This toolkit was created in partnership with Tess Milliken and Janine Casapulla, educators in Boston Public Schools.
The Power of Teaching Students About Their Own Emotions
Educators Tess Milliken and Janine Casapulla recognized that the students in their busy 3rd grade classroom had varied emotional needs. If students needed a way to “pull over and refuel” during class, they could introduce the idea of a break space as a “gas station.” Working together, they developed the Gas Station Project—an emotional check-in and break system that all students can use to take a break from the class when they need it.
The Gas Station Project provides resources and guided lessons that teach students about their emotions, and ideas for creating an emotional break space in the classroom. This practice centers on empowering students to recognize their emotions, and spend time independently to refocus, allowing them to maintain classroom success both socially and academically. This practice toolkit gives educators the inspiration, tools and strategies to create a space in the classroom for emotional check-ins.
Students’ Social and Emotional Development
Research shows that young children need support to identify and manage their emotions and focus their attention (Farrington, Roderick, et. al., 2012). Researchers have also found that social, emotional, and cognitive development is especially important for children and youth who have experienced trauma or adversity (Franke, 2014). Explicitly teaching students about their own emotions helps them see that everyone can benefit from learning how to manage them and understand how they impact the brain and body.
Teaching students skills and providing settings that build their efficacy and self-control, providing them with supportive adult relationships, and directly addressing their physical, emotional, and mental health needs can buffer against the negative effects of stress (Center on the Developing Child, 2016). Lessons developed in this toolkit teach students about different parts of the brain, how we feel stress and emotions, and how those feelings impact our body and responses.
Inspired to try this practice?
The purpose of this practice is to learn new strategies for teaching students about their emotions, and providing a space for emotional check-ins in the classroom. Using the resources in the toolkit, you’ll find suggestions for introducing this topic with students and examples of what the break space might look like in classrooms. You’ll also find student lessons from educators Tess and Janine, and resources to read and share with peers.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect and what you will need as you plan:
- Who should try it? This practice is geared towards elementary students, though it could be adapted for any K-12 classroom.
- When you should you try it? This practice can be tried any time during the school year.
- What materials are needed? No materials are required to get started, however the toolkit lists suggested materials for the physical break space (should you chose to create one).
- How much time is needed? This toolkit will take roughly 30 minutes to review, with embedded lessons ranging from 15-30 minutes each.
If you’re ready to get started, follow the guidelines in this toolkit to learn new strategies for supporting the emotional development of students in your classroom!
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.