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Good Morning Families, today is Monday June 1, 2020 and it is now time for a moment of SEL.
How are you feeling? What are the thoughts you are thinking? How do you feel in your body? How would you like to express yourself? How can you express yourself?
There’s no doubt we are living in difficult and challenging times and for many, dangerous times. You can see grown people acting in ways that try to hurt other people’s bodies or try to make people experience painful emotion information.
This week we need to step back and really use our SEL skills to reflect and learn about what we are experiencing as a nation right now. Because we are a school community, we are going to talk about what is happening using the language we would use in school and that is with a social emotional learning approach to identifying, understanding and stopping bullying.
In schools we often define bullying by a set of three characteristics: bullying can be defined when you are receiving or giving someone attention that is unwanted, when there is a power imbalance and when that attention is ongoing.
Bullying can be verbal, that is using words to create painful emotion information in others. Bullying can be physical, involving the hurting of another person’s body or threatening to do so, and thus create painful emotion information. And both verbal and physical bullying can take the form of social bullying, which is intended to hurt people’s relationships with others or damage someone’s reputation.
We need to be able to talk about bullying through an SEL lens, by looking at behavior choices. For schools that use Social Emotional Learning, behavior is the part of self-awareness that involves the expression of feelings. It is the choice to act or express what you are feeling or thinking in ways that can be seen by others.
In school, when people make behavior choices that are not pro-social or are hurtful, we will talk with the individuals involved and the individuals impacted. Sometimes that can be a whole class, a whole grade level, or a whole school. These past several weeks, we have been alerted to hurtful behaviors that have hurt our whole country. Just like in school we are going to be talking about the people who made these behaviors choices in a way that addresses their choices without labeling the person who made the choice as bad, or evil. But, make no mistake, we absolutely need to talk about the behavior choices these people made, because they hurt so very many people in so very many ways.
The behavior choices we are talking about are the ones that were made by Derrick Chauvin, Amy Cooper, Gregory and Travis McMichael and President Donald Trump. We need to reflect on the behavior choices these folks made in the same way we would talk about behavior choices students make in school all the time. If Derrick Chauvin, Amy Copper, the Gregory and Travis McMichael, or Donald Trump were students in our school, we would be talking about how behavior choices of individuals impact others and how this spreads out to communities. In fact, imagine if these folks were students in our school. We would definitely be having class meetings and lessons about how to treat people.
Our goal is be able to connect us with the emotion information that is being generated during this time. Because believe it or not, that is how we will increase our connections to others. Emotion information can be shared even if the context that brought that information is different. For example, you don’t need to have had the same experience as someone else to feel the same emotion. My friend went skydiving. He said it was thrilling and exhilarating. I haven’t been skydiving, but I’ve experienced things that brought about thrill and exhilaration. I can connect with that shared emotion experience, even if the context is different. In fact, that is one way to use empathy. That is, sharing in the feelings of others.
Tomorrow we will start to understand the first part of bullying. That is understanding unwanted attention. Wednesday we will focus on power, in particular on what we mean by power imbalance. On Thursday we will be talking about when these things are ongoing. Each day we will be using the behavior choices of Derrick Chauvin, Amy Cooper, Travis and Gregory McMichael and Donald Trump as our context, not because we are saying these are bad people, but because we are saying they have made or are making choices that have hurt and are hurting many, many people.
For the rest of today, consider checking with a trusted adult and ask them about their experience with bullying. Maybe you can share an experience you’ve had with them. Ask yourself if you’ve ever been bullied. Ask yourself if you’ve ever bullied someone else.
I can tell you that I have been on both sides of this. I have been bullied and I have been part of the bullying of others. We will get my behavior also. I’m not proud of either, just fyi, but I’m not afraid to share.
We look forward to connecting with you in whatever way we can tomorrow. Until tomorrow, may your thoughts and feelings be with you.