This past week I have had the honor and privilege of attending two phenomenal conferences; one to learn about HeartMath and the second, the 2019 Summer Academy hosted by the Florida Department of Education. These two conferences provided me with a wealth of priceless information and valuable knowledge that I can’t wait to pass it on to the children and the families that we happily serve. 

The first conference I attended was in beautiful Sedona, Arizona and I learned so much about heart and brain coherence. HeartMath educates the public on the link between the mind and the heart. Our emotions play an immense role in the health of our hearts and our brains are constantly sending messages to our hearts. Yet, an overlooked scientific fact is that our hearts are also sending signals and messages back to our brains! The goal of HeartMath is to achieve heart-brain coherence through the use of tools and techniques that can be easily implemented in schools to help children be more in control of their emotions and their overall health. Attending this conference was extremely eye-opening for me, as it confirmed the importance of teaching children about the connection between their thoughts and the way they feel.

Later that week, I had the great pleasure of also having Triumph Steps be a resource for The Florida Department of Education’s Healthy Schools Summer Academy Symposium. The workshops were extremely informative, and I had the pleasure to attend one by the director of Healthy Schools, Penny Taylor and another one by the director of Title IV, Part A, Michelle Gaines. What a treat to see these two ladies in action giving us the most updated data on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) implementation around the state. A lot of exciting things are happening.

I am always eager to witness firsthand the ways in which other states and The Florida DOE are planning on integrating emotional literacy into their schools. It is evident that a lot of ground has been covered in trying to disseminate SEL programs around the different Florida districts and this makes me very optimistic that we are heading in the right direction. 

However, emotional literacy is the foundation of all learning and still is not a class on itself, so schools must find small spaces of time in Physical Education and other classes. If we understand that our current mental health crisis can be alleviated by bringing emotional literacy to all children, then together we can advocate and make this happen.  Currently, social and emotional learning is being allotted whatever time the schools can find, and when things get busy with testing, SEL is simply forgotten. 

Districts are asked to comply and teach topics such as; bullying prevention, sexual education, drug awareness, and healthy relationships, to name a few. It would be much simpler if schools could have a designated time for emotional literacy curriculum which would cover all these vital lessons. With just half an hour a day designated to SEL, teachers wouldn’t feel that bullying prevention or drug awareness is “one more thing” on their plates. 

After both conferences, I am even more ignited to continue to advocate for an amendment on our state legislation to incorporate emotional literacy into our school’s curriculum. In the same way changing our thoughts can benefit our overall mental health, we can also put our thoughts to action by expressing our emotional literacy requests with the state to enact real change within our educational system.