Elysian Charter School of Hoboken
Elysian Charter School of Hoboken
Harry Laub, Ph.D., Director
Elysian Charter School
Weekly Newsletter

A Positively Different Public School

November 13, 2017         Vol. 13  Issue 10
The school newsletter is sent out on Mondays.  When there is a holiday, the newsletter is sent the following day. 

Please note:  Send news to deb.rosner@ecsnj.org by 9:00 AM on Mondays.
Harry's Corner
From Education Week, November 1, 2016

Building Empathy in Children: Lessons From Early Childhood Education

Empathy is critical to developing the global competency of students. Today, Stefanie Paige Wieder, a child development expert with over 20 years of experience working with families and educators, shares lessons and resources for building empathy in students.

By Stefanie Paige Wieder

Imagine if we stopped teaching math to children over the age of 5, yet expected them to grow up to be totally proficient with math in their daily lives. Sounds like a pretty bad idea, right?

Sadly, this is exactly how we treat social-emotional learning (SEL) in most cases. The good news is that, since early childhood education has long included SEL as one of its pillars, educators of school-age kids don't necessarily need to reinvent the wheel. 

The "empathy gap" has been getting a deluge of attention recently, and with good reason. Just google "empathy" and you'll quickly find that the ability to understand and share the feelings and perspectives of others is now widely considered a crucial 21st century competency. It's also the foundation of global citizenship. Students might learn about other people and about world events, but without empathy, they won't necessarily care what's happening or choose to be agents of progress and change.

It's wonderful that SEL is now getting the attention it deserves for students of all ages, but early childhood educators have known about the importance of empathy for a very, very long time. Friedrich Fröbel, Rudolf Steiner, and Maria Montessori, among other luminaries of the 19th century, grounded early childhood education in the importance of nurturing the whole child.

The Recipe for Empathy
Empathy can be defined as having a number of components. To my mind as a child development specialist, there are three major social-emotional and cognitive skills that come together to create the ability to empathize. These are:

  • Self-awareness, or the ability to identify and label one's own feelings and motivations
  • Perspective-taking, or the ability to see things from someone else's point of view
  • An understanding of cause-and-effect, or how one's own actions might impact others

In other words, empathy relies on an awareness of self, an awareness of others, and the ability to understand how the two interrelate.

A Snapshot of SEL in Early Childhood Education
Children in high-quality early childhood classrooms have ample opportunities to develop their understanding of themselves and others. SEL is considered a fundamental part of each child's preschool education, just as important as early literacy, math, and science skills. It's a key component of both curriculum design and student assessment. SEL also gets reinforced in countless "teachable moments" every day. Take a look at how the pre-K teacher in the following example fostered SEL in multiple ways:

Two 4-year-old children, Max and Suki, are in the block area of their pre-K classroom. Suki grabs a block out of Max's hand. Max yells, "No!"

A teacher approaches and asks, "Hey guys, what's going on?"

Max cries, "She took my block!"

The teacher, getting down to the children's eye level, asks, "Suki, why did you take the block Max was using?"

Suki says, "Because I needed a block like that one to build my bridge." 

The teacher asks, "Max, how did that make you feel?"

Max says, "Sad. And mad!" 

The teacher then inquires, "Suki, what could you do instead of grabbing the block?" [No response from Suki.] "Why don't you try asking Max if you could use that block?"

Suki asks Max if she could use the block. He says, "No, I need it now."

The teacher responds, "Okay, Suki. Max is using that block now. Let me help you find something else to build your bridge. Let's look at the block shelf."

Suki hands the block back to Max and follows the teacher to the block shelf. 

In this scenario, the teacher:

  • Set the stage for a safe and open conversation by signaling a neutral (rather than disciplinary) tone.
  • Prompted Suki to reflect on the motivation for her actions, promoting her self-awareness.
  • Gave Max practice with identifying and labeling his feelings.
  • Helped Suki see that her actions had an impact on another person, which encouraged her to think about cause and effect.
  • Gave both students the opportunity to assert their needs in an appropriate way.
  • Modeled respectful problem solving.

Over time, with consistent scaffolding from teachers, young children can begin to internalize these behaviors and do them more independently. This is the foundation of empathy. But students need continued guidance and opportunities for practice as they grow and their cognitive and social skills become more advanced.

Although many formal curricula and learning standards for older children pay scant attention to "the whole child," I've seen firsthand how SEL can successfully continue past the early childhood years. When I was with the Lesley Ellis School in Arlington, Massachusetts, I had the pleasure of witnessing skilled teachers of elementary and middle school students continuing to weave SEL into the classroom. At times they adopted aspects of formal curricula like Open Circle, and at other times informally wove SEL into the existing curriculum units using books and activities.

