The recent health pandemic had a major shift in all of our lives. Trying to adjust to the new normal, the SEL Dallas team took a moment to reflect on the past success of the school year and brainstormed new ideas to keep students engaged and continue teaching the importance of literacy. The team created virtual Social and Emotional Learning content and experiences.
The first exploration into virtual learning was creating the SEL Dallas Reads book club! This began as a Zoom session where each Big Thought SEL Specialist had one reading time slot throughout the day. The initial sessions had ten students, while others had just one, but we soon realized that we were reaching students, not just in the Partnership for Social and Emotional Learning (PSELI) schools, but throughout Dallas ISD and Dallas County. Since we were unable to continue our SEL explicit instruction curriculum with schools closing in March, we decided to continue using the literacy portion of our curriculum as part of the SEL Dallas Reads program. Instead of using the themes that had originally been designed in the curriculum, we worked together to shift the themes so that we were having conversations with students related to how they might be feeling now during the pandemic space. We created conversations related to social distancing, being away from friends, and feelings of loss of being unable to have the experiences students were used to during a typical school year.
Since that first day of SEL Dallas Reads, we have reached elementary students of all ages, met new students who have become book club regulars, shared books that are familiar to all students and new titles. The student’s and staff held deep conversations about friendship, how to reach out to and help others, manage big emotions, and understanding that we all react to situations differently. SEL Dallas Reads meets every Monday at 9 am and 1 pm and will continue throughout the summer.
“Literacy is one of the greatest gifts a person could receive.” – Jen Selinsky