Episode 6 – Danielle David

 

ddavid“I’m a Caucasian woman from an upper middle class town where I was raised… I moved to Oakland when I started teaching in Oakland – and so I think that actually living in the city that I worked in, especially considering Oakland has many different neighborhoods, but there is a lot of impoverished areas of Oakland, it was humbling for me and that helped – immersing myself in the culture. I had some falters throughout the years, people may or may not have called me racist, I don’t think it was true, I know it wasn’t true, but people get defensive when it comes to their kids or somebody that is trying to help them but they feel like it’s a challenge. So, I just became very humbled and I listened, and you know what I learned… you don’t always have to have an answer for something, and the most valuable tool you can give to someone is your active listening… you’re just listening with your ears and heart.”

Fast Facts about Danielle

  1. Full name: Danielle David
  2. Years in education: 11
  3. Current position: Teacher on Special Assignment in Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District
  4. Grade(s) taught: TK, K, 1, 2, 3 as a classroom teacher but I have worked with all grades from TK-8th
  5. Favorite books:
  6. Why teach: Because I want to help enable our future to make better decisions than those from our past.

Noteworthy outtakes from Danielle’s chat

During our chat, Danielle mentioned some of the following topics. Click on the links below to learn more about them:

  • Transitional Kindergarten (TK) – a relatively new grade that began in California about five years ago to accommodate children with Fall birthdays who did not meet the state’s most recent kindergarten age cutoff of turning five before September 1st.
  • Montessori – Danielle mentioned Montessori briefly in comparing it to the very play-based TK program she helped to launch at Emerson Elementary school in Oakland, CA. More about this topic in an upcoming post as a Montessori trained teacher is on the schedule for an upcoming podcast!
  • Caring School Communities

daniellejpowerMeet and Spin with Danielle in Person!

Danielle is a wealth of knowledge and experience, and also doubles as a spin studio instructor! If you happen to live in, or around, the Benicia, CA area, be sure to attend one of her spin classes at JPower Studio. You can find Danielle combining her passion for both teaching and exercise here every Wednesday morning at 5:30am, Thursday nights at 5:30pm and alternating weekends – check out the schedule.

 

 

 

Episode 5 – Elizabeth Isralowitz

 

liz_headshot001“Failure doesn’t feel good, and we know that failure in school leads to a myriad of other consequences including psychopathology, depression, anxiety. Often time it leads to delinquent behaviors and it can impact a child’s social skills and ability to have friends as well… a child who is hitting is doing that for a reason. Maybe it’s because they know they don’t get what those things on the paper are, and maybe it’s because they just can’t communicate what they need. Or they haven’t learned the skills to even sit for five minutes…. For me looking at it at all ages, the biggest thing is that you have to look at the whole child. Even if it’s subtle, behavior and academics are always going to go hand in hand.” – Elizabeth Isralowitz

Fast Facts about Elizabeth

  1. Full name: Elizabeth Isralowitz, MA BCBA
  2. Years teaching:  10 years teaching, 3 years of clinical work and school administration (Behavior Specialist/Board Certified Behavior Analyst), over 20 years working with children with special needs
  3. Grades taught: Early Intervention to 22 years
  4. Current position: PhD student/graduate student researcher at University of California, Riverside: SEARCH Family Autism Resource Center
  5. Current city: Los Angeles and Riverside, CA
  6. Favorite books:
  7. Why teach? Every day is different, a triumph, a challenge, an accomplishment, and a chance to change the lives of children and their families.

Useful Resources Shared by Elizabeth!

Elizabeth is a wealth of knowledge and hopes to use Linkedin, in the new year to begin sharing some of her professional development workshops and intervention resources. If you found her podcast useful and informative, be sure to let her know in the comments below.

Episode 4 – Vanessa Donino

 

vanessadonino“I completely admire the profession of education more so than anything. Please don’t ever be discouraged … if you’re overwhelmed reach out to fellow educators who understand what you do because what we do is truly, truly noble!”

Fast Facts about Vanessa

  1. Full name: Vanessa Donino
  2. Years teaching: 3
  3. Grade(s) taught: 1st-3rd and Alternative High School
  4. Current position: Educator of Incarcerated Youth at Oneida County Prison
  5. Current city: Oriskany, NY
  6. Past cities Vanessa has taught in: Bronx, NY, Clark County, NV
  7. Why teach?: I teach because I want to help fight educational injustice and policies.
  8. Favorite books:
  9. Resource mentioned during podcast interview: Engage NY

 

The Five Letter Word That Saved My Life!

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Ok… so I have a flare for the dramatic! But seriously, when I began getting ready for my first year of teaching I planned lessons, decorated bulletin boards, set up the classroom furniture, and had my first day of school read aloud book all ready to go. I was prepared, so I thought.

I soon found out that the missing piece of the puzzle was a well thought out curriculum in social emotional learning (SEL) and the incorporation of a five-letter word that has since been a wonderful addition to my classroom: PEACE!

But what is peace? Why is it important to teach and include in your curriculum?

Once I discovered the value and importance in talking to my students about peace, I began starting each school year with a conversation about what the kids themselves think peace means.

“Being able to feel good about yourself!”

“Blue!”

“Soft and quiet!”

These are just some of the things they’ve come up with, and they are always surprised to learn that peace can be found in many places. It doesn’t just refer to “world peace”. They can have a hand in creating a peaceful environment wherever they are.

We then read the book Peace Week in Ms. Fox’s Class by Eileen Spinelli. After reading about all the squabbling and chaos happening in Ms. Fox’s class we share moments of difficulty we’ve had in the past and how we worked through them. I then, and with that dramatic flare previously mentioned, reveal a “peace path.” The kids “Oooo” and “Ahhhh.” Once settled down we go over the different parts of the peace path:

  1. Take a Breath
  2. Stop and Think
  3. I statements: “I felt __________ when __________ because___________.”
  4. Followed by the listener repeating the persons feeling with, “I understand you felt ___________ when ____________ because __________.”
  5. Brainstorm: One idea at a time, problem solve, take turns.
  6. Come to an agreement and make peace: Shake hands, high five or hug.”

img_20161017_142250462This is followed by some fun modeling on how to use the peace path and give respectful “I statements” as well as how we use our listening tools (“we listen with our eyes, ears and hearts!”). Each person on the peace path stands on either side of it, with another student whose classroom job is a “Peacemaker.” They then follow the steps on the path and step forward until they meet in the middle where they brainstorm ways to make amends and come to an agreement in the middle.

What has been great about the addition of the peace path in my classroom is that it has given my students a voice and builds their skills as leaders when they help their peers “walk the peace path.”

I leave the peace path in a part of the room dubbed the “Peace Area” and students are free to offer the flower to a peer and invite them to the peace path when they feel like they need to resolve an issue.

Generally, I have found asking students to use the peace path during recess, or other transition parts of the day doesn’t generally interrupt the work time as a class. I’ve also even allowed some kiddos to go to the peace path whenever they’ve needed to and have seen it help with them getting focused again when they return to working because they feel heard and have had their feelings valued.

There is so much I am still learning about social emotional learning and building a peaceful environment and culture in my classroom. I hope this one example of the use of a Peace path is helpful to you and can help you and your students work towards building these very important social emotional skills.

By Jennifer Khadir