Visual Organizers for Social-Emotional Awareness
The organizers in this section introduce a variety of social-emotional concepts that have been concretely defined to assist students in identifying emotions, as well as describing and reasoning about their social-emotional state in specific situations. According to Baroff (Wolf Nelson, 1993, p. 103), “Ultimately, it is the impulse to action created by emotions that the child must learn to control in order to achieve social adaptation.” With this in mind, organizers in this section were first developed to provide a framework for introducing and defining feelings and emotions. They go on to expand vocabulary used for describing “ranges” of emotion or feeling levels (SR 26-37c), mixed feelings (SR 42-43c), and emotional states when problem-solving about social experiences (SR 38a-38b). Initially, the goal is to expand students’ ability to use their language accurately, so they will be better able to verbalize their thoughts, feelings, and needs in social situations. Additionally, organizers are provided to help students see a connection between their social-emotional state and the impact that has on their energy level; heightening awareness that their actions are often affected by their “energy level”. We have found as students improve their ability to identify and express their feelings, they can make more accurate cause-effect connections between their emotions, actions, and interactions within experiences. As a result, a set of organizers was developed to introduce a concrete means of describing a person’s energy level and how different energy levels can affect a person’s ability to do “thinking and body work” (SR 46-69b). Organizers can then be used to assist students in using concrete language to describe their internal state and the impact it can have on their output behaviorally. Explicit examples are provided to assist students in developing language skills to identify their social-emotional state and express the relationship between that state and their energy level. It has been our experience that by increasing students’ self-awareness and ability to use language to describe their internal state, they can increase their ability to better organize a plan for changing their communication behavior and use their language skills to be more effective in social situations.