Mrs. Slaney's Blog
Have you ever wondered what happens during the staff professional development days when your children stay home from school? On October 9th, the Placentino and Miller Staff came together to deepen our learning and understanding of Social Emotional Learning in the classroom. The day was completely designed and delivered by our very own staff. The topic, Social Emotional Learning of Students, has been an ongoing topic not only in our school, but across our District, and in the educational field. Our guiding question for the day was, How can we build upon our personal and collective awareness of social/emotional health and develop strategies for addressing the behavioral health needs of children? We all know that in order to learn academically, we must meet the social and emotional learning needs of our students as well. We need to teach the whole child.
The day began with a message from our key note speaker, School Psychologist, Jessica Smith. Mrs. Smith gave the educators an indepth review of social emotional vocabulary (i.e. inhibit, shift, emotional control, initiate, working memory, planning, organizing and monitor) that they had learned from the September professional development day. Connections with these vocabulary terms were made to the social and emotional competencies of self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
For the rest of the day, educators attended four break out sessions with the goal of practicing and using common vocabulary to describe behavior and share/expand their toolkit to support students in their classroom. The breakout sessions were the following:
#1: OT Strategies for Self-Regulation
Wendy Krauss, Mara LaCava, and Cindy Moratti
Objective and Outcome:
The objective of this breakout session was to provide in-class supports to help all students regulate their behavior throughout the school day. These strategies can help students to inhibit impulsive behavior; modulate and control their emotional responses; monitor and assess their behavior; and shift flexibly between lessons.
#2: Organizational Tools & Strategies For the Elementary Classroom
Alycia Babino and Jessica Smith
Objective and Outcome:
The objective of this breakout session was to provide an overview of various organizational tools to enhance student learning. These strategies can help students to initiate tasks; plan and organize their approach to a task; organize their materials and work spaces; monitor their performance and task completion; and shift or transition between learning activities.
Rosalie Paillard, Heather Dalton and Anne Marie Cohen
Objective and Outcome:
The objective of the Mindfulness breakout session was to explore ways that mindfulness practices in the classroom can support students in their development of executive skills. Mindful practices can help all students inhibit impulsive behavior, gain and sustain emotional awareness and control and increase working memory.
#4: Whole Body Listening, Social Narratives, Social Thinking, and Superflex
Julia Levin, Erin Fleischer, Susan Serreze, Trish Moore and Lianna Ramage
Objective and Outcome:
The objective of this breakout session was to provide strategies and terminology to use with students in the classroom to improve social skills and behavior across the school day. The use of social stories were discussed, with tips on how to formulate narratives to improve target behaviors and to encourage positive behaviors to continue. The strategies and skills provided in this breakout session will help students inhibit impulsive behavior; shift more flexibly in social and academic situations; plan and organize specific experiences through the use of social narratives; and improve overall emotional control across the school day.
I am incredibly proud of all of our presenters and the talent they displayed in sharing their expert knowledge in these areas. The day ended with the teachers brainstorming next steps and take aways. The room was literally buzzing with excitement, which is not easily done the Friday before a long weekend. Our staff is committed to our continuous learning of and the growth of our students' social emotional well being.
I am excited and feel privileged to join the Placentino learning community. I am entering my 10th year as an elementary school administrator. It's hard to believe I started this journey a decade ago. When I made the transition from the classroom to administration, I had a vision and a goal to partner with families, educators, and students to build a strong foundation and love of learning for our youngest students. This remains my goal and vision today.
This has been a year of many changes and adventures for my family. In addition to starting a new position here at Placentino, my husband Matt and I will be sending our oldest daughter, Caitlin, to kindergarten. Last spring, like many of you, I attended an orientation for kindergarten. I sat eagerly listening to the principal, specialists and teachers share about the kindergarten experience. When I left, my husband asked me what it felt like to "be on the other side". This question has echoed in my mind many times since this evening. I remember back to the various programs, activities, and experiences my daughter will embark on. Beyond the programs, what resonated the most with me was the feeling I had when I left the school. It was a feeling that all the adults in the room genuinely cared about children and that my daughter was going to be cared about as a child, not just as a student. I answered my husband, "I think Caitlin will be happy and successful in kindergarten, and feel cared about." This is my wish and hope both as a parent and an educator.
We also have a 3 year old daughter, Regan. Regan will be starting preschool this year and is extremely excited (and will share this with anyone who will listen)! Both girls are going to camp this summer and I have had my first experience with putting them on the big school bus. I love the convenience; however, it was nerve wracking the first day and may have had my husband follow the bus to camp.
Personally, I have embarked on new challenges as well. I recently finished my first triathlon. The day of event, I felt the adrenaline and nerves I imagine many of the competitors felt. The race began with two inspiring athletes; one who was a paraplegic and the other who was visually impaired. My nerves quickly quieted and were replaced with a sense of awe and inspiration. I was reminded of what is possible when we put our minds to something.
This year, we will be holding that theme close to our hearts as we welcome your children back to Placentino. With the mindset that anything is possible we are committed to meeting all of our learners needs (both academic and social/emotional). Whether it be French Immersion, Montessori, or Traditional, every classroom will meet children's needs using a variety of instructional practices, programs and high expectations for all.
Communication is a key ingredient in all children's success both in and out of school. A true and successful partnership requires families and educators to work together on a shared goal. I look forward to a year of partnering with you on the same goal I began my administrative career with, to build a strong foundation and love of learning for your children.
Mrs. Jaime Slaney