Like most, we have spent some time during the first few days of this month thinking about what we resolve to do better or differently in 2015. Returning to an idea we shared with you last new year, we have batted around words that embody the identities we wish to grow into. We have basked in the energy of these first few days of January and realized that there is something magical about the momentum of this time of year. We’ve joked about being able to bottle this spirit and vigor so that we can reclaim it long after the “New” has worn off. Though we jest about the packaging New Year energy, we really do wish to sustain the energy that motivates and propels us to do great things and be our best selves. But, how do we do this?
It seems that Colleen Mestdagh and Barry Lane have figured out how to help us extend New Year intentions throughout the school year in their Force Field for Good lessons. Setting in place rituals that help children stay connected to their highest selves can help them (and us) remember our truest purposes.
We often say to our children, “It’s better to be kind than smart*,” but the growing body of research on the ways that attention to the social emotional growth of students impacts their academic achievement indicates that, by teaching kids to be kind, we help them grow smart.
Barry Lane, is a master at the kindness/smartness connection; his breadth of expertise–from writing instruction to social emotional learning–has influenced our work in substantial ways. In particular, one of our first encounters with Barry was at a workshop where he inspired us with his song, “Know Your Higher Self.” The language of that song has found its way into our everyday conversations with each other, with our children, and with the students we teach, as we remind each other and ourselves to stay connected to our visions of who we really want to be.
Fortunately, Barry has teamed up with Colleen Mestdagh, who has created a series of lessons around Barry’s songs. All of the songs are available as sing-a-longs, and Colleen has developed a PowerPoint to go with each lesson in their Force Field for Good collection. You can view a video of a sample lesson in an actual classroom or you can access sing-a-long texts for shared reading for all the songs.
In a time when classrooms are heavy with high-stakes accountability, it is nice to see people, such as Barry and Colleen, finding ways to take care of children and to generate positive energy. We find Barry so very inspiring! How lovely is it that such work also contributes to academic learning?