Professional learning with an SEL focus

A portion of the day was also devoted to "Learning Symposiums" and a "Learning CarouS.E.L." where our faculty and staff chose from a variety of breakout sessions on SEL topics and activities.

Examples included self-awareness, social awareness, responsible decision-making, self-management, relationship skills, team-building, social engagement, communication, stress management, self-confidence, respect for self and others, problem-solving, reflecting, goal setting, self-discipline, and more. There were also several discussions about being ethical, empathetic, self-care and managing stress.

Photo Slideshow


Throughout the day, there were many diverse and engaging sessions for our teachers and administrators, and opportunities to think deeply about how we can improve our professional practice. The combined expertise of our guest speakers and our own Chappaqua faculty provided for a day of purposeful learning and collaboration--that will undoubtedly continue throughout this school year.

Symposiums Offered

Appreciative Inquiry: Discovering the Strength of Experience
Appreciative Inquiry approaches self-awareness by accessing experiences of positive emotions like gratitude, generosity, kindness, and compassion. Such positive experiences are the building blocks of a successful life, and therefore, are a great reservoir of energy for an individual's growth and development. Participants will receive an introduction to this theory, engage in activities, and discuss how this approach can be applied to help youth build greater self-awareness. Sample: think of a time when you did your best work as a professional. Tell the story and ask yourself the question: how did you feel?

Bouncing Back and Resiliency
People with a bounce-back mentality are able to look at their experiences and find ways to use them to be more effective. We will discuss ways to develop a bounce-back mentality.

Café Olé
Creating Community Through Conversation and Culture - Let's get together over café y almojábanas and learn a little about Latin American & Spanish language and culture. Come over to D-5 where you'll try some typical treats, learn a little survival Spanish, and get your groove on as we master a few basic dance steps. Learn some strategies to build empathy, manage stress, and appreciate diversity in a fun setting! Beginners especially welcome! Non-language teachers are especially encouraged to attend.

5 Love Languages
Everyone expresses and receives love differently, but we all have a individualized primary love language. When adults and students discover their "Love Language" and the language of their loved ones: receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch- they will be able to create deeper bonds, communicate better and have a greater understanding of your needs and the needs of others.

Calm Down!
Have you heard of the Calm app? I heard about it and have been using it ever since. It's easy, accessible, and FREE for educators. How do I use it? How can it be used in class? Let's talk about it and see what we can come up with together. The rule for first-responders is to keep yourself safe so you can save others - it is no different for us as teachers, parents, adults. . .if we take care of ourselves, we can take care of others.

Compassion is Contagious
In this workshop participants will learn how self compassion can positively impact emotional regulation, increase self awareness, improve self esteem, and contribute to stronger relationships.  Participants will learn ways to practice self compassion and how doing so can increase emotional resilience for students and staff in a high stakes academic environment. Participants will be offered an opportunity to identify ways they can foster self compassion within the school community.

Emotions "Meta": How RULER and metacognition enhance social-emotional learning
Through the lens of the RULER approach, we hope to further our understanding of emotional recognition (self-awareness), emotional regulation (self-management), and responsible decision-making, and their positive effects on social-emotional functioning. We will utilize and explore the RULER tools of the mood meter, meta moment, and blueprint.

Givers and Takers
Using games and puzzles, this session will highlight the work of organizational psychologist, Adam Grant, whose book "Givers and Takers" shows us why generosity is the key to success in any field.

Going to Vagus
This session will introduce participants to the Vagus nerve and the vital role it plays in managing the parasympathetic nervous system. We will also explore simple techniques for developing good vagal tone and practice a few. I will also connect this to the RULER work as an example to be used during the Meta-Moment.

Growth Mathematical Mindsets: Reducing Anxiety in the Math Classroom 
We will study the work of Carol Dweck and Jo Boaler, and how they work on Mathematical Mindset can help create an open, low-stress math classroom. We will discuss how to build a student growth mindset for mathematics, and how this can foster increased motivation and student learning.

Incorporating Identity, Empathy, Responsibility and Collaboration into the Middle School Curriculum
As Diversity Club advisors, we have the opportunity to discuss a variety of topics with a range of students that may be difficult to discuss in the classroom setting, whether it be because of curriculum or the nature of topic. It is extremely important to be able to have these discussions with our students to aid them in their growth and development. Through the books "Upstanders" and "Being the Change," by Sara Ahmed, we will present activities, strategies, and lessons to help facilitate discussions that focus on identity, empathy, responsibility and collaboration and how to combine these into your classroom environment.

