In the mind of a CBE

Nurturing a Culture of Kindness

Posted by jglassman on

By Jessie Erikson, Curriculum Coach, Grand Forks, ND

I was sitting in a meeting when I got a Facebook message from a parent of a former classroom student. Normally, I ignore these requests until the student has graduated, but since this mom was a room helper, I accepted the request. Moments later, I received a personal message with a letter attached.

I opened the message, and closed it again after reading the first part. I knew if I kept reading, I would likely be fighting off tears!

The letter affirmed two things: first, children need adults in their life that care about them socially, emotionally, and academically. We must teach the whole child–not just the curriculum. Secondly, the letter was a reminder of how important it is to explicitly teach children how to cope with emotions and social situations. We need to model how to treat others, too, and provide a safe classroom climate to practice and discuss social and emotional issues.

BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. offer amazing resources to support social-emotional learning (see list below) in meaningful, but still funny and whimsical ways. I love that I can easily embed the content into my teaching, using the movie as a springboard and the associated features and tools, like Challenges, Newsela articles, and Make-a-Map, to support learning, differentiate, or go deeper into a topic.

Social-emotional learning (SEL), according to licensed psychologist Jennifer B. Rhodes, is a “broad term referring to how students regulate their emotions, communicate with others, use compassion and empathy to understand the needs of other people, build relationships and make good decisions.” Over the last two decades, social-emotional education has resulted in improved academic performance, fewer conduct problems, positive social behaviors, and less emotional distress.

Meta-analysis of 213 rigorous studies and over 270,000 students demonstrated that students who received SEL instruction performed better than students who did not. The studies revealed an 11 percent gain on measures of academic achievement, and similar significant improvements in conduct and discipline, social behavior, and emotional distress.

BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. support the five SEL competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. The short movie length and lovable characters grab students’ attention while the variety of support resources engage students in the content, encouraging them to think deeply about the concepts.  

Be sure to check out the following BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. topics that support SEL:


Back to School



Getting Help

Online Safety



Peer Pressure

Setting Goals


Conflict Resolution


BrainPOP Jr.



Internet Safety