Author Archives: Michael Kaechele

SEL Infused PBL Workshops

I am excited to announce some brand new workshops this summer based off from my upcoming book, The Pulse of PBL: Seamlessly Integrating Social and Emotional Learning! (co-authored with the amazing Matinga Ragatz). Workshops will be offered virtually so any individual in the world can join in from the comfort of their internet hotspot. All workshops are interactive, modeling a Project Based Learning framework and include participants designing a plan to implement in their classroom. My workshops can also be customized for your school and facilitated remotely or in person (I am fully vaccinated).

SEL Infused PBL

July 26-30th 9:00am – 12:30pm EST Registration & Payment

(Recommended for teachers new to PBL. Space is limited to allow for personal coaching)

Meaningful Project Based Learning focuses inquiry on content and cultivates Social and Emotional Learning skills simultaneously. During this workshop educators will create their own PBL project integrated with SEL competencies by experiencing the PBL process themselves. Teachers from all levels and content areas will partake in a PBL environment full of protocols and structures instantly transferable to any classroom. This hands-on, comprehensive workshop will support teachers to confidently transition to SEL infused PBL inspiring students to change their world.

Transformative SEL: The Pulse of PBL

July 23rd 9:30am – 4pm EST Registration & Payment

(1, 2, or 3 day options are available for school workshops. Recommended for teachers with PBL experience. Space is limited to allow for personal coaching.)

With the trauma of the craziness of 2020, educators are paying more attention than ever to Social and Emotional Learning. Many teachers use mindfulness, yoga, and other exercises to help students focus, but these tools focus primarily on self-control and behavior management. The SEL competencies encompass so much more! Discover how to teach, practice, and assess ALL of the CASEL competencies in this hands-on workshop. SEL is the Pulse of PBL: the energy running through the veins of a project that gives life to PBL and develops students into self-reliant learners. Using a Project Based Learning framework, each participant will develop a personalized plan to cultivate all of their students’ SEL skills. 

SEL Experiences and Options for School PD:

All of the SEL workshops address common myths about SEL, best practices of SEL implementation, and how to teach, practice, and assess SEL within a Project Based Learning framework. Although ideally suited for PBL, the SEL strategies can be implemented in any K-12 classroom. Each participant will complete a personalized SEL plan for their students. Multiple day SEL workshops allow groups to add the following optional add-ons and focus areas:

  • Transformative SEL: Transformative SEL means that students don’t just practice CASEL competencies in a sterile environment, but address issues of justice and equity. Projects should be culturally responsive and scaffolded for all learners including special education and English Learners. Design powerful SEL experiences bent toward justice in the community. 
  • Extreme Project Makeover: Bring an old project, stale unit, or a new idea that you want to revamp for maximum impact. Share previous successes and challenges of SEL in your classroom. Integrate the SEL competencies with new protocols to develop a personalized plan to cultivate ALL of your students’ SEL skills. 
  • Focus on 1 Core Competency: CASEL organizes SEL into 5 core areas: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making. Tailor your workshop for a deep dive into specific strategies of one or more of these competencies.
  • Developing Oracy and Public Speaking Skills: Students don’t show up to your class as natural experts in Relationship Skills. They need to be taught SEL skills such as how to communicate effectively with their team and how to effectively share their ideas with the world. Discover specific strategies to improve student dialogue around controversial issues, negotiating group conflicts, and presenting their ideas publicly. 
  • Community Partnerships: PBL and SEL need to be seated in authentic contexts. Take your projects to a higher level with community partnerships to engage in local issues. Explore how partnerships in the community motivate students to practice SEL skills in meaningful problems with local experts.
  • Classroom Culture & Community: Launching into SEL and/or PBL for the first time can seem daunting. Experience proven structures and techniques to successfully establish classroom culture from the start of the year that encourages students to actively engage in tasks, take risks, and come together as a learning community. Individually or as a school team, design a plan for the opening weeks of school.
  • Project and Group Management: Responsible Decision-Making leads to work done efficiently and on-time. Discover specific tools and practices to help facilitate projects in the classroom. Roleplay common scenarios and practice using tools that teach students to problem solve and manage themselves, their teammates, and the project work. 
  • Leadership Through Service Learning: Brainstorm and plan a PBL project around specific needs in the community. Apply Transformative SEL and Community Partnerships to cultivate student leadership by investigating and tackling tough local problems to improve citizen’s lives.
  • Assessing SEL: Educators understand that if learning is important, it needs to be assessed (but not necessarily graded). Design a plan to effectively assess the different competencies throughout a project with an emphasis on goal-setting and personal growth.
  • Extended Work Time with Personalized Coaching: Multiple day workshops allow further time for planning SEL implementation of the strategies experienced in the workshop to teacher’s classrooms. During group work time, personalized feedback and coaching is provided.

Questions? Would you like to chat about customizing for your school? Connect with me at michaelkaechele.com or @mikekaechele on Twitter.

