Our guidance class focus for this month has shifted from kindness and self-awareness to emotional regulation as a part of our anti-bullying campaign.
To capture students’ attention, every lesson began with the toothpaste activity. I took out a tube of toothpaste, passed it around the class, and asked each student to squeeze the toothpaste onto a plate. They reported that it was easy to do so. When I asked them to put it back exactly the way it had been before, the said that it was very difficult for them. I explained that it is a similar process when we say hurtful words in a moment of anger, and that we must practice self-control to think before we say something we might later regret.
Early Years classes focused on reading stories about anger and feeling left out, then brainstormed solutions to the stories as a class. Kindergarten classes analyzed picture scenarios of bullying in the playground and came up with solutions for each of the characters depicted. For third and fourth grade, we focused on creating a Wheel of Choice wherein each student got a slice of the circle and drew or wrote their preferred ways to calm themselves down. We assembled the wheel as a class and displayed them in the classrooms so that students can refer to them whenever they feel upset.
High school guidance classes have been focusing on the adolescent brain and how to navigate the structural and chemical changes that accompany adolescence. We have been learning basic aspects of neuroscience and how activity in the amygdala and prefrontal cortex influence our behavior.