Planting seeds and Nurturing Growth in our students with special needs (and all students)
This session will be broken up into three 15-minute segments. The first segment will describe WHAT this session is all about. I will tell a story about my K-12 educational journey (Westorchard - Bell - Greeley) with an IEP the size of Chappaqua. The second segment will be a discussion period about why it is important to connect to all students and take an interest in them. The final segment will be devoted to an action plan that we can use in our everyday teaching.

Serenity Now: Mindfulness in a Changing World
When teachers are knowledgeable in mindfulness techniques it can improve children's focus, classroom management as well as decrease stress and anxiety. MIndfulness can help with all areas of social-emotional learning competencies, especially self-awareness, behavior and empathy. In this session you will learn the ins and outs of mindfulness and meditation, how to practice yourself and how to use it in the classroom.

SES, SEE for SEL! Social-Emotional Strategies, to Create a Social-Emotional Environment, in a Social-Emotional Learning Classroom
Come learn how to implement social-emotional strategies (SES) to create a social-emotional environment (SEE) in a social-emotional learning (SEL) classroom! Participants will be able to identify strategies to show students that they care about them while creating a stable classroom environment suitable for social-emotional learning. Understand specific strategies such as quick check-ins, word choice, and explaining why skills-based health education is so important to students to make them feel good, so they can be successful.
Agenda:

  • What is social-emotional learning?
  • Why is it important to create a social-emotional learning environment?
  • Strategies to help create a social-emotional environment
  • Check-Ins
  • Inclusive Language
  • Expectations
  • Brain Boosts
  • Classroom Management

The Happy Secret to Better Work
Using video and text from the work of Shawn Achor, we will discuss the 5 tangible steps you can take to reprogram your brain for happiness and success. We will also discuss simple strategies to improve happiness in the workplace. When a person is happy, and when a social support network is available, all levels of productivity improve. Shawn Achor's work is fun, tenable and can be used immediately.

Using Real-World Heroes to Build Empathy and Awareness in Our Students
Sharing of some of the powerful and meaningful lessons my classes have learned from real-world difference makers and heroes, and how these special individuals have enhanced our character and social education. Come hear about how we have connected with heroes from all over the globe in our efforts to follow in their impressive footsteps and create more empathetic, socially aware students, and how some of these special people can bring their positivity and inspirational example to your classroom and students too!

Who do I think I am and why does it matter? 
Having a healthy sense of self is critical for adolescents as they try to navigate the complex social, emotional, and academic terrain that makes up their daily lives. Most however, are unaware of how they perceive themselves, the impact of their self-perception, and how they can exert some control over that perception. In this session you will learn how to help guide your students toward a better understanding of their self-picture with the goal of strengthening what is working, and improving upon what is not. The result for students is greater self-esteem, healthier relationships, and a better quality of life in, and outside of school.

Bouncing Back: Building Resiliency in Ourselves and Our Students 
Life throws us a curveball — now what do we do and how do we handle it? This turn of events could be an opportunity or an unraveling of our best-laid plans. This discussion will focus on those capacities that help develop resiliency as well as the ability to adjust our expectations. We will also focus on concrete ways to manage the stress (short relaxation and meditation exercises) so that it frees us to more effectively problem solve.

Build Your Bag of Tricks: Activities that Build Relationships
Relationship skills are enhanced by doing activities and reflecting on what happened; this is the essence of Experiential Learning. Through this process, people learn relationship skills they can apply immediately. Participants will receive an introduction to Experiential Learning Theory, engage in activities, and discuss how to debrief these activities to solidify skills. Sample Attention Activity: stand facing a partner and look at each other. Then turn your backs to each other and change 5 things about your appearance. Then face each other again and try to find the 5 things that changed.

Empathy, Perspective Taking & Kindness. . .The Keys To Reclaiming Our Humanity In the Classroom 
We will review the importance of promoting empathy, kindness and perspective taking in our classrooms as a  way to better understand ourselves and others. We will explore different types of literature from picture books to chapter books to support and promote this important work in reclaiming our humanity!

English Assessments for Boosting Self-awareness
In our co-taught English classes, we have two assignments where we encourage students to reflect, develop self-awareness and express their understanding of self. In the 9th/10th grade, the assessment we will focus on is called the Reading Identity Project. In our upper levels, we ask students to use the five big personality traits to understand their behavior and character's behavior.

Helping Parents Deal with their Anxious Adolescent
My session will provide suggestions on how to work with parents of anxious youngsters. Parenting styles can be categorized into two categories: the overzealous parent and the accommodating parent. We will learn how to work with both of these parenting styles as well as make appropriate recommendations to help them manage their anxious adolescent. Parents strive for their anxious children to be responsible for their own emotions. However, there is no guidebook to parenting. We will learn how our own avoidance and fears play out in our own children. Lastly, we will learn how self-care and modeling can help parents support their children through their anxiety.

