BY Christy Castleberry
North Falmouth Elementary School
It has become increasingly noted that my seven and eight year old’s have great difficulty understanding others feelings, ideas, facial expressions, and perspectives. I am finding children more egocentric, less empathetic, and less aware that their individual behavior impacts those children and adults around them. I realize these skills are still developing at this age but I believe children are coming to me with a minimal foundation in these skills. So much time appears to be spent on individual activities that involve screens and less time devoted to play time with peers. Team sports, and play time in and out of the classroom teaches children turn taking, it requires cooperation which means that children must consider another persons ideas, thoughts, and perspective to make play fun and engaging. When a disagreement arises children struggle to be able to negotiate these situations. I am finding that explicit, adult directed teaching, and modeling of how to realize that a child’s behavior directly impacts those around them is something I must teach in today’s classrooms. The social thinking program I am asking for as well as the books associated with it provides me as the teacher an explicit program that I can
draw upon as well as adjunct texts that I can use along with real world examples in hopes of getting my class to take responsibility for their behavior choices and recognize that those individual choices impact those around them. This program will give me a foundation for how to teach these social skills to my class.
How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)?
I will create student self evaluations to be filled out in January and May that will require children to answer five question using a smiley face, straight smile and sad smile to measure how our classroom environment feels to them. The questions are as below:
1. How to you feel throughout the school day? Happy, OK or Sad ( using smiley bubbles)
2. Do you feel that your friends listen to you?
3. Do you feel good about solving problems with your friends on your own?
4. Are you comfortable trying to solve a problem on your own and if you are struggling then asking an adult to help you?
5. Are your comfortable playing and partnering with all the kids in our classroom.
I will try this survey in October, ( before initiation of the program) January after teaching the requested program for two months and according to children’s responses using my resources add or create lessons to address any sad faces to help create a better environment for the kids. If I need to adjust the survey in May I will do so. If not I will give the same survey again. If necessary after the January survey I may create something more specific to best adjust my practice in teaching these social skills.
Benefit to the students and the school
Teaching empathy, awareness of others feelings, and their perspective my hope is to create a more positive, empathetic, and cooperative classroom environment. I am hoping to improve overall behavior, provide more independent problem solving skills and create positive change in children’s social skills.
Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)
If approved, survey would be given ASAP to provide a baseline of current classroom environment. We Thinkers program 2 ( I already have program 1) would be taught in November and December 2018. Survey would be given again in January and analyzed. If topics already taught needed to be revisited that would be done. Then Superflex program would begin which included comic characters which are appealing to the kids. Then adjunct texts would be read after baseline information was taught. Another survey would be given in May. This program could also be used in years to come.