Easy Social-Emotional Learning K-12 Tips with Dr. Marissa Kase

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Click above to listen to this podcast episode. Below is the transcript for Student-Centered World Podcast Episode 33: “Social-Emotional Learning with Dr. Marissa Kase

Hey all and welcome to this week’s episode of the Student-Centered World podcast. I think you can get a lot out of today’s episode; I was able to sit down with Dr. Marissa Kase who specializes in social-emotional learning. Now we know that Social-Emotional Learning is very much a buzzword and buzz term in education right now.

But a lot of people don’t really get what it is, and how you’re able to implement it in your day to day without it being more work or just something else to do or deviating from your curriculum. She has a lot of really, really great ideas for every grade level to be able to get this done.

Welcome to the Student-Centered World podcast where we talk about all things hands-on teaching and keeping your energy and sanity in the classroom. This teacher turned consultant is making it her mission to help as many teachers as possible become the best version of themselves and keep their passion for teaching on fire. It’s her hope that we never forget why we desire to have a passion for educational progress. This is Student-Centered World, and this is Jenn Breisacher.

Jenn Breisacher: Okay, so then to get started, why don’t you let everybody know who it is that they are listening to today?

Dr. Marissa Kase: So, my name is Dr. Marissa Kase, and I teach in a self-contained special needs unit.

Jenn Breisacher: Okay. And how long have you been doing that?

Dr. Marissa Kase: Five years.

Jenn Breisacher: Five years? Do you love it?

Dr. Marissa Kase: I do love it. I think that it’s super rewarding because we tend to celebrate everything. The littlest things are such a big deal and there are definitely days that it makes it easier to find that positive in the day because you’re just looking for that little he spoke loud enough for us to hear him. Or he initiated interaction with another peer, or we went to the bathroom all day, kind of a deal.

You’re also looking at kiddos who came in and you’re like, huh, we spent a year trying to learn your letters, and now you’re reading. You’re reading me whole words so it’s super rewarding.

Jenn Breisacher: I love that. My first school that I taught at, I used to go and hide down in our little self-contained unit every time I needed to just get away and it was. It was very positive and every once in a while there would be some type of an episode. But for the most part, they are always so welcoming and happy to see new people and excited to talk about what they are doing that day and it is such a great environment to be in.

Dr. Marissa Kase: We’re always excited to make new friends when new people show up at the door. Sometimes a little too excited so we have to work on strangers and things like that. But that all plays into those social skills and things like that and it’s really important for them, especially because they don’t always have the greatest danger awareness.

So, we want to make sure that if somebody new walks in the room, we are making sure they’re a safe person before the kids are like, and then they’re hugging them and touching them and we’re like, but wait, you don’t know who they are.

Jenn Breisacher: Right.

Dr. Marissa Kase: So, we’re trying to look at the big picture here. Well, yeah, anybody who comes to school is more than likely safe, but you don’t want that to be a generalized skill.

Jenn Breisacher: Sure, and I don’t even know if that’s necessarily just a special education thing. That’s something certainly we have to do with our elementary school students. Then you see even the high school students that never quite learned those skills that you have to be like, “wait a second, let’s make sure”. That’s something that definitely across the board is useful and a life skill.

Dr. Marissa Kase: Yes. We’re big on life. Lots of life skills.

Jenn Breisacher: Yes. I think that’s one of the arguments being made for education today is that a lot of our students are missing those soft life skills. So, when you’re moving into more hands-on learning, and the aspects that we’re going to be chatting about today, I think it’s just so important because somewhere along the line those skills that I don’t know if they were originally coming from home, or if we started focusing more on curriculum or what the deal is, but those skills are kind of dropping off.

I think it is better because once we recognize that they are being brought back into the forefront and like I mentioned, that’s one of the things that we were going to talk about today with social-emotional learning. So, I know you’re a bit of a guru in that area. I’m so excited to have you chatting with us but just starting off since I know it’s very much a buzzword or buzz phrase in education, but there are a lot of people that still don’t quite understand what it actually means.

So, do you want to talk about that for a minute?