ABC’s of School Culture

https://twitter.com/saintfester/status/1377734427380432900

My friend James threw out this question in a tweet this week and received many intriguing responses. As I personally know many of the people who responded (not @FLOTUS obviously and am curious why @DairyQueen was included), I could see their personalities and passions reflected in their answers. I added a list of my own thoughts, but Twitter is never the place to flesh out complex ideas.

What I really wanted to say was just culture, that’s it. And if you have ever read my blog before, you know that I am passionate about integrating Social and Emotional Learning into Project Based Learning. But those are actually pedagogical frameworks to structure the ideal culture. And without the proper culture they fall flat and are ineffective.

Of course, there are many aspects of education that are complicated, nuanced, and attached to huge systems. But oftentimes what most holds educators back is a culture of fear of rejection based on the traditional perspective of how schools should function. If you have ever visited a school or class that was truly mind blowing in what students were doing, I can guarantee it had a strong culture that allowed it to deal with many of the systems and adversities that hold other schools back.

Every school has a culture, but what are the key ingredients of successful culture that should be adopted by all schools? One of the first things that young children learn are their ABC’s, as a basis for reading. Here are my ABC’s that are the foundation of a powerful school culture.

  • Action
  • Bravery
  • Curiosity
  • Caring

Culture of Caring

I know it starts with “C,”but we have to begin with caring. Kids first. Not the needs of adults in the system: control and compliance that squash individualism. Not the needs of the state: high standardized test scores that reject creativity. Not the needs of business: the economy above all else while neglecting inequities. Not the needs of curriculum: covering all of standards while boring students to death. All schools say that they care for children, but actions and school policies speak volumes.

Evidence of Caring? When it is obvious that students and adults in the building enjoy working together.

Successful schools value community and relationships above all else. Students are the customers that school is designed for, not passive objects that school is done to. Adults value empathy, not only as something to be taught to students, but modeled by involving students in all decision-making processes.

In caring schools, students and adults watch out for each other. They check in on mental health. They laugh at inside jokes. They geek out about passions and create class rituals. Social and Emotional Learning is not an add-on activity, but is integrated into the day with kids developing the competencies through authentic work. Caring is the bedrock that the rest of school culture is built upon.

Culture of Action

I am a firm believer that whoever is doing, is learning. Listening to a lecture and taking notes is NOT doing. Active learning means kids are moving, creating, experimenting, going outside, brainstorming, observing, speaking, collaborating, solving problems, asking their own questions, exploring, and making. SEL skills aren’t just being discussed, but actively practiced in their project teams.

Action means noise, not silence. Classroom management means the teacher is facilitating multiple groups doing different tasks, not watching quiet rows of compliant kids. Students aren’t “locked” in the classroom but spill into the hallways and outdoors. The room doesn’t look like a Pinterest picture, but shows evidence of student learning artifacts scattered throughout. Students are engaged in their work not bored by stale textbooks. They are creating meaningful products that reflect their learning, not cramming facts for tests.

Culture of Bravery

The overarching culture of traditional schools is control and compliance. Administrators demand it from teachers, who in turn require it from students. Great schools flip this model on it’s head and practice freedom. A culture of bravery means that districts reject everything that is not aligned to holistic student growth and learning. District level administration bravely rejects cultural and political pressure for high test scores, accountability measures, and standardization. They empower principals and teachers as professionals to design learning experiences based on students, not curriculum.

There is no fear of failure, only joy in pursuing passions.

Building principals bravely trust their teachers and support innovations that are student-focused. Flexibility is valued. Traditions are cherished when they build community, but rejected when they are only about controlling young people. Adults place student voice over compliance. Administrators are in the habit of saying “yes” to teachers and students who want to experiment and try something out of the box.

A culture of yes, also means saying “no” to harmful practices that value systems and adults over children. It means either skipping standardized tests or de-emphasizing them to the point of ignoring them; getting rid of punitive punishments and replacing them with restorative practices; and searching out and eliminating inequitable practices that harm our most vulnerable students. Based on the culture of caring, anything that gets in the way of student-centered learning is bravely eliminated.

Before every new initiative, students should be asked for input and it should be valued as the most important viewpoint. Not the placement of a token student on the school board, but actually listening to what kids think, say, and want for their education. Schools that move beyond limited choices for students to truly empowered student voice in changing their communities.

Culture of Curiosity

With the removal of so many systemic constraints, students are encouraged to pursue their passions. They ask meaningful questions about their community, engage in authentic inquiry, and seek out practical solutions. They are not preparing for the future, but contributing right now! Project Based Learning is the philosophical framework that structures and guides student curiosity around issues seeded in their community and the world.

Teachers aren’t seen primarily as content experts (although they are) but designers of master learning experiences guiding students down paths that they might not discover by themselves. Teachers are learning experts who model questioning, experimenting, and failure for students. Through PBL, students practice Transformative SEL skills as they address complex problems of the world to bring about justice. Curiosity leads to empathy of multiple viewpoints rather than one dogmatic approach. Students develop into self-directed learners who have the tools to investigate and propose solutions to any problem that they come across. They become curious leaders who never stop learning.

Questions? Interested in an SEL infused PBL workshop or consulting?  Connect with me at michaelkaechele.com or @mikekaechele on Twitter.