually require more of our active attention to complete- it is impossible to meaningfully encode, store, and retrieve new information if you have not properly attended to it from the beginning! When learning new information, nerve impulses will sometimes travel longer and more complex pathways to make meaning of the information. This longer time requires active attention- just like the first time you ate with a fork, or rode a bike. With practice and experience, these impulses speed up and become automatic, freeing up more of our attention for more learning! However, if we are continuously overwhelmed while learning, the energy to learn and attend meaningfully can be exhausting, anxiety inducing, and demotivating.

As a result, when students are struggling and find school difficult they are less likely to pay attention even before we account for the role of their emotional processing. Unfortunately, the same students who need to attend more are also most likely to struggle with reduced attention and processing skills from the start. SEL programming specifically designed with these students in mind can help increase student availability to learn and support closing the achievement gap.