While studying immigration, the 5th and 6th grade students at Lesley Ellis not only learn what some of the push/pull factors are that lead to people immigrating, but they also examine the emotional toll immigrants can go through by staging a mock Ellis Island. By "putting themselves into the immigrants' shoes" (so to speak), the students can, for instance, "experience" getting turned away if they are asked to represent someone who has a cough or doesn't fit some other type of health requirement. The students then write a journal entry, in the voice of their Ellis Island persona, describing the immigration experience.

This is a beautiful example of how SEL can and should grow with children as their skills develop. Like the students in the pre-K example, the kids in this scenario practice self-awareness, perspective-taking, and the appropriate expression of feelings through language. By not only learning about people from other parts of the world, but also experiencing what they might feel, these kids are on their way to becoming caring global citizens. 

Getting Scrappy with SEL
Even if you teach in a program where you have little control over the formal curriculum and there is no SEL curriculum in place, there are still ways to take the cue from early childhood education and meaningfully integrate SEL into daily classroom life. Here are some resources that will help you informally incorporate books, assignments, and discussions that promote self-awareness and perspective taking.

  • Barefoot Books is an independent children's book publisher with a wide selection of global, diverse, and inclusive books that foster SEL for children from birth through ages 8+. 
  • Dr. Michele Borba, author of UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, offers practical articles and resources for educators on her website.
  • Roots of Empathy offers a fascinating, evidence-based classroom program used around the world that has been shown to raise social/emotional competence and increase empathy. Learning about their curriculum can give you some ideas for SEL lessons. 
  • The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley website includes an education section with links to a variety of SEL articles for educators. 
  • The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence website describes its "RULER" program, an evidence-based approach to teaching emotional intelligence, and has a publications section with research articles about the impact of SEL. 
  • Ashoka's Start Empathy Initiative offers the Start Empathy toolkit for educators Homa Tavangar, author of Growing Up Global, provides an overview.
  • Jordan Catapano, a high school English teacher in the Chicago area, wrote an excellent blog post in which he offers simple, empathy-boosting strategies teachers can use. 
  • School 21 in London uses what they call a Wellbeing framework to approach SEL. You can read about it and find practical tips from their curriculum.
Elysian Has Tickets for 4 Afterschool Performances at The New Victory Theater
If you are interested in accompanying your child to the theater on any of all of the days below, please contact Lynne.Shapiro@ecsnj.org. She will tell you how ticket pricing works.
Forms for aftercare students will go home this week.  Forms must be completed for aftercare students to participate in the trip.
The Migration: Performance is Tuesday November 21, 4:30 PM
Pre-visit workshop is 3:00 – 4:00 PM Monday, November 20
Post –visit workshop is 12:30 – 1:30 PM, Wednesday, November 22
Fusing body percussion, tap, stepping, and contemporary dance with live gospel, jazz and blues, Step Africa! Brings to life Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration  Series – the landmark collection of paintings depicting the largest demographic transformation in U.S. history.  Grades 2 and up.  Pre-and Post-visit workshop are with New Victory visiting artists at school.  1 hour and 30 minutes/one intermission. 
Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic – Wednesday, December 20, 4:30 Performance
Returning with even more tricks (and wry one-liners) up his sleeve – and new acts designed especially for New Victory audiences – Jason Bishop will convert any skeptics in this marvelous, mind-blowing magic show. Grades 3 and up.  Pre-visit workshop only, 60 minutes/no intermission
Bromance: Barely Methodical Troupe – Wednesday, February 14, 4:30 PM
Bromance stars a trio of friends who flip, throw and catch each other.  They turn handshakes into handstands and race through fast-paced, high-risk stunts featuring adrenaline-fueled contemporary acrobatics! Grades 2 and up.  Pre-visit workshop only. 1 hour and 10 minutes/no intermission.  Pre-visit workshop only.
SEEDFOLKS: Thursday, May 10, 4:30 PM
Meet the fascinating folk of Gibb Street in this extraordinary one woman show.  From Ana, an old Romanian woman, to Gonzalo, A Latino teenager, a fractured neighborhood comes together when spirited young Kim plants some precious beans in a nearby vacant lot.  Based on a Paul Fleischman book.  Grades 4 and up - 1 hour and 10 minutes/no intermission.

Elysian 3rd Grader, Keira, Collects for Homeless Shelter

The Shelter are in great need of the following items; 
hand warmers

Let's show them that we are part of a caring Community. Please leave your donations at the bottom of the stairs (entrance lobby) starting today, November 13.

Thanks in advance for you generous support!

A big thank you to CVS for donating approximately $450 worth of the above goods.

