PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

Social Emotional Learning

Dear Families,

This week on my blog I will focus in the social and emotional aspects of our classroom.

What are we doing to build community?

  • Class 401 and 402 have class Buddies.  Once a month the class will buddy up with a younger grade, and a higher grade to build trust, leadership and just have fun!  More details coming soon.
  • As a community of learners we have been learning how routines and rules help the entire community.  Routines that are quiet, calm and orderly allow us to learn more.  Moreover, rules that help keep our classroom environment neat also impacts our entire class positively.  Lastly, rules that allow us to be kinder, more compassionate allow us all to feel safe.  
  • Over the course of 2 months we have been learning how to actively listen to one another. We have learned how our body language can signal either attentive listening or not.  Honing our listening skills is a way to show how much we respect each others as learners.  We have discussions now where the teacher does not moderate! The students call on one another.  This is a huge success considering how many kids there are. 

What is respect? What are we doing in the class to foster respect?

  • We discussed various meanings of respect.

“A feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.”

One word that stood out for us was admiration.  “What is that?  I don’t know what that means….”  Questions came up for us in our discussion.  Inquiry questions that I hope to pursue year long.

What does it really mean?  Can you act respectful even if you don’t admire them?  Who we respect in our world?  What characters do we respect and why?  Should I retaliate if someone disrespects me?  Does respect grow?  How does respect grow?

How can incidental learning experiences teach empathy?  What are we doing in the classroom?  

  • I use everyday experiences to build empathy.  Here is a little snapshot of an experience that one class discussed together as a class.  How did our own needs stop us from seeing from a place of empathy?

64 feet tramping up 4 flights of stairs.  All faces busy in discussion from recess, not one looking and noticing a small child standing in the corner of the stairwell with a look of desperation on his face.  Loud screaming, echoing off the halls.  His small frame moving forward then back.  Looking down.  There is was a tiny paintbrush.  His eyes dart to mine and then back to the tiny brush.  His arms reach out.  It’s mine he whispered.  64 feet tramping up 4 flights of stairs.  All faces busy in discussion from recess, and not one noticing the small paintbrush and the look of pain on this boy’s face.  

  • We spoke about noticing when people are are sad, mad and upset and thinking about how you might feel allows us to grow empathy.  Luckily we had the opportunity to return the paintbrush to the child from the district 75 school.  Stopping instruction to teach into these moments is important to me.  There was an interesting article published by the Atlantic about the importance of having “time ins,” instead of “time outs.”  “Time ins” are a place where you talk and have your child reflect on a time when they would have had a “time out.”  Here is the article.  It is long, but I found it interesting.

How do we become present?  Are we mindful?  Are we able to manage our own impulsivity?  What are we doing in the classroom to help us?

  • It started as a vocabulary lesson.  First we began to think about the difference between the word, “mindful,” and the word “mindless.”  What does the suffix teach us?  What does the root teacher us?
  • GoNoodle helps us to meditate and begin to learn how to focus one thing at a time.
  • Then we read the book, “The Hermit and the Well,” that retold a story by Thich Nhat Hanh.  We then had an engaging book discussion about its theme and meaning.  Reading content is thereby interwoven seamlessly into social emotional learning.





Here is a list of books that I like that build character.

  • Those Shoes
  • Wonder
  • The Hundred Dresses
  • The Other Side
  • The Most Beautiful Place in The World

What direction will we be heading in the future of social emotional learning?

I’ve been thinking a lot about how taking responsible risks helps us move our own learning forward. I wonder how can I foster academic courage?


  • Parent Teacher Conferences are scheduled for 11/16.  There will be a schedule emailed shortly.
  • The last day for 4th grade Humanities grading period is Friday, November 4.  My report cards are due to the administration, November 10th.  Therefore the last grades that will be reflected in the first marking period will be the grades entered on by Friday November 1oth.
  • Please be mindful of the personal requests you are making about your children’s progress via email.  I will be able to communicate much better in person during parent teacher conferences.  I am very busy at the moment trying to prepare the materials for lessons, grading quizzes for 64 students, writing report cards etc.  It is a busy time for me.