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The Mead School

Emotional Awareness: The Nexus Approach

Emotional Awareness: The Nexus Approach

Emotional awareness is just one of the many skills that students develop through Nexus at Mead.  Faculty collaboration coupled with individual support within the classroom, allow for students to identify emotions around them and within them to better navigate their day. Let’s take a peek at just a few examples of what this looks like!  

When walking into the 3-5 cohort Home Center room, your eyes will surely come across a brightly colored grid on the back wall labeled, “Zones Meter,” a tool that was created by Home Center Director, Nikki Miller. She pulled elements from reputable regulation programs (RULER, and Zones of Regulation) to customize a visual that best meets the needs of her students. The Zones Meter has served as an avenue of expression through which students have been able to identity how they are feeling either through stating a ‘zone’ or a specific emotion vocabulary term. In addition to recognizing emotions, students have been able to discuss regulation strategies, or ways to shift from one zone into another zone. 

Now let’s make our way down the hall into the Black Box Theater with Darleen Hickok who collaborated with Nexus at Mead and tied emotional concepts into drama this past fall.  At first, you may just hear nothing coming from the room.  Why? Because the students are meditating. Darleen begins her class with yoga and meditation as a way to center her students and heighten their awareness of themselves. After that, the students engage in dramatic warm-ups which may entail the full-body expression of an action, person, or emotion.  Such activities are a great way to activate the skills related to reading and sending non-verbal cues.  The students in Darleen’s class may also work on collaborating on the creation of a script, in which the inclusion of emotional states is key to character development and the overall plot.  Finally, they get a chance to take on the roles of characters and act on stage. Through this, they are able to use body, facial expressions, and voice to display various emotions.      

When problem-solving opportunities arise within the classroom or on the playground, emotional vocabulary plays a key role in how situations are handled. This can be observed in guided conversations during which students are encouraged to express their own feelings and reflect on the perspective of others when things don’t go as expected. At times, situations are visually represented through sketches so that students gain a deeper understanding of the dynamic nature of social interactions. This also allows them to visualize alternative ways situations can unfold, which can, in turn, help support their ability to problem solve and handle future occurrences. 

Through customized tools, strategies, and faculty collaboration, Nexus at Mead students are given the opportunity to fortify their awareness of emotions across various contexts. They, in turn, become more confident and better prepared as learners and partners in and out of the classroom.