National Honesty Day is observed on April 30 as a day to encourage truthfulness. This day of observance was created by M. Hirsh Goldberg, the author of The Book of Lies. Learn more about National Honesty Day.
Honesty promotes openness, empowers us, and enables us to be real with ourselves and others about who we are, what we want, and what you need to live your best life. There are many benefits to honesty like better health, promotes authenticity, fosters courage, shows you care, an example of love, shows maturity and self-acceptance. Remember honesty attracts honesty!
10 Benefits of Being Honest
Honesty – How it Benefits You and Others
The Importance of Self-Honesty
There are 3 Golden Rules for Honest Communication:
1. Be open and honest.
2. Give up your need to be right.
3. Listen with your heart (and with your ears).
#SELChat: Honestly Teaching Honesty offers 5 ideas for helping students embrace that honesty is the best policy:
1. Model it by speaking truthfully.
2. Build respectful relationships with students.
3. Provide direct instruction and expectations.
4. Assign meaningful work in the classroom.
5. Give children opportunities to make it right.
Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22, and is known as a modern environmental movement since 1970. By the end of the first Earth Day in 1970, the United States Environmental Protection Agency was created and environmental laws such as – the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act – were passed. Today, Earth Day is observed by more than a billion people globally as a day of action to change global, national, and local policy along with human behavior.
History of Earth Day
Earth Day Live
Environmental Justice is defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people despite their race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
Learn About Environmental Justice
Yale Experts Explain Environmental Justice
In North Birmingham, the Environmental Protection Agency created the North Birmingham Environmental Collaboration Project to address environmental conditions in low-income and minority communities like air, waste, and water issues.
Environmental Justice in Your Community
There are hundreds of ways to be Eco-Friendly! Try to incorporate some of these ideas into your daily routine to create a waste-free future and reduce your environmental impact.
Stress is your body’s feelings of emotional or physical tension as your body reacts to a challenge or demand. The body reacts to stress by releasing hormones that makes your brain more alert, causes muscles to tense, and increases your pulse. The two main types of stress include acute stress or short-term stress that goes away quickly, and chronic stress or long-term stress that lasts for weeks to months. When used positively, stress can lead to growth, action, and change; while negative, long-term stress can lessen your quality of life.
When you’re experiencing stress, you may feel – worried, angry, irritable, depressed, or inability to focus. Physical signs of stress include – headaches, trouble sleeping, upset stomach, weight gain or loss, tense muscles, and frequent or more severe colds. Excess chronic stress is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression or anxiety, skin problems like acne or eczema, and menstrual problems. Benefits of managing or reducing stress includes – better sleep, control of your weight, becoming sick less often or recovering faster, less muscle tension, better moods, and stronger relationships with family and friends.
To prevent or reduce stress try planning ahead, deciding what tasks need to be accomplished first, and preparing for stressful events. One can manage stress by learning skills such as problem-solving, prioritizing tasks, and time-management; enhancing your ability to cope with stress; practicing relaxation techniques; and improving personal relationships; noticing when you feel stressed; getting active and eating healthy.
The following are 10 tips to manage stress:
2. Relax your muscles
3. Deep breathing
4. Eat well
5. Slow down
6. Take a break
7. Make time for hobbies
8. Talk about your problems
9. Go easy on yourself
10. Eliminate your triggers
Children experience stress differently than adults, this means that their ways of expressing stress also look different. Consider that when your child is experiencing mood swings, acting out, poor sleep or concentration, and complaints of stomach aches or headaches, they may be trying to cope with their stress. There are four stress relief activities for kids which includes:
1. Aerobic activities
2. Stretching / Yoga
3. Deep breathing and guided imagery
4. Get outside
Below are more resources that you can use for managing stress:
Effective Stress Relievers for Your Life
Stress and Your Health
Social emotional learning is the process of children and adults achieving and effectively applying knowledge, attitudes, and skills imperative to understanding and managing emotions, setting and achieving positive goals, feeling and showing empathy for others, establishing and maintaining positive relationships, and making responsible decisions. Activities that teach and establish social and emotional skills prepare children to meet the demands of the classroom and enable students to engage fully in the classroom.
