Rituals That Will Enhance Your Self-Care (Part 2)

By Orfelina Cisneros

Earlier this week I shared how you can use affirmations and practicing gratitude as part of your self-care routine . There is no doubt that the past year has been challenging to handle for many of us educators; we feel isolated and lonely and limited on the things we can do. Despite that, it is a new season for a fresh start and new opportunities to move forward and make the best choices we can at this time. Self-care supports all dimensions of wellness, and if we add daily rituals to our daily self-care practices, we will be happier, positive, and purposeful with our lives. Today, I bring you two additional strategies I’ve used to support staff and students during the pandemic:

Journaling has the benefit of collecting our thoughts, and it is an easy way to let go of things you can’t change. There is not any specific way for journaling besides allowing your mind to unpack by writing down your thoughts. This practice is not limited to any particular topic, and you don’t need an agenda besides a few minutes at any time that works for you. One simple way is to start with the questions: What do I want? What do I need? The rest will be up to how much time you can invest in allowing your thoughts to dissolve while writing. Just getting started on journaling? Here’s a great website to help you as you begin: https://www.developgoodhabits.com/what-write-journal/

Kind Notes
Sending a written note is one of the most significant ways to connect with others. Sending others words of encouragement and support is something that no one can have enough of. Sometimes sharing how we feel and caring about others is the best kind thing we can do for ourselves. Many of us have felt isolated during quarantine, and writing kind notes is a simple way to connect and engage with others, as well as build our sense of belonging. A message to appreciate others can be someone you know or a stranger you wish to send loving-kindness. You can find out more about kind notes here: https://jenniferbelthoff.com/love-notes

Have you used journaling or kind notes as self-care within your school community? As you celebrate Educator Appreciation Week, how have you been encouraging self-care? We’d love to learn from your experiences! Leave a note in the comments or find us on Twitter @InclusiveEdNY

About Orfelina
Orfelina Cisneros is a professional school counselor working at the Academy of the City Charter Middle School. She is passionate about helping children and adults use social-emotional tools and strategies to become aware of managing emotions and feelings to support their daily self-care practices. Feel free to reach out at ocisneros@academyofthecity.org

Meeting the Needs of Your Special Populations

By Jessica Bloom

Wishing you a happy Educator Appreciation Week! Below is a PD on Demand where I’ll walk you through resources I use to support our amazing teachers in differentiating instruction for students with disabilities and multilingual learners. You can download the PD on Demand resources here as you follow along with the 4-minute screencast below:


About Jessica
Jessica Bloom is the Director of Student Supports at MESA Charter High School.

Using Virtual Morning Meeting to Support SEL

By Anna Reeve

It’s Educator Appreciation Week and educators truly deserve appreciation right now. The 2020-2021 school year has turned out to be a school year unlike any other for students across the country. In New York City, we’ve seen schools open, close, open again, not open and stay remote – our school communities are being called to display more flexibility and adaptivity than ever before.

With so much constant change, it’s important that students feel some sense of routine and stability. Conducting a morning meeting – even virtually – every single morning helps to support students emotionally as they start the day. In a virtual context, morning meeting becomes even more important to support students in feeling a sense of significance and belonging and creating a safe space where every student feels included. When done best, morning meeting also sets a fun and positive tone for the day and motivates reluctant students to logon to online learning on time.

Here are a few quick tips to creating a strong virtual morning meeting:

  • Start your morning meeting by playing music – you can survey your students to find out their favorite songs and as they log on and hear a song playing, they have to guess whose favorite song is playing.
  • Have a riddle on the screen when students log on so that they have something fun to think about as they wait for classmates to log on.
  • Create a “virtual carpet” with student photos to simulate the order of a greeting.
  • Use breakout rooms for share questions to simulate turn and talks.
  • Include movement and whole class participation for group activities as they are adapted to a virtual context.
  • Choose an SEL competency to focus on each month and create share questions, group activities, and morning messages around this theme.

Check out this montage of morning meeting clips from Brooklyn Prospect Downtown Elementary School and for ideas of even more virtual group activities, click here.

Remember, the same way our adult morning routines help prepare us physically, socially, emotionally, and mentally prepare for the day, in remote learning, we can support students similarly through strong morning meetings!

