Focus on Feelings: Teaching Important Lessons for an Unprecedented Back-to-School Experience

Posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2020

As students close out their second week back at school, teachers are making sure to incorporate social emotional learning activities into their classroom routines.

Social emotional learning, or SEL, helps children and adults understand and manage their emotions, set and achieve goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions, according to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

With the pandemic causing our daily lives to look different, and with the emotions surrounding a very different back-to-school experience, SEL is especially important to help students feel more at ease and help them learn.

Kids have a hard time learning when they are stressed or anxious, so performing daily SEL activities helps them to relax so they can then focus on academics.

Upon returning to school, Gaynor teachers focused on SEL to help their students transition back.

In Head Teacher Sarah Lewis, Assistant Teacher Kendall Hakimi, and Science Teacher Lindsey Rappaport’s Orange 1 class, students made self portraits to show what they look like with their masks on and off. They drew themselves on folded paper. When the paper was folded up, they had a mask on, but when it was pulled down, they had their masks off. The class spent time discussing how wearing masks can affect the viewing of facial expressions.

Head Teacher Nicole Goldman, Assistant Teacher Ted Boesky, and Technology Teacher Joel Levin’s Green 2 class participated in a classroom scavenger hunt and various getting-to-know-you activities. 

Students created their own Gaynor pride mask chains using green and white beads and discussed how masks hide emotions and could make it hard for people to see how someone is truly feeling.

Head Teacher Sara Curwin, Assistant Teacher Chryzl Goco, and Math Specialist Joseph Kaufman’s Green 1 class participated with Green 2 in the Green Greek Olympics. The classes competed on the Great Lawn in Central Park and played Evolution Rock/Paper/Scissors, Switch, Standing Long Jump, and Beach Flags. 

“The students had a fun time competing and eating lunch together at the park,” Ms. Goldman said.

Students in Head Teacher Casey Adler and Occupational Therapist Ariela Weisenberg’s Silver 1 class played board games together to bond with each other.

Both remote and onground students played games, such as Battleship, Guess Who, and Headbanz.

Taking the time to build classroom relationships and helping students understand and manage their emotions sets them up for success as they progress throughout the new school year at Gaynor.