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We love seeing time dedicated to SEL activities, targeted to help students decompress. The purpose of this day at KIPP One Primary was to give KIPPsters an opportunity to exhale after a week of testing, emphasizing the importance of socioemotional and relationship skills. Each class period, teachers led a new social emotional activity that engaged different levels of expression and skill building. There was time for physical, emotional, social, and vocational activities. Students and teachers appreciated this time to unwind and reconnect with themselves and each other.
In alignment with our regional SEL priorities, KIPP Chicago SEL Chairs who are trained as peace circle practitioners, have been launching community peace circles at each of our campuses. At KIPP Bloom, Susie Johnson has created a warm and safe space for students to come connect, relate, and care for one another. These circles have provided students an opportunity to problem solve, affirm and validate each other’s experiences, navigate the return to school, and celebrate successes.
This year our SEL Chairs were able to experience Yale Institute for Emotional intellengce’s RULER conference on March 9th and 10th. RULER 2022: Caring, Connecting, & Collaborating was filled with dynamic keynote speakers, RULER practitioners from the field, and experts from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Each day opened with a message from Dr. Marc Brackett followed by the featured keynote. Afterwards, our team was able to choose sessions aligned with their individual interests and take key takeaways back to their school communities!
Created in partnership with the Yale Institute’s RULER program founder, Marc Brackett, How We Feel is a free journal for your mental health created by scientists, designers, engineers and therapists. The app encourages you to check in with your feelings daily. Over time, you will learn the right words to describe how you feel, spot trends and patterns, and practice simple strategies to regulate your emotions in healthy ways.
Andrew Albert (He/They) has been teaching and leading in Chicago and Northwest Indiana for the past eight years. He began his career in education teaching 4th and 8th h grade science at his Teach For America placement school in Gary, IN. Prior to joining the team at KIPP One Academy, he taught 5th grade science and 7th grade math at KIPP Bloom in the Englewood neighborhood, and 7th and 8th grade science at KIPP Ascend Middle School in the North Lawndale neighborhood. Andrew has also served as a middle school science coach and content lead, teacher leader of school culture, grade level chair and musical theater director. Andrew received his B.S in Biology and a secondary teaching license from the University of Maine at Fort Kent. About six years ago Andrew was initiated as a Reiki Master and has an intense passion for supporting others in their search for peace, joy, self-love, and personal growth. Andrew has also been trained as a Mindfulness and Meditation Master Practitioner from the Natura Training Institute. He loves to talk about and practice the laws of the universe, metaphysics, and meditation/mindfulness and prides himself on his chocolate chip cookies.
What I have loved about rolling out SEL at KIPP One has been providing opportunities and training for staff to first LIVE the RULER tools. To be able to practice the tools for themselves in order to better understand the nuance and benefit that comes with emotional awareness before we roll out to students. I have also enjoyed looking for ways to embed the RULER tools in the systems that already exist within our schools. This has allowed our school to provide multiple daily opportunities for students to check-in emotionally with themselves (during every PDN in every class), practice emotional language, build community through Classroom Charter reflections and shout-outs (weekly in homerooms).
I believe that students need a safe, predictable environment in which they can learn how to recognize and process all emotions. An environment that fosters a deep sense of community and belonging. Students need to be shown that feeling any emotion is never a bad thing, and from that awareness, they are empowered to take appropriate actions aligned to their best self.
Through my own healing journey, I found my way to meditation and Reiki Energy Work. This has propelled me on a path of self-understanding, learning how to meet my heart when my head is experiencing discomfort, and trusting in my own ability to sit with difficult emotions. This work has become a part of my entire life, and thus, in all areas, I bring the tools I have learned and continue to practice. I love creating spaces for others to feel safe and secure in feeling through their emotions and patterns.
KIPP One Academy’s RULER roll out would not have been so successful if it weren’t for the “all-in” mentality from the staff. It has been a true joy for me to witness the amazing conversations, structures, habits, that our staff has built around supporting emotional intelligence for our school community. They are the reason our school has been able to care so deeply about our students’ academic and emotional growth.