Every Day 1, grade level teachers teamed with a specialist and imparted a different lesson teaching the science behind the emotions. Topics included “Skills for Learning,” where students learned how to focus their attention, listen, use self-talk, be assertive, and plan to learn, and “Empathy,” which helped students understand that classmates may have different feelings about the same situation.
“Another unit taught how to manage our feelings,” says third grade teacher Connie Martin. “Using brain-based information, students practiced how to notice physical changes in the body when experiencing strong feelings and began applying skills learned in the program. For instance, before a math assessment, I have seen students using belly breaths so that they can do their best thinking. I have seen students naming their feelings and using self-talk to work through a difficult situation.”
The program also uses music and catchy lyrics to remind students what to do when strong emotions overwhelm them.
“I have heard students sing the song ‘Stop, Name Your Feeling, Calm Down’—partially with a laugh—but the point gets across!” shares Visual Arts Department Chair and art teacher Sally Allan, Martin’s teaching partner. “They are clearly thinking about it.
“I have to say that for me it has been one of my favorite parts of the Second Step activities: watching Connie at work,” Allan continues. “She has such rapport with the students and expertly models every aspect of the program in her interactions. It has taught me as much as the students. We specialists have so few opportunities to work with classroom teachers in such an extended and authentic manner. Also, it gives the specialists and classroom teachers, across the grades, a common language to help students identify strong feelings and find constructive behavior patterns.”