Today I have the privilege of bringing you a guest post by Erin Boley Dunkle, of Communication Blessings! Erin loves teaching emotions and has been very successful with it. Here’s her story.
Why I Love Teaching Emotions
Have you ever had one of those students who just sticks out to you in your mind as one of your favorites? I have been an SLP for 12+ years now and there is one little guy who will always hold a special place in my heart. Ironically, I only worked with him for a year and I highly doubt anyone in his family even remembers me, but he sure made a lasting impression on me and how I do my job.
I was young, new SLP who had plenty of book knowledge, but nothing teaches you more than being down in the trenches. My favorite little guy was on the autism spectrum and had a behavior plan, but along with that, I also got to have CPI training. Wow, did that come in handy! The sweetest, most adorable kid you’ve ever laid your eyes on would suddenly turn into something like The Hulk whenever he reached his max tolerance, usually with writing.
This is when my love for teaching body language and facial cues really began. I am a firm believer that there is no better teacher for our kids than their peers. I don’t care how much we say and do, NOTHING measures up to learning alongside their peers. When classroom peers take an interest and participate, that’s golden!
I truly believe that having a solid understanding and use of a wide variety of emotions is VITAL for good social interactions with peers. Man, I wish I’d had some of my products back then! When I first started learning how to make my own products, this is one that was near and dear to my heart that I wanted to make “TpT worthy”. Despite the wide variety of emotion products in my store now, this one still remains my best seller. ? (I also have a monster version…because I ❤ monsters…and one with real photos).
My biggest goal, when working with any students who have social skills deficits, is to first make sure they understand emotions and their body language and facial cues. I do everything I can to break them down and make them as concrete as possible. When they can learn to identify the emotions of others (and the reason behind them!), that’s priceless in their social interactions. Seriously! For my favorite little guy, this was his major “AHA! moment”. He started to realize that his behavior outbursts scared some of his classmates that he so desperately wanted to impress. Conversely, many of his peers started recognizing when an outburst was coming and could help him problem solve….priceless!!
After this “AHA! moment”, we were successfully able to build confidence with skills inside the classroom and even discovered that he was quite a math whiz. His confidence even trickled over into his clothing and food choices. He started trying new things and being proud of it! He made friends in his classroom and they cheered him on when he wore a different shirt for the day….again, priceless! I could give you many other examples as to why body language and facial cues are SO important for our students, but this one is by far my favorite. Having that core understanding of emotions (beyond just happy, mad, and sad) can open up so many other opportunities, both inside and outside of the classroom.
I am a proud alumni of the University of Kentucky. I have a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree in Communication Disorders and a Master of Science degree is Communication Disorders. I have been an SLP for a little over 12 years now. Most of that time, I have worked with PreK-2nd grade. I have also spent a few years working with upper elementary students as well as infants and toddlers.