Social and Emotional Learning Program

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Our students’ lives can be very stressful, and many of you have seen how that stress can affect your tutoring sessions. We have developed our Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Program to give you tools that you can use to help your students combat stress by teaching them to pause, breathe, and gauge their feelings before responding to an emotional situation. The program presents ten weeks of lessons on valuable character traits that you can integrate into your regular sessions.

The goal of this program is to teach students how to be more aware of their emotions. It is not to teach students that their feelings are invalid. Many of our students are living in rough circumstances, many of them are students of color, and many of them are treated unfairly as a result. We affirm their right to be angry and sad. Social emotional learning tools are designed to help students process what they are feeling in a safe space, not to change their feelings. Please use these tools accordingly and reach out to us if you have questions or concerns.

Before starting the program, please download this letter and give it to your student’s parent or guardian: English | Spanish

To help students pause and breathe before responding to an emotional situation, we use the DNA method (Describe, Notice, Acknowledge).

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When students are having a difficult time focusing and you can’t redirect them, first, describe and mirror what they’re doing calmly and without judgment. Try to make eye contact with your student and ask them to take deep breaths with you. This is something that you should practice with your student(s) when they are not emotional, so they are comfortable doing it when they are triggered.

Model empathy by noticing how they are feeling. You can say, “You seem angry” or “I would be sad too.”

Finally, acknowledge what they wanted and then problem solve. An example of how you could acknowledge would be, “You wanted to play a game before we did the worksheets, but I said we have to do the worksheets first.” When problem-solving, give two choices you can live with: “We can either do both worksheets first and then have more time afterward to play a game or do one worksheet, take a break and play a game, and then do the second worksheet. Your choice.”

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Introduction:

Children learn best when they feel safe and connected with a positive adult. This integration will help you establish a space where students feel safe to speak their minds, explore their emotions, and make mistakes. The concept of a safe space should be integrated into all lessons with your student(s).

Check in with your student(s):

Ask then how they are feeling. Talk to your student about how your tutoring sessions are going to be a safe space and what that means. Let them know that when either of you feels unsafe or very emotional, you are going to take deep breaths until you can identify what you’re feeling and start to change it. Practice taking deep breaths with your student.

Quote discussion:

Choose one of the following quotes to discuss with your student(s):

  • When you react, you let others control you. When you respond, you are in control.” – Bodhi Sanders
  • Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seek… you can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds.” – Anonymous

Ask your student(s) what they think the quote means. Discuss how they are in control of their own emotions. Other people can’t “make” them mad, sad, or anything else. It isn’t easy to change the way you feel when you are “triggered” but with practice, it gets easier.

During your session:

Do any pre-prepared activity through the School on Wheels programs (ABC Literacy, Academic Program, BUS Program) while reinforcing the things you talked about above.

Alternatively, you can help teach self-control and set goals with your student(s) using this WOOP activity (PDF) for older students. Please utilize this Safe Space worksheet for younger students. We suggest that you adjust the activity to suit your student’s learning style and ability level.

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End of session:

Review everything you talked about and did during the session. Encourage your student(s) to practice breathing when they’re getting upset outside of your sessions too. Confirm the day and time of the next session and wish your student(s) well.

Introduction:

Gratitude is good for your psychological well-being, your relationships, and possibly even your physical health. The practice of being grateful can potentially help your student(s) live a happier and more productive life.

Check in with your student(s):

Ask then how they are feeling. Ask them if they know what gratitude is and what it means to be grateful. Begin your sessions by talking about things you have both been grateful for during the past week. Tell them that every day you would like them to write down at least one thing that they’re grateful for. We recommend the Gratitude App, but they can also write in a special journal or notebook.

Quote discussion:

Discuss the following quote with your student(s):

  • Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

Discuss the meaning of the quote and why it feels good to be grateful. Also, discuss how being grateful for what you have might make you feel happier.

During your session:

Do any pre-prepared activity through the School on Wheels programs (ABC Literacy, Academic Program, BUS Program) while reinforcing the things you talked about above.

Alternatively, you can have your student(s) write a gratitude letter.

