It takes a lot of energy and problem solving to teach a classroom full of kindergartners. At Webster Elementary, in the Dallas Independent School District, Cindel Henson's kindergarten classroom is no different.
Henson is, however, implementing a new teaching tool into her curriculum. At the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, as part of a four-year grant, she was trained to teach emotional skills to her students.
The training was based on self-awareness and communication skills. Monday, the students in Henson's classroom are able to regulate their stress level, anxiety, and find ways to balance their breathing when they are feeling disappointed or sad.
Instead of time-out, Henson has a "peace-corner."
"In the peace corner it's a big red chair that my mom found somewhere," said Henson. "My mom is a retired teacher, and when I told her about this initiative she was excited. My students sit in that big red chair and it literally engulfs you."
"Afterwards they come back to class and they say, 'I'm ready to learn Ms. Henson,' and they jump back in," she explained.
Studies reveal that when teachers help students learn how to manage their emotions, those students become better problem solvers, become more self-aware and grow more confident in their communication.
"Before I began teaching these skills I had to spend energy managing these little emotional outbursts," Henson said. "It takes time away from instruction and from the energy of whatever else you need to do in your classroom because you're constantly having to regulate the children. We are hoping our students can use these skills outside of the classroom, especially when they get older."
Henson has taken what she has learned and passed the information along to the other teachers on campus.
After implementing the new curriculum there has been a 75 percent drop in disciplinary incidents on campus.
Dallas is one of six cities around the country chosen by the Wallace Foundation to receive the grant and participate in this initiative.