Improving the entire school climate will help students with social and emotional skills as well as improve their academic skills. Below are resources that can help you implement these kinds of practices in your own classroom.
1. Consider starting the school day with an emotional check in. You could begin by welcoming the class and asking students to describe the way they feel, use a poster to display possible emotions, or asking students an inviting question.
50 Questions to Ask Elementary Kids to Check in and Get to Know Them Better
2. Use story time to explore social-emotional themes that can be applied in your classroom.
50 Must-Have Picture Books to Teach Social Emotional Skills
3. Take time to teach kids how to work in a group; students will learn how to work with others, develop leadership skills, and identify their own strengths.
Not Just Group Work – Productive Group Work
4. Role-playing. Sometimes by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is the best way to understand troubling situations. Introduce role-playing in the classroom to help children develop empathy and understand other people’s feelings.
Character Role Playing Cards
Emotion and Scenario Cards
5. Peer-mediation or calm down corner. Peer-mediation is a problem-solving technique to assist students to work out problems in a private, safe, and confidential setting with a peer-mediator. You could also create a special place in your classroom known as a calm-down corner for students to take a break when upset or angry and need time to calm down.
Teaching Students to Be Peer Mediators
How to Create and Use a Calm-Down Corner in Any Learning Environment
Middle School Activities
1. Paper Tweets creates an opportunity for students to connect with a friend or classmate to write or discuss anything they want. This should be an informal assignment and allow students creativity without being graded for their peer interactions.
Paper Tweets Build SEL Skills
2. Group one-pagers are a great way for students to interact with each other and learn more about their classmates. You may consider a poster board for groupmates to create a team name, list of group favorites, and a symbol or icon for the group. Another way to create an interactive one-pager is to focus on relationship building; students may draw a picture of a classmate, friend, or teacher and three peers will give positive quotes about that person. There is opportunity for more creativity with this assignment such as – drawing funny or meaningful images, share inside jokes or memories of the person, and write a thoughtful, made-up definition of the person’s name.
Using Art in Assessments
3. Student-led end-of-quarter celebrations are a great way to create class-bonding. Students have the chance to select themes, create potluck sign-ups, make invitations, and choose activities for the celebration.
Examples for 17 Awesome Ways to Celebrate the End of the School Year
4. Regular class meetings produce an empowering environment that students feel heard and acknowledged. Take time to check-in with students to address issues, needs, and successes in the classroom.
Creating Positive Classroom Culture with Classroom Meetings
5. Before students leave the classroom, ask exit questions that allow the teacher to assess and address the emotional needs of students. This activity is also known as an optimistic closure.
141 Exit Ticket Questions and Prompts to Check for Understanding
24 Exit Ticket Ideas
High School Activities
1. To start the day, ask students to close their eyes and imagine what stress looks like and feels like in their body and prompt them to release their stress and visualize stress leaving their body.
Using Visualization to Reduce Anxiety Symptoms
2. Introduce a quote of the day that is relevant to what students are learning or may experience; you can use this quote to facilitate whole-class discussion, group discussion, or a one-word response to the quote. This activity gives students time to reflect on their beliefs, morals, and experiences.
51 Motivational Quotes for Students Who Need Inspiration
50 of Our All-Time Favorite Classroom Quotes
3. Have students pair up with a classmate they don’t know and provide the students with questions to ask each other. After an appropriate amount of time has passed, each student takes turns introducing their partner to the rest of the class.
20 Questions to Get Kids Talking & Build Community
40 Weird Questions to Ask Your Students to Help You Get to Know Them Better
4. Appreciation, apology, aha is an activity that encourages students to share helpful words, authentic apologies, and realizations they may have had throughout the week.
Appreciation, Apology, Aha
60-Second Strategy: Appreciation, Apology, Aha!
5. Journaling or reflective writing should be a quiet, relaxing break from schoolwork that students look forward to.
105 Writing Prompts for Self-Reflection and Self-Discovery
7 Ways Social Emotional Learning Will Solve your School Culture Challenges
5 Ways to Incorporate SEL in Middle School
25 Simple Ways to Integrate Social-Emotional Learning Throughout the Day
13 Powerful SEL Activities
World Autism Day is celebrated annually on April 2; the observation of this day is a time to “Light it Up Blue” by showing awareness and concern for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Autism is a spectrum, meaning there's not just one type of autism, but many subtypes. Each person with autism has a different set of strengths and challenges. Some people with autism may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support or can live independently. Autism can impact a person's social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation.
