[New Post] The Importance of Listening to Your Students

Many of us don’t realize that by simply listening to students talk and share their inner thoughts and issues we can immensely facilitate their personal development. It’s by sharing their thoughts and feelings and experiences openly and in a non-judgmental setting that students gain important life skills and self-knowledge.  Once they see that we do not intend to “change” them and that they may speak freely without being “wrong,” students find it easier to examine themselves and begin to see areas where they can make positive change in their lives.   It’s through sharing and being truly listened to that students clarify their thoughts, and learn effective methods of self-expression.   With this kind of true listening they are encouraged to go deeper, find their own direction, and express and face strong feelings that may at other times be hidden obstacles to their growth.  The important point is that students really can solve their own problems, develop self-awareness, and learn skills that assist them in becoming responsible members of society if they are listened to effectively.

The Perfect Strategy

The Sharing Circle, which provides both the opportunity for students to be listened to, and to listen to others, is the prime teaching tool that we have developed in our curriculum guides to foster these valuable life skills in all students K – 12.  

Grades K-12
Grades K-12
The Sharing Circle provides a safe place for students to share their thoughts and experience, hopes, and fears, dreams and desires etc. in response to a specific topic.  As students follow the rules of good communication and relate to each other verbally during the circle they are practicing oral communication and learning to listen actively.  It’s through insights developed in the course of pondering and discussing various topics that students are offered the opportunity to grow in awareness and to feel more masterful – more in control of their feelings, thoughts and behaviors.  It’s through these positive experiences of listening and being listened to that they learn more about effective modes of social interaction.

A Listening Forum

Just as the Sharing Circle provides a process for students to learn about themselves through self-expression and exploration, it also teaches students to be good listeners. The rules of the Sharing Circle (listening to the person who is speaking, without probing, put-downs, or gossip) demand that each student give active attention to the speaker. Through the regular practice of good listening by the teacher or counselor leading the circle, the students begin to internalize good listening habits.

Your Sharing Circles


Today we are providing two Sharing Circle topics  designed to promote good listening from The Sharing Circle Handbook, Topics for Teaching Self-Awareness, Communication, and Social Skills for students in grades K-12. The topics are, Something I Like to Do Alone and Something I Like to Do With Other People.

  Here’s Your Monday Morning Sharing Circle. Enjoy!

Do you want more information?

• Leading a Sharing Circle
• Sharing Circle Rules
• Books and Resources
• Free Activities
• Subscribe

Go here:

www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

Here’s How It’s Done

Gather everyone into a circle. Explain the rules for sharing, and get agreement from everyone that they will follow the rules.

Sharing Circle Rules:

  • Everyone gets a turn to share, including the leader.
  • You can skip your turn if you wish.
  • Listen to the person who is sharing.
  • There are no interruptions, probing, put-downs, or gossip.
  • Share the time equally.

After everyone has shared, who wants to share, ask the discussion questions.

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna


[New Post] Helping Students Set Goals in the New Year

Grades K-6

I have always believed that setting goals is one of the keys to success in life.  Successful people have a habit of setting clear goals concerning things that they want to accomplish.  Even students in the elementary grades should be introduced to the basics of goal setting.  Goal setting isn’t rocket science.  It’s really pretty simple and helping students understand that every time they say something like “I want to get an A on the test” or “I have to finish my homework so I can go to the game tonight” They are setting goals.  The trick is to set deliberate goals in areas that count and to write goals in a way that will give them the greatest possibility of achievement.  Since we’re beginning a new year what better time than now to work on goal setting. 

Here’s a free Activity and Experience Sheet

Use this goal setting activity to inspire your students.  Also, take advantage of the accompanying Experience Sheet to drive home the learnings. This activity comes from Counselor in the Classroom,  a learning guide for the elementary grades. Enjoy!

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna


[New Post] Language Development and Social-Emotional Learning Activity for Young Children

As small children begin to organize their worlds and translate thoughts into meaningful sentences understood by others, a sense of accomplishment develops.  They realize that through language, much information can be gained about the world, and others can be influenced to respond to their needs.  They also learn that language is a key to friendship.

The development of language in small children can be supported most effectively by educators and parents when they frequently converse with the children and encourage them to hold conversations with each other.  These verbal experiences strengthen not only the development of language, but also thought, which contributes to the child’s ability to be more self-controlling.  It is important to use concrete terms and normal inflection and pronunciation as in adult-to-adult conversation when talking to small children.  They should never be “talked down” to. 

PreK-Kindergarten

How You Can Facilitate This Learning

Today’s Blog activity comes from our book, Magic Circle: Language Development and Social-Emotional Learning for the Early Years. The process we call a Sharing Circle with older students, elementary through high school, is referred to as a Magic Circle with pre-schoolers and kindergarten students.  As with Sharing Circles, Magic Circles are carefully structured safe social environments wherein young children can perform tasks, express themselves verbally, and receive positive acknowledgement for these actions and expressions.

