This series of webinars is offered to coaches in Head Start programs. It provides a chance to connect, share ideas, and develop strategies for coaching teachers and home visitors using the Practice-Based Coaching (PBC) model.
Coaching to Support Emotional Literacy and Expression
Coaching to Support Emotional Literacy and Expression
Coaching to Support Emotional Literacy and Expression
Joyce Escorcia: Hello, everyone. Glad you're joining us today for our latest episode of our Coaching Corner webinar series. I am Joyce Escorcia. We thank you for choosing to spend your time with us today as we're talking about coaching to support emotional literacy and expression.
I'm joined by my colleague, Sarah Basler. We're so excited that you decided to spend this hour with us. We are super excited today to have Mike Brown here as our guest expert. He is the Senior Director of Community Engagement for Cultivate Learning at the University of Washington. He’s such a treasure for us, and he's going to share more about himself and what he's up to and the work that he's supporting. You'll get to meet him in just a few slides.
Here's our agenda for today: we're going to share resources and strategies to support coachees to teach emotional literacy and self-regulation to children and families. We're going to talk about some strategies that a coach can use to teach and support self-regulation and practice self-care for themselves as well. We're going to practice using coaching strategies using a case example. We have Mike here with us today, who is going to help us dig in a little deeper into that.
If you've been along with us in the Coaching Corner webinars before, this season you know that we're focusing in on social-emotional development, which is one of the domains of the Head Start Early Learning and Outcomes Framework, or the ELOF, as we like to call it. In our last webinar, we focused in on relationships. If you want to check that out and you missed it, you can check it out on the Details Push Play, or by going to our Coaching Corner webinar page on the ECLKC. Each Coaching Corner webinar this season is going to be focusing on different tiers of the Pyramid Model.
The Pyramid Model is a framework of evidence-based practices for promoting young children's healthy social and emotional development. The Pyramid Model builds on this tiered public health approach that supports or promotes wellness and targeted to practices for universal supports for all children. And focusing in on targeted social-emotional supports for some children that need that more support, and looking at intensive services to those that need them. We're going to be talking about emotional literacy and self-regulation, and that's Tier 2 level of support.
If you want more information on the Pyramid Model, we invite you to check out the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations or into PMI, and you can link to that in your resource list. When we think about emotional literacy, it can be defined as the ability to identify, understand, and respond to emotions in oneself and others in a healthy way. When children are able to manage their emotions, they may be more equipped to develop healthy relationships, participate in learning actively, and are more likely to engage in positive behaviors. Children need guidance, support, and opportunities to learn emotional literacy skills. Not all children will need the same level of support, so individualizing is important. And that individualizing of the instruction and support of these skills is important to ensure that all children get what they need and succeed. All these skills, it's important and vital that we teach them. It's also important to acknowledge that the way emotions are viewed, valued, and expressed across cultures and families differ. It's also important to acknowledge that. When we're talking about teaching emotional literacy and we've talked a little bit about the importance of emotional literacy, we want to spend our time together talking about some of the skills that you can support your coachees to teach children and families.
It's going to be important to help children recognize their own emotions. That emotions are felt within the body, whether it's tension, whether it's their energy level, whether it's facial expressions, whether it's that beating heart or breathing. That just helping to point out what you notice about your emotions can help model that awareness, and point out what you notice about children's emotions. Modeling that, of what that looks like, feels like in you, and recognizing what that feels like for children is important. This could sound like saying, "Hey, Jonah, I notice that you're clenching your fists, and you're breathing loudly.”
Coachees can do this, even with young infants and toddlers. Just one of the things to think about when we're thinking about teaching emotional literacy. The next thing is supporting coachees to label the emotion. That might sound like "Hey, Jonah, you look really frustrated and angry.” When emotions are labeled, you can hone in on helping children make that connection of like, "Okay, this is what ‘frustrated’ feels like and looks like.”