If you are a teacher with students who have autism in your classroom here are some tips for helping those students thrive in the classroom:
1. Avoid sensory overload.
2. Use visuals.
3. Be predictable.
4. Keep language concrete.
5. Directly teach social skills.
6. Treat students as individuals.
6 Tips for Teaching Students with Autism
The following are ten ideas to use in the classroom to ensure students with autism feel included.
1. Learn about the learner from the learner.
2. Teach to fascinations.
3. Get them talking.
4. Give choices.
5. Consider handwriting alternatives.
6. Help with organizing.
7. Support transitions.
8. Create a comfortable classroom.
9. Take a break.
Supporting Students with Autism: 10 Ideas for Inclusive Classrooms
Here are a few resources for learning more about people with autism:
The Importance of Peers in Inclusive Education for Individuals with ASD
9 Tips for Interacting with Individuals with Autism
Free Online Webinars: Autism Education for Individuals, Parents, and Professionals
Social emotional learning is important to students' academic success and future achievements. Teaching social and emotional skills takes a subtle approach to introduce topics daily in classroom activities. Use social emotional learning games to start the day, give students a break between academic lessons, or as a way to reflect on the school day.
Games, apps, and activities teach SEL to students in a way that's fun and interactive so sometimes they won't even know they're learning. Even games that don't overtly teach SEL skills can help students succeed with responsible decision making, problem solving, and critical thinking skills. Using digital games and apps create space for teachers to find more time throughout their day. While their students are learning important SEL skills and having fun, the teachers could be practicing self-care and mindfulness.
Below you'll find resources for SEL activities, apps, and games for your students or children.
Social-Emotional Learning Activities for Online Teaching
Emotional Intelligence Apps and Games
Using Digital Games for SEL Assessment and Skill Building
The 5 Best Social Emotional Learning Apps for Teachers
Using Games to Teach Social Emotional Skills
20 Evidence-Based Social Skills Activities and Games for Kids
Peekapak SEL Curriculum and Games
The International Day of Happiness is celebrated annually on March 20 as a way to “recognize the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world.” The theme in 2021 for this observed celebration is “Happiness for All Forever.”
Consider these Sixteen steps for living a happy life starting right now. Read the article for an explanation of how these steps are proven to make your life more productive, successful, and happy.
1. Be committed.
2. Remember people care about you, not your success.
3. Be grateful every day. Gratefulness is linked to feeling better about your life, more enthusiasm, and the willingness to help others. Take time every day to journal or list grateful notes every day.
4. Take action.
5. Know money doesn’t buy happiness, although it can decrease stress and anxiety when your needs are met.
6. Don’t take rejection personally.
7. Have a backup plan.
8. Improve your social skills.
9. Travel, even if it's just to the next town over.
10. Don’t multitask.
11. Embrace a growth mindset – a way of thinking that thrives on challenges and views failures as growth and opportunity to strengthen abilities, rather than a result of unintelligence.
12. Balance work and life.
13. Don’t hold grudges.
14. Be Present in the moments.
15. Take care of yourself, then help others.
There are seven remarkable powerful keys to happiness and success (according to science). To maintain happiness and success, remember to find happiness first, then focus on completing the goal second; there is importance behind refraining from goal-oriented happiness. Goal-oriented happiness is thinking that happiness is achieved after completing a goal, rather than finding joy throughout the process or journey. Seppala’s seven science-based ways to rediscover joy and grow more successful –
Recommended ways on how to be happy: 25 habits to add to your routine; practice these daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly habits by taking time to discover what does and doesn’t work for you.
Daily Habits – smile, exercise, get plenty of rest, eat with mood in mind, be grateful, give a compliment, breathe deeply, acknowledge the unhappy moments, keep a journal, face stress head on.
Weekly Habits – declutter, see friends, plan your week, ditch your phone, get into nature, explore meditation, consider counseling, find a self-care ritual.
Monthly Habits – give back, take yourself out, create a thought list.
Yearly Habits – take time to reflect, reevaluate goals, take care of your body, let go of grudges.
