Cast Your Vote for Social Skills…

Feb 28, 2016

I often get on tangents about the importance of teaching social skills to youth and strengthening their positive emotional development. Intelligence alone can be very dangerous if it is not coupled with basic people skills and emotional restraint. If you are not convinced of this fact, I encourage you to watch an exchange or two from any of the presidential debates. Unfortunately, I fear my body of evidence will continue to mount throughout this entire election cycle, which should disturb us for several reasons.

Novelty garners attention, and after what I have seen, I feel confident young people are listening and watching. I also believe modeled behaviors are internalized, so it concerns me what adult behaviors are communicating to children. Specifically, I wonder what children are learning by watching our, the adult onlookers, behaviors. We can’t control the actions of others, but we can choose the way in which we respond to any given situation. So, keep in mind some of the lessons many of our candidates seem to have forgotten:

  • Treat others the way you want to be treated.
  • Disagree, but do so respectfully.
  • Think before you speak.
  • Control your anger.
  • Take the high road.
  • Respect differences.

When I was growing up I remember learning about social skills from Gallant and Goofus, who were characters in the magazine Highlights. Gallant showed us the right way to behave and Goofus provided the opposite. I pray parents and teachers alike can provide continuous Gallant examples balancing out the many Goofus behaviors our politicians are sure to provide over the course of the next eight or so months.

Generalizing to Extremes

As I lay awake last night staring at the ceiling, it was clear to me that my original idea for this week’s post would have to wait.  Given the incident that occurred at yesterday’s presidential rally, I believe there is a bigger issue to address. I’ve been...

The Concerning Colorful Spectrum of Language

Though actions may speak louder than words, we best not underestimate how language modeling shapes the behavior of the children we are collectively raising.  I guess it’s a hazard of my profession, but I regularly see and hear the world through the eyes and ears of...

Teacher Dads

Dads, today I celebrate you as teachers.  In fact, I believe it is one of your most important roles.  Fathers are always teaching, continually by example, and most of the time without even knowing they are doing so.  In this regard, I have seen some masterful work.  I...

Predictable Routines Needed

“The only person who likes change is a wet baby.” This quote from Mark Twain seems appropriate given the changes occurring in homes as another school year ends. Parents, we’re lucky. Our kids have had nine months of consistency thanks to the hard work of teachers. We...

One Chapter at a Time

Relieved. Happy. Discouraged.  Exhausted. These were some of the adjectives teachers mentioned when asked how they were feeling about the school year ending.  Although the responses varied, all teachers agreed - they were ready to have some closure with their...

Surrogate Teacher Moms

“Do you have any kids?” I once asked a teacher friend. “Absolutely,” she said. “I have a classroom full of them.” I laughed and walked away, but that thought stuck with me. Let’s face it - some of the best mothers in our lives weren’t our mothers, in the biological...

Get Physical

I’ve done a great deal of yard work over the past few weeks and have been reminded of an important behavior strategy. It’s one I don’t talk about nearly enough, given its effectiveness. Of course, with most people’s busy schedule it’s also hard to come by. The...

Look for the Foundation

Did you know that behaviors have a build-up effect over time?  Most teachers do.  And although there is an ebb and flow pattern to the behaviors of students, we see them all at the tail end of the school year – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Fortunately, we have...

Coming Together

So I’ve been thinking about this post all week.  Though the original inspiration hit me in the middle of the eclipse last Monday, it was driven home again yesterday.  (Being a spiritual man, I believe sometimes God circles back around and gives me reminders – to make...

Positive Collective Memories

As we move into the final months of the school year, now is a great time for educators to celebrate successes.  However, the problem with trying to do so is that we don’t always see the results of our labor right away.  Oftentimes our efforts are laying a foundation...