For over 20 years, I have been in the seventh grade. That may not sound like the year anyone would want to repeat so many times, but it is my favorite, and for good reason! While a large chunk of my job has always been teaching science to seventh graders- a subject that I love diving into with my students- my role as advisor and dean of the seventh grade has always held much of my heart and energy. In these roles, I am focused on the social-emotional learning and well-being of the seventh-graders, and walking that journey with them is a privilege and a chance for me to continue to learn and grow as well.
The topics we cover in social-emotional learning (SEL) vary from year to year based on how our class members vary, but a constant is that relationships matter most, and building genuine positive relationships takes real work. This year we are calling our SEL time in seventh grade R.E.A.L. time, which stands for Resiliency, Engagement, Authenticity and Leadership. These are the main areas of the growth and work we need to do to build strong and genuine connections with one another.
Resiliency is about finding the balance between personal needs and those of the community, establishing healthy boundaries, practicing independent problem solving and developing a growth mindset. Engagement is the development of relationship, communication and collaboration skills and owning your honest engagement in the community. Authenticity involves making time for self-reflection, practicing empathy, gratitude and vulnerability in our community.
Leadership is focused on recognizing and growing our gifts, advocacy skills and learning to step outside our "comfort zones" to try new things.
This year we will use our SEL time to get R.E.A.L. together. We are lucky to have this time together to build relationships and a community where we feel real belonging.