This one is for the college students; 18 things you need to do to be happy in college!
Sometimes there is difficulty to balancing what’s best for children with what makes them happy, but know that what’s best and what makes them happy isn’t mutually exclusive. Here’s how to raise happy kids: 10 steps backed by science; read the article for an explanation of each step. Research shows that happier kids are more likely to turn into successful, accomplished adults.
The International Day of Happiness lists 10 steps to global happiness for 2021:
What makes you happy? | International Day of Happiness video, this video is a compilation of people around the world saying what makes them happy.
The surprising science of happiness by Dan Gilbert TED Talk
Since 1987, March is known as Women’s History Month as a month to celebrate women’s contributions to history, culture, and society. This month of celebration grew from the original concept of International Women’s Day, that has been observed globally since March 8, 1911. Every year, Women’s History Month focuses on a new theme; this year, 2021, the designated theme for March is “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced.”
Below are Women's History Month Videos that will help you understand more about what it is and why we celebrate it.
Gloria Steinem’s Advice to Young Women: Listen to Yourselves, Not to Me
March is Women's History Month. Watch How it Progressed Through the Years
First of Many – Women’s History Month 2021
TED Talk: To Future Generations of Women, You are the Roots of Change
Iconic Women to Celebrate This Women’s History Month
Events to Participate in to Celebrate Women’s History Month with The Smithsonian Institution, Library of Congress, and National Archives
If you're looking to learn more about how you can empower and support all kinds of women, read the articles below:
Empowering Her Empowers all of Us
Women as Allies for Women: Understanding Intersectionality
Social and Emotional Learning is Essential for Girls to Thrive
Image from the University of Akron.
Trauma-Informed Care is an approach that assumes that an individual is more likely than not to have a history of trauma. It recognizes the presence of trauma symptoms and acknowledges the role trauma may play in an individual's life. It's not used to treat symptoms or issues related to abuse or trauma, but rather to provide support services in a way that is accessible and appropriate.
When trauma occurs, it affects an individual's sense of self, their sense of others and their beliefs about the world. Being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma can help us avoid the possibility of re-traumatization.
What IS trauma though? Trauma is defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Each experience is different for each person; one experience may not be traumatizing for one individual, but it may be for another. Below is a list of Adverse Childhood Experiences that have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity.
Emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse
Parental separation or divorce
Substance abuse by household member
Witness to domestic violence
Household member with mental illness
Incarcerated household member
Toxic stress damages the structure and function of a child's developing brain according to neuroscientists and pediatricians at Harvard, Rockefeller University, and Child Trauma Academy. When children are overloaded with stress hormones, they're in fight, flight, or freeze mode. They can't learn in school, they often have difficult trusting adults, or developing healthy relationships with peers. Often they turn to drugs, alcohol, and other unhealthy habits to escape their problems. However, resilience research shows that the appropriate integration of resilience factors (asking for help, trusting relationships, forming a positive attitude, listening to feelings) can help people improve their lives.
So what can we do? We can form a Trauma-Informed Care approach in the spaces we live and work. Below are resources that will help you under TIC more and apply it to your work or household.
What is Trauma-Informed Care? - University of Buffalo
Trauma-Informed Classrooms and Transformational Schools
Parenting a Child Who Has Experienced Trauma
How to Cope with Traumatic Events Like Coronavirus
What's Your ACE Score?
While Black History Month is coming to an end, there's opportunity for growth and to learn about Black History and how to be anti-racist throughout the year. Anti-racism is defined as the policy or practice of opposing racism and promoting racial tolerance. There are many ways to practice anti-racism such as supporting Black-owned businesses (Birmingham Black-owned businesses are linked below), voting for people who are also anti-racist, and having courageous conversations with friends and family.
Below are resources for educators, kids, and anyone interested in becoming Anti-Racist.
Anti-Racism Resources for Educators, Students, and Citizens
Race and Equity Initiative Anti-Racism Resources
Let's Grow Kids: Anti-Racism Resources
12 Books For Adults About Anti-Racism And Activism
21-Day Anti-Racism Challenge
TED Talks to help you understand racism in America
17 Black-owned Businesses to Support in Birmingham
17 Black-owned Restaurants in Birmingham