“The songs and lessons help my students cope.”
By Kristin Clark Taylor
Syreeta Moody, a school counselor at District Heights Elementary in Prince George’s County, Maryland, knows what compassion, kindness, and coping skills look like. She knows what they sound like, too, because these things do indeed possess a rhythm and a sound all their own.
Imagine that: A counseling tool that carries within it the sounds of kindness, compassion, and caring.
According to Syreeta, these “kindness sounds” and creative lessons can be found in one place: Quaver’s Social and Emotional Learning curriculum, also known as QuaverSEL.
Within this powerful platform of online resources, the sound of social and emotional development resonates like a beautiful symphony. Listen closely and you’ll hear another sound, too — the sound of love in her voice:
“Whenever I play a Quaver song for my students or whenever we explore one of the lessons,” she says, “I can just feel my babies – I call them ‘my babies’ — calming down.”
“Lots of my students walk into my office feeling anxiety or sometimes even grief – many have lost relatives to COVID or are dealing with other tragedies and setbacks — but Quaver helps us address and manage these very big emotions. My little ones haven’t quite figured how to do this on their own just yet, but now we have a tool. It’s a big deal.”
She lists a wide array of her favorite Quaver resources.
“I use the Emotions Check-In regularly, especially with my smaller groups. The Pre-K through 2nd-graders just love it,” she says with enthusiasm. “I use this as a reflective tool.”
“When they use Emotions Check-In, they have the opportunity to actually create the facial expressions they might be feeling inside! Sometimes it gets really interesting – a student might place a mean or angry-looking eyebrow onto a happy, smiling face, which might look like a confusing expression, but it’s an indication of how they’re feeling inside,” she says.
When I ask her to name a few more of her favorite Quaver tools, she breaks into spontaneous (and very beautiful) song:
“Setting goals gives me something to reach for …” she croons in near-perfect pitch, her voice filled to the brim with emotion and love.
“I really enjoy singing that song myself,” she happily admits, “and when we all sing it together, it gives us a great opportunity to discuss the importance of goal-setting. It helps them believe in themselves. I hear kids singing these songs in the hallway and in other parts of the school, too. We also use the general Quaver curriculum in our music department. The songs really speak to them. They speak to me, too!”
Getting Through Grief
“District Heights Elementary is a Title I school,” she explains with great care and thoughtful intention. “This is a relatively high-crime area, so the kids have to deal with a lot.”
“Not too long ago, our community faced a crisis. There was a shooting not too far from the school, and the incident really hit us hard.”
I can hear the whisper of a song still moving in her voice, more somber this time. But along with the solemnity comes the tone of undaunted determination and protective pride.
“The kids were traumatized … but the school was and is there to help them every step of the way. It is what we do.”
Ms. Moody says many of her students face grief and anxiety with disturbing regularity, and she’s grateful to have the Quaver resources at her disposal to help lead them gently through.
“In SELPlus, there’s a section about grief that’s been extremely helpful to us,” she says with gratitude.
“Many times, the little ones tend to close down during difficult times; they tend to hold their emotions inside. But when we turn the processing of emotions into a game, into a form of learning and engagement, it allows me to meet them where they are, and this helps pull them out of their sadness and grief.”
“It’s almost like a classroom form of play therapy – and lots of times, the kids don’t even realize it’s happening. All they know is that they’re having a good time.”
She finishes with a flourish, clearly propelled by a deep and intimate understanding of what Social and Emotional Learning is really all about:
“Every emotion matters,” she says. “Being able to understand our emotions and work through them, especially in a crisis, makes all the difference in the world. These are my babies. I’m a counselor, yes, but I’m also here to help guide, grow, and protect them.”
Ms. Moody loves moods. She loves emotions. She loves her students. She loves QuaverSEL. Her commitment to her students makes me think of the old-school song, “All you need is love.”
Love, yes …
Kristin Clark Taylor is an author and a journalist.
For more information on QuaverSEL and QuaverSELPlus, visit www.quavered.com/sel.