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Inclusion is an ongoing process that aims to increase access and engagement in learning for all students by identifying and removing barriers. This can only be successfully achieved in a culture of collaboration, mutual respect, support and problem solving.
-International Baccalaureate Organization, 2010

SEL Blog


Reflection and Being Principled


This is the first post, in what will hopefully be, a helpful resource for all parents of the ISDenver community. In the Fall, you can look forward to an entire section for parents on our portal, including monthly blogs from me, resources, and upcoming events related to the social and emotional growth of your children. Warning, there are Avengers: Endgame spoilers in the post below, so read with caution.

I was a week late to the game in seeing Avengers: Endgame. I had anticipated this finale and was counting down the minutes until I could see Black Panther reappear on the screen, Wakanda Forever. So while I was able to turn off my work brain for the 3 hour film, when it ended, I began to think about how the movie tied in perfectly with our SEL theme of the month, Reflection.

The finale, as with many Marvel films, was about the choices we make and how we live with the consequences; whether those be positive or negative, create life or cause death, are a matter of fate or free will, or leave others feeling compassion or animosity. While, for most of us, the day to day decisions do not hold the same weight as the Hulk’s, it is never too early for our ISDenver learners to reflect on the consequences created by their choices. Every action has a reaction, but the simple laws of physics are not always as tangible to a child’s brain, the way they may be to Tony Stark’s.

When you look at Ironman, Tony Stark, you see a man of principle. One, who like the IB Learner Profile of Principled (2010), “act[s] with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities.” Isn’t that what makes him a superhero? One might also argue that this is what defines us parents as well. For every decision we make on a daily basis, we do so with the thought of our children’s well-being in the back of our minds.

The arduous role comes from the second half of the definition, which states that to be principled we must, “take responsibility for our actions and any consequences from those actions (2010).” How as a parent do we reflect on our decisions and admit, when necessary, that they were wrong? Does that take away our parent superhero status?

As we ask our learners to reflect on their past year and question how they were principled, it is important that as parents, we too reflect on our outcomes. For while we lack the Ant Man’s time travel abilities to undo any of our wrongdoings, we maintain the crucial power to take responsibility for the choices we make, and this is one of the few things in life we control implicitly. When we contemplate not only the good, but the inferior as well, we are being principled and reflective parents.

Regina Pally, author of ‘The Reflective Parent: How to Do Less and Relate More with Your Kids,’ shares five basic skills of being a Reflective Parent. She states you must: “1. Push pause and slow down; 2. Be present in the moment; 3. Observe the behavior and label it with words (even if you don’t say them); 4. Reflect on the meaning of the behavior, your child’s and yours; 5. Use the understanding you get from skills 1-4 to guide your response.” For many, this is uncomfortable because it requires us to reflect on not just our child’s actions, but on our own as well. Everyday we make choices on behalf of our children, in hopes that we are being just and appropriately fair, but having the power to admit when our actions have led us to stray from this ideal outcome, is when we stop being reactive parents and start being reflective.

As the year winds down and our children look back on who are they and what they want to become, it is our opportunity, as parents, to model the same. For if Avengers taught us anything, it is that what can be destroyed with a snap of a finger, can just as easily be saved by putting down our Captain America shield, stepping back in time, and reflecting. 


For more information on Reflective Parenting, please refer to the following: 

  • IB
  • IB Learner Profile
  • Reflection
  • SEL

School Safety and How to Talk to Your Children


Yesterday after school, I picked up my two daughters from their "lockdown" at daycare. My oldest, nearly five, asked me why they were on lockdown. I shared what I knew, that a girl wanted to bring a gun to a school. Her immediate follow-up was the standard question of "Why?" 

As parents, we must decide how much to tell our children about these events. When is it more than they can comprehend? I thought about this as I stared at my daughter yesterday, and came to the conclusion that I truly didn't know the answer to her, "Why?" For me, that was the hardest part. 

So what I can offer you, aside from an extra hug tomorrow at drop-off, are some ways to talk to your child about our current domestic climate, if you choose to do so. 

  • For ECE ChildrenI recommend being succinct, if you are going to talk to them at all about this topic. Ask yourself how much they really need to know. For my daughter, I wanted to reassure our message to her that guns don't belong at school, and guns aren't in her school. Yet I also wanted her to feel safe about being away from us during the day. Talk to your child about what makes them safe at school. Who can they go to at school if they are feeling unsafe? Routine and structure help them feel protected when they are inside the ISDenver gate, and our goal is to continue doing so. 
  • For Elementary Age Childrenwe must normalize their emotions. If you have chosen to share details about the incidents that began yesterday, let them know they can feel scared, worried, anxious, and curious. It's okay to be honest that you too share in those emotions. As I recommend doing with our youngest learners, you must reassure them that their school is safe. Talk about the locked doors, the gates, and any other protocols that you think would help them feel secure. These learners may also want to know more details. However, I would limit exposure to TV, internet, or radio. Filter the information before you share it, as overexposure can stimulate their fears even more. 
  • For Middle School Age Childrenyou need to be honest without oversharing. They will want to know why, how, what's being done to stop it, what can they do to prevent it. Tell them what you may know, but don't make up facts. Let them talk, and give them a safe space to express these ideas and emotions. No emotion is silly and irrational if it is how they are feeling. Again, reiterate their safety, but also give them the added responsibility to be watchful of their surroundings and properly reporting anything suspicious. 

Spend that extra individualized time with them today and tonight, as you may notice them desiring to be closer to you, and this is perfectly okay. You can't over comfort them. 

Tomorrow, our learners will come back to school, some will not even know what today was about, while others will cling on to their parents a bit longer, fearful of separation. I want to ensure you that no matter how your child is choosing to process the situation, our entire staff will be there to support them from the moment they walk through our gates.

  • school safety
  • SEL