Due to my limited time in the building, my primary way to reach all PES students is through small groups. It is my goal this year to offer to every student at PES the opportunity to participate in a group. Groups will run for approximately 3-4 months or one semester. Our first round of groups began in September and will be ending December 18th. We will start the 2020 New year with a new round of groups.
Small groups are created based on student and teacher feedback. This year we are using the Everyday Speech curriculum. I tailor each group lesson to best meet the needs of each student in group. This semester we are running the following groups:
K/1 Friendship skills : Our K/1 friendship group is the beginner group for learning some of our basic friendship skills. These skills include making friends and acting like a friend.
We covered many skills to help us with our friendships this semester in group. We began group learning about social skills and ways to start a conversation including asking a question, introduce yourself, and complimenting someone. We then transitioned into learning about traits of a friend. We learned some new vocabulary and practiced identifying positive traits in ourselves and others. We talked about ways to handle our emotions around our friends and each student practiced different coping skills. We then covered the importance of personal space and what appropriate personal space looks like. Throughout our group we also used many examples from situations the students had experienced recently to process and practice problem solving and resolving conflict with friends/peers.
2/3 Managing emotions : Our 2/3 managing emotions group focuses on learning to identify our emotions and developing coping skills to be able to manage those emotions. We learn to identify our emotions along with the emotions of others, recognizing that everyone experiences things differently and utilizes different coping skills.
We began our group reviewing emotions and vocabulary. During our review we created visuals and shared examples of each emotion to further our comprehension of the emotion we were reviewing. We then learned about describing feelings. We learned to describe what people look like when they feel different emotions based on their face and body language. Once we demonstrated that we were able to recognize our feels as well as the feelings of others we learned about the concept of "changing the channel" on our emotions. This emphasizes that students have control over their emotions. The 4 steps we learned to “Change the channel” were: 1. Notice a big emotion is taking over your thinking. 2. Take some time to slow down your thinking. 3. Use a strategy to calm down. 4. Change the channel to positive thoughts. We used this concept to discuss reactions in different scenarios and as a group we practiced ways to respond in a positive way to various situations using role play activities.
2/3 Friendship skills : Our 2/3 Friendship skills group continues to build upon skills learned at the beginner level.
We began group reviewing our basic skills including making friends and acting like a friend. Students then were given a list of friendship traits and qualities and they checked off the qualities they thought they already had. Students choose 3 qualities they wanted to work on this year and explained why. We then began learning more in depth about our emotions and emotions of others and how emotions can impact friendships. We discussed actions a friend would and wouldn't do. We learned about identifying emotions and visual clues that tell us how someone is feeling, why it is important, and how knowing about others feelings can help us be a good friend. We learned about helping others and social situations including hanging out with friends (how to make plans/attending birthday parties). We used this situations to further our skills in meeting new people, using manors, and making others feel welcome.
2-5 Guys with ties : Our primary focus for our "Guys with Ties" group is to teach students respect for themselves and others through self awareness. The age range of this group was intentional as older students have the opportunity to serve as leaders for some of the younger students.
We began this group reflecting on our choices and how they impact others. We discussed ways to be considerate of others with our actions and being aware of others reactions to our choices/behavior. We learned about the concept of "reading the room". Reading the room means that you stop, observe everyone in the room, and make a choice based on what you see is happening. We discussed this concept with various settings including at school, at home, and during meal times. Students were given the opportunity to practice this concept over the course of our group through various role play/ situation response activities.
4th grade Friendship/conflict resolution Our 4th grade managing emotions group focuses on a combination of both emotional regulation skills and friendship skills.
We began group discussing actions and traits of a friend to review some of our friendship skills. Students did a self assessment in which they selected traits they felt they demonstrated and traits they wanted to work on. We then began talking about our interactions with others and ways we could be more positive toward our peers including giving genuine compliments to others. We practiced how to give a thoughtful compliment and skills to receive a compliment. This included social skills such as continuing a conversation after a compliment. We then switched gears to focus on managing our emotions and handling conflicts between peers and conflicts between groups of friends. We focused on resolution skills and discussed what happens to a group dynamic when people are upset with each other. Students mentioned the issue of taking sides and we discussed in further skills to help resolve these issues.
4-6 Leadership/managing emotions: Our 4-6 leadership group/managing emotions helps students develop a strong sense of self and skills necessary to become a good leader/role model to peers.
We began group focusing on self- esteem. We talked about why self esteem and confidence are essential for a strong leader. Students reflected on personal examples of times when they needed confidence and self esteem to master a new skills (Ie Sking, reading…) Students were asked to identify positive traits in themselves and their group members. We then began learning about positive vs. negative thinking. We discussed real life examples of when students in the group have used positive thinking skills. We discussed how this is an important tool as a leader to be able to do. Students identified examples of how a leader may have to use positive thinking skills in tough situations and how they can use these skills to help others. We learned about the concept of self-advocacy. We connected skills of advocating for self and others to our role as leaders. We then moved on to learning about inclusion and exclusion to continue our work with leadership skills. We started the unit discussing how it feels to be left out. Students reflected on times they have felt left out. Students set a goal to be more aware of others and inclusive in activities.
5/6 Friendship skills/self esteem group : Our 5/6 friendship group is an advanced friendship group that focuses on self esteem, advocacy, and skills for handling/avoiding conflict/drama in MS and beyond.
We began group learning about positive self talk. We reviewed self esteem and vocabulary. Each student identified their positive traits and 5 positive traits of another in this group. Students reflected on why they choose each trait. We discussed positive and negative self talk. Students reflected on a time they had positive self esteem and a time they had negative self esteem. Each student shared something they could say or do to keep positive self-esteem. Students reflected on one way they have practiced positive self esteem since group began. We then began learning about advocating for ourselves. As a group we discussed situations of when we may need to advocate for ourselves. We practiced coming up with ways to advocate for ourselves using different situations. We then began learning about handling conflict with others. We will continue this work in our 6th grade middle school prep group.
If you have any questions about your child's participation in group, please contact me. Stay tuned for the next blog to hear more about groups for the new year!