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End of session:

Review everything you talked about and did during the session. Encourage your student(s) to practice breathing when they’re getting upset outside of your sessions too. Confirm the day and time of the next session and wish your student(s) well.

Introduction:

Gratitude is good for your psychological well-being, your relationships, and possibly even your physical health. The practice of being grateful can potentially help your student(s) live a happier and more productive life.

Check in with your student(s):

Ask them how they are feeling. Ask your student(s) if they have been writing down things they are grateful for. If so, ask if they would be willing to share some of those things. Share some things that you are grateful for.

Quote discussion:

Discuss the following quote with your student(s):

  • “Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.” – John Wooden

Emphasize that you can always strive to make changes in your life but that doesn’t mean you can’t also be grateful for the things you already have.

During your session:

Do any pre-prepared activity from the School on Wheels programs (ABC Literacy, Academic Program, BUS Program) while reinforcing the things you talked about above.

Alternatively, you can have your student do one of these gratitude activities:

If your student has supplies, have them:

  1. Fold a piece of paper in half four times.
  2. Unfold the paper and trace the lines made by the folds.
  3. Put things they are grateful for in each square on the paper. They can write things or cut the out of a magazine and paste them down.

If your student doesn’t have supplies:

  1. Download this Gratitude Jar Worksheet.
  2. Upload the worksheet to Big Blue Button.
  3. Turn on the dual whiteboard feature and use the text and/or pencil tools to create a gratitude word collage together by adding things that you’re grateful for into each jar.
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End of session:

Review everything you talked about and did during the session. Instruct your student(s) to continue looking for things that they are grateful for during the week. Encourage them to continue to practice breathing when they’re getting upset outside of your sessions. Confirm the day and time of the next session and wish your student(s) well.

Introduction:

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Empathy is vital for students to learn so they can respond appropriately to others in social situations, better understand others’ emotions and perspectives, build stronger relationships, and be more likely to help people.

Always check in with your student(s) at the beginning of each session and ask them how they are feeling.

Explain what empathy is and why it’s important. Show your student(s) the image below. Ask them what the difference is between the two pictures and discuss the additional questions.

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Download Image as PDF

Quote discussion:

Discuss one of the following quotes with your student(s):

  • “Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.” – Mohsin Hamid
  • “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” -Dalai Lama

During your session:

Do any prepared activity through the School on Wheels programs (ABC Literacy, Academic Program, BUS Program) while reinforcing the things you talked about above.

Write a short story with your student(s) about someone experiencing an extreme emotion: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, etc. If you’re working with a younger student, you may use a story that they are already familiar with.

  • Move the story along by asking your student(s) for an example of when they felt that way.
  • Then ask them if they were feeling the way the character in the story was feeling, what would they do next?

Keep reinforcing the fact that they are using empathy for the character they created to write the story.

End of session:

Review (the story you read or wrote during the session): Review everything you talked about and did during the session. Encourage your student(s) to practice breathing when they’re getting upset outside of your sessions too. Confirm the day and time of the next session and wish your student(s) well.

Introduction:

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Empathy is vital for students to learn so they can respond appropriately to others in social situations, better understand others’ emotions and perspectives, build stronger relationships, and be more likely to help people.

Always check in with your student(s) at the beginning of each session and ask them how they are feeling.

Check-in with your student(s):

Ask them how they are feeling. Ask your student(s) to tell you about a time during the past week that they felt empathy. It could be something that they experienced at school, at home, in a book, on a TV show, or in any other situation, fictional or real.

Quote discussion:

Discuss one of the following quotes with your student(s):

  • “The opposite of anger is not calmness, it’s empathy.” – Mehmet Oz
  • If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else up. – Booker T. Washington

During your session:

Do any pre-prepared activity through the School on Wheels programs (ABC LIteracy, Academic Program, BUS Program) while reinforcing the things you talked about above.

Use these Situation Cards to play the Empathy Game by taking turns picking cards. Talk about how the person in the situation on the card would feel. We also suggest roleplaying with your student to practice what they might say to the person in that situation. You can also make your own cards!

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End of session:

Review everything you talked about and did during the session. Encourage your student(s) to practice breathing when they’re getting upset outside of your sessions too. Confirm the day and time of the next session and wish your student(s) well.