When we label them, children are able to identify those things in themselves, and in others. In addition to supporting coachees to label emotions when children are experiencing them, it's going to be important for coachees to teach emotions through the use of visuals or books, anything that you can use to help demonstrate, they can see what that looks like and feels like.
In the resource list of the Viewer's Guide, we've included links for feeling visuals from NCPMI and from the Head Start Center for Inclusion, that you could use to help teach some of those emotions. Just know that that's in your Resource Guide for you to use. Then something else to think about when teaching emotional literacy is that coaches can also support coachees to teach children how to express emotions by talking about how they feel when they experience certain emotions, and what helps them when they are feeling a certain way. Coachees can help children to express emotions by offering a hug or a comfort item, breathing with a child, eventually supporting a child to comfort themselves using strategies that they've been taught. All those things work together to teach emotional literacy.
The final thing we just want to bring up today is that we can support coachees to practice empathy with children. Young children calm more quickly when they feel they're accepted and understood, and that they're safe. That supportive educators validate children's feelings and help them determine what may have happened to trigger certain feelings. When children make these connections, they're more likely to understand their own emotions, and then to have empathy towards others.
Another important skill for us to support coachees to teach children is self-regulation. Self-regulation is defined as just the ability to regulate emotions and behaviors in different settings and activities. Self-regulation is a skill that builds until adulthood. Children need support to develop and practice these skills. It may sound like something internal, individual, self-regulation develops through interaction with adults. Self-regulation development depends on predictable, responsive, and supportive environments. That when children are supported to recognize and label emotions, appropriate ways to express your emotions and have supportive adults that provide empathy when they're experiencing emotions, they're more likely to build their capacity to self-regulate.
Self-regulation is a skill that develops over the course of our lifespan. Children are just learning these skills. We’re going to talk about some of the ways that we can support a coachee to think about supporting self-regulation for children, and that could be to use coregulation. Coregulation is just an interactive process of support that adults can offer to children to help them calm down, and will look different, based on the age of the child.
Coregulation may look like picking up an infant who's in distress to comfort them or breathing with a toddler or preschooler. This is one that I use often with my toddler. But just taking that time to be there in that moment with him or encouraging a parent to offer their child a hug. For more information about coregulation, you can find a practice brief in the resource list of the Viewer's Guide. There's lots of wonderful information and ideas and strategies around coregulation. It talks about the progression about coregulation, what it could look like across different ages.
We can support coachees to do is to teach regulation strategies to children and families. This can be breathing exercises like the turtle technique, or STAR, or belly breathing. It could be setting up a space with some visuals and materials to support calming down. All those things can be part of teaching self-regulation. There are a variety of different strategies found on the resource list, so we encourage you to check that out if you want to know more about self-regulation.
One common mistake that we've seen is just waiting until children need to use a skill, to try to teach it. But in the middle of that crisis or in the middle of that feeling and the emotion, may not be the best time to try to teach this skill. But it is about teaching those self-regulation skills before those emotions are happening, so our brains are able to make those connections. Because we're in the middle of a moment, and our brains aren't able to do that new thing. It is important to help instill those things beforehand.
When we're thinking about self-regulation, it is about supporting children to use those strategies in the moment. That looks like spending time teaching them those skills when children are calm, before they need to use them. Teaching strategies in a different way for children who need more support — that individualization is important as well. There's more information in that Viewer's Guide for you.
What are some of your favorite emotional literacy and self-regulation strategies that you use to support a coachee to use? What are some of those go-to strategies that you have? We're going to invite you to jump in the conversation via the Q&A there. I want to open it up to Sarah and to Mike to say, do you have some go-to strategies for teaching emotional literacy and self-regulation?
Sarah Basler: I think for emotional literacy, one of my favorite things to do is focus on a few emotions at a time. Instead of trying to teach all of them at once, just picking out three or four to start with, and as children know those emotions well, then to build on those and get more complex with them. One of my favorite things that I think children enjoy, and coachees I've seen, enjoy our feelings check-ins. Where children might check in about how they're feeling at different points of the day, either at arrival or during certain times of the day. Those are my favorite strategies. What about you, Mike?
