How does Leaps fit into an already busy school day?

by Jay Burcham, Author of Leaps | SEL Answers - Audio Series

TRANSCRIPT:

There isn’t a busier person walking the face of the earth than a teacher. You have 25-30 kids in a class, you are supposed to teach these state and federal mandated learning criteria, you have students from different socioeconomic backgrounds, cultural backgrounds, learning capacity, lots of things going on and teachers are just terribly busy and you have to understand that.

The way that Leaps fits in is that you can’t pull behaviors from learning. Learning is self as a behavioral process. Learning is understanding something and applying it and to help kids learn you have to be able to teach them how to learn. So actually changing the learning environment gives the teacher the best chance of teaching the academics, which falls outside of the purview oftentimes. 

Teachers are busy, yes no doubt about it, the question I would ask teachers is how much time do you spend investing and telling kids to sit down and be quiet and pay attention, all those reactionary things. If you could turn around and reimburse that proactively and from the proactive investment kids are sitting down more often and paying attention that’s the pay off. How do you do it?

Leaps does it by integrating actual, real life scenarios into the teaching of these social and emotional skills. So it isn’t a divestment in the classroom, it’s an investment in the classroom. The in vivo, the role play, the scenarios, the discussions that are had are meant to me impactful as part of the classroom process. You can also have the lessons fully aligned with common core. So as a teacher is looking at that integration, they will see how a leaps lesson will align with a reading standard, a listening standard, communication standard.

All those different standards and it is grade specific so as a teacher is putting a lesson together, it gives them a little more flexibility on how a leap lesson can integrate that social and emotional process into the academic lesson which is more apt to engage the kids. But an engagement from the standpoint of something that they are more likely to buy into.

One last point on that, when kids begin to fail academically, and I don’t mean just failing grades, but when they begin to wane from an enthusiasm standpoint, and think about this, find a kindergarten teacher, any one of them, ask them if they’ve ever had a kid come in her classroom and say, at 15 years old I’m out of here. They don’t do that. Kids come in,  they’re excited, they’ve got school supplies and a new lunchbox in there, they like to practice homework before school, you know they’re excited about learning. We got a lot of kids and fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth on up that say I don’t care if I pass or fail. Not caring is than to care and continually fail so what you have to be able to do is help reengage kids, and it’s hard to engage kids at a point where failure has been consistent.

It’s hard to see the immediacy of gratification from academics alone. Take a kid who is struggling in school and try to get them excited about algebra, it’s not easy, I’m not saying it’s not important but it’s not easy. But if you could help a kid learn social and emotional and cognitive type skills there is an immediacy of impact. It impacts their social standing, it impacts the way they feel about themselves, the way they make friends, their place in the group and kids come back for that and if you can integrate that into the academics you can actually begin teaching them social and emotional skills as the hook to bring in the academics then as the meat once they have become more socially acceptable because the classroom is a social construct.

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