Feelings

With all the demands of the curriculum, we often feel that we don’t have time to deal with the affective domain. However, talking about feelings and helping children identify and deal with their feelings is an important part of our job as teachers. Good teachers have always recognized that if the emotional life of the student is not addressed, very little learning will occur. This is especially true for our most vulnerable students, such as the very shy child who is bullied at recess or the aggressive, hostile child who hurts peers at recess. Helping children label and understand feelings can be integrated into the lessons you already teach with a little planning.

 1. Journals: Have students write in their journals about an event. Have them describe how they felt before, during and after the event. You might use “story starters” such as “One time something horrible happened…” or “I have to tell you about something exciting that happened to me…” If possible write back and forth with your students, responding to their journals with questions or comments helping them explore their emotions further or develop a trusting teacher/student relationship. Before children write their journals, you could write your own journal as a model to share with the class. As the group becomes accustomed to hearing your journal, you can begin to ask students to share their journals with the class. Ensure that the class understands the personal nature of journals and that no one can discuss the journals outside of the classroom.
 2. Regardless of what written material you are using, always look for ways to include feelings. Whether the class is reading a newspaper article, a poem, picture book, short story or chapter book, have your students explain what feelings the characters experienced and give examples or details to prove their answers. Encourage students to share their ideas through short answers, oral responses, visual maps or diagrams.
 3. Creating Riddles: Have students create “feeling” riddles. This might include the situation when the feeling is most likely to happen and words that are similar or opposite.

Example:
 • I have this feeling three times a year in December, March and June at report card time.
 • I probably shouldn’t feel this way because Mom and Dad never get mad.
 • I also feel this way when I have to give a speech.
 • What feeling is it?
 4. “I” messages: When children are bullied or have altercations with other students, have them include “I” messages as part of their repertoire for dealing with the problem. Help children practice using “I” messages through drama and role playing. For instance, using literature, the students could role-play a scene using “I” messages to express the character’s feelings.When students work together to resolve a particular real-life incident, help them use “I” messages to articulate how they felt and why they behaved the way they did (e.g. “I felt embarrassed or angry or hurt or humiliated when you…”).  Give them all an opportunity to express their feelings. Then ask each student to use their own words to describe what the other student’s “I” message was. This helps ensure that both participants clearly understand the message and how important it is to listen to the other person. This strategy requires the aggressive child to acknowledge the feelings of others rather than use blaming or lack of emotion to justify his/her behaviour.
 5. Create simple feeling songs (based on nursery rhymes or simple songs) or short picture books about feelings. Have your class share their songs or books and help educate the younger students in the school about the importance of naming and sharing your feelings appropriately.

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