Mike Browne: I'm an active person, so I'm like, "If you like pushups, if you need to go for a walk, let's find something that really works for you.” I put the ownership right back on to the person, to be like, "What feels right for you? What feels right in your body? Because you know your body best.” I know when I'm stressed out and I'm having all sorts of emotions, I'm like, "You know what? Let me do what I always do best, and let's color.” I'll grab my little crayons, and I'll color. That’s an outlet that I like to do. Then I go, "Okay, I'm fine; I'm great. Let's rock-and-roll with this world.”
Joyce: I love that, Mike. And like you said, just finding what works for you. We've got a lot of great ideas, too, coming up in the chat, a lot of references to using books like, "Tucker the Turtle," or "Mouse Was Mad.” Also using breathing. Melissa said, "I'm using breathing techniques in the classroom," is one that works for her. Wilma also mentioned breathing. We have a few mentions of different curricula to use when thinking about self-regulation, self-strategies, that can come from those resources as well.
Sarah: I saw one that was cool, about teaching children to advocate for themselves. Like, advocating, saying, "I do not like it when you do this, and it makes me feel this way. Please do this instead.” I thought that was a cool response that's worth noting.
Joyce: I think that's a great one as well. Maria shares that as an adult, sharing your own emotions with children and naming them, so they can recognize what those look like in someone else, to be able to recognize what they look like within themselves as well.
Sarah: We're going to shift to the Mindful Moment. In this segment, we focus on the topic that we're sharing. In this case, it's emotional literacy and self-regulation, and we talk about how that can affect you in your role as a coach. We're so excited to have Mike talk with us a little bit more about emotional literacy and self-regulation, and some strategies that can help adults to stay calm themselves. In this segment, we're going to focus on, in those times of stress, what adults can do. Mike, would you mind sharing a little bit about yourself and your background in early childhood?
Mike: I am a New York raised, Afro-Caribbean, former tap dancer, collegiate athlete, working towards dismantling white supremacy and all forms of oppression in our society. Thinking back to how I got started, my mom had a family childcare center herself. When everyone was outside playing, I was playing inside with Zachary and all those others. I remember after exchanging my tap shoes and my football shoes for a chance to live and work in London and Spain, because in my head, I was like, "I'm going to be closing deals in Japan. I'm going to be doing international business and marketing.” I got my MBA in that.
I returned to my passion of early learning, as an educator, as a coach and consultant, and trying to bring back with me that sense of wonder, discovery, awe. I joined the team at Cultivate Learning, at the University of Washington in January of 2022. I've been since, just bringing unique experience and perspective to early learning, that balances that grassroot effort for systemic accountability, to ensure we're supporting, we're loving, and we're not physically or psychologically harming our youngest citizens. I'm happy and excited to be here. I'm on the traditional lands of the Kumeyaay tribe, which is now known as San Diego.
Sarah: Thank you. I think too that when we think about emotional literacy and self-regulation, it's important to think about that culturally. And how everyone expresses emotions, and what's acceptable, and what we deem acceptable within ourselves is going to vary greatly. I'm excited to have your perspective as we dive in. I want to start by hearing a little bit about, what are some strategies you recommend adults use to help themselves stay calm and regulate in moments of stress? Because we know that when adults are supporting children that are upset, it can also cause feelings to come up with them, like frustration. They might feel stress; they might get angry. What strategies do you use to stay calm in the moment when supporting a child or children that are upset?
Mike: I have two. The first one is not going to be on the screen. I'm just going to talk through this, and then we can get to the RAIN technique. One of my favorite things to do is called the flashback halting protocol. You can easily find this by googling it, “the flashback halting protocol.” This is a quick tool for when you're having feelings that's overwhelming. I use this as a chance to regain control and ownership of these feelings, and to recenter myself.