Dr. Marissa Kase: So, social-emotional learning deals with social and emotional competency. So, sometimes now the word the term EQ or emotional quotient is being thrown out and it’s being compared to your IQ. So, people get an IQ test to see essentially how intelligent they are, and their emotional quotient is being looked at as how aware you are of your own emotional state, how aware you are, how competent you are emotionally and that isn’t just well, I’m happy, I’m sad, or I can control my happy, I can control my sad.

It’s looking at those aspects of how you feel, understanding how you feel, understanding how somebody else feels based on their body language. Understanding that something that makes you happy or excited might make somebody else scared. Roller coasters are the best example. Some kids love roller coasters,  and they don’t understand why their friends won’t go because they make them so happy, but that other student is so scared.

Jenn Breisacher: Great analogy.

Dr. Marissa Kase: So, it’s understanding why you don’t feel exactly the way I do, or what to do when you feel. It goes further than just happy and sad and angry. Those are the ones we look at because those are the ones we see so much but it also looks at jealousy. It looks at owning your emotions, and saying, well, I feel because as humans were really quick to go, you made me mad, you did it. So now instead of saying this is how I feel, and this is why I’m putting it on you and saying, well, you did this, you made me mad.

So, it’s being able to own your own emotions and then I feel angry when you take my toy. Next time I’d really like you to ask before you take my toy and helping them learn to verbalize those skills. Even as adults. I mean, we see plenty of adults every day that don’t have these skills, non-verbal communication, body language, how you talk.

Things like sportsmanship, problem-solving, asking for help. Those are all clumped into social-emotional learning because it’s your ability to engage and interact with others around you while still understanding yourself.

Jenn Breisacher: It is fascinating that you say that, because all of those things that you just said, you think of a toddler, a little kid that’s trying to learn how all of this works. Even my own kids are nine and seven and when they’re with each other, they still struggle with this. You did this, you broke this.

I think we had that argument this morning, just 10 minutes ago. But, my husband and I step in and say well, wait, stop, let’s break this down. But it’s interesting that there are adults that never learned that. I wonder if it’s from a lack of consistent guidance, or if it was just sort of innate trait that they never got over it. Do you know what I mean?

Dr. Marissa Kase: But what a lot of people don’t realize is that we all assume that these are things that just happen. You just know what happy is, but it really is like any academic skill and these skills do need to be explicitly taught. Whether they’re being explicitly taught at home or explicitly taught at school or a combination of the two, these are skills that still need to be explicitly taught. Because to say everyone knows how to express their emotions. If that was the case, we wouldn’t see things like road rage.

Jenn Breisacher: Right.

Dr. Marissa Kase: That’s not an appropriate expression of emotion.

Jenn Breisacher: No.

Dr. Marissa Kase: So, somewhere along that line, that skill was not explicitly taught. So, being able to bring those skills into the classroom and they fit beautifully.

Jenn Breisacher: Yeah.

Dr. Marissa Kase: They do. They fit beautifully and for my dissertation, I did a lot of research on teachers’ perspectives on social-emotional learning. The biggest thing that I heard was, we don’t have time. We don’t have time to teach another thing. Social skills can be taught so beautifully through reading, so beautifully, and actually to the point where you can teach a reading standard and simultaneously teach a social skill within the same lesson.

Jenn Breisacher: So, I like how you put that because that was exactly what my next point was going to be. Most teachers are like, we don’t have time for this. Some schools are training and then trying to make it an additional curriculum that you have to go in there that you have to do these particular activities and this and that, but you’re saying that you can incorporate them into the things that you are doing every day.

That’s a big promoter of all of the things that I talk about in-between my course and everything else is you can do so many things at once and actually make it easier on yourself when you plan it out. But can you give maybe just an example because I know there are people listening right now saying how do you do two things at once? How are you going to teach a kid how to deal with their emotions while you’re trying to teach a reading standard?

Click for Free SCL ideas

Dr. Marissa Kase: There are a lot of books that people don’t think about that teach social skills. One of my favorite books to read to my kids and to use for social skills lesson is the book “Chrysanthemum.” If you think about the book, the book is about a little character who loves her name, and she goes to school, and she’s teased because of her name and then she feels sad. Now she doesn’t want that to be her name through the whole book.

