Emotional Equity: Empowering All Students to Honor and Learn From Their Feelings
For ADVISORS, teachers, deans, counselors, psychologists, social workers, learning specialists, and student life program administrators
“Cheer up.” “Chill out.” “Calm down.” Our language is full of expressions that tell us we should control or change how we feel. Even when we say “it’s OK to be sad” or “you have every right to be angry,” we imply that these emotions are allowed but not ideal. No surprise, then, that some SEL programs focus on managing or coping with certain emotions. Meanwhile, those with marginalized identifiers are often the ones most quickly and frequently told to manage their emotions so that those with power can stay comfortable.
Emotional equity is when all members of a group are empowered to notice, name, honor, and learn from their feelings. This highly participatory workshop series provides tools and strategies, rooted in evidence-based psychological science, to help educators respond to emotions in values-based ways. The first session is about empowering all students, the second centers those who need more support because of internal factors, and the third centers those who need more support because of external factors.
Session 1: Making Space for All Emotions at School. In this session, we’ll explore some of the messages we receive about emotions—and how those messages relate to sociocultural identifiers such as race and gender. Then, we’ll learn a protocol called the Emotions & Values Audit that helps students notice their own emotions, name the values those emotions are connected to, and choose actions in accordance with those values. We’ll explore how to use the protocol in academic classes, advisory groups, parent conferences, and disciplinary incidents, so that all students are empowered to connect their actions to their values, in and out of the classroom. (90 minutes)
Session 2: Supporting Anxious Students in the Classroom. This session addresses how teachers can help anxious students dignify their struggles by connecting their anxiety to their values. After we reframe anxiety as avoidance, we will discover ways teachers can give anxious students something to move towards. We’ll focus on how academic tasks—lessons, assignments, projects, and performances—can become opportunities for anxious students to develop a sense of self that contains yet is larger than their anxiety. We’ll also practice using simple coping tools teachers can share with their students, and we’ll discuss supportive classroom accommodations for students who experience anxiety. (90 minutes)
Session 3: Caring for the Community After a Bias Incident. This session is about how school communities can center the experiences of students from historically marginalized groups when a bias incident occurs, either within the school community or in the world. After exploring what care means, we will discover a framework that helps educators provide targeted care for the students who need it most in the short, medium, and long term. We will also discuss the need for educators to take care of themselves, and the need for schools to create systems that reduce harm and promote care. (90 minutes)