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Pedagogical Stance: Social & Emotional Community Development 

Why are social & emotional development critical to learning?

Alfie Kohn’s quote from his definitive work Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community speaks most eloquently to how I see the principle of social and emotional development and how it relates to academic excellence.

As adults we are very cognizant of the fact that we need multiple abilities to be valid participants in society. Our emotional, social and academic intelligence all play a part. However, oftentimes we don’t or can't show students the same courtesy, and focus only on the academic criteria. 

It is my goal to create a safe space in the classroom by building a strong classroom community, where students support each other. This support and safety net can then allow students to learn fearlessly. To believe that their community respects everyone's opinions, and supports everyone's learning, allows each student to think, question and learn for the true love of learning. 

“Students need to feel safe in order to take intellectual risks; they must be comfortable before they can venture into the realm of discomfort… The moral is: if you want academic excellence, you will have to attend to how children feel about school and about each other.” (Kohn, 103)

Teaching Practice

Gratitude Journals during Community Circle

What is a Gratitude Journal?

Students have been given gratitude journals - a place to write down something they are grateful for everyday. 
The directions clarify that this must be something that is more a quality and not an object. e.g. I am grateful for happiness that comes from having good friendships.

How will this help with Social & Emotional Development?

Gratitude is considered the first step in building postive relationships. 

" The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness ....  a thankful appreciation... people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences,...and build strong relationships."( Harvard health)


Students are told, "Make this yours. Add images and text that makes this journal your safe space." 


Day 1: Students were told to use the journal to write something about THEMSELVES that they loved. 


Because you have to see your own strengths and what is amazing about yourself.


Students had a chance to share their own strengths with their community.


Over the course of the year, students will build on this and will be given guidance on what to focus on when they write until they are capable of finding their own prompts.


Tell Your Story.


Make Change.

Student Work

Gratitude Journals 

Teacher Research

Wellness in Elementary Schools


Research paper about wellness, education and elementary schools.

Restorative Justice

Research about restorative justice practices in elementary schools.

Kohn, A. *(2006). The classroom as community. In Beyond Discipline: From compliance to community (pp. 101-119). Alexandria, VA: ASCD(ebook)
Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). Giving thanks can make you happier. Retrieved from
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