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Applied Improvisation and Storytelling In Social-Emotional Learning - (mostly) TRUE THINGS podcast Episode 5

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In my conversation with Long Island social worker Martha Kahan in Episode 5 of the (mostly) TRUE THINGS podcast, we talk about the topic of social-emotional learning, how she uses applied improvisation to cultivate social-emotional skills with the teens she works with, and why Real Housewives is her guilty pleasure.  
Here are some links to research on the topic of social-emotional learning. Enjoy!

"Improvisation is a system's unplanned but purposeful response at a particular point to a turbulent, fast-changing environment" according to the authors of  "Learning To Improvise, Improvising To Learn: A Process of Responding To Complex Environments" in the Journal of Business Research.  Improvisation engages the cognitive, the emotional and the social dimensions in every experience, making it an ideal method for cultivating skills for navigating change and uncertainty. 

From "Feelings Count: Emotions and Learning"
Stanford University School of Education
"Emotions are important in the classroom in two major ways. First, emotions have an impact on learning. They influence our ability to process information and to accurately understand what we encounter. For these reasons, it is important for teachers to create a positive, emotionally safe classroom environment to provide for the optimal learning of students. Second, learning how to manage feelings and relationships constitutes a kind of “emotional intelligence” that enables people to be successful. Emotional intelligence expands on Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, in particular, the intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligences he defines, which deal with understanding oneself and others (Gardner, 1999). Specific behaviors and skills can be taught to help students develop emotional intelligence"

"Emotions Affect Learning.
 Emotions are often thought of as irrational or “nonintellectual” feelings that are beyond our control. However, emotions are complex states of mind and body, consisting of physiological, behavioral, and cognitive reactions to situations that can be managed and directed. Cognitively, individuals interpret an event as one that may be sad, dangerous, joyous, etc. Physically, a sad situation may yield tears, or a dangerous situation might lead to an elevated heart rate. Behaviorally, we may seek comfort when we are sad or run and seek help when we face danger. It is critical to recognize the important link between emotions, thought, and action. Moreover, it is important to teach our students that emotions can be managed, regulated, and controlled to some degree. In this section, we first discuss the ways in which emotions affect learning; we then consider the importance of managing emotions and building emotional intelligence in the classroom. Our emotional state has the potential to influence our thinking. For example, students learn and perform more successfully when they feel secure, happy, and excited about the subject matter..." READ MORE

“The Impact of Students’Social-Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based UniversalInterventions” Child Development July 2011 “This article presents findings from a meta-analysis of 213 school-based, universal social and emotional learning (SEL) programs involving 270,034 kindergarten through high school students. Compared to controls, SEL participants demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior, and academic performance that reflected an 11-percentile-point gain in achievement. School teaching staff successfully conducted SEL programs. The use of four recommended practices for developing skills and the presence of implementation problems moderated program outcomes. The findings add to the growing empirical evidence regarding the positive impact of SEL programs. Policymakers, educators, and the public can contribute to healthy development of children by supporting the incorporation of evidence-based SEL programming into standard educational practice.”

“TheBenefits of School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Programs: Highlightsfrom a Major New Report" Social-Emotional Learning Research Group, University of Illinois at Chicago. A new study reveals that students who participate in school-based programs focused on social and emotional learning (SEL) profit in multiple ways. Compared to students who do not experience SEL programming, they improve significantly with respect to: 1. Social and emotional skills 2. Attitudes about themselves, others, and school 3. Social and classroom behavior 4. Conduct problems such as classroom misbehavior and aggression 5. Emotional distress such as stress and depression 6. Achievement test scores and school grades, including an 11-percentile-point gain in academic achievement These positive results do not come at the expense of performance in core academic skills, but rather enhance academic achievement. Moreover, the results are maintained among those studies that collect follow-up data in each of the above categories. 

(mostly) TRUE THINGS LIVE SHOWS IN 2016: Saturdays at 7, Jan. 16, Feb. 27, Apr 23, May 21. Contact host/creator Jude Treder-Wolff (, 631-366-4265) to bring a performance of the show to your community.


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