Blueprints for Caring: Survival Files - Teaching Empathy Institute
Teaching Empathy Institute works to establish emotionally and physically safe learning communities for elementary, middle and high school students and the adults who work with them. Working in the Hudson Valley of New York, TEI creates tailor-made programs designed to foster dialogue about social culture building while strengthening the capacity for the infusion of empathy and compassion into all aspects of the learning experience.
Teaching Empathy Institute, SEL, Social and emotional learning, mindfulness, diversity, education, bullying, anti-bullying, k-12, learning, david levine, school of belonging
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Blueprints for Caring: Survival Files

The collection of social skills acquired throughout a person’s life can be referred to as the “survival file”

The survival file consists of practical life skills that a person will need throughout life, such as how to work with and get along with others, how to express feelings in a healthy way, how to respond to rejection, and how to choose and make friends. Any cooperative activity, group dialogue or lesson in the vocabulary of feeling will help to fill the survival file.

Create survival files with your students:

Have students write survival file instructions on a colored index card and laminate the cards. Encourage them to keep these taped to their desks. Here is are two suggestions:

Setting Goals

Questions to ask myself:
What is my goal?
Am I reaching it?
If not, what is getting in my way?
What do I need to do differently?
Who do I need help or support from?
How will I know when I’ve reached my goal?

Joining in

Questions to ask myself
Is this something I want to do?
Will I disrupt things if I join in?
What is the best way in?
  –Ask if I can join?
  –Start a conversation?
  –Introduce myself?

When is the best time to join in?
  –When they are taking a break?
  –At the beginning of the activity?

Resilience researcher Emmy E. Werner in describing resilient youth said that they were  able to demonstrate the attributes of a person with  “self-righting tendencies” with the capacity to spring back, rebound, and successfully adapt in the face of life’s many challenges.

By helping your students build their individual survival files, you are helping to pave the way for their future life success  and happiness.