Indian Creek Incorporates School-Wide Social-Emotional Themes for 2020-21

by Sarah Allen, Director of Curriculum and Instruction
A major priority at Indian Creek School this year is to create shared learning moments around social and emotional themes to help students grow and learn together. Each of the school's seven 'mod' periods will incorporate a social-emotional theme for all students.  These five-week studies will center around self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, relationships skills, responsible decision-making, initiative, and purpose.

Indian Creek’s approach to curriculum and instruction focuses on developing the whole child, which requires a committed and comprehensive approach to social and emotional learning. Building these skills enhances students’ ability to learn new material and builds confidence, independence, and success.

Indian Creek's first five themes (self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, relationships skills, and responsible decision-making) directly correlate to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) standards. CASEL is the preeminent, global organization that provides resources and tools to support high-quality social and emotional learning. (Click here to read about how and why CASEL selected these standards.)

All of the themes contribute to Indian Creek’s goal of developing students who are ready to be agents for change within the ICS and the larger community. The order of themes moves students from ideas to action. Through this focus, students will develop leadership and communication skills, empathy, and an inclusive and global mindset.  

For each 5-week learning period this year, all ICS students, Pre-K3 - grade 12) will encounter these learning themes. In Lower School, students will focus on the theme of the mod during social and emotional learning lessons with Lower School Counselor Dr. Maryellen Polvino-Bodnar and during daily class meetings. Upper School students will focus on the theme of the mod through the human development and advisory curriculum, which meet for a total of four times a week. To reinforce these skills at home, ICS will provide parents with resources and tools to promote conversation and engagement.

Mod 1 Focus: Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is an essential thread through our mission, vision, philosophy, and diversity statement. When students are self-aware, they can think about their own thinking, identify their emotions, and develop the self-worth and self-confidence to set and achieve academic and social and emotional goals. It is important for students to start their learning within and to focus on understanding their own identity, their feelings and emotions, and their sense of self.

Self-awareness in learning: Metacognition, a phrase often used in education, simply means thinking about your own thinking. As educators, we see the wonderful transformation in learning when a student starts discovering how they learn best. Students practice metacognition in the classroom by using strategies such as connecting what they’re learning to what they have learned in the past, self-reflecting on a task or experience, organizing their thoughts using graphic organizers, or using challenges and errors as a starting place for learning.  These strategies allow students to be active participants in the learning process and self-identify pathways for growth and progress.

Self-awareness of emotions: ICS faculty and staff guide students from Pre-K3 through Upper School as they develop emotional awareness and regulation through experiences and conversations. When students can identify their emotions, they are able to navigate unsettling or new situations, react in appropriate ways, and find positive paths forward even when they are upset or frustrated. In the classroom, students practice self-awareness of emotions through mindfulness and reflection activities and develop strategies for self-regulation that they can use in school, at home, and in their future.

Self-awareness of identity: Being self-aware of identity means knowing who you are and what values and beliefs are most important to you. It also means understanding what your core identifiers are, how they intersect, and how your core identifiers shape your perspective of and experience in the world. When students develop a self-awareness of identity, they learn how to navigate when and how to use their voice for positive change and how to be an active listener and supporter as others voice their perspectives. As a community that is deeply committed to equity and inclusion, individual self-awareness of identity is critical, and the backbone of understanding how identity contributes to explicit and implicit bias, privilege and access, to social justice, and to our collective progress. Self-awareness of identity will be a central piece of both our social and emotional learning work and our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work this year. 

Teachers, advisors, family, and community members can help students learn to be self-aware by modeling strategies that show understanding of self: identifying and naming emotions, using a think aloud approach to openly share strategies and approaches to goal setting and reflection, and providing clear and actionable feedback to students to help them develop both awareness and confidence.  
Self-Awareness Faculty Resources
Self-Awareness Family Resources
Conversation Starters/Helpful Phrases
I notice (name behavior). It seems that you are feeling (name emotion).  Let’s try some strategies to help you (name goal).
You really worked hard to overcome that obstacle. What strategies did you use that helped you figure out how to work through that that challenge?
You stuck to your plan. Would you do anything differently next time?

Resources for All