How do I see the world and why does it matter?
A student's outlook determines nearly every response they have to everything that happens in their lives, both in and outside of school. Many however, are unaware of what their outlook is and how it impacts their emotional state, their behavior and choices. They may believe they are powerless over their perception, believing people and things to just 'be what they are'. In this session you will learn how to help guide your students toward a better understanding of their outlook with the goal of strengthening what is working, and improving upon what is not. The result for students is improved self-esteem, healthier relationships, and a greater sense of agency.

Just Breathe!
Using mindfulness and yoga techniques, this session will offer a variety of ways to bring down the stress level of students (and teachers) so they can have the "head space" to better approach their day. We will practice some of those techniques as well as share real and hypothetical scenarios where these techniques might be useful.

Music Making & Listening as Social Emotional Learning
Music is social-emotional learning and it's for everyone! Our department reaches every student in the Chappaqua schools. Come participate in music making and listening in this session and let us show you how our program addresses competencies of self & social awareness, responsible decision making, self-management, and relationship skills.

Peer Leadership: more than just bagels and donuts
The Peer Leadership Program here at Greeley has evolved over the years. Peer Leaders are present in our school whether they are volunteering for events like Open House or taking over your classroom on Day 6 MUB. Behind the scenes, SEL is at the heart of the Peer Leadership Program. SEL goes on between advisors and Peer Leaders and Peer Leaders and Peer Kids. Come learn more about how Peer Leadership puts SEL first!
Hopefully, you'll be able to take away strategies that can be used in your classroom, club, or sport!

Raising a Child who Reacts with Anxiety
This session will address the top ten lessons learned from raising a daughter with anxiety. I will share what I have learned through my family's personal journey.

Self-Management: Using "Size of the Problem" to modulate behavior in elementary school
Teaching students to use "size of the problem" from Social Thinking and associated strategies to modulate their reactions to various situations. This keeps behavior in check and builds coping skills for everyday problems.

Shifting from Cave Man Brain to Smart Brain: The Role of the Central Nervous System in Emotional Regulation
I'm triggered, you're triggered, we all get triggered! This session is based on Polyvagal Theory and how the social engagement system helps us navigate relationships. In this session, participants will learn a very specific breathing technique on how to shift the brain from a feeling of being under threat to a feeling of safety. The greatest gift we can give to ourselves and others is the ability to regulate our own emotions! We are born into relationship and our greatest knowing comes from relationship – learn to embrace your unique nervous system and increase your tolerance for core emotions!

Investigation of SEL in an Online Learning Environment
Are you feeling overwhelmed by Canvas? Imagine how your students feel! -- Our Investigation of SEL in an Online Learning Environment.  As we roll out Canvas to our middle school students, we are noticing many social/emotional implications. . .many positive and some less so. We are motivated to learn more about the impact of Canvas on the well-being of our students, not only in school, but out of school as well.

You wouldn't believe the shift in Middle School that kids are stressing about! 
Come discuss what kids are finding stressful, what that stress might look like, and the trends in student anxiety.  We'll have a round-table discussion then share a few tips for helping students manage their anxiety along with techniques for creating a less stressful classroom environment. 

Ten Steps in Mastering Stress: A Life-Style Approach 
The presentation will review content from the book by David Barlow, Ronald Rapee, and Sarah Perini which describes in step-by-step detail on how to reduce and manage stress. There are 10 topics in this presentation:

  1. Understand your stress
  2. Relax your body
  3. Think realistically
  4. Evaluate consequences
  5. Test predictions
  6. Stay present
  7. Take control
  8. Be assertive
  9. Manage your time
  10. Problem solve

Participants will improve their ability to identify the causes of their stress, learn calming techniques, and hopefully develop realistic approaches to reducing daily stress.

The Four Agreements 
The Four Agreements is a book that provides a framework for helping kids and adults manage their daily lives. We use The Four Agreements in our LIFE School Advisory and have seen a significant impact with our students in and out of the academic classrooms. We will discuss the agreements -- be impeccable with your word; don't take anything personally; don't make assumptions; and always do your best -- and ways in which the language and concepts can help kids manage their social and emotional well-being.

Writing as radical empathy 
Good essayists often write about themselves -- but being a great essayist means putting the audience first, not the subject. This session will focus on using academic writing (including the literary essay) as an opportunity to put the readers' needs above the writers', helping students see how writing is an act of radical empathy.