Girl Group Enterprise stocks up our Social Emotional Toolbox at Parent Ed

02/09/17 06:01:pm
| Category: Lower School

What's in your toolbox?

In this case, we're not asking about an actual toolbox — more like a metaphorical one. That's one of the questions that attendees of Mirman's latest Parent Education night had to ponder as they worked with Girl Group Enterprise founders Wesley Stahler and Tanya Ward Goodman.

Beginning in January, Stahler and Goodman have been visiting Room 3 as the Lower School pilots their Social Emotional Toolbox Training program. Over six biweekly sessions, students are exploring weekly themes and being introduced to concrete tools and strategies to help them navigate their own social emotional landscape and ground themselves in the world. In addition to the work in the classroom, the students are provided with supplementary, grade level-appropriate curriculum for the teachers to maintain a consistent program.

During the event, Stahler and Goodman walked a sizable group of parents through the genesis of their program, citing inspiration from singer Dolly Parton, who said: "Find out who you are and do it on purpose."

"How can we construct a container for ourselves so we can be who we are?" asked Goodman, echoing some of questions that the pair had to work through when they were designing their process.

Before working through some individual questions and issues shared by parents, Stahler and Goodman walked the audience through what, exactly, that process was. Using the five senses to engage with issues such as flexibility, communication, friendship, and stress management, Stahler and Goodman work with a model they call "THINK, TALK, WRITE, DO, BE."

Think: "Don't believe everything you think," said Goodman, a mental health clinician and therapist. "That's stinkin' thinkin'. We work with motivational interviewing — thinking backwards — to defeat cognitive distortions."

Talk: "This uses our emotional intelligence," shared Stahler, whose background is mostly in writing. "It's about naming your emotions, creating metaphors for them, and talking about them in terms of creating a story. What happened today? Let's talk about it. And another part is listening, observing, hearing each other."

Write: Stahler went on to speak of the importance of nonverbal processing. "We use notebooks, notecards. It's a great way to communicate when you don't really feel like communicating," she said. "I encourage kids to use notebooks to rehearse conversations that maybe are going to be scary."

Do: "It just means do it!" said Goodman. "Especially working with kids who are over-excitable, who are highly intelligent — these things get in the way. We encourage them to do it badly, to fail.

Be: The 'be' part of their process is just what it sounds like — landing back in the moment, in mindfulness. "It gives everyone a second before we load up the car and get to the next thing," said Stahler. "I notice that we move through the day so rapidly. At a certain moment, we need a minute to just go, 'Wow, what just happened?'"