Integrating Social and Emotional Learning - KIPP Chicago Public Schools

The Whole Child Review Issue No. 7, October 2021

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Integrating Social and Emotional Learning

SEL Chair Feature

As we introduce new SEL Chair roles across the region, we’re so excited to highlight the leaders in these positions who are transforming school culture. For example, Faith Anderson-Bullock has been with KIPP for 10 years in various roles. We are so thrilled to have her as the SEL Chair for KIPP One Primary, Upper School.

Faith Anderson-Bullock
Faith Anderson-Bullock

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Faith Anderson-Bullock. Many of the KIPPsters like to call me Mrs. FAB. I am a mom of 3, with one on the way. I have my degree in Psychology. I heavily focus on the high-risk youth. I worked for Hartgrove Hospital as the Program Specialist for 7 years before joining KIPP on the learning support team. I’m the founder of L.O.V.E. Girls. I am a mentor in the community to many young ladies ages 8-21. I’ve partnered with many nonprofit organizations in the North Lawndale community. I strive to be the adult that I needed when I was a child. I really embody “it takes a village to raise a child.” I definitely have a strong village and I make sure I’m that same resource for my community.

Tell us about your KIPP journey (when did you start, what position, your kids in KIPP, where you are now with KIPP, etc.)

I’ve been a KIPP family for a really long time! My little brother attended KIPP Ascend Middle School in its founding years. He was in the class of 2014 (graduating high school). After that amazing experience, I always wanted to continue to be a part of KIPP. in the 2012-2013 school year I was honored to be hired at KIPP Ascend Primary on the learning support team. I then taught 4th grade (Writing, Science, ELA) for the last 5 years. This is my 10th school year with KIPP. I’m currently the SEL Chair at KIPP ONE Upper Primary. I have two middle schoolers at KIPP ONE Academy, Yashua in the 7th grade class of 2027 and Zakai in the 5th class of 2029, excelling and doing exceptionally well.

As SEL chair for KIPP One Primary’s upper school, what ideas, programs, teaching are you most excited to bring students?

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success. Research shows that people with strong social-emotional skills are better able to cope with everyday challenges and benefit academically, professionally, and socially. From effective problem solving to self-discipline, from impulse control to emotion management, SEL gives a great foundation for positive, long term effects on students, adults and communities. With SEL in place students thrive, schools win, the workplace benefits, society strengthens!

Some ideas I have to make this successful are educating more teachers on stages of development and developmentally appropriate behaviors. I would love to bring about more trauma-informed classrooms. I’m excited to create spaces where students feel safe, secure, and comfortable enough to express their feelings and emotions adequately. I’m excited to give students the language to express themselves and advocate for what they need in those moments that are not the easiest. I’m excited to start creating small communities of students that can support each other through community circles. I also would love a world where there’s a bridge for parents to also have resources on SEL materials and classes on how they can support and implement these things at home, and have community circles that allows them to strengthen the relationship of the extremely diverse community we share at KIPP ONE. Finally, excited to support teachers, students, and parents in providing the tools needed for such a long-term impact on our future trajectory.

What do you believe is needed for a student to thrive in a KIPP school, from an SEL perspective?

CONSISTENCY – knowing what to expect, high expectations, open and honest communication both ways (teacher to student and student to teacher), and feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally safe. I know that seems like a lot! But, unfortunately, our community is rooted in trauma that didn’t start during this pandemic. Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill to cure trauma. Still, there are many practices, especially through SEL, that can reset and reshape the brain to help students feel successful and tap into their highest selves.

Tell us a bit about your own journey and how that informs your work as an SEL chair?

I will try not to be long winded. I worked at Hartgrove Hospital as the Program Specialist on the Adolescent Girls unit. We got a high number of our referrals and patients from schools. I would often ask patients to name 1 adult that they trusted that they could go to at school, and way too often they felt they had no one. I would hear story after story of teachers speaking negatively out of frustration, feeling hated by school staff based on the tone and approach used, being labeled as the bad kid. I began to wonder where the break down was happening and even wondered if teens were just being teens. Then the more I got to talk to and know these patients personally, they were all humans that yearned for structure, in a firm but fair way. They wanted to be seen and heard but also helped with tools to be successful when they struggled. They wanted a listening ear and guidance. Wanted help but did not feel judged for doing wrong. I then made my unit with high expectations, firm but fair consequences, and a space to RESPECTFULLY disagree or create a trusting space where patients could come to me if needed. I was strict and hard on them but it was deeply rooted in love and nurture. And as adults we fail to realize children can sense when adults are nasty or nurturing. Once I was at KIPP, I was interested in doing the same thing I did in the hospital but in an academic setting. Could I create a space where students felt safe, but there was a high level of expectation and a balance of firm but fair consequences? Over the years, as I learned the structure of an academic setting (totally different from a hospital) I realized it was not only possible but a game-changer for the students that needed it the most.

In my homeroom, Central State, I created a space that felt calm and safe. Mindfulness music to help with regulating the brain for focus, essential oils that help us feel calm and relaxed, journals every morning for check-ins, real conversations around choices and consequences, community circles discussing the outside community and school community and Mrs Bullock put on her momma hat to discuss hygiene and self care and how it makes you feel better and perform better. To be able to have a space to do all of that made teaching that much easier. Did I have tough students? I did, but even more they were the ones who benefitted the most from these tools. Getting to a place where they could sit and learn, not because I created anything magical, but they had a place to feel safety, consistency and firm, but fair expectations.

I truly feel all classrooms can create this space and each one can and will look unique to the teacher but the environmental experience of it will be the same. As SEL chair I know that the more teachers are set up for this type of success the more success will come.

Anything else you’d like us to know?

I’m honored to be able to share a brief statement with you of something I’m truly passionate about. I’m thankful that KIPP is taking steps in an amazing direction. Being a part of an institution for so long allows you to be a part of the many strengths and challenges that may come. I just hope and pray I continue to be impactful to many children and families that I engage with daily and constantly be a tool for my teammates throughout the region, near and far.

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