Monday, May 31, 2010

Social and Emotional Issues: Part 3

We have been focusing on the social and emotional issues related to gifted children for the past several weeks. While we are all aware of the issues facing gifted children in this area, I thought it would be most helpful to discuss strategies to help students build their skills in social and emotional development.

Last week, we talked about using Bibliotherapy as a tool for aiding in the slower to develop social and emotional skills of gifted students. We will discuss another strategy this week.

In my first year teaching, I was fortunate enough to come across Responsive Classrooms theories. One of the main components of a Responsive Classroom is a morning meeting. This has taken many forms in my different classrooms, but one component has remained the same.

Role Playing.

As I have worked with gifted students, I have noticed a few things. First, gifted students have trouble reading social cues that most of the age peers innately are attuned to. Second, gifted students have difficulty responding appropriately in social settings, partly due to their inability to read social cues. This is just part of their busy, busy brain. It is so active cognitively that it struggles to keep up with the more interpersonal areas.

I have found that role playing is a tremendously valuable, and fun, way to help students in this area. We take a variety of situations, act them out, analyze them and recreate them. I recommend letting children practice both good and bad responses to situations. I help them to see the social cues that are being manifested, point out tone of voice, attempt role reversals, and many other critical skills.

This help students to be better equipped when these situations come up. They have a repertoire of responses and possible ways to diffuse or capitalize on situations.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If you want to be good at the piano, practice. If you want to learn another language, practice. If you want to be good at social settings, practice. We are so used to these wonderfully brilliant kiddoes being good at everything that they try that we forget that in some areas, they are just like other kiddoes- needing practice and guidance to be successful at what really matters.

For teachers, in our class morning meeting, students raise concerns about the daily classroom occurrences. We use these as opportunities for role playing because they at the heart of students feelings. You might try doing this once a week or every few days. I found it was the fastest way to resolve conflicts and strife in the classroom and create harmony. I've heard many parents who have instituted "Family Meetings" as well to discuss concerns in the family and practice role playing responses.

A few of our more popular scenarios you could act out:
  • Asking someone to play (responding whether they say yes or no)
  • Someone not sharing
  • Not understanding a task (This is a good time to practice tone of voice)
  • When someone is spreading rumors about you
  • When the teacher marks your paper wrong incorrectly
A good rule of thumb for role playing is to teach your child to use "I" language instead of "you" language.
  • "I feel frustrated when I am left out." vs. "You always leave me out."
  • "I feel angry when I don't get to share my thoughts." vs. "You always boss me around."
  • "I don't understand why you chose to do this." vs. "You are wrong."

Resource of the Week:

I have used Dilemma in a jar for five years in my classroom. I have found it is a helpful way to start off a role play discussion. There are a variety of dilemmas written on slips of paper. Children can pull a dilemma, and then act it out and discuss. If you have trouble coming up with ideas with your child or student, this can be a great resource.

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