Well, that is bullying. That is what to do when you feel sad. That is, how to talk about differences. That’s three different social skills in one book. I know that book is used in a lot of reading curriculums in general as a read-aloud or as a shared reading lesson.

So, to take that extra 30 seconds to be, let’s look at the picture. How does Chrysanthemum look like she’s feeling? Chrysanthemum looks like she’s feeling sad. What are some things that you do when you feel sad or how do you know if she feels sad? What can you see on her body that tells you she feels sad? Just drawing that connection to maybe she’s frowning, maybe her heads down, her arms are crossed.

Well, when your friend feels sad, do they look the same way, or do they look different? Making that text-to-world connection of hey, wait a minute, this character doesn’t just look like this when they’re sad. My friends look like this when they’re sad too. How would you feel if you came to school and everyone was making fun of your name?

You’re pulling these real-life skills out of the book that you already had to teach It’s a 30-second conversation here and a 45-second conversation there and by the time you’re at the book, you can wrap up your standard and wrap up and say, so Chrysanthemum started out really, really happy and then she ran into a problem and that problem made her sad. What else do you think Chrysanthemum could have done?

She doesn’t really do anything in the story. So, what else could she have done to maybe help her feel better, faster or what are some things that a grown-up could have done to help Chrysanthemum get along better with the other kids in her class? You’ve already read the book, you already had to do the book. So, you’ve taught your standard and you’ve started dragging in that social-emotional piece and it didn’t take you any more time than your already built-in 15-minute read-aloud or whatever it is.

Jenn Breisacher: That’s a really great idea. What about the teacher that’s listening right now that’s like, I teach juniors in high school and we don’t do books, we have a curriculum that we have to stick to, and how am I supposed to add this extra element in?

Dr. Marissa Kase: I mean, looking at, from a literary standpoint, any literary piece, there’s some kind of character in the piece, nine times out of 10, there’s some kind of character and they experience some kind of problem and a lot of those problems are related to social skill, because there’s a gamut of them.

But even just looking at teachable moments. I mean when you go to school for education, that’s one of the things you hear all the time teachable moments, teachable moments. You don’t always really realize they’re there until they happen and you’re like, well, wait a minute. So, you’re coming in yelling about the way your boyfriend makes you feel.

So, let’s take a minute to break this down. Yeah, is it taking a minute or two out of your day? Yes. But you’re providing that whole social skills lesson and you’re probably calming that student down at the same time using things that are happening every day.

Look at society, right now, there are plenty of examples for a high school, especially history teacher, civics teacher to look at what’s going on in the world and say, how could this be handled? What are we learning from this? Sportsmanship with the election, they kind of go hand in hand. What happens when you win? What happens when you lose? How do you handle that? Because I mean, that’s a problem we see even looking at professional sports.

Jenn Breisacher: Yeah.

Dr. Marissa Kase: What happens when you win and what happens when you lose? That’s a social skill that we should have taught at three. So, it’s just looking for those little things and it’s not to have a 20-minute conversation. It’s to have that two-minute just stop and think and how can you apply this and then maybe refer back to it in a couple of days. Hey, you remember when we talked about showing sportsmanship?

Well, at the football game Friday night we lost. Who was there? How do you think they handled it? Just that quick little because we are. We’re preparing our kids, whether they’re five or 15 to go out into the world. The world isn’t always a very easy place. So, we want to make sure they’re socially and emotionally ready to handle that.

Jenn Breisacher: And so many aren’t.

Dr. Marissa Kase: That’s the problem. There was a study done in I want to say 2015 and it pretty much said that 60% of kids that enter kindergarten are academically ready for kindergarten. So, they have an idea of their letters they’ve gone through all of that but only 40% of them are emotionally ready for kindergarten.

Jenn Breisacher: Interesting.

social-emotional learning

Dr. Marissa Kase: That’s four of 10 kids. So, if you have 20 kindergarteners running around your classroom, you have eight of them who are emotionally ready to be there and 12 of them who are not.

Jenn Breisacher: Then it already starts the gap of the kids who seem to have it together don’t get as much attention, because we need to focus on the ones that are struggling.

