These Lessons Live in the Heart

Quaver teaches Kids that it’s Cool to be Kind.

By Kristin Clark Taylor

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From Words to Action

When Quaver developed the tagline for their SEL curriculum, “Creating a Culture of Caring,” they created far more than just a creative catch-phrase.

For teachers like Kevin Strang, the tagline transforms into powerful, positive action. In fact, the K-5 music teacher at Dove Elementary in Grapevine, Texas, says Quaver’s culture of caring is what has helped bring kindness, empathy, and compassion back into his classroom.

Kevin Strang in his Quaverized classroom!

QuaverSEL, for instance, has helped him deal with tough topics like bullying.

“Last year, we had huge issues with bullying,” Strang says. “We had lots of new kids, we had kids who just weren’t getting along, and we had high turn-over,” he readily admits. “And this year,” he adds, “with all the stress that comes along with the pandemic, the challenges are even greater.”

But Strang didn’t struggle for long. This fiercely devoted educator had already been using Quaver resources in his classroom for an entire decade – “I’ve been using Quaver since its infancy, and I’ve loved every single minute of it,” he says – but when he dove into the SEL curriculum, the lessons on bullying took his teaching to a whole new level.

The SEL lessons, he says, have helped him transform his classroom into a place of peace, where caring and creativity reign and where stress and anxiety have now taken a back seat. Today, healthy role-playing, open discussion, and friendly, inclusive songs are making the difference.

“Quaver’s SEL songs and lessons on bullying and dealing with stress have been a gift and a God-send,” Strang says with gratitude, “and they couldn’t have come at a better time. They’re a real game-changer.”

“Bullying happens everywhere, at every level, at every age,” he says. “It is not unique to my classroom.”

But what is unique is being able to see how the benefits of positive role-playing and honest discussion about caring and kindness can leap far, far beyond the classroom.

Strang himself saw it happen on the playground:

One afternoon, Strang says he witnessed the students exhibiting some unkind behavior on the playground, “And rather than step in to rectify the problem, I was able to stand back and see them actually implementing some of the lessons on kindness and caring that they’d learned in the classroom.”

“What started out as a catchy tune with great lyrics and wonderful music turns into positive behavior that’s displayed well beyond the classroom. I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes.”

The QuaverSEL song “Bully, Bully Go Away” helps students to identify bullying behavior and ways that they can stop the behavior. Click on the image above to hear the song!

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Music Makes the Difference

Strang also says the curriculum’s suggested role-playing activities and the recommendations for continued dialogue and discussion have made an extraordinary difference as well.

“Songs like ‘Manage My Stress,’ and ‘I Can Be Your Friend,’ have been life-changing,” he says. “The kids really enjoy singing them, and this helps open up new opportunities for discussion.”

He describes a difficult day last year when an autistic student was facing challenges and exhibiting disruptive behavior.

“When things weren’t going his way, there were usually problems, and on this day, he wasn’t getting his way.”

But Strang says Quaver’s SEL song, “Get My Way” came to the rescue.

“I put on that song, and something really interesting happened,” he recalls. “The students started singing it to him, and you could just see him beginning to calm down. After not too long he was singing along, smiling, and even laughing.”

The QuaverSEL song “Manage My Stress” offers students simple strategies for stress management.

The QuaverSEL song “I Can Be Your Friend” describes what it means to be a good friend. Click the image above to hear the song!

The QuaverSEL song “Get My Way” is an encouraging song about staying positive when we’re disappointed and what we can do to make the best of a situation that didn’t go our way.

“Kindness is contagious!”

Quaver’s songs on kindness and caring, “are helping me teaching my students that it’s cool to be kind,” Strang says. “When one kid is kind, it transfers to the next, and then to the next, and this is how is actually spreads! Kind of like a happy contagion!”

So, yes, bulling is a tough topic. And yes, stress, anxiety, and frustration are tough, tangible emotions.

But with the right tools and resources, these are challenges that can be faced and even embraced.

Another lesson in all of this? Taglines can actually be transformative when they turn words into action:

“Creating a Culture of Caring” is the perfect example.

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Kristin Clark Taylor is an author and a journalist.

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