One of those schools is PS 307 in Brooklyn. Every Monday morning, every PS 307 teacher gets the week off to a good start by teaching The 4Rs (Reading, Writing Respect & Resolution). The 4Rs curriculum uses children’s books to integrate social and emotional skills into the language arts from grades preK to 8. Students learn and practice life skills such as managing anger and other strong feelings, making good decisions, dealing well with conflict, standing up to bias and bullying, and working with others to improve the community. Research shows that the program boosts students’ social, emotional and academic competency, and improves the classroom climate for learning.
For the past two years, every teacher at PS 307 has been teaching the 4Rs, with training and coaching from Morningside Center’s staff developer. “The process is transformative,” says teacher Martina Meijer. “The kids have grown tremendously since the beginning of the year in their ability to analyze their actions, predict consequences, and see other things they could have done.” PS 307 principal Roberta Davenport observes that the school has seen a “slow transformation, beginning with the tone and climate.” The lunchroom and hallways are calmer, and the quality of interaction between teachers and students has improved. Student suspensions have dropped. She credits The 4Rs.
The 4Rs is only one approach to social and emotional learning Morningside Center has developed in the course of its 30 years. In addition to curriculum-based programs like The 4Rs and the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program, Morningside Center helps schools implement peer mediation programs, supports schools in developing comprehensive strategies for countering bullying, provides direct coaching for principals, and more. Principal Davenport herself is part of a new Morningside Center initative: The “SEL Schools Network” is a group of ten NYC principals who are working to infuse social and emotional learning throughout their schools.