Dr. Marissa Kase: Correct. So, this is the best part, a lot of social skills, especially early on, lead to an academic increase. So, multiple studies have been done that show that students who have a higher emotional competence, or a higher social competence also have higher academic performance. Those are the skills we need to sit and attend. Those are the skills we need to ask for help when we don’t understand.

Those are the skills we need to not shut down when we get frustrated. So, especially early on taking those extra couple of minutes to teach just naturally teach those skills, you’re actually increasing their chance of academic success. There’s a direct correlation between the two.

Jenn Breisacher: It’s fascinating. What would you suggest for the teacher who attempts to have the 45-second, two-minute conversation, and then they realize they have opened up a rabbit hole, and the kids just want to talk, or they find out that there is a student that has a particular issue that kind of sparked for them, but they can’t take the time in class or they can’t speak with that individual student at that time? What would you suggest they do?

Dr. Marissa Kase: Depending on the age of the student and their ability have them write it down. Have them sit there and let all of them… Say, alright, we have 30 seconds now, write down any questions that you have left, any comments that you have left. You can put your name on it, you cannot, and we’ll turn them in at the end. I’ll look through them and I’ll figure out where to go because a lot of the kids probably have the same questions.

So, you can look, and you can see well, maybe we’ll quickly throw this one in. This goes with what we’re doing here so we’ll just throw that in. So, you have an idea of how they’re processing it, because we want to open that door.

We want to say, hey, I’m here to help you and it’s hard because gal, we have to teach math and we have to teach reading and we have to teach writing and the tests and the scores, and it’s hard. But at the end of the day, we’re still looking at children who for some of them spend more time with us than they do with parents. So, we still want to create that I’m here for you, you’re safe, you can ask me your questions.

Then if you do have a kiddo who is maybe writing down an actual problem or an actual hard time, you can see it, you can preview it, and you can figure out well, maybe come to class a minute or two early tomorrow and we’ll just have a chat. Maybe even start a journal where he can write, and you can respond. You can just do it and drop it off in the morning, I’ll give it to you tomorrow deal.

We did a buddy system. We were starting to do that with some of our fifth graders before COVID where they had a mentor teacher and we made journals. The student could write, and then you could respond, and you just handed it back and forth because they weren’t our kids. We didn’t have that time with them. Their lunch doesn’t match my lunch, but it still opens that door for communication, and then it’s all written down.

So, you don’t have to worry about any of that those gray areas because you have the full record of essentially the conversation because nowadays you have to be careful of everything. So, I mean, that covers you there as well. Yeah, especially once you get into emotional situations especially with older kids. You don’t know where that emotional situation is going to go and that way you don’t have to worry about what my teacher said.

Jenn Breisacher: Yeah. I think that’s also good because it also shows especially if you’re buddying in one form or another with a teacher that you don’t have, it almost opens up to show that all teachers are allies. Most kids do feel comfort with one or two teachers and that’s okay but it’s good to know hey, I’ve never had any of these teachers teach me.

I know that if I have a problem, I can go to them or my friend has been talking with Mrs. So, and So or Mr. So, and so and he seems great and I feel like I can go and talk to them if I need to and it really opens up that ability to have conversations if they’re needed.

Dr. Marissa Kase: They can go to an adult or they can go to their friends.

Jenn Breisacher: Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Marissa Kase: That’s how I look at it and 10, 12, 14 year old’s going to their friends for advice is not always a safe option.

Jenn Breisacher: No.

Dr. Marissa Kase: So, to open those doors to teach those skills to say, hey, it’s okay to ask for help. Here’s how we ask for help, another social skill. This is how we appropriately asked for help. This is how we initiate a conversation. You can come up to me and say, hey, I know you’re super busy, but at some point, I’d really like to talk to you, something’s bothering me.

Nine times out of 10, almost every teacher can find some time in their day to be like, hey, you know what, you have lunch at 11 o’clock swing by here, we’ll talk for a couple of minutes.

Yeah, you give up your time here or there but to know that they’re willing to come to you instead of trying to figure it out on their own, especially if they don’t have the skills to do it. You’re talking about one of these juniors or seniors in high school who didn’t get that emotional social instruction growing up.

Now we do have a lower emotional quotient. We may not know the appropriate way to do things or the socially acceptable way to do things and we’re going to figure it out on our own.