Oral language is the principle mode of expression of Magic Circles.  By speaking to their fellow circle members (peers and leader) and by listening to what others have to say, children’s growing abilities to verbally communicate are utilized and strengthened.  Verbal expression is then built upon to inspire other forms of expression including art, reading, singing and drama.

Here is a Magic Circle Task entitled I Can Draw a Picture of Myself and Tell You About It for you to use with your children.

The Magic Circle has the same rules and structure as the Sharing Circle. If you want more information?

• Leading a Sharing Circle
• Sharing Circle Rules
• Books and Resources
• Free Activities
• Subscribe

Go here:

www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

Here’s How It’s Done

Gather everyone into a circle. Explain the rules for sharing, and get agreement from everyone that they will follow the rules.

Magic Circle Rules:

  • Everyone gets a turn to share, including the leader.
  • You can skip your turn if you wish.
  • Listen to the person who is sharing.
  • There are no interruptions, probing, put-downs, or gossip.
  • Share the time equally.

After everyone has shared, who wants to share, ask the discussion questions.

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna


[New Post] An Activity for Developing Self Awareness

Through self-awareness, students learn to give ongoing attention to their internal states, to know what they are feeling when they are feeling it, to identify the events that precipitate upsets and emotional hijackings, and to bring their feelings back under control.

Grades K-12
Grades K-12

Self-awareness allows students to manage their feelings and to recover from bad moods more quickly. Students who are self-aware don’t hide things from themselves. Labeling feelings makes them their own. They can talk about fear, frustration, excitement, and envy and they can understand and speculate concerning such feelings in others, too.

Lacking self-awareness, students may become engulfed by their feelings, lost in them, overwhelmed by them. Unawareness of what is going on in their inner and outer worlds sets the stage for lack of congruence between what they believe or feel and how they behave. Feelings of isolation (“I’m the only one who feels this way.”) occur when students are unaware that others experience the same range of feelings that they do. Without self-awareness students never gain control over their lives. By default, their courses are plotted by others or by parts of themselves which they fail to recognize.

Self-awareness can take the form of nonjudgmental observation (“I’m feeling irritated.”) or it can be accompanied by evaluative thoughts (“I shouldn’t feel this way” or “Don’t think about that.”) Although, in and of themselves, emotions are neither right nor wrong, good nor bad, these kinds of judgments are common and indicate that the neocortical circuits are monitoring the emotion. However, to try to abolish a feeling or attempt to take away a feeling in someone else only drives the emotion out of awareness, where its activity along neural pathways continues unmonitored and unabated — as neuroses, insomnia, and communication failures of all kinds testify.

Your Sharing Circle

Here’s a Sharing Circle for you that will let your students explore one aspect of self-awareness that they have experienced, and will continue to experience from time to time throughout their lives. It comes from The Sharing Circle Handbook, Topics for Teaching Self-Awareness, Communication, and Social Skills for students in grades K-12. The topic is, How Somebody Hurt My Feelings.

  Here’s Your Monday Morning Sharing Circle. Enjoy!

Do you want more information?

• Leading a Sharing Circle
• Sharing Circle Rules
• Books and Resources
• Free Activities
• Subscribe

Go here:

www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

Here’s How It’s Done

Gather everyone into a circle. Explain the rules for sharing, and get agreement from everyone that they will follow the rules.

Sharing Circle Rules:

  • Everyone gets a turn to share, including the leader.
  • You can skip your turn if you wish.
  • Listen to the person who is sharing.
  • There are no interruptions, probing, put-downs, or gossip.
  • Share the time equally.

After everyone has shared, who wants to share, ask the discussion questions.

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna

NEW POST – Rules for A Fair Fight

Conflict, violence, and bullying are escalating in schools nationwide. Educators today express unprecedented concern about school and classroom disruptions that steal instructional hours and endanger the safety of students.

Grades 8-12

Some amount of conflict occurs normally in all schools. However, schools that are large, have limited resources, or serve highly diverse populations often experience pervasive conflict. Outside the school, a corresponding escalation in aggressive and violent behaviors exists in society at large. Our culture inadvertently supports violence through advertising, social relationships, politics, the media, and entertainment.

Keeping the Lid On Conflict

Often, conflicts escalate because students and the adults around them don’t know how to respond to disagreements and confrontations pro-socially and creatively. Peers — sometimes even parents —reward aggressive responses to conflict. These responses are modeled on television and in movies, where even the “good guys” maim and kill in order to “win.” Obviously, our society and our schools are in critical need of people with effective pro-social conflict resolution skills.

This week’s lesson focuses on how to bring a more positive , pro-social aspect to conflict.It has been taken from Conflict Resolution Skills for Teens, a learning guide for middle and high school.

