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    SEL and Behavior MTSS Practice Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies

    Teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic brought about all kinds of challenges. My colleagues and I were relieved when we could go back to in-person learning, but it quickly became apparent that our students seemed to be missing a lot of important social-emotional skills. Unfortunately, the lack of socialization opportunities over the past two years and trying to re-learn how to engage in school left them falling behind in this area.

    We needed a solution. We needed to help them learn to be kind, be a problem-solver, work well with others, and be overall well-rounded individuals…all while working with a budget of $0.00. 

    It was difficult to know where to turn when we had no money to spend and very little time to vet and familiarize ourselves with a new curriculum. Meanwhile, we had a building full of students who desperately needed high-quality social-emotional instruction and interventions. 

    Thankfully, Random Acts of Kindness has met this need with their Kindness in the Classroom curriculum. This curriculum is free, evidence-based, and very easy to implement. 'Random Acts of Kindness' emphasizes equity, teacher self-care, and digital citizenship and ties it all together with a simple yet powerful theme: kindness.

    Curriculum Highlights

    random acts of kindness
    • The ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ curriculum includes lessons for preschool through high school, making it a useful tool year after year. 
    • Posters, coloring pages, bookmarks, certificates, and many more printable resources are available to help make this a very robust SEL program for your students.
    • The provided lesson plans include lesson objectives, timeframe and a list of any required materials, teacher connections/self-care recommendations, and opportunities for students to practice the skills on their own or with each other.
    • Each unit includes at least one project, allowing students to get even more hands-on practice with the skills. 
    • Standards Maps are available to summarize CASEL, NHES (when applicable), and Common Core standards that are met by each unit.
    • Family Letters are available for each unit to inform families of the unit’s goals, topics that will be addressed, and how they can help reinforce the skills at home. Family letters are available in both English and Spanish. 
    • The curriculum received CASEL’s highest designation for high-quality SEL programming.

    The Research Behind the Support

    According to several independent researchers who have studied and tested the Random Acts of Kindness curriculum using randomized groups, teachers using the curriculum report feeling more connected to their students and seeing more kindness in their classrooms, halls, and playgrounds. They reported that their students overall demonstrated more empathetic and caring traits. Teachers also observed improved trust, fewer referrals to the office, more respect between students, and an overall more positive school and classroom culture.

    Notably, The Equity Project examined Random Acts of Kindness for:

    • Achievement status
    • Educational offerings and opportunities
    • Social-emotional supports and frameworks
    • Climate and culture. 

    They awarded the curriculum a rating of “Excellent,” stating, “This rating expresses our confidence, using our criteria, in applying an equity lens in the development of curriculum. The curriculum met the criteria for each of our four (4) equity lens indicators and effectively demonstrated the interrelatedness of the four indicators.”

    The independent researchers that reviewed the curriculum included SRI International, CASEL, The University of British Columbia, Standards Mapping Report (2019), Focus Group Report (2018), and The Equity Project

     

     


    Teachers using the curriculum report feeling more connected to their students and seeing more kindness in their classrooms, halls, and playgrounds.

     

     

    How Does ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ Fit Into MTSS?

    It is recommended that teachers work through the Random Acts of Kindness lessons with the whole class (Tier 1). Teachers can then meet with small groups of students identified as needing extra support. This would typically be a group of 3-5 students that meets for an additional 60-90 minutes outside of the core instruction each week (for example, this could be two or three 30-minute intervention periods). While working in these groups, teachers can provide more explicit instruction, more encouragement, specific feedback, positive reinforcement, and careful scaffolding.

    Some suggestions for further supporting Tier 2 groups:

    • Ask a school counselor to meet with a Tier 2 group to further support the work you are doing in the classroom and/or to provide direct instruction on social skills
    • Utilize the Kindness Beyond the Classroom lesson plans in your Tier 2 groups. Each lesson includes some direct instruction, language to inspire students to think more deeply about the kindness concept, a way for students to practice the skill, and reflection questions. 
    • Use the Random Acts of Kindness Book List with your Tier 2 group by reading one of the recommended books and asking discussion questions. This can be a great time to speak with small groups further about SEL topics, gauge their understanding, and help them to think through situations in which they would need to use their SEL competencies. 
    • Within the lesson plans, some of the “Tips for Diverse Learners” or the Extension Ideas may be appropriate for Tier 2 groups
    • Please note: Students with more intensive behavioral or emotional needs may require another program or service to be implemented alongside ‘Random Acts of Kindness.’

    How To Implement ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ in Your Classroom

    There are two ways that you could choose to implement the ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ curriculum—either as a year-long curriculum, teaching each topic and lesson in order, or by using the topics individually as needed to meet the needs of your students at a specific time. 

