Today’s guest post comes from Debbie who has a new site about Emotional Literacy Support. I am always on the look out for good resources to support Emotional Literacy displays (it was a Facebook conversation with Debbie that sparked the Warm Fuzzies post the other week!) and Debbie’s new site promises to have some excellent ones!
Our emotional literacy displays & learning environment
We are very lucky to have our own classroom to carry out our emotional literacy activities. It is in the process of being changed from an old intervention/guided reading room to ‘The Hive’ our new name for the room. As our groups are called ‘Busy Bees’ we decided to carry that theme throughout the room. All our displays are backed in bright yellow with black borders. It is very eye catching.
We also purchased some Bee cushions which the children sit on for circle time activities. I have a cooling down area which consists of a table with a ‘cool it’ activity, and a (yellow)timer and have plans for a covered ‘hive’ where children can read books etc. When the room is finished I will happily send in some photos for you to see.
The photo I have included in this post is of the Busy Bees display in the corridor leading up from Reception. All visitors must go past the display when they come into our school. We used our yellow and black theme here too. Everyone knows this is Busy Bees. The display is very eye catching and eyes are drawn to it when walking down the corridor. We decided to put the bright yellow sunflowers to enhance the display. Yellow makes me think of happy things; of the sun, warmth and friendship. That is what we wanted to achieve.
The display consists of photographs of the children taking part in different activities, feelings fans, lots of speech bubbles which the children wrote saying what they had learnt in their Busy Bee group. We also cut out bees and flowers out of clipart to dot around. We included some friendship quotes which I made on the computer. I love positive quotes and sometimes we discuss them in circle time. I also wanted something that visitors could look at and also most importantly the children. We made our ‘Look at what we do in Busy Bees’ book. This is updated regularly with photographs of our sessions. We often see parents looking through the book as well as children.
A little more about our ELSA work
Many people may wonder what an ELSA is so I will explain. An ELSA is an Emotional Literacy Support Assistant, a teaching assistant or in my case an HLTA who has undergone training by Educational Psychologists. It is quite a new initiative which aims to address the problem of children’s social and emotional needs enabling them to access the curriculum.
I have been trained for a year now and the value of the ELSA role has been recognised in our school to such an extent that the Head has invested in training for three more ELSAs. I am now the Lead ELSA and line manage the three other ELSAs. We work both reactively and proactively with behaviour, social and emotional needs.
Every day is different and the children actually self refer themselves to us now. It might be that their dog has died or they had a conflict in the playground or they feel angry about something. I knew I had made a difference when one little boy in year 2 asked his teacher if he could come and see me because he felt so angry. This little boy would, in the past have lashed out at others but now he recognises his anger, walks away and seeks adult help. I was so proud of him that day when he knocked on my door. We also work closely with parents to foster good relationships and to help the parent to help their child.
Our proactive work involves running our ‘Busy Bee’ groups. These are hand-picked children who have problems managing their feelings, self esteem problems, friendship problems or just need a little nurturing. We always include ‘LAC’ (looked after children). This is a 12 week intervention where we work on lots of things including feelings, team work, friendship, social skills, calming down and relaxation strategies. The biggest strength of Busy Bees is the fact that children feel they belong to a group. Belonging is very powerful! We also work on a one to one basis with children where we can teach ways to manage their feelings, change their negative behaviour or perhaps support them after bereavement.
Our reactive work involves sorting out problems which occur on a daily basis. For example if a teacher is struggling with a child’s behaviour and has gone through all the sanctions then she/he will call for us and we will remove the child, calm them and have the ‘talk’ about expectations in class. They usually go back in a much better mood and get on with their work. We also sort out playtime issues using a restorative approach to conflict.
ELSA Support website
Earlier on in the year I realised that there was no central area on the internet for emotional literacy resources and resources are difficult for some people to make. In my past life before having my children I was an ICT technician with a very large multinational company so had the skills to make resources for my work and I thought it would be good to share with others. I started ELSA support. There are many resources on there and links to resources I have found. Also some people have started to send in resources they have made which is fantastic and just what I want to happen. I have also started a Facebook page where people can ‘like’ the page and they will get regular updates to the website. It is growing slowly but surely. Although the original intention was to support ELSAs, everyone who works with children is very welcome. Children’s emotional literacy is a key element of their success in life so we are all equally responsible; whether a parent, Head teacher, teacher, teaching assistant, volunteer or ELSA.
Thank you Linda for allowing me to write this article
Thank you Debbie for guest posting!
BTW If you’d like to write a guest post for Classroom Displays do get in touch!