In short, the protocol asks you to name what you're feeling, and it tells you to go into detail, where you're centering in your body. The third thing is to name what's the actual cause of it. Don't go into detail; just name the trauma that you're feeling. The fourth one is, say where you are in your physical location. "I'm at home. I'm looking at my dead plant,” and just name what's around you, and describe some of the things that you're seeing in your location. Finally, remind yourself that the trauma you've experienced is in the past. It is no longer happening right now. By this, you do two things. You validate the feeling that you're having; it helps you not to feel captive in the moment.
By observing how you're feeling, you can quickly halt traumatic flashbacks within yourself that might be causing you to have the fight, the flight, the fawn, or the freeze response. The other thing that I'm going to talk to is the RAIN technique. Just like the previous technique, it's used to achieve greater emotional intelligence and stability.
RAIN is an acronym. RAIN stands for — R for Recognize. A, to Accept; I, to investigate, and N, to non-identify. When I think about feelings, I like to think of them as the weather. Feelings are like weather patterns. They arise, they pass, they come and go. At the end of the day, they are not you. They are not your identity. They do not define you. I'm joyful and I come from joy, but yesterday I was feeling a little blue. That feeling of being sad, and me, up in all of my feels, it's not me. No, it's the weather I was feeling at the moment. I hope that we can all use the RAIN technique to recognize the universal nature of feelings that we are all having, and we normalize it. And we normalize conversations about our mental health by sharing power, showing up today.
One last thing I will share before we head to our next slide is that yesterday when I was feeling blue, I went to the mirror, and I was like, "I'm just going to say this to myself.” I'm sharing this in hopes that maybe you find this useful for you. I said something along the lines of, "Mike, right now I'm feeling this. And there are many other people in the world, just like me, who are feeling like this right now. Many have come before me, and they felt this feeling. Many who will come after me will feel this same feeling, and at the end of the day, this is a human feeling. I'm not ashamed or I'm not embarrassed to feel a little bit blue, because I'm human.”
Sarah: Sometimes you've got to be able to say how you're feeling, to move past it. Those are some great strategies. We talked about in the moment, what you might do to move past this stressful response that you might be having. But in addition to having strategies and tools in your back pocket to be able to use to calm yourself in the moment, when either you're distressed or you're supporting a child that's distressed, it's just as important for coaches and coachees to have ways outside of the learning environment, that can help support you to be more resilient and able to find and stay calm. What are some of those strategies that you recommend education staff do for selfcare outside of the learning environment?
Mike: What makes you happy? What brings you joy? I wrote an article with my homey, Dr. Amir Gilmore, who's a professor at Washington State University on Black humanity and Black boy joy. The first thing we said in the article was, “what makes Black boys joyful?” That is a question that white educators typically do not center. That's why I wake up every day and I ask myself before I start my day, "Mike, what makes you joyful?” I do what I see the toddlers in my learning environments doing. I mentioned this earlier, I color. I get home, I put on some music, I rock out, and I color my feelings away. Because I'm dealing a lot of big, taller emotions, and a lot of big adults’ emotions too.
When I get home, I color, and it's how I process and it's how I decompress, so I can restore it and I can heal. The second thing that I'm going to say is, find out what kinds of mental health supports that are available. I'm here to normalize this conversation about mental health. For example, you can tap into your employee EAP, which is your Employee Assistance Program. If you're in the leadership position, you can work with your HR department to decolonize your EAP. What I mean by decolonize in this context specifically, this is the definition to me. I mean recreate or reimagine your Employee Assistance Program so that it's centered on healing from the dehumanizing effects of systemic oppression, of colonization, of state-sanctioned violence, and more. If you don't know what these words mean, google it.
Decolonization in this context is about creating a system that decenters whiteness and recenters ancestral wisdom, experience, strengths, culture, knowledge, love of my indigenous, and of my Black and Brown brothers, sisters, and two-spirits. Decolonizing our EAP means making sure it includes a list of culturally sustaining therapists, mental health professionals, and that overall, it promotes growth, change, resilience building, and liberation.
