Social Emotional Learning at PS1 (SEL) begins a soon as our students enter the school in Youngers. The program is ingrained at each cluster level, with teachers supporting students’ SEL in numerous ways. In the Olders cluster, the Studio Stewardship program supports a culmination of this learning for our students. The Studio Stewardship aspect of the SEL program is guided by Genevieve Mow, our Child Development Specialist and Chris Kuzina, The Studio director. This blog, written by Genevieve and Chris, provides an overview of the program.
Studio Stewardship has two main components. One component of the program is for Olders students to practice their leadership skills in an experiential setting with Chris. The other component, led by Genevieve and one of the classroom teachers, is designed to enhance students’ attitudes and beliefs about themselves, their relationships with others, and their education. The sixth-grade equivalent students participate in Studio Stewardship from September through Spring Break. After Spring Break, the fifth-grade equivalent students begin the program.
Chris: I mentor the Olders students, helping them work in the Youngers and Bridge classrooms as well as in The Studio. This year, Olders worked directly with Youngers on their various writing, reading and math centers. They also worked with the Bridge classes to help them with their Studio science lessons related to physics. This leadership gives Olders the opportunity to learn alongside and give guidance to their younger peers on a variety of different projects and learning goals. We are very proud of the relationships that are forming between age groups and the service that is being performed around campus. This not only helps our Olders students begin to value the power of generosity, but it also allows us to see where and in what capacities these students feel inspired in growing their leadership abilities and at the same time experiencing self and social awareness.
Genevieve: I meet with students together with one classroom teacher from each class to provide a structured forum and space for students to process their thoughts and feelings as they transition to adolescence. The groups are small to provide a space for honest and thoughtful conversation. There is a clear roadmap for discussion including managing stress, digital citizenship, values, and the upcoming transition to middle school. Students can also bring up other topics of interest as they arise.
In the class, the teacher and I sit in a circle with the students. Each class begins with an initial “check-in” to provide an opportunity for anyone to ask a question or bring up a subject to discuss. The conversation will always reference the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (www.casel.org), five core competencies, which are:
3. Social Awareness
4. Relationship Skills
5. Responsible Decision Making
Through discussion and role-play, art and games students learn about themselves, develop in their understanding and management of emotions to show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships with peers, and explore how to make responsible decisions. We hope that providing this learning environment for students to discover and discuss their feelings provides each of them the foundational skills that they will take with them to middle school.