    • Self-awareness 
    • Self-management 
    • Social awareness 
    • Relationship skills
    • Responsible decision-making
    random acts of kindness_self awareness-min

    This makes it easy to locate the unit that will be most beneficial to your class or group of students. 

    For example, if you are looking for a lesson on self-awareness for a group of 3rd-grade students, you would select the K-5 support card titled “Random Acts of Kindness: Self-Awareness,” and there you would see how each unit on the Random Acts of Kindness website ties to self-awareness. You can read the card and see that the caring unit works on themes such as identifying emotions, recognizing strengths, empathy, self-motivation, and accurate self-perception. If that aligns with your needs, you can select the support and add it to your group's plan. The support card will have all the necessary links and includes step-by-step instructions for accessing and using the materials with your group or class.

    How To Access the Curriculum Online: 

    1. Go to randomactsofkindness.org and click 'Kindness at School' in the top bar. From there, you can select the correct grade range.
    2. Once on the page with your grade range, click 'download' to download the entire curriculum for free. Alternatively, you can select 'download individual PDFs' if you would prefer to download one unit or lesson at a time. (TIP: it’s a bit more manageable to download the PDFs individually, especially if you plan to use only one specific lesson at a time)
    3. Start by looking through the 'start here' materials. This includes a quick start guide, unit overviews, teacher connections for administrators, and a book list for the younger grades. These materials will help you get started.
    4. When you are ready to teach a lesson, follow the provided lesson plans and integrate the topics into your day-to-day activities when possible.
    5. Each grade band is a bit different, but they all include six concepts divided into six units, designed to span the year. Each unit includes main lessons and one to two projects, depending on the grade level. Some grades also include mini lessons that allow students to work with partners, in small groups, individually, and/or with a technology focus. 

    In Conclusion

    Even though we’re more removed now from the “newly back to in-person learning” stage of the pandemic, many students are still being impacted by their time in remote learning or may struggle with kindness and empathy for other reasons. Whether you choose to use the lessons in order as your Tier 1 SEL curriculum or you utilize the lessons as a topic-based intervention, Random Acts of Kindness is a great resource. It can go a long way toward closing any gaps you might be seeing concerning social-emotional learning. 

    Access the Random Acts of Kindness curriculum website HERE. If you’d like to know more about how to assess the social-emotional needs of your students, check out the on-demand webinar below.


    ON-DEMAND WEBINAR:
    Best Practices for Assessing Students' Social-Emotional Competencies within an MTSS Framework


    Key Takeaways:

    • The Random Acts of Kindness SEL curriculum is free, evidence-based, easy to implement, and is now available through the Branching Minds Support Library.
    • The curriculum can be used as a year-long SEL curriculum or can be used as a topic-based intervention to address specific needs in your classroom.
    • Random Acts of Kindness is primarily designed as a Tier 1 intervention but can be easily adapted or expanded for a Tier 2 group.
    • The curriculum has been thoroughly reviewed and has been found to improve the overall classroom and school culture and the relationships between teachers and students and students with each other. It was also found to be very highly rated in regard to equity.

    Claim your free copy of our  Social-Emotional Learning Guide-min


     

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    Branching Minds makes MTSS easy, efficient, and effective by bringing together all of the components of MTSS so teachers can collaboratively problem-solve and support all students’ holistic needs. Our system-level solution helps schools improve students’ outcomes across academics, behavior, and SEL equitably. 

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    Citations:

    Advancing Dynamic Solutions. (2019). Random Acts of Kindness Standards Mapping Final Report. Advancing Dynamic Solutions. https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/lesson-plans/reports/RAK_Standards_Mapping_Final_Report.pdf

    Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). (n.d.). Kindness in the Classroom - CASEL Program Guide. Pg.casel.org. Retrieved January 5, 2023, from https://pg.casel.org/kindness-in-the-classroom/ 

    Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D. & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1): 405–432. 

    Random Acts of Kindness. (2018). Focus Group Feedback from Elementary and Middle School Teachers. https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/lesson-plans/reports/RAK_Kindness_in_the_Classroom_Focus_Group_Report.pdf 

    Schonert-Reichl, K., & Whitehead Arruda, J. (2016). UBC Summary Report of Research: Preliminary Findings. The University of British Columbia. https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/lesson-plans/reports/RAK_UBC_Executive_Summary_Report.pdf

    The Equity Project LLC. (2019). Random Acts of Kindness Rating Report. https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/lesson-plans/reports/The_Equity_Project_LLC_Excellent_Rating_Report.pdf 

    Woodbridge, M., Rouspil, K., Thornton, N., Shechtman, A., & Goldweber. (2014). Random Acts of Kindness Foundation Evaluation of Grades K-8 Kindness Lessons and Activities. SRI International. https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/lesson-plans/reports/RAK_SRI_School_Pilot_Study_2013-14.pdf


     

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    Tagged: SEL and Behavior, MTSS Practice, Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies

    February 8, 2023

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