I know some people might be sitting there and go, "Oh, that's not really my job, Mike," to seek outside support for the coaches. But how I look at it is that you're often are made aware of things happening in their lives, the educators, before anyone else, because of the amazing relationships that you have made with them, you notice it first. I'm advocating for you to be aware of what's available, so you can just guide them to what they need in order to thrive.
I equate this to my time in the classroom when I'm working with families. When I think I see signs from hurting people that, "Are they experiencing maybe postpartum depression?” Sure, it's not my job to play therapist or to give them support, but because I notice it, I need to show my support. That's part of my recipe to having successful family engagement or family partnership because it's going to trickle down to how we support the child in my class. It's the coach's job when they see their coachees, when they're in need of support, to address and to empower them, either before coaching or in tandem with your coaching, so they can be set up for success.
Invest in the time and the space to self-identify or work to find out what your coachees' past or their current work experience is like, especially if it was unhealthy, if they were in an unhealthy environment. Understanding and having awareness of the working conditions that were uncomfortable to them or made them feel unvalued or invisible, is part one and part two of working to help them find the voice to respectfully share with their supervisors, when they feel this way. I think that's reflective situation.
Sarah: I think something that we don't often talk a lot about is that working with children to support them to work through moments of dysregulation and to support their self-regulation, often brings up emotions within us. When we're supporting children, we can find ourselves feeling triggered by certain reactions or emotions that children are expressing. I think all of this that you mentioned is a good way to get back to that. Like, "What does trigger me? Why does it trigger me?” And doing some of that work within yourself, because we can't support children to work past their big feelings if we ourselves can't get past our big feelings.
That's kind of full circle why this is important, and sometimes dealing with those situations they come with more baggage than we realize. It's hard for us to work through these things with children, because for us, how we experience or how we were responded to when we had big emotions was met with different, ways than we would expect coachees to work through it with children.
Mike: We got to heal our inner child before we're going to work with children. That's how I look at it.
Sarah: Yes, exactly. That information was helpful, and it's important not only to know how to respond in the moment, but also to think about your outside self-help things. Because your job can't be your only outlet. You've got to make sure you're building your resilience outside of the learning environment.
Here's just one more tip before we move on from the Mindful Moment. It's another exercise for keeping your calm in the moment. Before we move on to Coaching in Practice, we're going to take a couple of minutes to show you one breathing exercise. It's called box breathing, and this is something that you could share with your coachees if they're experiencing stress in the moment. Or it could be something that coachees share with families to use when they're experiencing needing to calm down.
Narrator: There are times when we all experience feelings of stress or anxiety. In these moments, you can use your breath to help calm those feelings. Box breathing is a simple relaxation technique that can help you reset your breath and return to its normal rhythm. You can do it anywhere, any time. Box breathing can help reduce stress and improve mood. It can also help with controlling and managing emotions. It's very easy to learn.
Imagine breathing around a box. Inhale as you visualize going up one side of the box, gradually filling your lungs with air. When you reach the top, hold your breath for one to five seconds as you picture going across the top of the box. Exhale gradually as you imagine traveling down the other side of the box. Pause again for one to five seconds as you go along the bottom of the box. Then repeat.
This can be done seven to ten times in a row, focusing on the breath. If you can do it sitting down with your feet grounded, that will help too, but really, it can be done anywhere.
Box breathing has physiological and psychological benefits. Physiologically, it regulates breath, increases oxygen to the lungs, and can help reduce blood pressure and lower heartrate. Box breathing can help psychologically, by providing focus to your breath and removing attention from the things that are causing feelings of stress and anxiety. The repetition of box breathing can also help reduce stress. In moments when feelings of stress and anxiety are overwhelming, remember box breathing and the power of your breath as a simple way to relax and breathe a bit easier.
Sarah: Well I don't know about you guys, but I'm feeling a lot more calm and centered after that exercise. We're going to shift to Coaching in Practice. We're going to look at a case example of a preschool teacher that's supporting a child to calm down. Here we see a goal that's written by a preschool teacher Kelly, and her coach Omar. Kelly has been wanting to use the safe space that she's created in the classroom, and wants to focus on teaching calming strategies so children know what to do when they utilize the safe space in her class.
