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August 9, 2019: Road Map Region Social & Emotional Learning Symposium

POSTED ON September 13, 2019

Whole Child, Whole Day: A Social & Emotional Learning Symposium

On August 9, 2019, YDEKC hosted Whole Child, Whole Day: A Social & Emotional Learning Symposium for over 300 practitioners and system-level leaders from around the Road Map Region and beyond at Highline College. Approximately 64% of our attendees reported working primarily at community-based organizations, 14% do most of their work at schools, 11% were based in a district office, and the rest were from diverse backgrounds ranging from philanthropists to researchers. 72% of participants work directly with youth and overall, most serve the Road Map region (30% in Seattle, 16% in Kent, 13% in Federal Way, 12% in Renton, 9% in Tukwila, 8% in Auburn).

Symposium room view
Planned by the Whole Child, Whole Day Advisory Committee and staffed by YDEKC with support from volunteers from School’s Out Washington and Highline College, this interactive professional development experience was designed to  strengthen participants’ capacity to create equity based learning environments that support  the whole child across the whole day, with a focus on shifting adult practices and systems to better serve youth of color in the Road Map region. Our learning objectives for the day were to:

  • Build Content Knowledge:
    Understand and articulate the value of social & emotional learning to youth success in and outside of school
    Understand the role social & emotional learning can play in racial equity within learning environments and systems
  • Improve Adult Practices:
    Identify and elevate practices from our region that cultivate a whole child approach across the whole day
    Identify and practice techniques to support each other in improving our social & emotional skills and addressing our identity-related biases</>
  • Strengthen Our Cross-Sector Community:
    Network, share perspectives and expertise, and cultivate relationships and partnerships within and across sectors

Feedback from participants confirms that the SEL symposium was a tremendous success. On a scale of 1 to 5 (1: strongly disagree; 5: strongly agree), participants rated “The Symposium was a good use of my time” an average of 4.6. On a similar scale (1: very low; 5: very high), participants rated “My understanding of the intersection of social emotional learning and racial equity within learning environments and systems…” 3.49 before the symposium on average and 4.25 after the symposium on average. Here are some perspectives on what parts of the day were most useful to participants:

  • “Organizers walked the talk with inclusion and honoring all.”
  • “Moments for open conversation; tons of choices for sessions!”
  • “The keynote speaker motivated, energized, and inspired me.”
  • “Great sessions – I really appreciated the variety of ways leaders engaged with us.”
  • “Mindfulness time to process and digest.”

Symposium Resources and Session Materials

A1. Journey through the Fearless Imagination: Writing and Storytelling with SEL
Bryan Wilson, Programs Manager, Bureau of Fearless Ideas
Let’s get creative. It’s vital! Poet Jericho Brown writes, “hope is always accompanied by imagination, the will to see what our physical environment seems to deem impossible. Only the creative mind can make use of hope. Only a creative people can wield it.” Together, we’ll engage with writing and storytelling activities that deploy social and emotional practice to approach seemingly fearsome creative tasks with courage, with a fearless imagination. We’ll discuss strategies to invite every student to be the main character in their learning journey and celebrate the power of their individual and collective voice. Participants will leave with activities to support SEL with students or professional teams, a “story spine” to inspire new lessons, and perhaps your own stories to wield.

A2. UN-Settled: Recognizing and Disrupting White Supremacy in the Classroom
Damithia Nieves, Educator/Founder, Thrive Yoga 
What is white supremacy culture and how does it show up in spaces of learning? This workshop will be an opportunity to examine ways in which tenets of white supremacy culture show up in our schools, classrooms and youth centered spaces. Space and time will be offered for centering, grounding, and connection to access deep reflection. Participants will have an opportunity to engage in small and large group dialogue as well as co-create strategies for recognizing and disrupting elements of white supremacy in the personal, interpersonal and spaces we teach

A3. Dear White Teacher, Do You See Me?
Theresa Hardy, Founder & Executive Director, Inspirational Workshops
Sarai Smalls, Rising 8th Grader, and Sharae Miller, Rising 9th Grader, Trailblazers Program Participants
In this workshop, educators and youth development professionals will have the opportunity to confront and recognize implicit biases. Participants will gain tools to develop a culturally responsive curriculum and instruction. We will creatively explore microaggressions and best communication practices when communicating with youth of color. This workshop will be co-facilitated by teenagers from the Trailblazers Program who serve as consultants to educators, sharing their experiences and what could improve in their learning environments through self-advocacy and communication skills.

