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“How can the inevitable challenges that arise when people come together in groups serve as an opportunity for learning rather than a source of contention?” asked Ellen Hall and Jennifer Kofkin Rudkin, in an article that forms the basis of an Out of the Box Training Kit. “How do we resolve interpersonal difficulties without resorting to punitive practices that disrupt relationships? Can we ground lessons in getting along in a desire to create compassionate communities rather than compliant individuals? These common classroom dilemmas instigated the development of the theory and practice of Supportive Social Learning (SSL).”
The authors stated that “SSL can be difficult to convey because it is a state of mind rather than a technique. Let's ground the discussion in an example. Several years ago, a teacher at The Boulder Journey School was trying to read a story to her class of two and two and a half year olds. One of the children, an extremely sensitive boy who expressed his discomfort in disruptive ways, was making story time impossible. Another teacher sat next to the boy, rubbing his back and talking to him quietly, but the boy continued to cause chaos. It would have been easy for the teacher to stop the story and ask the other teacher to take the child from the room. This is not, however, what she did.”
Hall and Rudkin explained that having a mindset of providing children with the support they need to be able to cope with strong emotions is an important step in helping them view themselves as valuable members of the group.
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