Her goal is, "I will teach children calming strategies to use when they're experiencing strong emotions like anger, sadness, excitement, anxiety, by teaching breathing techniques and exercises using calming visuals, materials, and prompting children to use strategies when needed, and supporting them to calm down in the moment.” We're going to watch a video of Kelly practicing her goals. The strategies that Kelly is using focus in on how the child is responding to Kelly's use of the strategies. And notice any materials she might be using. You can use your Viewer's Guide to write down your observations.
Kelli: There you go; you can handle this. You can handle this. Keep breathing — one more time. Oh, you took a breath. Look at you. You did it. Are you good? You're doing a good job with those breaths. I can see you breathing. There you go; you did it. You calmed yourself down. Good job. All right, how are you feeling, Mr. Dominick? How are you feeling? Are you feeling angry? Are you feeling sad, or are you feeling frustrated? You're feeling sad? Why are you sad?
Because I wouldn't let you go play with your friends, is that why you're sad? Yeah, okay, that makes sense. That makes sense. Do you know why I was keeping you for just an extra second? Your body was out of control. You were climbing up on top of the cubby. I wanted you to be safe, okay? Do you want to choose something else that you can use to calm down? You can use anything in the box over here. Do you want to pick something?
I'll go get your picture, and then you can head out to centers. You continue calming down with something from the box, and I'll go get your picture. And then you can go. I just wanted you to take a breath and calm down, all right? Okay. Here you go. You can pick anything you want out of here. Do you have Dominick's picture, by any chance? The box?
Teacher: Right down there.
Kelli: He just lost control. Did you find something? I know, you like the squishy, don't you? Dominick, here's your picture. I'm going to put it right here on the sign. You're continuing to calm yourself. You're doing exactly what you need to do. When you're ready, you head back out to centers, okay?
Sarah: Before we share our reflections, I wanted to make a point to say that we're lucky to have real-life videos of teachers sharing, letting us get a sneak peek into the classroom. We saw a lot of great strategies happening. But these are real classrooms. Make sure that in the Q&A when you give your comments, that you just keep that in mind, and that you're respectful with your reflections.
We're going to give you an opportunity to share your data that you collected, and your reflections from that observation of Kelli. We're going to provide you with some prompts, and you can use the Q&A widget to write your responses. The first prompt is, was Kelli successful implementing her goal? Did you see her using the practices that were in her goal? Was she successful, and how do you know? While we're waiting for those responses to come in, I want to open it up and have Joyce and Mike share some of the things that they noticed that were successful.
Joyce: I think she was successful. I think first was that she kept calm in the moment. She was modeling that for Dominick there. She was using that ball to show that breathing, the "in" and the "out.” That seemed to work well. She was doing things that she had listed in her action plan.
Mike: The most important thing that I saw was about the respect that she had for the child's body. I think a lot of times, we see a child crying, we want to swoop in, and we want to hug them. I'm all about consent, because I know as I was growing up, I hated to be touched when I was having big emotions. I have a child in my class who's the exact same way. I love the respect that the educator gave to the child's body in order to help them figure out, what do they need in order to calm down?
Sarah: I appreciate that, too. I noticed she peaked under the pillow, and he wasn't ready to look at her, so she just let it go. We've got some responses coming in, and I want to highlight some of the things that you guys noticed. Someone noticed how calm she remained, which is step one with supporting children to calm down. Teachers or caregivers, adults, you have to be calm as well. Also using the ball to model. Someone mentioned that they liked the tone of voice that she was using. There was another one who noticed the positive feedback that the teacher provided. Congratulating him —"Good job. You did it," when he took a breath.
