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children at Rodef Shalom in Denver; Photo by Tamanna Rumee on Unsplash

Building Caring Community Classrooms Through Supportive Social Learning

We’ve all had to adapt to a virtual format for so many things this past year, including conferences and other professional development experiences. Though most participants (as well as those of us facilitating learning sessions) have truly missed the in-person connection, as virtual conferences go, these two should prove to be especially powerful and engaging:

Both conferences are sure to be inspiring and will allow for active engagement and reflection with other passionate, progressive early childhood educators. An exciting aspect of the ECEpalooza is their partnering with the Boulder Journey School (BJS) to offer an add-on option for also participating in the virtual BJS conference along with two follow-up sessions facilitated by BJS staff and myself. I’ll be infusing the dialogue with related Jewish wisdom to seamlessly connect the content with our values.  The focus for the BJS conference on Supportive Social Learning is especially exciting for me as I find it to be so foundational in helping educators to reframe their mindset and approach to challenging behavior in the classroom.

So just what is Supportive Social Learning?  Rather than being a technique, it’s a frame of mind or attitude that an educator brings to their practice with empathy and relationships at its base. It’s an approach where educators create a culture in their classroom that results in compassionate communities where empathy and perspective-taking are modeled and lived by adults and children alike. Educators who employ this approach send a message to the class through their tone, actions, and words that we all have a responsibility to help everyone in the group to be successful social beings and, they have a strong belief in the capability of children to overcome problems and be socially successful.  You can read more about the four components of Supportive Social Learning and an example of it in practice in this article written by the late Ellen Hall, former Executive Director of the Boulder Journey School, and Jennifer Kofkin Rudkin. I look forward to hearing and unpacking the powerful stories of human connection, and community care in the early childhood classrooms of the Boulder Journey School in June and sharing more on this topic following the conference.

If you are interested in building your understanding and skills related to challenging behavior, another online conference coming up is the 4th Annual Transforming Challenging Behavior Online Conference on April 28-May 4, 2021.  It’s free of charge and has some wonderful speakers and topics.