A4. Valores y Cultura Latinx/Latinx Culture and Values
Haydeé Lavariega, Educator, University of Washington & United Way of King County
Sandra Simarra, Community Leader, White Center CDA
Patricia Palomino, Community Leader, Educare
Concepción Saavedra, Community Leader, Para Los Niños
Join a conversation and listen to the experiences of Latinx mothers working with schools and communities to undo inequities. We will talk about how SEL looks like at home, experiences about communication and inclusion, and how they have extended their knowledge of SEL. Note: This session will be conducted in Spanish. Simultaneous English interpretation will be provided via headset for anyone who needs it.

A5. Finding Yourself through Others
Rashad Medley, Lead Site Coordinator, Communities in Schools of Renton
In this session you will learn how an after-school program at Dimmitt Middle School in Renton engages students to work collaboratively to harness students’ courage, compassion and collaborative energy. This program fosters cooperation, communication, empathy and problem solving skills and involves six core principles: (1) Promote Youth Voice, (2) Create Change, (3) Make Impact Visible, (4) Connect People, (5) Embrace Developmental Levels and (6) Encourage Reflection.

A6. Uplifting Viable World Males of Color through Intentional and Restorative Relationship Building
Marcus Harden, CPO, The Academy for Creating Excellence
Clarence (CJ) Dancer, COO, The Academy for Creating Excellence
Participants of this workshop will gain an understanding of the ACE model which leads to success of best practices used to cultivate intentional relationships with males of color. ACE implements the Family, Academics, Motivation, Environment (FAME) model to ensure programs focus on the whole child, improve health and wellbeing, ensure youth empowerment and improve skills to promote healing.

A7.  Cultivating a Culture that Leads with Racial Equity
Angela Griffin, Chief Program Officer, Treehouse
Explore Treehouse’s journey to embed racial equity, trauma-informed practices and emotional intelligence into its culture to meet the academic needs of youth in foster care; a population that is disproportionately youth of color, LGBTQ+ and often coming from poverty. To address the traumas and inequities they experience, Treehouse leads with a racial equity lens across the organization to deconstruct white normative bias and alleviate its impact on youth. Throughout this workshop, we’ll share strategies, tools and practices attendees can bring to their roles. From focusing on every level of stakeholder with goals and messaging, to board engagement, leadership development and capacity building – walk away with a pathway to an anti-racist, SEL- and trauma-informed organization.

A8. Why Understanding Our Students’ Power Traits is Key
Terikka Faciane, M.Ed., Learning Success Coach, It’s Time: The ‘I AM’ Project
Many students are expected to learn the same, perform the same, and produce the same, when in fact, they are not the same. As long as there is a disconnect between our academic expectations of students and their understanding of who they are and what they’re capable of; our goals as educators will not be fully realized and neither will our students’ need for personal meaning. As students begin to understand and embrace who they are and the areas they shine in, they may be more willing to engage in the learning and life process. This session will introduce participants to the Power Traits Model and bring a deeper awareness of why understanding their Power Traits is key to bridging the disconnect.

Additional resources: Power Traits Adults Overview, Quick Dispositions and Talent Guide, 8 Great Smarts, My Talent Shield, Resource Sheet

A9. Equity in the Classroom: Strategies that Build Relationships, Promote Student Voice, and Develop the Whole-Child
Denisha Saucedo, 2018 Regional Teacher of the Year, Kent Elementary
In this session, educators will learn strategies for building student-teacher relationships. Relationships are the foundation for learning. This will be a chance to hear why student voice, and both teacher and student self-efficacy have a higher effect on student achievement than curriculum and planning. This session will prepare teachers and administrators to head back to their building and look at class policies and make systemic changes that emphasize SEL for both teachers and students.

A10. Equity Focused Policy, Partnerships and Practice for a Whole Child, Whole Day System
Jessica Werner, Executive Director, YDEKC
How can equitable learning environments be centered in emerging policies, partnerships and practice within our institutions? With new implementation guidance on equity-focused social emotional learning at the state and national level and emergent opportunities to create stronger community partnerships, a future where children and youth of color thrive could become a reality. Social and Emotional Learning can be the framework to align school day and out-of-school supports and ensure that all young people experience a sense of belonging and identity affirming environments throughout their day.

B1. Ethics of Care: The Time and Cost
Julia Ismael, Restorative Justice Coordinator, Washington Building Leaders of Change (WA-BLOC)
On campus, most likely the expectation is to care for self, students, each other and institution yet we struggle to find recognition for the emotional work of care and the time it requires. Care requires time to hold emotions, practice dialogue, build relationships and arrive at the right question in problem-solving. In this talking circle, we explore costs of emotional labor and our relationship with time using critical race and feminist thought as foundations. This session benefits all who feel the cost of the emotional labor of care, who possess an interest in applying a different relationship with time as a remedy and who are willing to practice other forms of communication that challenge destructive norms around care and time.