I see a couple more responses. She used the visuals and stuck with him until he calmed down. I think that she offered choices at the end. It was like, "Do you want to pick something else to help you calm down? And I'll bring you your picture, and once you're calm, you can go find somewhere to play.” Overall, I think Kelli was implementing her goal, and that she was successful. The child calmed down, and she stayed calm as well. What suggestions might you give Kelli, working with this goal? Feel free to use the Q&A. Joyce, Mike, do you have anything you might suggest?
Mike: I believe that educator said, "Are you good?” And knowing from my community, we use "are you good" in a completely different way. I guess, being mindful of where the child's community and background is from, and use of language, because language is important to have successful relationships. I know if I was a child, "Are you good" might have a different connotation to me. It's hard to tell, because you don't have all the context of the child, of the educator, but that's always something to be mindful of as coaches. But that's something that came to my mind.
Joyece: There's a lot of good things happening here. If anything, maybe just with the visuals, making them a little bit more movable. Because it looked like she had to pull one off the wall. Just something minor, but something maybe to make things easier, especially in the moment of those things.
Sarah: I noticed those things as well. I think it's important to think about the language and about asking, "You good?", if that makes sense to that child, or if he's going to think that means something different. Also just making those visuals maybe a little bit more portable. I'm going to share one response. Crystal says, "Maybe a next step would get him to label his feelings, pick a strategy for himself to use to breathe, and do it more independently.” Maybe taking it to the next level there, and having him maybe verbalize why he was upset, and how he could solve this problem. I think that's a good strategy. I think it depends, too, on the kid.
It's easy to give a lot of feedback. We don't know a lot about the child or the context. I know for my son; you almost have to be there and breathe with him. If you offer any other suggestions, that could maybe shut him down. But that could be a potential solution. All right, well we're going to move right along into our Focus on Equity section. We're going to lift up the value of equity in all learning environments and as we work with others. In this part here, I'd love to hear from Mike about some strategies that a coach could use to support a coachee to help promote emotional literacy and self-regulation in equitable and inclusive ways. What are some suggestions you have?
Mike: Communication, verbal, nonverbal, in all sorts of relationships are key. My mama used to say, "Closed mouth don't get fed," which means, "Boy, you better speak up.” I like to focus on that. A coach can support coachees to examine their communication with families about these topics. A few strategies that I've done and seen done across multiple settings and age groups include a coach supporting a coachee to give families an opportunity to share how they approach teaching emotions, and how they support their children to regulate at home. And that is a super scary thing, because it means we're giving up control.
But this work requires vulnerability. This work requires putting our egos aside at times. I think this could be done through a survey, or even as casual as a discussion between a coachee and a family. Most importantly, it allows families — or it doesn't allow. We should allow families to share their stories in their native language, and then have someone translate it for you. And that's not the norm, usually. Usually, families have to listen to us as we speak to them via translators. But if we really are trying to empower people, and have a better understanding of their situation, we're going to have to do some things different.
The next point is, encourage coachees to be transparent with families about how they will be teaching young children and guiding them through these skills. When I think about a home visitor, for example, or I think about how you're providing information about the importance of research behind using a different approach or a different strategy in the home to get a desired outcome. And when I think about it in a group setting, it could look like gathering and sharing information via survey, a welcome to the class packet, a newsletter.
This is something that my homeboy, Nick Terrone says in a book that he wrote, called, "A Can of Worms: Fearless Conversations with Toddlers.” He says that this work is about helping children and families develop and foster dispositions for equity, to practice perspective taking, and to be comfortable with what's unfamiliar. The last point is encourage a coachee to create systems of bidirectional communication and feedback, so families can provide their input and suggestions related to these topics, right? Find out how a family likes to communicate — if it's via text, it's an email, is it a phone call? Is it a fax machine? Is it a carrier pigeon? is it a back-and-forth notebook from school to home?
And thinking about home visitors, even though I love home visits, know that it is a scary thing for people. I know the system isn't friendly to Black and Brown families, and to be honest, like, I'm afraid of you all coming in my home, my environment, and judging me, and shaming me, and pigeonholing me into a system. Know that they're going to be tense. It's on you all to find a way to encourage families to provide feedback about how things are going in — or share if something isn't working for them. It's on the home visitor to adjust their practice.