Jenn Breisacher: Yeah, just thinking of situations that I have seen or been through and in my high school teaching career that yes, that’s a very, very real thing.

Dr. Marissa Kase: It starts with our babies. Think about kindergarten, what kindergarten was 10, 15, 20 years ago where you had playtime, and there were toys in the classroom. There are no toys in kindergarten anymore. So, where are we learning to share? If that skills not explicitly taught where are we learning to share?

Preschool is not required. In some states, kindergarten is not even mandatory. Where I live, kindergarten isn’t mandated. So, now you’re coming in at six years old and may have never stepped foot in a classroom or another social environment.

Jenn Breisacher: That’s crazy.

Dr. Marissa Kase: It’s scary to think about and what are you supposed to do as that first-grade teacher who gets this kiddo who’s never had to really interact with a large group of peers or who’s been home for six years? That you have to teach these skills because they’ve may not have been taught.

Jenn Breisacher: Right. It’s crazy to think about but it’s very real and I think any teacher or administrator listening right now can probably think of a couple of kids at least if they go oh, yeah, that’s probably it right there. So, what would you suggest for an administrator or administrative team that’s like, we know that this is really important, and they take it too far.

They say we’re going to have a curriculum, or we’re going to do this or, they just aren’t sure how to implement it, or they have teachers that are resistant because again, they just still think it’s a whole bunch of hogwash, and we don’t have time and the kids will just learn and we all learned. What would you suggest for those situations?

Dr. Marissa Kase: Some curriculums are great. I’m not going to lie. Myself and my dissertation partner are currently working on one that’s tied directly to reading like I mentioned so that it’s not something else. But really look at it because some of the curriculums that are out there for social-emotional learning aren’t directly teaching a social skill. They teach a lot of communication skills, which is great.

But there is so much more to social-emotional learning than just your ability to communicate. It’s great to be able to interact with a peer but that’s one of the easier skills to teach naturally because the kids are all in one room.

COVID makes it a little harder but in general, kids will more or less talk to each other. So really, really look at it and be open to your teachers making adaptations that work for their classroom, because the teachers can see what’s going on and they can see, especially if the skills are taught in order.

When a social skills curriculum is written, the author of the curriculum usually comes up with their idea of the correct sequence to teach the skills. But the reality is, anger might be skill 14 and you have some really angry children at the beginning of the year, and waiting till week 14 to teach what to do when you’re angry doesn’t work.

Jenn Breisacher: Right.

Dr. Marissa Kase: So, be open to teachers being you know what, we need this one right now…

Jenn Breisacher: Yeah.

Dr. Marissa Kase: …because it’s true. When you write a curriculum, you look at what you think is best. It’s the same thing when you set up your lineup for your podcasts. You put them in the order that you think makes the most sense but one of your listeners going through especially if they find you towards the end of the season maybe you know what, I’m really struggling with this right now.

So, instead of listening to all the ones before it, and then this one, I’m going to listen here first. There’s nothing wrong with that.

These are all standalone skills. Yes, they can tie together, just like your podcasts. They’re all standalone podcasts. Yes, they flow beautifully together but they’re all standalone sessions. So, just be open to your teachers trying to do as best for their kids because, at the end of the day, that’s what 98% of teachers are doing.

Jenn Breisacher: Right.

Dr. Marissa Kase: They’re just trying to do what’s best for their kids and to make their kids successful and no class runs the same.

Jenn Breisacher: That is very true, I preach that all the time. You can have a lesson or a project that you’ve done 1000 times and you get another group of kids in front of you, and you’re just like, nope.

Dr. Marissa Kase: Not going to work. So, you have some kids who come in, and as I said, you need that anger lesson right off the bat. You need that, what to do when you lose lesson right off the bat. So, be open to teachers modifying for what their class needs. Some of these curriculums are too hard. Having taught special ed for so long, I’m giving curriculums, and sometimes I’m like, none of my friends can talk in here.

So, these lessons on how to introduce yourself when we’re still in the early stages of picture communication not super going to work right now.

Jenn Breisacher: Right.

