Media and Its Impact on Social Emotional Learning

We connected with Darren Hudgins, educator/author/CEO. He even considers himself and educators as "social servants." Darren Hudgins moved me to think differently right away -- even in his introduction! It really struck me that how we introduce ourselves to others is a critical part of our identity. He wears many hats, or titles, that draw us into his work. His book, Fact vs. Fiction provides educators with tools and resources to help students discern fact from fiction in the information they access not only at school, but on the devices they carry in their pockets and backpacks. He also identifies himself as “a curator of good thinking people” and a “purveyor of instructional strategies.” Don’t you want to hear more about his thinking and ideas?! We can’t wait to share with you just some of the wisdom and insight from this great thinker and human. Be sure to check out the entire interview with our HyperDoc community by watching this video:




Darren began by referencing The Culture Code and shared a study that highlights the subtle changes of body language and humor on human safety. Any classroom can be described as it’s own mini culture - representative of many rich and diverse experiences, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, family structures, personalities, and more. Driven by his passion to understand the human brain, Darren also highlights the impact of brain research on classroom culture. Brain studies have revealed that when the amygdala is overstimulated, a child’s ability to feel safe and stable is impacted-- which then impacts the fight/flight response -- which then impacts the ability to retain information and hold on to learning. Students in pandemic schooling are experiencing more trauma than ever, so we cannot neglect this research. Understanding the human brain, and the social implications of the classroom culture, can greatly influence a teacher’s approach to social emotional learning. Are we truly developing spaces for academic and emotional safety? As Darren suggests, the focus should be “safety, safety, safety.”

BIG IDEA: Self care is not extra, it is essential. 

Darren shared some specific ways that educators can/should take care of themselves and their students. The first strategy is through exercise. Although this seems obvious, it is often overlooked as imperative to mental health and the brain’s ability to take in new learning. You can install the MoveIt Chrome extension to remind you and your students to “move it” during class.  The next strategy is to self-monitor screen choices. What are your digital scrolling habits? What are you choosing to spend your time on, and how often are you logged in/logged off? Pro tip: watch The Social Dilemma and self-reflect on your own patterns. If your students are old enough, they can watch and you can host a class discussion with this robust discussion guide. What can you change? Another strategy shared for bettering self-care is to simply listen. To engage in hard conversations, and to truly understand others we have to begin with listening without judgement. Humanity needs us to listen to each other more. 

BIG IDEA: Media literacy needs more attention in schooling. 
If we focus on media literacy in classrooms, we can learn more about ourselves and others. Misinformation, disinformation, propaganda, and malinformation have been around for all of time, but now what has changed is how the information is amplified. The immediate access to media has changed our ability to process the information. As a solution, Darren suggests bringing social studies and media literacy to the forefront of schooling. He suggests elevating those topics in school in order to explicitly teach the impact of media on the brain. As a reminder -- the teacher does not need to be the expert on these topics, but teach how to process the information. Here are some practical classroom tips: 

1. Show a media source and discuss, “Why does someone want you to see this?” Don’t just read content for the sake of the content, but reflect on the motivational why. Wonder about an organization’s purpose to share information. 

2. Research and discuss the media bias within any text/media. What is implicit? What is explicit? How is my thinking changing from this media? Is the source credible? 

3. Teach the algorithm behind where our media links come from. Study the math and science behind how information gets into our media streams.

BIG IDEA: How to Help Students Tap into the Rational Side of their Brains 
In his book, Fact vs. Fiction, Darren and his co-author Jennifer LaGarde, have built lesson plans around certain media. The book teaches students how to be digital detectives -- with emphasis on the four lenses shared below. Be sure to listen to Darren’s explanation of how understanding these lenses will help you learn about personalized media response patterns. Darren’s larger goal is to help students feel well, and be healthy members within their own communities. Our purpose as educators is to develop the core CASEL competencies -- we want students to “perform well in a group.” 

Some of Darren’s Favorite Things

Stay in Touch with Darren Hudgins to Follow his Work/Passion 
@dhudgins  |

Author: HyperDocs Admin 30-11-2020

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