When we say "home visiting" like, the first word is "home.” But if visiting the home isn't the right avenue, then explore other places in the community in which I can link up and support them, so that they feel comfortable to have open and honest dialogue about what success looks like for them and their child. I'm going to repeat that. What success looks like for them and their child.
Sarah: It's so important, because often as educators, we don't leave that avenue open for families to give us feedback about what's working for them. And it's all about, "This is how I do it, or we do it," but not really that opportunity for feedback. We’re getting towards the end of our webinar, but I wanted to see if you could briefly summarize this piece right here.
We talk about implicit bias all the time, about noticing that you have, or just being aware of your implicit bias. But what are some ways that a coach can support a coachee to identify implicit bias first, related to emotional literacy and self-regulation? And what are a few strategies that a coach can do to support them to get past their implicit bias related to these practices?
Mike: First thing, if I reflect upon your own culture and what potential biases or beliefs about emotions that you all bring into the environment. Because it might impact how emotions are taught, how it's viewed, or how you might respond to express emotions. I ask myself these questions all the time. The first one, through the reflection, what emotions are you comfortable expressing? How do you expect children to express and manage emotions? And do you all respond to children's range of emotions with the same amount of patience and guidance? These questions should sound familiar, because they are questions that come from "Circle Time Magazine" Edition 3, on positive behavior supports, which I believe is in you all packet. Go back, check that out. Another provocation is about creating goals with the coachees to support new practices.
For example, if a coachee can identify that they respond to Black boys' expressions of emotions more harshly or with different expectations, write a goal for your all self that includes response in different ways. Take data on how coachees are supporting children with their emotions and notice inequities across children. Celebrate the success and recognize that this is challenging work. Check in on your implicit bias often. This isn't like, a one-and-done sort of deal. Just because I came to this webinar, don't mean you all check. This is a thing that we got to do every single day. Make it part of an education staff meeting.
And create an environment that is open and brave enough to be able to share what's going on and to problem-solve. I'd be remiss if I didn't say that it's imperative that we are aware of education staff who are LGBTQIA+, who are BIPOC, Black Indigenous people of color. Those who speak a different language or of a different culture in these meetings. And don't put the burden of having them educate staff on these topics, right? Even if you are white, you are hetero, you are cisgender, you can still create environment in which you're working towards being aware and acknowledging these things if you're in that environment.
Sarah: Thank you, Mike
Joyce: Thank you so much, Mike, for sharing with us. You've given us so much to think about and to reflect on. I'm just going to point you to a couple of resources. Check out the Viewer's Guide for Coco's Corner. That's our Head Start coaching companion mascot. Coco is pointing out, maybe, taking a look at creating action plan and action plan steps.
We also want to just say, in your resources for today, we included some strength and needs assessments for infant and toddler and preschool, and some action plan examples. You could see maybe, what does this look like, in a sample action plan? These are just samples, things to be able to see, based around our conversation today. And that's for infant toddler. We've got a preschool and a home visiting as well. Thank you so much for joining us today. We'll see you on MyPeers.Close
Emotional literacy is the ability to identify, understand, and respond to emotions in oneself and others in a healthy way. Research shows that most children with strong emotional literacy skills have greater academic achievement, are more focused and less impulsive, and engage in more positive behaviors. Adults have an important role in teaching and fostering growth of these skills in children. This webinar explores resources and strategies that support coachees to teach emotional literacy and support self-regulation in young children. Engage in a case study based on emotional literacy and self-regulation and practice using coaching strategies to support a coachee to implement effective emotional literacy and self-regulation practices.
Note: The evaluation, certificate, and engagement tools mentioned in the video were for the participants of the live webinar and are no longer available. For information about webinars that will be broadcast live soon, visit the Upcoming Events section.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning
Audience: Directors and Managers
Series: Coaching Corner Series
Last Updated: June 5, 2020