Introduction:

When you’re curious about something, you process it deeply, rather than superficially. You also voluntarily spend more time learning about things that spark your curiosity. As a result, you more readily remember what you learn. In general, people who are more curious are happier and better liked. Before you can teach your student about curiosity, they must first learn intellectual humility. Recognizing the limits to one’s knowledge and being comfortable not always knowing the answers to questions is key to becoming curious and seeking out new knowledge.

Always check in with your student(s) at the beginning of each session and ask them how they are feeling.

Check-in with your student(s):

Remind them that tutoring sessions are safe spaces and take some deep breaths with them if necessary. Ask your student(s) if they would be willing to share some things that they were grateful for during the past week. Share some things that you are grateful for.

When talking to your student(s) about what they’re grateful for and their interests, model intellectual humility and highlight when they’re talking about something you don’t know much about. Point out that it’s okay to not know things, and that if you think you know everything (or pretend to), you won’t get to learn about new and exciting things.

Quote discussion:

Discuss one of the following quotes with your student(s):

  • “When we set out upon the search for truth we should not assume
    that we already know for certain what truth is.” – Mary MacLeod Bethune
  • “There are so many things you can learn about, but you’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.” – Dr.Seuss

During your session:

Do any pre-prepared activity through the School on Wheels programs (ABC Literacy, Academic Program, BUS Program) while reinforcing the things you talked about above. Utilize the Building Connections Worksheet with older students to connect school topics to personal interests in your daily life.

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For younger students, use the Book of Questions, Wonders, and Curiosities. Each section has a duplicate so the tutor and student can fill out their own version!

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End of session:

Review everything you talked about and did during the session. Encourage your student(s) to practice breathing when they’re getting upset outside of your sessions too. Confirm the day and time of the next session and wish your student(s) well.

Introduction:

When you’re curious about something, you process it deeply, rather than superficially. You also voluntarily spend more time learning about things that spark your curiosity. As a result, you more readily remember what you learn. In general, people who are more curious are happier and better liked.

Always check in with your student(s) at the beginning of each session and ask them how they are feeling.

Check-in with your student(s):

Remind them that tutoring sessions are safe spaces and take some deep breaths together if necessary. Ask your student(s) if they would be willing to share some things that they were grateful for during the past week. Share some things that you are grateful for.

Ask your student(s) if they ever learned a lot about something on their own out of pure curiosity. What was it? What did they learn?

Quote discussion:

Discuss one of the following quotes with your student(s):

  • “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein
  • “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

Ask them if they know who Albert Einstein (or Dr. Seuss) is. If they do, are they surprised by this quote? Ask them what they think is trying to be said.

During your session:

Do any pre-prepared activity through the School on Wheels programs (ABC Literacy, Academic Program, BUS Program) while reinforcing the things you talked about above.

Alternatively, utilize Ted-Ed to identify videos that your student may be interested in (like the informative “When is a Pandemic Over?”). For younger students, use PBS Kids to find videos or games that make them curious (ex: learn about animals native to Alaska with Molly of Denali).

End of session:

Review everything you talked about and did during the session. Encourage your student(s) to practice breathing when they’re getting upset outside of your sessions too. Confirm the day and time of the next session and wish your student(s) well.

Introduction:

Students with a growth mindset understand that they can learn and understand more through hard work, the use of effective strategies, and help from others when needed. This contrasts with a fixed mindset: the belief that intelligence is a fixed trait that is set in stone at birth.

Always check in with your student(s) at the beginning of each session and ask them how they are feeling.

Check-in with your student(s):

Remind them that tutoring sessions are safe spaces and take some deep breaths if necessary. Ask your student(s) if they would be willing to share some things that they were grateful for during the past week. Share some things that you are grateful for.

Share a moment from your week where you had to utilize a growth mindset to accomplish a goal or a moment where you forgot to utilize a growth mindset and felt frustration.

Quote discussion:

Discuss one of the following quotes with your student(s):

  • “The problem human beings face is not that we aim too high and fail, but that we aim too low and succeed.” – Michelangelo
  • “All things are difficult before they are easy” – Thomas Fuller

Explain that being successful is great, but if you’re always successful and you never make a mistake, you’re probably not challenging yourself enough or learning new things.