B2. Trauma-Informed Youth Work: From Healing Relationships to Just Communities
Briana Herman-Brand, Founder/Educator, The Capacity Project
This interactive workshop will explore the widespread impacts of trauma in young people’s lives and communities and support participants to build skills at the intersections of healing and justice work. We will recognize the interconnections of trauma and oppression at individual, collective, systemic, and intergenerational levels and learn to honor the innate intelligence of young people’s survival strategies and resiliency. We will explore tools that undo patterns of judgment, blame, and shame and establish relationships rooted in empathy, mutual dignity, and shared power. Participants will be supported to deepen their self-awareness, increase compassion for themselves and others, and develop their capacity to foster healing relationships at the center of efforts towards social and educational justice.

B3. Futurisms in Native Education & Partnership Building for Native Learner Success
Sara Marie Ortiz, Native Education Program Manager, Highline Public Schools
Join us as we discuss strategies in teaching Native learners and engaging with Native/Tribal communities in Highline Public Schools and the framework of a bold new model for supporting all-learner success by centering Indigenous, particularly family leader, perspectives, experiences and histories.

B4. Zero Youth Detention: Leading with Racial Equity
Claudia Pineda, Zero Youth Detention Program Coordinator, King County
Derrick Wheeler-Smith, Zero Youth Detention Director, King County
During this session, presenters will share the considerations that could be made through the design and implementation of projects that address racial equity. To ensure that services and resources are distributed equitably, the organizations that intend to accomplish these objectives must have the internal capacity to develop a consistent culture with shared social justice frameworks. Equity needs to be an inherent and explicit value to the point that everyone in the organization has a clear grasp of the history that led to the development of inequity as well as the specific ways that their role in the organization addresses these inequities on a daily basis. Presenters will use the Zero Youth Detention initiative as an example of how a social justice framework is implemented in practice.

B5: Cultivating Our Scholars
Regina Elmi, Executive Director, Somali Parents Education Board
Cherryl Jackson-Williams, Family and Community Engagement Coordinator (Renton Innovation Zone), Renton School District
In order to center and cultivate the gifts of our students, adults must first evolve their thinking towards serving the whole child. This session challenges participants to adopt an asset-based mindset centered on culture and identity that will deepen their awareness of the personal and cultural influences that shape students’ experiences. In addition, it also supports an inclusive environment that functions as a “learning lab” that allows families, teachers, and administrators to explore traditions and family structures different than their own. As a result of participating in this session, participants will develop strategies to tap into family and community wisdom and local resources, increase connections among families, identify community issues that impact classroom culture, and identify methods of culturally sensitive communication.

Additional resources: Cultivating Our Scholars Presentation Notes

B6. Centering the Margins: What Can Youth and Elders Offer Each Other?
Victoria Santos, Co-Executive Director, Young Women Empowered
Azure Savage, Youth Leadership Council Member, Young Women Empowered
We live in a culture that marginalizes both young people and elders. The vibrant visions of youth and the seasoned wisdom of elders are neglected when our personal value is seen through a lens of economic production. This workshop is an experiential exploration of how we uplift young people’s voices while embracing our elders’ wisdom and connecting across the generations. How do we co-create space in which everyone has a role with meaningful power, voice and authority? This question cannot be answered by one group alone – they need us all.

B7. Healing Communities with Creativity
Aaron Counts, Lead Artist, Creative Justice
Youth Leadership Board members, Creative Justice
Creative Justice uses art as a means to critique and disrupt the school to prison pipeline. In this youth-led presentation, attendees will move through an interactive process that takes a closer look at their experiences with the school and justice systems. Participants will emerge with a greater understanding of the many ways institutions exacerbate the trauma already inflicted on our communities, and look at the ways Creative Justice uses art instruction as a healing force.

B8. Whose Story? Centering Youth & Families of Color
Naomi True, Program Coordinator, Southend Stories (Orca BSK)
Lexi Easter, Rising 9th Grade Student, Southend Stories (Orca BSK)
Through activities that get us laughing, moving our bodies, and reflecting, we will explore local histories of resistance that belong in all of our classrooms. Beginning with an exploration of participants’ learning and communication styles, we will engage with our own identities and stories in relationship to core curricula and counter narratives of history. An interactive storytelling showcase at the end of the workshop will demonstrate how educators could begin to center youth and families of color.

C3. Emotional Resilience for Managers
Mozart Guerrier, Executive Director, 21 Progress
This workshop will aid managers who have experience leading themselves and are new or seasoned managers who are seeking impactful, culturally engaging, and simple tools to lead people towards a common goal. The session will cover goal setting, conflict, and routines for healthy teams.

