INSIGHTS is an ongoing series of blog posts published by members of the PBS faculty, providing a lens into how the PBS faculty thinks about curriculum development, teaching and learning, professional development, and other topics central to executing the school’s mission every day. In this multi-part series of INSIGHTS articles, PBS faculty will share updates on important school-wide initiatives, including the annual Curriculum Deep Dive and Phillips Brooks Summer Institute projects.
This June, eight PBS faculty members and administrators gathered for three days of vibrant conversation and extensive curriculum mapping of our emotional intelligence and social–emotional learning program. The group consisted of faculty representing all ages and stages of the student body at PBS, from the ELC to 5th grade.
Our first priority was to inventory all the SEL content and tools we teach and infuse into our daily routines. In the last few years, our emotional intelligence program has expanded and refined significantly as we piloted and assessed the effectiveness of new research-based tools and language, such as Conscious Discipline, Advanced Responsive Classroom, RULER, and the Toolbox Project. The CDD provided the perfect opportunity to document all that’s been done, have a thorough conversation about how it aligns with our mission and core values, and then identify areas for future growth and change.
The vast majority of day one was spent charging into curriculum mapping to gain a comprehensive understanding of all that we do across the grade span. By pairing up adjacent-grade faculty and reporting out in whole-group discussions, we fully unpacked eight components of our emotional intelligence program:
- Classroom charters; hopes and dreams
- Tools, language, and strategies
- Mood Meter, Feeling Words Curriculum, and other RULER-inspired tools
- Identity (individualism vs. collectivism)
- Interpersonal skills and relationship management
- Family education: opportunities and challenges
- Common language
For each of these categories, we articulated how, what, when, and why we do what we do. Guidelines were drafted for each area to reinforce consistent implementation and offer faculty a comprehensive resource detailing how their particular age or grade level connects with the emotional intelligence work that is done with the school as a whole. Faculty were able to identify “must-teach” topics for particular age groups while also creating additional lessons and activities to use if a particular issue needs more attention from one year to the next. We acknowledged that SEL has long been a hallmark of the PBS program, and we consider it one of our most essential program pieces; however, focus on other content areas in the last few years has meant that we have not had the opportunity to pause, share ideas and centralize our resources in such a thorough way.
On day two, we switched it up to focus on the work of the new emotional intelligence coordinators, Zac Oldenburg (ELC), Dana Doolin (K-2) and Phoebe Mauricio (3-5). We discussed details about how they will provide an extra layer of expertise and support for students and faculty. By knowing their age/grade level cluster so well, these coordinators are uniquely positioned to help further refine our curriculum needs and team with faculty as they navigate their present student cohort.
In addition to talking about this new integrated curricular leadership structure for SEL, a significant part of our day was spent on discussing and documenting the difference between the emotional intelligence curriculum, which is meant to enhance pro-social community values (preventative), and our behavior management policies, which define what we do after something happens (responsive). As a school, we agreed that we want to spend the majority of our teaching time in the preventative areas, laying the groundwork with tools and strategies that support students increasing independence as social problem-solvers, just as we encourage independent academic problem-solving. We also agreed that we want to have as much clarity about what we teach and common language in the responsive area as we now felt we have with the preventative area. Fortunately, several of the key members from this workgroup were also part of the three-day PBSi workshop on Behavior Management the following week.
Day two wrapped up with plans to create tools for PBS families. Some will be shared at the August listening conferences, others at Back-to-School Night, and still more were ideas for possible Family Connection Program events and for bringing in some outside SEL and emotional intelligence experts for both faculty and parent education.
On our last day together in this work, we took our final deep dive into the curriculum, double-checking our work and the scope and sequence of tools and strategies across the entire grade span. We then cross-checked the PBS Scope & Sequence with the emotional intelligence page of our PBS Progress Report and found a strong correlation between the content there and the research-based social-emotional competencies of Collaborative for Social and Emotional Learning, CASEL, the leading independent clearinghouse for effective social-emotional programs.
We realized that the five competencies that provide the framework for our progress report in K–5 (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management, and responsible decision making) are something we have discussed frequently in grade-level team and faculty meetings, but not as much with our parent community. This seems like a missed opportunity and one we will focus on as we consider key topics we can bring forward to discuss as an entire school community.
- Complete curriculum mapping
- Create chart of common language and tools
- Develop Family Connection Program and other family partnership ideas
- Revise model for Back-to-School Night
- Develop new emotional intelligence coordinator structure
- Develop more precise, helpful communication with families about tools and common language
- Share how we assess social–emotional learning competencies on the Progress Report
Leslie Richardson has served in a number of roles at PBS since 2010: K–2 Learning Specialist, Learning Support Coordinator, Director of Teaching and Learning, and now Director of Preschool–2nd Grade. Before PBS, she taught for 10 years as a classroom and literacy specialist and worked as an editor in educational publishing.
- Emotional Intelligence