Dr. Marissa Kase: So, instead of doing that, maybe I’m just going to teach everyone to wait first. Be open to that, because most of the time, they’re not just blatantly ignoring what you’re asking them to do. They want to do it, but what your hand the tool you’re handing them to do it with may not work. That’s like if somebody gives you a gardening tool, and you’re like, I know a faster way to get this done.

Jenn Breisacher: Yeah, you’ve got to rely on the expert in the room. You have to for sure.

Dr. Marissa Kase: So, just be patient, because social skills are so important. But like you said, it can open a rabbit hole. It can, or you can be, okay, we’re just going to go over, what to do when you’re sad. Then you realize that you have kids that cry every time something happens and that takes time, that could potentially be you know what, we’re not going to teach this academic lesson today because we really need to address this issue.

Because you can’t have children cry all day long and it happens, I’m sure you have elementary kids who are very emotional.

They come from different backgrounds with different home lives and you’re like, okay, we’re very sad. It shouldn’t just be, go see the mental health professional. I think that’s important. You need to get them in your corner 100%. Don’t put social skills off of just your mental health professional because that individual sees how many students, they may or may not be able to get to that student every time they’re sad. It needs to be a collective effort.

Your other kids need to know what to do when that kid is sad. They need to understand maybe let’s not stare at them and watch them cry. Maybe let’s not go, miss, she’s crying. It seems like such a well, that’s common sense.

Jenn Breisacher: Is it. No, it’s not yeah. When you are looking at it on paper, it seems like it is but in practice, it’s not.

Dr. Marissa Kase: At seven, that’s not a skill. mean, it’s definitely in kindergarten, and those kids will tell you everything everyone in the room is doing. I’ve had students go, excuse me, he’s hitting you. I think I got that. Thank you.

Jenn Breisacher: Thank you so much. If it wasn’t for you.

Dr. Marissa Kase: So, it’s one of those things where we as adults, especially socially and emotionally competent adults which I would like to say that most teachers are. We look at it and go well, that’s common sense. What do you mean I have to teach that? That common sense.

But then even if you look at it within your own life and think of that adult who has had incidents with the law or has had incidents with maybe mental health, or you know, has a temper, or any of that.

Just thinking of those people in your own mind and you’re if that was so common sense why do here we sit. Our kids grow up and if we’re not teaching if we’re not taking the time to teach them while they’re in school, while they’re still in that bubble.

Jenn Breisacher: Yes. Yes.

Dr. Marissa Kase: We keep them in a bubble until they’re 18 and then we pop the bubble, and we say goodbye. If we don’t take the time to teach those skills in the bubble, once that bubble pops, who’s teaching it.

Jenn Breisacher: The wrong people most of the time. Yes.

Dr. Marissa Kase: So, it’s worth that. Be patient, as a teacher be patient. As an administrator, be patient. Know that common sense isn’t so common and common sense at 30. and common sense at seven is very, very far from the same thing.

Jenn Breisacher: Yes, common sense until that frontal lobe develops is non-existent.

Dr. Marissa Kase: Which is why at like, 25…

Jenn Breisacher: 26, I think yeah.

Dr. Marissa Kase: So, I mean, the whole time they’re in that bubble, we can just assume that common sense, is hit or miss. So just teach it all, take the time, take the chance at saying, you know what, maybe this lesson will take me a day longer because you don’t know the impact of that day.

Jenn Breisacher: Right. It could be something that they actually end up remembering forever.

Dr. Marissa Kase: It could be a skill that essentially like these are skills that could save lives. I know that sounds really, really extreme, and really, really dramatic but when you look at things like suicide rates, the emotional competence of those kiddos isn’t great because they didn’t know what to do.

They didn’t know how to process it. They didn’t know how to ask for help. They didn’t know how to problem-solve. All of those social skills. So, that extra day that you took the teacher math lesson because you decided to have a longer conversation about what to do when you’re upset or how to say no which is a really big social skill that most people completely overlook.

Jenn Breisacher: It’s true.

Dr. Marissa Kase: Because we teach kids, you do what grown-ups say which is a dangerous lesson to teach.

Jenn Breisacher: Yes.

Dr. Marissa Kase: So, taking the time to say, and there are so many books on it, too. So many great, especially children’s books and children’s books are also okay in high school.

