Social Emotional Learning

Returning to School in the Age of COVID-19

With the 2019-2020 school year firmly behind us, it’s now time to figure out what’s in store for 2020-2021.  As of today, there are now over 3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States alone.  And that has many parents asking, “What is the plan for school this fall?” I can assure you that schools all over the world are still asking this same question even as we approach the looming start of the school year.  The Texas Education Agency released guidelines about 10 days ago that have already been changed and updated as of yesterday.  Just when [...]

The Transition to Online Learning

Like just about everyone else in the United States (and most parts of the world), I’m currently on lockdown in my house.  I’m hopeful we can get back to normal in the not-too-distant future, but until then, I’m learning to adapt to this new reality.  The outbreak of COVID-19 has presented some unique challenges for all of us, and I’m hopeful that you and your family are doing ok during this time. On March 23 our school made the transition to online learning for at least 2 weeks.  That 2-week period was eventually extended to 3 weeks, and recently we [...]

How to Handle Stress in a New Year

Happy New Year everyone! It’s been a couple of months since my last post. I apologize for that…my wife and I recently had our second child, so I’ve been playing both middle school principal and dad to a newborn. Talk about the need for time management! Which brings me to my post for today and to kick off the new year. During the latter stages of my wife’s pregnancy, our doctor detected something on a routine ultrasound that looked fishy. Without going into detail, it really had the potential to affect our new baby’s life forever. Needless to say, both [...]

This is the Biggest Challenge in Middle School

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently was name principal of our middle school.  This was a big transition for me, both into administration and working with a younger group of students, but one that I was excited for. It’s been about two full months now since I’ve taken over as middle school principal, and I’m finally starting to get a handle on the scope of the job.  I’ve worked with middle school students for a good part of my life (mostly as a coach), and I had a pretty good idea of what to expect going into [...]

How to Handle Transition

I hope you are all enjoying your summers!  It’s been a great one for me and my family so far; we enjoyed a week on the coast in Connecticut and are preparing to head off to San Diego for another week on the beach.  How can I complain? But in the midst of my summer break, I am dealing with a huge transition in my life.  This past spring I was promoted from high school counselor to head of our middle school.  My last post talked about this new role, and it is a great opportunity for me to continue [...]

Time of Transition

As the school year comes to a close, it always hits me that I won’t see the majority of our high school seniors ever again.  I’ve made some really good relationships with some of these kids, but this is the end of the road.  Many will go off to college, never to be heard from again. Graduation is a rewarding part of my job, and it also presents a yearly reflection for me on transitions.  This year I have the privilege of speaking at our Baccalaureate service, where I will hopefully leave our seniors with an inspiring message as they [...]

How to Teach SEL Skills

Several months ago I wrote a blog about Social and Emotional Learning that explored the basics of the concept.  CASEL is widely recognized as the authority on Social and Emotional Learning, as it’s five core competencies are emphasized in schools around the country.  My previous post examined these competencies and briefly discuss how to foster Social and Emotional Learning. Today I’d like to look a bit closer at specific ways teachers and educators can implement Social and Emotional Learning in the school environment.  CASEL offers an excellent video in collaboration with Edutopia called 5 Keys to Social and Emotional Learning Success.  This [...]

2 Skills Every Child Needs

  A couple of weeks ago I attended a college admissions round table in Houston.  The format was much more informal than a traditional conference, and it allowed for some really good back-and-forth discussion with the other college counselors in attendance.  It’s always good to get other professional opinions on topics such as these, and I certainly learned quite a lot. As the newly-minted Director of Counseling at my school, my main role is to provide social and emotional guidance for our students.  We have a separate college counselor who oversees college admissions, but I am still highly involved in [...]

Film Review – Race to Nowhere

This past Sunday I was invited to a screening of the documentary, Race to Nowhere, and sit on a discussion panel afterwards.  This particular event was hosted by a private K-8 school in Austin, and it was a chance for parents to 1) see the film, and 2) discuss the issues raised.  I was very impressed with the level of engagement by the parents in attendance and the questions they had. This particular documentary was released in 2010.  It focuses on the rise in anxiety and depression as a result of increased academic demands on students.  The issues included increased [...]

How to Self Care during the Holidays

Halloween is over, and my two favorite holidays are approaching:  Thanksgiving and Christmas!  But before we get to the food, presents, and fun, there is still a lot of work to do.  This time of year can produce a lot of good times; but at the same time, this time of year can be anxiety-inducing and stressful.  As we near the holiday season it is important to think about self care. Say Thanks Thanksgiving reminds us to “give thanks.”  We should probably do this throughout the year, but I do like the idea of dedicating an entire week to this [...]

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