Humanizing the Classroom

As a health and physical education teacher it is easy to see the crossover between the aims of my subject areas and that of social emotional learning (SEL). Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making can all be found in and among our national standards.

Looking for a text that would help me further improve my teaching of SEL skills I was intrigued to see members of my PLN recommend Humanizing the Classroom by Kristin Stuart Valdes. The reviews online are great and the author herself has let it be known that she is keen to interact with educators embracing her book and so it seemed like an obvious choice to select it as the #slowchathealth Book of the Month. I am awaiting my physical copy of the book and am slowly making my way through a digital version but I recently made contact with Dr. Scott M. Petri, a social studies teacher who reviewed the book on his own excellent blog site, Dr. Scott has graciously allowed me to post his review here. (Here is the original post).

Humanizing the Classroom by Kristin Stuart Valdes @kpsvaldes shows teachers in all subjects how to use role-plays to teach social emotional learning (SEL) skills in middle and high school classrooms. Written by a New York City Arts educator with 18 years of experience teaching and years of sharing her experiences on Edutopia, this book is a badly needed lifeline for educators struggling to integrate SEL into their daily content instruction.

Organized into six chapters, the author spends the first four chapters acquainting readers with the foundations of Social Emotional Learning. The next two chapters are spent on curriculum organization and laying out over 40 role-playing exercises that are organized by CASEL‘s five SEL competencies. Some of the ones I look forward to testing in my class are: Understanding Bias, Understanding Stereotypes, and Understanding Prejudice. Others on Paraphrasing, Emotional Empathy, and Identifying Underlying Causes look interesting to explore through my lens as a History teacher. Further, I foresee an almost unlimited selection of interesting historical events, people and places to develop role-plays using SEL competencies.

As a teacher, I appreciated the consistent layout of the role-paying lessons. I also agreed with Valdes’ claim that most of the learning from role-playing takes place after the role-play is complete. Meaning don’t shortchange the debriefing and wrap up questions at the end. Personally, I will probably add student reflection pieces too. Teachers who are not familiar with experiential learning may feel uneasy about jumping into role-plays right away, however, Valdes offers tips for preparing actors, staging a classroom, and recommends a refine, revise, and re-do approach that can help anyone gain confidence in running a role-play.

In short, Humanizing the Classroom helps classroom teachers meet all five of the instructional teaching practices that promote SEL. The California Council for Social Studies has made SEL a strand in their 2020 conference this year. They are accepting conference proposals until September 15, 2019.

Screenshot 2019-06-26 at 2.21.00 PM

I will be sharing this book with my PLN and recommend that my school uses it for teacher Professional Development in the Fall. What books do you use to help teachers integrate Social Emotional Learning into their instructional practices? Please leave your recommendations in the comment section.

I encourage you to follow both @scottmpetri and @MrsByarsHistory on social media and check out their respective blogs sites HistoryReWriter and Teaching History with Mrs Byars.

Dr. Scott asks teachers to share their recommendations on his site, and I encourage you to do so. Additionally, if you have read, or intend to read ‘Humanizing the Classroom’ it would be great if we can discuss our thoughts. As I mentioned above, the author has suggested that she is willing to engage with educators.


2 thoughts on “Humanizing the Classroom

  1. Pingback: Book of the Month – #slowchathealth

  2. Pingback: How Well Do We Teach Emotional Wellness? – #slowchathealth

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