Daily SEL & Mindfulness in the Middle Grades
Reviewed by Tonya Curt-Hoard
As an administrator, I am always on the lookout for new books that help educators improve upon classroom behavior and keep more students in their classrooms without visits to the office for discipline.
The length and table of contents of Everyday SEL in Middle School had me excited to dive in. Immediately, I found that the layout made it easy to read and be able to immediately implement the lessons.
Carla Tantillo Philibert supplies the reader with the necessary know-how to change your classroom and fully support all areas of social emotional learning. For the price of this book, you actually get the entire professional development that schools and districts hire her to come and personally provide.
Self-awareness, self-regulation and social awareness
The first portion of the book is spent explaining the three main aspects of SEL: self-awareness, self-regulation and social awareness. This is explained as a Tier One intervention for all students because everyone experiences stress, anxiety and negativity. A rubric is given to monitor a school’s or classroom’s progress in implementation. The key point is to marry classroom management and social emotional learning instead of having them as two separate areas of focus.
“It is important that it is the student who owns the shift in her energy, not the teacher who casually observes” (p. 27).
Setting up SEL
The second part gives details on how to introduce and set up your classroom. (I found the sample agenda not very accurate for middle schools in my area because no student stays in the same classroom all day.) She does provide a helpful sample diagram of an SEL-friendly classroom and exactly what to put on your SEL wall space, including what to put on your POP (pause, own it, practice) chart on your SEL wall space.
A daily routine is given along with how to implement your SEL activities for individual students and not just the full class. Starting with this section and continuing throughout the book, she gives teacher tips that are extremely helpful in differentiating for ELLs and exceptional learners.
Brief, effective lessons
I found the third section the best part. It contains 33 lessons that range from two to seven minutes long. There are only two lessons that are over ten minutes. The brevity of the lessons does not take away from the students’ SEL learning, nor does it take too much time away from content learning. The lessons are divided into three main topics: cool down and focus for self, warm up and energize, and cool down and focus for social.
The power of professional development
The final section gives you everything you need to run a professional development workshop for the book and an appendix with more tips on how to seek out support and from whom.
Tantillo Philibert is insistent throughout the book that buying a scripted program for social emotional learning is NOT the answer. It is more important to have professional development for teachers. The only issue I had with the book was that the tables and figures were not on the page where they were mentioned, and page numbers were not noted so you had to search among the pages to find them.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to implement social emotional learning in their classroom or whole school. I feel it would be especially beneficial for a behavioral program in a public school setting.
Tonya Curt-Hoard was an English/Language Arts teacher for 15 years in an inner city middle school. She moved into the role of assistant principal for three years and is now embarking on the journey of the principalship. She has worked with many students who could have benefited from more social-emotional learning, well before SEL became a mainstream topic in education. She enjoys helping middle level students and teachers thrive in a caring and supportive school atmosphere.