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna


NEW BLOG – More on Cooperation

Having looked at cooperation and support as qualities of friendship in our last blog, let’s take a deeper look at cooperation and its impact on kids learning to work together.

Grades K-8

In A Perfect World

Ideally, cooperation is characterized by interdependence and inclusion. Everyone is valued for his or her uniqueness. They trust one another, turn to each other for help and advice and, when they experience conflict, utilize positive methods to resolve it. This Sharing Circle promotes cooperation and team building, children acquire many of the insights and skills necessary to interact effectively with their peers, to handle conflict, and to participate productively in collaborative projects and school assignments.

Your Sharing Circle

This Sharing Circle comes from Teaching The Skills of Conflict Resolution, our resource guide of activities and strategies for kids in grades K-8. The topic is, We Cooperated to Get It Done.

  Here’s Your Monday Morning Sharing Circle. Enjoy!

Do you want more information?

• Leading a Sharing Circle
• Sharing Circle Rules
• Books and Resources
• Free Activities
• Subscribe

Go here:

www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

Here’s How It’s Done

Gather everyone into a circle. Explain the rules for sharing, and get agreement from everyone that they will follow the rules.

Sharing Circle Rules:

  • Everyone gets a turn to share, including the leader.
  • You can skip your turn if you wish.
  • Listen to the person who is sharing.
  • There are no interruptions, probing, put-downs, or gossip.
  • Share the time equally.

After everyone has shared, who wants to share, ask the discussion questions.

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna


A Quality of Friendship

Grades K-6

In keeping with our last blog here’s another activity to expand children’s repertoire of friendship skills.  Being able to cooperate and give support to our friends conveys how we feel toward and are going to behave with our friends.  This is one of the things we DO for and with our friends.

What Friends Do

Once again this week’s activity, Friends Support Each Other, is a cooperative game that comes from our book, Social Skills Activities for the Elementary Grades.  Enjoy!

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna


Helping Kids Make Friends

Cooperation, support, and having fun together are some of the things we experience with our friends. Our network of friends is one of the most important areas in which we develop social awareness. Children learn skills for interacting with others through successful interaction with their peer group. And having friends to care for and rely on can help them cope effectively with life’s daily challenges. 

Grades K-6

This week’s Sharing Circle and next week’s group activity both teach friendship skills and are designed to help students develop the ability to establish and maintain friendships.

Your Resources

Both this Sharing Circle and next week’s activity are taken from our book, Social Skills Activities for the Elementary Grades.  Enjoy!  The topic is, Something I Do to Keep a Friend.

  Here’s Your Monday Morning Sharing Circle. Enjoy!

Do you want more information? • Leading a Sharing Circle • Sharing Circle Rules • Books and Resources   • Free Activities   • Subscribe

www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

Here’s How It’s Done

Gather everyone into a circle. Explain the rules for sharing, and get agreement from everyone that they will follow the rules.

Sharing Circle Rules:

  • Everyone gets a turn to share, including the leader.
  • You can skip your turn if you wish.
  • Listen to the person who is sharing.
  • There are no interruptions, probing, put-downs, or gossip.
  • Share the time equally.

After everyone has shared, who wants to share, ask the discussion questions.

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna


Active Listening Skills for Managing Anger

Anger Control, Conflict Management lessons and activities
Elementary (GradesK-6)

Active listening is a wonderful process for helping your students work through upsets to discover exactly what their feelings are.

When we listen actively to our students, two things happen at once. First, negative feelings lessen or disappear after they are expressed and acknowledged in a supportive, nonjudgmental manner, and second, we are modeling and thus teaching students the skill itself.

Active listening helps develop problem-solving skills. As you model and teach active listening, your students begin acquiring the skill, and they become increasingly able to talk through or articulate a problem clearly as opposed to having it just spinning in their heads because they are unable to express it. Through discussion, they are better able to work toward a solution. Active listening also facilitates the growth of a student’s ability to express himself or herself effectively.

A Tool for Today

Today’s lesson teaches the skills of Active Listening and applies them directly to lessening anger. It has been taken from Anger Control And Conflict Management, a learning guide for the elementary grades.

 

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna


Helping Students Manage Negative Thinking

Grades 3-8

Students are often confronted with situations in their lives that produce hurt, anger, fear, grief, anxiety, and confusion.

Here Is A Great Resource for You

Here’s an activity that is an effective group counseling session as well as a solid classroom experience designed to harness the power of eclectic grouping by bringing students together, not only to be heard, but also to provide a support system for each other in the midst of their own hurting and healing. It is based on the premise that acknowledging hurt is one critical step in the process of healing. Developing compassion, forgiveness and moving beyond pain are other critical steps that can be facilitated in the context of group dynamics.

In this activity we are helping the students discover the power of thought and how it can help in their healing process.

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna