Celebrating Black History Month

February marks Black History Month, a month honoring the contributions of Black American Men and Women to America. President Biden, in his Proclamation of National Black History Month 2021, tasks us “to make racial justice and equity part of what we do today, tomorrow, and every day.”

As educators, we must provide optimum learning environments for all students. A cultural responsive learning environment creates inclusive learning opportunities where all students thrive. It celebrates diversity and impacts learning, student engagement and students’ social-emotional well-being.

Learn strategies for identifying and eliminating systemic bias while celebrating student diversity and promoting equity with our on-demand Culturally Responsive Classrooms webinar series:

Understanding Structural Racism and Its Impact on Students

Promoting Equity Through Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices

Culturally Affirming Social-Emotional Learning Practices


Students learn best when they have real-life and hands-on learning experiences. Join our Thursdays at 4pm sessions to learn innovative ways to get and keep students involved in learning with 21 Century Tools:

Feb. 4 – Designing a Multimedia Project

Feb 11 – Publish a Video Online

Feb. 18 – Publishing a Podcast

Feb. 25 – Publishing a Blog

Guided Math in Action Workshops

Reserve your spot for our Guided Math Month

Differentiate your math instruction with small group math instruction. Join our Guided Math in Action series to discuss setting up, implementing and evaluation a guided math group. Starting in March, this series will support instruction now and to help close the COVID loss for our ‘new normal’ in September.

Reserve your spot and register today:

Tuesdays @4pm: Guided Math in Action K – Gr. 2

Thursdays @4 pm: Guided Math in Action Gr. 3-5

We Want to Hear from You

Would you like to submit an article for inclusion or highlights from your school community? Do you have a comment or suggestion?

Energizing Your Digital Toolkit!

The winter months are a great time to pause and reflect on the type of media students consume both inside and outside of the classroom. If you’ve noticed students are watching a lot of videos online, you may want to introduce a podcast into their routine.

There are lots of student-friendly podcasts and children don’t need to have an app or phone to listen to a podcast. Students can stream a podcast episode straight from a web browser using a free tool like Google Podcasts (even if you don’t use Google in your school, this works on any web browser). You can share links to episodes of popular, kid-friendly podcasts like Wow in the World, Storynory, and Circle Round. Sharing podcasts with families is another great option if you plan on recommending resources for learning at home.

Monica Burns is a guest contributor to the Long Island PDRC Newsletter.

Leadership Conversations: Integrating SEL into our Schools

As we approach the one year anniversary of the pandemic in the middle of March, many of us find ourselves welcoming kids back into buildings, persisting with virtual instruction, or some combination of the two. Of course, no matter the age of students we serve, we know that all young people – and all of us adults, too! – have been through several months unlike any we had experienced before. While there is all sorts of speculation about the impact the pandemic will have on learning, there is no question that the social distancing, loss and isolation many students have experienced requires newfound energy and attention to be given to their social-emotional needs. But where to begin?

Luckily for teachers and leaders, one great resource for tackling this big topic can be found in the book Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom: Practical Guide for Integrating All SEL Skills into Instruction and Classroom Management. Written in 2017 by Ribas, Brady and Hardin, the authors outline five skills that can be deliberately taught throughout the day. These skills include, self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, and relationship management. As you read through those five skills, I’m sure you are already beginning to think, “Oh yeah, following this pandemic my students are definitely going to need support in that area.” One way to read through this is to determine which skills emerge as the most important at this particular moment in time, and how can teachers support throughout their day?

  1. Self-Awareness is described as the ability to recognize one’s own emotions and thoughts and how they influence behavior. The authors suggest goal setting, socratic seminar, journaling and partner work as classroom activities that support this skill.
  2. Self-Management is described as the ability to successfully regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior in different situations to manage stress and impulses and motivate oneself, and the authors share that restorative justice discussions, conflict resolution, peer mediation and self-assessments support the building of this muscle.
  3.  Social Awareness is described as the ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds. One has to wonder, for kids who have spent tremendous amounts of time on their own, might they need more support and attention in this area? The authors offer that service learning, accountable talk (group/partner work), role playing and Socratic seminars all help build this skill.
  4.  Relationship Management is described by the authors as the ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. Consider how service learning, group work and collaborative, project-based learning assignments can enhance this skill. So many of our kids have worked alone, on screens, in isolation from one another. We will need to spend many months, and likely years, supporting them in this area.
  5. Responsible Decision-Making is the ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethics, safety, and social norms. As we welcome kids back to school, and as we continue to support them virtually, consider how structured debates, problem solving with case studies and regular classroom meetings might support students here.

Rather than thinking of social-emotional learning in isolation – as something that only happens during morning meeting or advisory, or strictly as the work of guidance counselors – let’s work with teachers to think broadly about how these skills can be integrated into our daily plans and instruction. In this way, sound instructional practices can help close learning gaps while supporting kids in the ways they’ll need as the pandemic winds down and life returns to a new normal.

Mitch Center is a monthly contributor to our Leadership Corner Conversation and provides leadership professional development for The Long Island PDRC.

This newsletter is presented by Catapult Learning in partnership with the New York State Department of Education.

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