If you're not currently teaching, what are you focused on?:
Emotional Intelligence Coaching, Design Thinking & Mindfulness Program Design for High Schools
What grade do you teach?:
Emotional Intelligence, Design Thinking
How many years have you been teaching?:
Current: Creative Catalyst at Teachers Guild, Interpersonal Dynamics Facilitator at Stanford GSB, Designer in Residence at Design Tech High, Design Mentor at Startup Weekend, Curriculum Specialist at Oxford Day Academy, studying Advanced Education Leadership through Harvard GSE
Past: UX designer at Declara (recognized by White House and Apple as Top 10 edu app), Tradecraft Design Fellow (studied design from thought leaders from IDEO, Adaptive Path), Cornell (Product & Project MGMT)
Students were all informed of the opportunity, and those interested would apply through a short questionnaire. The goal of the program was to seek out disadvantaged students, however, and prioritize them over students who were more privileged (i.e. were already going to attend summer enrichment programs on their own).
I love your question of where the lesson might fit into other subjects! I think these exercises fit well under Humanities, but less so in STEM classes. Social Studies and Literature are probably the most opportune for bringing social emotional learning into the curriculum.
The trust definitely takes time to build. I had 3 days prior to this of icebreakers, and activities for students to get to know each other in increasingly deep ways. There definitely is a fear among students of "I don't want to be the only one, so I'll wait for others to speak first" which creates a dynamic of total silence. To counteract that, have them share their reactions / feelings in pairs or triads or even small groups as opposed to the big group. I have seen this work much better in getting them to share their innermost and honest feelings.
If there is pushback from administration or parents, I could see concerns of: - safety - relevance - time required of staff to teach the lesson
SAFETY: Because I received training from Stanford and Mindful Schools, this is usually not the concern with parents. But with any other teacher trying to use this, they might have to discuss the relevant credential pieces around facilitation, childhood development, and safety-building have prepared them.
RELEVANCE: The program was designed specifically in partnership with Palantir (a software company with a Corporate Social Responsibility arm dedicated to education) and the Palo Alto Unified School District to bridge the achievement gap during summers, where privileged students attend additional enrichment activities while underserved students do not have such luxury. We framed the program around leadership development and 21st century skills that are required in the modern workplace. The parents of the students were highly satisfied with the learnings students shared with them.
TIME REQUIRED OF STAFF: This will be dependent on schools. Ours was a 1-week summer program, so we had the luxury of less constraints of time. For most schools, I imagine some kind of Advisory program, after-school program, or Assembly could be an opportune time to teach this class. As long as the student:facilitator ratio is kept roughly between 1:9 to 1:15, it should work.
MODIFICATIONS FOR YOUNGER STUDENTS For younger grades, I would reduce the scope of the frame from "Society" to "Parent" expectations, and give students more guided categories. For example, in the "Get Me Out Of This Box Man," I might give students some categories: Food, Clothes, Hobbies, Music, Friends, Dreams. Students can then think of parental expectations based on those 6 categories instead of a blank canvas.
The Masks We Live In exercise, I suspect, can still be done with middle schoolers given the richness and complexities of their lives even at that age. Things like bullying, appearance, who-has-the-latest-tech, apps people use, and grades are all things on their mind. That stuff may come up in the exercise, and again, those categories can be given to students to scaffold the activity.
I really like that this is meant to be a gift that keeps on giving! I wonder if teachers can provide a mini-lesson or even give students little cards with ad-libs to provide support for students in sharing their gratitude.