During your session:

Do any pre-prepared activity through the School on Wheels programs (ABC Literacy, Academic Program, BUS Program) while reinforcing the things you talked about above. Alternatively, complete one of the following activities:

For students in fourth grade or above, read over the below chart and discuss it with your student(s). Help your student think of a moment when they faced an obstacle. Work together to compose thoughts that: a) someone with a fixed mindset would think and then b) someone with a growth mindset would think.

For students in third grade or below, read and discuss the “Power of Yet” cartoon below. With your student, verbally fill in the blanks for each thought bubble: I’m not good at ____ YET! I don’t know the answer to _____ YET! Complete your own sentences to convey that no one knows everything.

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Download as PDF

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Download as PDF

End of session:

Review everything you talked about and did during the session. Encourage your student(s) to practice breathing when they’re getting upset outside of your sessions too. Confirm the day and time of the next session and wish your student(s) well.

Introduction:

Students with a growth mindset understand they can get smarter through hard work, the use of effective strategies, and help from others when needed. This contrasts with a fixed mindset: the belief that intelligence is a fixed trait that is set in stone at birth.

Always check in with your student(s) at the beginning of each session and ask them how they are feeling.

Check-in with your student(s):

Remind them that tutoring sessions are safe spaces and take some deep breaths together if necessary. Ask your student(s) if they would be willing to share some things that they were grateful for during the past week. Share some things that you are grateful for.

Ask your student(s) if they ever learned a lot about something on their own out of pure curiosity. What was it? What did they learn?

Quote discussion:

Discuss one of the following quotes with your student(s):

  • “I always say the minute I stop making mistakes is the minute I stop learning and I’ve definitely learned a lot.” – Miley Cyrus

Discuss what the quote means and why making mistakes is an essential part of learning and having a growth mindset.

During your session:

Do any pre-prepared activity through the School on Wheels programs (ABC Literacy, Academic Program, BUS Program) while reinforcing the things you talked about above.

For older students, utilize the 10 Week Growth Mindset kit. You may break the activity down into weeks, use them randomly for conversation, or as a journal if your student has access to a printer.

For younger students, we suggest using the Growth Mindset Task cards. Use the included activities to prepare your student for a successful school year!

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Download as PDF

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Download as PDF

End of session:

Review everything you talked about and did during the session. Encourage your student(s) to practice breathing when they’re getting upset outside of your sessions too. Confirm the day and time of the next session and wish your student(s) well.

Introduction:

Ask your student(s) what their favorite hobbies are. Try to prompt them to give you ones that aren’t passive, for example, dancing, drawing, playing sports, or gaming (rather than watching YouTube or listening to music). Point out how it takes grit and perseverance to get better at something and ask them if that’s how they get better at their hobbies. Talk about a hobby of yours and how you use grit to get better at it.

Always check in with your student(s) at the beginning of each session and ask them how they are feeling.

Check-in with your student(s):

Remind them that tutoring sessions are safe spaces and take some deep breaths together if necessary. Ask your student(s) if they would be willing to share some things that they were grateful for during the past week. Share some things that you are grateful for.

Ask your student(s) if they ever learned a lot about something on their own out of pure curiosity. What was it? What did they learn?

Quote discussion:

Discuss one of the following quotes with your student(s):

  • “At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.” – Angela Duckwort
  • “When you reach the end of your rope tie a knot and hang on.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Discuss what the quote means with your student(s). Ask them to talk about a time they were “knocked down” and “got back up”. Share your own example. For older students, you can talk about how this is a metaphor. Ask them for a situation where this could be taken literally.

During your session:

Read this article with your student and discuss in relation to grit and growth mindset. What strategies, patterns, habits, did they utilize to strengthen their grit?

Brain teasers can help your student practice grit! For younger students, we suggest this maze. Older students may have fun with this Stroop test.

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Read Article

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End of session:

Review everything you talked about and did during the session. Encourage your student(s) to practice breathing when they’re getting upset outside of your sessions too. Confirm the day and time of the next session and wish your student(s) well.