Friends of Elysian
Trivia Night Fundraiser Ticket Info:
  • Tickets are for Elysian parents only until Sunday, November 19, when, if any tickets are unsold, they will be open to non-Elysian friends, extended family, and the public.
  • No tickets can be sold at the door since teams need to be set up in advance.
  • Each team will be made up of six (6) members, but you can buy any number of tickets.

Click here to buy tickets & register:

Creating Teams: 
  • You can put together a full team of six members yourself, either buying the tickets in one purchase or, if the tickets are bought separately, utilizing the registration form (or emailing us at friends@ecsnj.org to list your team’s players.
  • You can also include less than six names, too, and we’ll add others to your team to round it out. Deadline for emailing all team preferences is Monday, November 27.
  • Teams will be created for everyone who buys a ticket. (In other words, you don’t need to come with your own six-member team. We’ll put people together.)
  • We will do our best to accommodate team requests, but it will be first come, first served. So please let your team members know that their spots are not guaranteed until payment is received.
PTSO Corner
Coin Challenge Starts THIS Week - The 2nd Annual Elysian Coin Challenge begins TODAY!

Monday - Pennies
Tuesday - Nickels
Wednesday - Dimes
Thursday - Quarters
Friday - Any U.S. currency 
Containers will be available in every classroom to collect for the challenge!

Chili Cook-Off - Save the date and get your recipes ready for Saturday, January 6, at the Elks Club! 

Tiny Prints and Shutterfly Discount Codes Available - For all of your holiday needs, the PTSO has available 40% off and FREE shipping for Tiny Prints and $10 off an order of $50 or more and FREE shipping from Shutterfly! Send an email to elysianptso@gmail.com to get your code(s)! Elysian will also get 13% of your purchase as a donation from both Tiny Prints and Shutterfly when you shop through our exclusive storefront: ElysianCharter.ShutterflyStorefront.com. Codes expire December 31, 2017.

Play Date For Oreo

Oreo, The First Grade Guinea Pig is available for a play date over the Thanksgiving break. 
Can you take care of our class pet?
      Elysian Collects Box Tops and LABELS for Education
         Look for the container near Deb's desk in the office!  Thank you! 
As per state law, we no longer publish the exact location of trips for security reasons.
Please read the calendar weekly, as changes are updated regularly.
    Monday, November 13
    • Track Practice, 3:00 PM to 3:45 PM, 1600 Park
    Monday, November 13 - Friday, November 17
    • Parent Conferences
    Tuesday, November 14
    • Monuments Seminar trip, 8:30 AM - 2:30 PM
    • Play Practice, 3:00 PM - 4:15 PM
    • Parent Conferences 
    Wednesday, November 15
    • 1/2 Day of School 
    • Enrichment Arts Club Trip - 12:30 PM - 5:30 PM
    • Parent Conferences 
    Thursday, November 16
    • 4th Grade Trip 
    • Parent Conferences
    Friday, November 17 
    • 5th Grade Trip
    • Parent Conferences 
    Saturday, November 18 
    • Track Meet, 10:00 AM, Lincoln Park (Blue Track)
    Monday, November 20
    • 4th and 5th Grade Trip
    Tuesday, November 21
    • Lynne's Seminar - Trip
    • Play Practice, 3:00 PM - 4:15 PM
    Wednesday, November 22
    • 1/2 Day of School
    • After care available until 3:00 p.m.
    Thursday, November 23 - Friday, November 24
    • Thanksgiving Break, Elysian Closed
    Monday, November 27
    • Open House For Prospective Parents, 6:00 PM
    • Board Meeting, 7:00 PM
    Tuesday, November 28
    • Play Practice, 3:00 PM - 4:15 PM
    Wednesday, November 29 - Friday, December 1
    • 6th Grade Overnight Trip
    Friday, December 1
    • Community Meeting, 8:30 AM - Gym
    • 6th Grade Return from Trip
    Saturday, December 2
    • Open House, 10:00 AM 
    Tuesday, December 5
    •  Play Practice, 3:00 PM - 4:15 PM
    Tuesday,  December 12
    • Play Practice, 3:00 PM - 4:15 PM 
    Wednesday, December 13
    • 1/2 Day of School - Staff Developement
    Saturday, December 16
    • Kuumba Day - Gym
    Monday, December 18
    • Board Meeting, 7:00 PM
    Tuesday, December 19
    • Play Practice, 3:00 PM - 4:15 PM
    Thursday, December 21
    • 3rd Grade Trip
    Friday, December 22
    • 1/2 Day of School
    Monday, December 25 - Monday, January 1, 2018
    • Winter Break, Elysian Closed

    Mark Your Calendars
    Saturday, December 16 is KUUMBA Day!  More Info to Follow

    1460 Garden Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030
    Harry Laub, Ph.D., Director | harry.laub@ecsnj.org | Phone:201.876.0102 | Fax:201.876.9576
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