With Dr. Barbara Fatum
What can educators do to bring emotional intelligence into their schools? What barriers to adoption must be overcome before school districts fully embrace social emotional learning? How can collaboration build consensus for more SEL in schools?
Parents, administrators, and educators joined together on April 18th for a day of learning about Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and sharing best practices of Social and Emotional (SEL) Learning. The event was held at the San Mateo County Board of Education offices and sponsored by the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Network. Over 70 Bay Area school counselors, principals, parents and educators participated. Organizers and participants are still talking about it. Here are some of their reflections.
“One of the most wonderful things about this conference is that the people who come are the people who are really interested in improving themselves at some level. You meet the most wonderful people who are truly committed to making positive change.” Recalls Dr. Anabel Jensen, the keynote speaker and co-founder of Six Seconds.
“When you go and visit in classrooms right now, teachers are looking for ways to make it more engaging for students. One of the biggest brain channels is emotions. People are looking for connection. The piece Six Seconds brings is the assessment piece; the ability to give people data, do some pre-testing, and see results. People love this idea that they can show school districts solid data on how emotions are critical to learning.“
Many conferences are great for networking, but the sessions sometimes fall short for connecting with others. The Bay Area conference broke that mold.
“We couldn’t get people to leave! We had to pay the maintenance people an hour overtime because people were so intrigued and excited. I think the presenters really gave people what they wanted. It wasn’t theoretical, it was really practical. These were teachers, principals, and school counselors who gave up their Saturdays!” says Dr. Barbara Fatum the conference organizer. “Connection to each other is the most important aspect of a day like this, spent deeply involved in EQ and its practical applications. People teach each other, inspire each other, and make a commitment to continue connections long after the conference. I have been in touch with many people since the conference, talking about future programs they can foster in their classrooms, in their families, and in their schools.”
Workshops, led by experts in the field of EQ and SEL, focused on diverse topics, weaving EQ into participants’ daily lives. Dr. Anabel Jensen gives high marks to the session run by Dr. Shabbir Latif:
“The most exciting moments were tied to an activity called open space technology. People arrive, they take responsibility for how they will organize it, offer to run events, and people create the schedule themselves, on the spot. We tied it to the questions that they wanted to resolve. For example, ‘What do you want to get out of the conference?’ Those turned out to be unbelievably fabulous! People got to talk about what was near and dear to their hearts, and make connections with other people.”
For workshop leader, Deborah Havert, co-author of a new book, “Conversing On the Real”, the day’s highlight was feeling the sense of shared vision to make positive change. “I felt the camaraderie of EQ Advocates who have the sense that bringing more people together can create positive change.”
Participants had their own takeaways, many of them related to teaching and learning in a new way.
From an Elementary School Principal:
“What a great job you and your team did on Saturday. I will definitely encourage more people to attend in the future. My team loved the day and we got a lot out of it. “
“I now understand the importance of a growth mindset in achieving anything in life. A person with a good growth mindset will not be ashamed of making mistakes, knowing that we may learn from them. I was impressed at how teachers at EPACS, Neumann and Brown, developed a growth mindset in their students.” This student went on to reflect on how his parents’ insistence that he play piano as a child was a kind of growth mindset, something he feels grateful for.
From A School Counselor:
“I was very fortunate to be in your Brain Profile workshop in the afternoon, and loved the feedback about my top “apps”. That was really fun, and informative. I am only beginning to go through all the wonderful materials I bought from you at the end of the workshop day. It’s like Christmas! Thank you for putting together such a nourishing and inspiring workshop day at San Mateo County Office of Education. I loved every minute of it.”
Dr. Anabel Jensen talked about her hopes for this event. How will participants make the EQ ripple which began in April more impactful? She said,
“Our goal for the Third Annual San Francisco Bay Area Conference next year is to double the attendance. Our hope is to impact communities and schools in the Bay Area and to produce a “ripple effect” that spreads across the region. Six Seconds is currently working with several schools in the San Mateo and Palo Alto area. It will be easy to reach 150 attendees next year. We should set a goal that we’ll be at a thousand in three years!! That would be really exciting and great.”
Many thanks to the workshop presenters and San Mateo County Office of Education for hosting and promoting this event; The day’s offerings included: Integrating EQ into the Classroom (Jennifer Saul, EPACS Dean of Students) A Daily Dose of Optimism for Teachers (Aline Kaprive, Juvenile Hall Educator), Growth Mindset (EPACS faculty members), Mindfulness (Rev. Kathleen Crowe, Episcopal Chaplain, San Jose State), The Stunning Awareness of the Minds of Eight Year-Olds (Cherilyn Leet and Katie Morgan, Synapse School), Using EQ in Design Thinking (Noa Mendelavitch & Todd Armstrong, EQ Vehicle and Synapse School), Practical Applications of EQ in the Classroom (Dr. Bill Overton, former principal of Ohlone School).