“Educating the mind without educating the heart is not education at all”
Urgency: Young people today are increasingly unprepared to face the complex social and emotional situations of adolescence and young adulthood. To cope with this deficiency, many states have adopted social-emotional learning as a part of their broader curriculum, teaching concepts such as compassion and self-worth alongside math and science. There is an urgent need in Arkansas to develop curriculum based on social-emotional principles.
Why get involved now? The Arkansas Department of Education is working diligently, trying to discover how to help our students develop social-emotional personal competencies, which will help eliminate behavioral problems in schools and communities. Schools who choose to partner with HeartBridge have a chance to be pioneers in the social-emotional movement in Arkansas. Using the HeartBridge Personal Competencies will not only impact your students, but will help to grow your staff and put your schools on the forefront of academic advancement.
Existing programs: Many of the existing behavioral programs focus on fixing the symptoms: behavior problems, trouble focusing, etc., instead of treating the real problem: lack of social and emotional skills. These programs work in many cases, but leave students vulnerable to relapse. The HeartBridge program seeks to develop social-emotional skills in students and produce healthy and responsible adults.
How and where to implement? The following are some ideas on how to implement the HeartBridge program. If you have additional ideas that others may benefit from, please forward them to me and I will include them on the list. Pilot schools could implement the curriculum as:
- ALE classes. Our 2016-17 HeartBridge Pilot program used six ALE classrooms as pilots. Each school’s leader announced varying levels of success. In this first year, we learned what works and does not work within the classroom. Each school is gearing up for the 2017-18 school year, building on this year’s progress. Our program is designed to be tailored to each school’s specifications. We have different pathways that schools can use, depending upon time restraints and specific student needs.
- 21st Century Grants. Another way the curriculum could be implemented is in an after-school program. Incentives, activities, and motivating videos all work to help students understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
- Health class. Schools also have the option of using the curriculum in conjunction with their Health class. Understanding your emotions and developing positive social skills are equally as important as learning about physical health.
- 7th 8th or 9th grade transition class. The transition from Middle to High school is a very important and vulnerable time in a young person’s life. Being able to understand and develop their social and emotional health could be vital to their success. Implementing the curriculum would involve scheduling a mandatory class that meets 4 or 5 days a week. This is my personal preference, as I feel it will lead to the best results for the students.
- Home room or assemblies. Another useful idea for implementation is in a home room-type of setting. Many schools already have home room in their 1st period, and implementing the curriculum would be easy and would not take much scheduling. Our workbook could be used as a homework assignment that students would bring in the next day.
- 12th grade Professional-transition class. HeartBridge has developed a pathway for 12th grade students who are preparing for college or to join the workforce. In the HeartBridge Table of Contents we provided, you can view what courses could be taught.
- Fully-Integrated Personal Competencies Taught in Every Class. This option is more complicated and requires every teacher going through our training and PD within the HeartBridge Personal Competencies program. In this program, our Areas of Focus are introduced in an assembly or a home room for every student. In the subsequent classes, each teacher would integrate that week’s area into their lesson. That might be as simple as showing a 3-5-minute video or as complex as relating an entire concept or subject to the area in hand. Our curriculum is adaptable enough that each teacher has the freedom to teach the lesson in their own way. As an example, if the Area of Focus was respect every teacher would find a way to implement respect into their own lesson.
HeartBridge Boot Camp Training will be August 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Training is an integral part of our program and will be extremely beneficial for the teachers.