Last Friday I was visiting a colleague and friend who runs a continuation school for Newcomers. “Newcomer” is an umbrella term that includes various categories of immigrants who are born outside of the United States. For example, all immigrants are not necessarily English Language Learners. This is a great resource that shares more about newcomers from the US Department of Education. In our school district our newcomer population is growing steadily and a few months back I had the opportunity to take a few newcomer students along with their teachers from Oakland High to an SEL event at Facebook. InspirED was born out of a partnership between Facebook and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence with the goal of bringing social and emotional learning (SEL) and greater wellbeing to high school students across the nation. On Friday, September 29th Oakland Unified, in partnership with the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), and My Brother's Keeper, sent a delegation to the Youth Engagement Leadership Lab at Facebook Headquarters. The day consisted of leadership development activities that focused on SEL skill building for both adults and students. As a result of the event, student participants are now working on a project to share and highlight newcomer stories at Oakland High to help build greater empathy and I spoke on a panel for adult attendees around SEL implementation in Oakland.
Here are some reflections from student and teacher participants:
"My time with InspirED taught me so much about reflection. One of the most important SEL advice pieces that I learned was "create the conditions for learning" and "you can't teach what you cannot model yourself." SEL is a large piece of my practice, one that I truly pride myself on. These two pieces of advice, which were given to educators at the beginning of the conference, really set the tone of the event to be student-driven and student-focused. - Valeska, Newcomer Teacher
"I learned a lot at the Facebook InspirEd event. For example, every idea can change the world. What can we do as a student? How can we get our equal rights and education? What can one of our ideas change? We saw an example from a boy who came up with an idea to stop and reduce campus bullying. And more people joined this idea and stood up to stop bullying. This example inspired me, I started to think about what we can do to change school and community to help our school's newcomers. This event was meaningful to me." - Shirley, Newcomer Student
Our latest SEL Newsletter includes an interview with Lauren Markham, author of the Far Away Brothers and Community School Manager at Oakland International, about supporting our newcomer and undocumented students and the importance of SEL. Here is a toolkit chapter on how to specifically address SEL for Newcomers.