Jenn Breisacher: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I’ve used plenty.

Dr. Marissa Kase: Take that time, take that time to read that book and be like, hey, listen with what’s going on in the world right now or with what’s on the news? Something’s always on the news. With what’s on the news. I just wanted to connect that to this and talk about how that impacts you, especially in high school.

Jenn Breisacher: Yeah, that’s a really easy way to do that.

Dr. Marissa Kase: How does this impact you? So, I mean, just take the day because you don’t know what the end result of that is.

Jenn Breisacher: So true, such good advice, such good advice. So, if there’s a teacher out there, or administrator or whatever, that just wants to learn a little bit more Do you have any resources that you absolutely love?

Dr. Marissa Kase: Castle is great, and they do have a lot of free resources. It’s hard because district by district, ever since… I’m from Florida, so ever since Stoneman Douglas here social-emotional learning is rocketing. So, almost every district, and I know it kind of pushes out through the country.

Social-emotional learning, a lot of districts have something so it’s hard. But there are so many great free resources. The biggest thing I can say, though, is to look for a book. If you Google “children’s book about,” you’d be surprised the books that come up, because I’ve used books, like “Giraffes Can’t Dance” to teach a social skill.

When you think of the book, “Giraffes Can’t Dance” you don’t immediately think of social skills but when you look at it, you’re like, wait a minute, I can use this. It’s a great opportunity for your kiddos. So, look for a book that would be honestly one of the best things I can say.

There are lists and lists out there of books that resemble different social skills and don’t always go for the obvious one. “Today, I Feel Silly” is a great book. It’s super for kindergarten in first grade because it’s a cute book that shows all the emotions. But there are a lot of other books that can teach about emotions…

Jenn Breisacher: The implementation of those emotions.

Dr. Marissa Kase: ..and it’s not that direct, especially as the kids get older, you want to move away from that direct tell them, no, or this is what happy looks like. You want to move into more of that processing and application because you want them to be able to look at a situation because, in that situation, they’re not going to be like, oh, that’s sad.

Jenn Breisacher: When you have older students, it’s fantastic if you could find a book from their childhood that they remember and then be like, let’s talk what this is actually about. Not in this term but I used to use Dr. Seuss all the time in my history class because so many of those books are actually about or related to a historical event. “The Butter Battle Book” it’s all about the Cold War.

We would look at that in the class. They’d be like what! You could just see their brain is from their ears because they’re like, oh my gosh, this is like communism and… That’s right. We could do a whole thing, but it’s Dr. Seuss, you know.

Dr. Marissa Kase: And it’s fine, especially with the older kids. They work so hard. We push them so hard to have that minute to be a kid because they are still kids. It’s so cool. They love those moments. It’s like do you know today I got to read “The Butter Battle Book” in history class. It’s those moments.

Jenn Breisacher: It’s the things they remember. Absolutely. So, on that note, if anybody has listened to you today and says, I need to talk to her more, I need to hear more of what she has to say, or I have questions. What is the best way for them to reach you?

Dr. Marissa Kase: They can reach me on my social media, which is @ausomelyASD on Instagram. I also have Twitter, which is @DrKase_ASD. So, they’re welcome to reach out to me on social media and I’m happy to help anyone who has questions or point them in a direction or possibly give them a resource if I just haven’t had one on hand, but there’s a chance I do.

But absolutely, it’s something that I’m super passionate about and I think that it is so much more than everyone thinks is.

Jenn Breisacher: Absolutely. So, thank you so much for being on today. I think this is going to be so helpful for so many people

Dr. Marissa Kase: Thank you for having me. I’m so excited.

Social-Emotional Learning and the 4 Keys

Finding ways to naturally incorporate social-emotional learning into the classroom isn’t difficult, it just needs to ebb and flow with the students and where they are (physically, mentally, and emotionally). Being flexible is the key to making all of this work. The key is engagement. There are four keys to student engagement that I discuss in my video training challenge that releases twice per year. It is called “Finding Your Student Engagement Formula” and it walks you through those four keys and how to implement them in the classroom.

If you are interested in registering (it’s totally free), visit the Finding Your Student Engagement Formula Challenge registration page and you will be notified the next time the series is available.

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