I met the Principal of Maus (charter high school in Human, Social and Economical Sciences based in Padua-Italy) three years ago during a conference where he was the presenter. Mr. Visentin is a professor of philosophy and a passionate researcher in pedagogy. That night he engaged the audience of parents and educators talking about the meaning of “desiderium” (in Latin, missing the stars) and how it is important to allow students to desire and dream while learning. The Principal definitely had a noble goal that matched one of the Six Seconds’: create a great place to learn and teach kids to become change makers, with the leverage of Emotional Intelligence. Together, we began setting the following purposes and objectives:
- Excellence. Create a school that makes the difference in the territory and equip students with skills to face challenges in the XXI century.
- Community-360 approach. Involve all the community stakeholders (principal, teachers, students, parents).
- SEL integrates Curriculum. Introduce SEL as a strategic process to create a great place to learn, integrating it gradually into standard academic curriculum.
- 2 year Time Frame. Activate a 2-year plan, at the end of which, school and educators will be autonomous in the management of SEL.
- Piloting. Run the project with only 2 classrooms of 9th graders for the first year (35 students out of 200).
- Measurement. Produce quantitative evidences, using individual and group assessment tools provided by Six Seconds, the SEI and Vital Signs.
PROJECT YEAR 1
Maus is a Catholic high school. The sense of spirituality is profound as well as the commitment to serve the local community. Certainly, these values contributed to the positive reception for the introduction of SEL.
METHODOLOGY – OUTCOMES
In Summer 2013, teachers were introduced to the Six Seconds Model, Know-Choose-Give Yourself, the 8 EQ competencies and Youth Barometers of Life.
We conveyed the strong message that improving academic performance (Durlak & Weissberg, 2011) is possible when we know who we are and how the brain works. The teachers were extremely interested in the emerging contribution of Social Neuroscience.
When the school year opened, students took their first EQ self assessment, SEI Youth Version Questionnaire. In the charts below, the results per class (EQ competencies on the left and Barometers of Life on the right):
Outcomes were first shared with families, during a one to one 30 minute session.
Parents received their child’s Individual Report and were instructed to talk about it at home. They were mainly interested in reading the Barometers which described their youth’s current perception of life outcomes.
At school, teachers received the SEI YV Group Reports, and they analyzed strengths and opportunities for each class. They found both exciting and challenging to search for correlations between EQ competencies and academic results in the different disciplines.
Students, after taking their SEI YV, attended SEL LABS over the whole year. Each lab was a 1h lesson facilitated by me in the presence of a teacher. Following Six Seconds learning model ENGAGE – ACTIVATE – REFLECT, labs were arranged to navigate the 8 EQ Competencies through activities, games and arts. During Labs, the two classes wrote their MANIFESTO. An agreement on what they wished to experience and what they did not want to interfere with their learning.
Students had the opportunity to discuss their Group SEI YV reports as well as enriching their Emotional Literacy through a physical representation of the Plutchik Emotions Wheel Model (Plutchik, 1980).
They experimented with Empathy by watching a rock music video clip to embody young adults escaping from mysterious electronic waves that destroyed them. Youth opened a Reflect phase about relationships, fears and entropy of the world system.
Co-facilitated by Math teachers, kids cooked cakes working in groups using percentages and fractions. They navigated their emotions and exercised Optimism to find alternatives for recipes, producing a written test with calculations and deliver their delicious ready-to-eat product.
Art and emotions was the theme of a lesson leaded by the Art professor. Students presented their work to the class and described the emotions felt in creating their drawing.
Mindfulness was also introduced as a driver of learning, attention and memory according to Neuroscience (Siegel, 2014). Students were taught the power of time-in (spend time inside oneself) focusing on breath or on the different parts of their body, rhythmically guided by the sound of a Tibetan bell. Principal and teachers decided to begin practicing Mindfulness as a good routine.
NEXT STEPS AND FUTURE DIRECTION
At the end of the year, a webinar and a final evening meeting with parents was the occasion to recap all the steps taken. In the meanwhile, Mr. Visentin took EQ Certifications with Six Seconds, an excellent way to establish a Social and Emotional Leadership!
360 Approach Summary:
Maus example can be deployed to other schools, as per its modular applications. The second year will begin with EQ second assessment for kids to be compared with previous year. EQ Questionnaire for teachers and EVS school climate assessment will be implemented as well.
Do you have a story to tell? A case to share? Don’t miss the opportunity to let people know about your projects and activities! In the article “The Power of Cases” you’ll find a template that will help you to write down a compelling story. Remember, one page it’s enough!
And if you want to know more, please join us on October 30th 8am Pacific Time at the Webinar “One Case at a Time”. To be a presenter during the online meeting, send your availability to [email protected] or [email protected].
Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D. & Schellinger, K. B. (2011), The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82, pp. 405–432.
Siegel, D. (2014). Brainstorm. Brunswick: Scribe Publications.
Plutchik, R. (1980). A general psychoevolutionary theory of emotion. In R. Plutchik & H. Kellerman (Eds.), Emotion: Theory, research, and experience: Vol. 1. Theories of emotion (pp. 3-33). New York: Academic.