Which idea(s) would you like to “steal” for your own practice? How have you been creating community in your classrooms? Let us know in the comments or on our Twitter!

Anna has worked as a special education teacher, coordinator, and dean for over a decade. She provides resources and professional development to schools with a focus on literacy instruction and culturally responsive practices. She is also currently a literacy specialist and coach with Brooklyn Prospect Charter School.

Prioritizing Student Voice

By Erin Rougeux

Happy Educator Appreciation Week! As I reflect on what gets me through the long hours and hard work, I can think of one thing that stands above all others. Our students are the reason we show up, in person or virtually, to work each day, so it is their voices we should listen to first. For years I have worked to establish structures and routines in my classroom to seek feedback from my students, but as we transitioned to learning amidst a pandemic this became both more challenging and even more important.

Teachers make hundreds of decisions a day while attempting to best serve their students’ needs. We are constantly asking ourselves: Did they get it? or Why didn’t they understand this? Rather than guess: ask. This practice will not only give you valuable insight into how your students learn, but also help you to get to know your students, and demonstrate your dedication to improvement alongside them.

Methods to Seek Student Voice

Weekly feedback forms through Google Forms Brief reflections after a task Socio-emotional check-ins

Some things you can do to gather input and incorporate student voice in your classroom:

  • Build in regular structures to ask for student input
  • Vary the questions or prompts based on what you’d like to learn more about (misconceptions, engagement, emotional support, etc.)
  • Explicitly name the importance and value you see in their feedback
  • Listen to, acknowledge, and incorporate the feedback they give

See something you’d like to try? How do you get feedback from your students? Let us know on Twitter @InclusiveEdNY or in the comments!

About Erin
Erin Rougeux (she/her) is an English Language Arts teacher at New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science III.

Rituals That Will Enhance Your Self-Care (Part 1)

By Orfelina Cisneros

Happy Educator Appreciation Week! A quick riddle for you: If you have three, you have three. If you have two, you have two. If you have one, you have none. What am I? The answer is choice! The more aware we are of the choices we have in practicing self-care, the more happy, positive, and purposeful we will be.

This has been a trying time for many of us educators. Technology can be great, but it can also feel like an invader as we spend hours on electronic devices, going through the day with many demands and seemingly very little time for anything but work. On the flip side, one of the things the pandemic has provided us is the opportunity to learn work-life balance, to take care of ourselves. Self-care is for everyone – educators, parents/caregivers, and students. The good news is that by doing small rituals every day and empowering our students to engage in learning practices to refocus and recharge, we can significantly impact our lives for the better.

There is no right way to practice self-care. You can choose what feels right for you. Below are two strategies I’ve implemented with adults and students alike to build in self-care moments throughout the day:

When was the last time you said something nice to yourself? Thinking and saying nice things the same way we speak to others should be part of our daily thing. Affirming ourselves with words and simple phrases like “I am capable of doing great things” is a practice that can challenge and overcome self-doubting and negative thoughts. Writing an affirmation every day, and placing it in a visible space (your computer, your mirror, your planner), will give you a boost to yourself. You can find daily affirmations here: https://www.uniquedailyaffirmations.com/

The practice of focusing on what is good in our lives and being thankful for the small things we have is called gratitude. It is pausing to notice and appreciate what we often take for granted, like having warm water coming out of your kitchen faucet, the ability to feel your hands, and the opportunity to see the sky. Gratitude allows us to think and reflect, and this helps to reduce stress, boost self-esteem, and healthily distract our brains. Building a habit of gratitude is as simple as paying attention to things you noticed and can freely enjoy. Pause for a moment to listen to yourself breathing or how it feels to massage your feet. I have found this extensive list helpful in naming different things for which I’m grateful: https://www.hustleandhearts.com/universal-gratitude-list-100-things-grateful/

Have you used the affirmations and practicing gratitude strategies successfully with your staff and students? Do you have any helpful resources to share? Leave a note in the comments or on our Twitter (@InclusiveEdNY ) and tune in later this week for Rituals That Will Enhance Your Self-Care (Part 2).

About Orfelina
Orfelina Cisneros is a professional school counselor working at the Academy of the City Charter Middle School.  She is passionate about helping children and adults use social-emotional tools and strategies to become aware of managing emotions and feelings to support their daily self-care practices. Feel free to reach out at ocisneros@academyofthecity.org