Brockport Summer Learning incorporates enrichment programming to compliment the rigorous academic curriculum through Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), community-based excursions, program-wide Community Gatherings, and volunteer-led projects and activities, and health and wellness. It is through this range of experiences that academic concepts are reinforced and applied to real world experiences.
Social and Emotional Learning is a key instructional method that fosters skills across the five SEL competencies: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making. Self-awareness refers to the ability to identify and evaluate individual thoughts, feelings, and values, and how they intersect with individual behavior. Self-Management is the ability to identify and regulate emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. With Self-Management skills, students can have a stronger capacity for stress management, self-directed motivation, and impulse control. The development of social awareness is the capacity to understand others’ perspectives and empathize with others, while learning social and ethical behavior. Likewise, Relationship Skills refers to teaching students how to communicate with others, make meaningful connections, engage in active listening, validate others’ emotions, and use conflict resolution methods. Responsible Decision-Making is the capacity to make constructive, positive choices about behavior and social interaction. This core competency includes the realistic evaluation of various consequences using critical thinking skills.
SEL PRACTICE EXAMPLE: MORNING MEETINGS AND CLOSING CIRCLES
Each day begins with a morning meeting where students are invited to share how they are feeling, and their peers are encouraged to respond. Each day is also ended with a closing circle where students again are encouraged to participate in thoughtful, reflective conversations among peers. Everyone sits in a circle, while the teacher facilitates the conversation and guides the conversation. Key components to morning meetings are:
- Greeting: Everyone greets each other with hello, their name, and we encourage using students’ home languages as well.
- Sharing: Students share what they are thinking, feeling, and experiencing. This can be in relations to a specific prompt.
- Group Activity: Students participate in an activity that cultivates a sense of belonging and targets social and emotional skills.
To improve summer programming, we asked students and their families what we can do to improve the summer learning experience. Families and students requested more field trips, or as we call them, community-based excursions. In summer 2022, Brockport Summer Learning made explicit efforts to provide students with exploration- and learning-based trips that would take place at least once a week. We were able to go visit the Children’s School of Rochester (No. 15) and take a hike on Cobbs Hill; participate in a learning-based exploration day in the immediate neighborhood; and go to the Seneca Park Zoo, Hamlin State Park, and the Strong National Museum of Play.
In collaboration with the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, and our own community connections, we receive local community support by volunteers. Typically, volunteers help with day-to-day operations, chaperoning, 1:1 instructional support, and facilitate other volunteer-led activities. Volunteers associated with the First Unitarian Church participated in summer programming as Buddy Readers for kindergarten and first graders. Other church-associated volunteers organized and executed project-based learning activities such as science experiments, fiber arts, arts/crafts, gardening, building activities, and 1:1 or whole group instruction.
In 2021, Brockport Summer Learning received support from local Rochester community volunteers, affiliated with the First Unitarian Church of Rochester. Volunteers engaged with students as Buddy Readers for kindergarten (K go 1) and first grade (1 go 2) students. Buddy Readers prompted volunteers to read with students while building meaningful intergenerational relationships. Other volunteers coordinated with Lead teachers to participate in organized and guided school-based learning projects such as science experiments, arts, crafts, and 1:1 instruction.
Health & Wellness
Brockport Summer Learning prioritizes physical activity, spending time outdoors, health, and wellness. Health and Wellness is a different way of looking at physical activity and healthy practices. A few simple, effective ways to include this daily are neighborhood walks, nature scavenger hunts, recess every day, outdoor independent reading, in-class breaks for movement and stretching, and field games. Students also practice mindfulness, yoga, engage in free play, and other physical activities while learning about well-being and self-care. By offering structured and unstructured recreational time, students’ self-regulation and self-awareness can further develop.