C4. SEL: A Tool for Domination or a Practice for Liberation?
Porter Eichenlaub, SEL Program Manager, School’s Out Washington
Deepa Bhandaru, Youth Program Curriculum Developer and Strategist, Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA)
In this workshop we’ll unpack SEL’s emergence from white-dominant culture and explore the ways SEL can better address racial, class, gender, and sexual oppression. Through small-group discussion, role play, and other interactive techniques, we’ll deconstruct the biases inherent in SEL and consider more inclusive and representative SEL practices that move us closer to the goal of educational equity.

C5. “Who Taught You That?” – Understanding Gender, Creating Affirming Spaces
Lex Gavin, Best Starts for Kids Program Quality Coordinator, School’s Out Washington
“The Transgender Tipping Point” was declared by TIME Magazine in 2014. Transgender people have been fighting for decades for presence in politics, media, and all facets of life. Unanswered questions about gender have entered the collective consciousness. Many people understand that it’s vital to support marginalized youth in programs, but don’t know how. Others might question why our culture’s understanding of gender is worth examining at all. If you’re open to a paradigm shift and a generous helping of introspection, join us! This activity-based workshop will explore where ideas about manhood and womanhood come from, the relationship between the “rules” of gender and colonialism, what’s at stake for transgender and gender non-conforming youth, and how to create welcoming and affirming programs.

C6. Creative Expression – a Trauma-Informed Approach to Developing SEL Skills
Lacie Braun, LMHC, Training Consultant, Art with Heart
Kate Baker, Trainer, Art with Heart
Learn how creative expression provides kids and young people with a tool to develop SEL skills by offering low-barrier, non-threatening ways of expressing their emotions and connecting with their communities. Take part in a creative expression activity to understand for yourself the power of creative expression, and you’ll be ready to use it with whomever you serve.

C7. Integrating Mindfulness into Social Emotional Learning
Kim Armstrong, Executive Director, Space Between
Tai Velasquez, Director of Community Engagement, Space Between
This workshop focuses on how mindfulness can support current and new social emotional programming, as well as support adults in being the best caring adult they can be for youth. By offering adults an opportunity to pause and observe themselves, they are increasing their capacity to focus on student strengths, needs, and success. This workshop invests in educators by prioritizing self-care, self-awareness, self-management, and self-compassion – for both teachers AND students. The workshop is grounded in research on trauma-informed, healing-centered teaching, as well as evidence-based practices in mindfulness (paying attention to what’s happening right now with curiosity and kindness, so we can choose what to do next). Our presentation is informed by best practices for adult learning: emphasizing experiential, discussion-based, and activity-based learning and reflection.

Additional resources: Integrating Mindfulness into SEL Resources

Drop-In Activities:

Nature Play with Woodland Park Zoo
Sheri Hill, PhD, Senior Manager Early Childhood Programs, Woodland Park Zoo, and Nemesia Herzstein, Lead Learning Facilitator, Early Childhood, Woodland Park Zoo
Nature play is a self-directed activity that allows children, youth, and adults to explore nature objects and the world around them. Connections with the natural world and nature play are proven to improve both educational and health outcomes, as well as build empathy and executive functioning skills. Join Woodland Park Zoo educators to find out for yourself how easy it can be to build connections with nature!

Additional resources: Nature Play Research

Hear Our Voices!
Bryan Manzo, Counselor, Sand Point Elementary and students from Sand Point Elementary
Come and share your story with us at the Hear Our Voices booth. Hear Our Voices is a new Social Emotional Learning program/podcast for 4th and 5th grade students at Sand Point Elementary. Each month Hear Our Voices will be producing an SEL podcast focusing on language, expression, culture, and the shared humanity of living in this region. Learn more about Hear Our Voices via the Why The Face podcast.

Mindfulness Space
Youth Development Executives of King County
Need a quiet moment to refocus, recharge or reflect? Visit the mindfulness retreat, or also called Peace Corner, a designated space to practice mindfulness. This space will have sensory items such as fidgets, comfortable seating, glitter jars, SEL themed books, and coloring pages- all objects that are designed to help students with meditation and reflection. Peace corners are proven to be effective in empowering students to practice resilience as well as take ownership of their actions and emotions. Peace corners were originally intended for students; however, everyone deserves time for quiet reflection, especially educators.

Check out these guides from Little Flower Yoga and PESI to learn more about how to create your own mindfulness corner.

Learn more about our past Symposia here: 2016 Symposium2017 Symposium, and 2018 Symposium.

Check us out on FB:, Twitter: @ydekc, Instagram: @ThisisYDEKC to see pics and post from the event. #WholeChildWholeDay, #SELKC.