Students are entering the current school year with a heightened sense of stress and concern. In years past, the school environment has been a source of predictability for many. Today, in-person and remote learning mean returning to settings unfamiliar to all. Both hybrid and remote offerings continue to evolve at an uncomfortable pace for students and teachers alike.

Now more than ever, social-emotional skills are keys to unlocking the potential to learn and lead. Social-emotional learning plays a vital role in readying students and teachers for the demands of academics, relationships, and life. Building emotional intelligence promotes self-efficacy and connectedness with others. What’s more, SEL develops a sense of agency, and at a time when most things feel out of our control, agency affords choice.

The current climate demands that we prioritize student and teacher wellbeing. With this in mind, I wrote a picture book for teachers, parents, and younger students about the cyclical thought patterns that may come with anxiety and prolonged stress. The What Ifs characters illustrate the concept of worry. The story highlights constructive concern, which alerts us to danger and prompts responsible decision making, as well as the overwhelming worries that may bring feelings of powerlessness. The plot continues with strategies to empower students with ideas for self-regulation. The storyline also encourages students to consider and plan for when they might need to ask for help dealing with their What Ifs.

Links to CASEL Core Competencies

This story and follow up lessons pair well with other SEL and community-building activities designed to support students as they transition into this school year.

Sample Pages

Page 2

Page 7

Page 10

Ideas for lessons and discussion

Page 18

Click and save the links below to access the entire book on Google Slides or to download the book as a PDF.

I welcome your comments on this picture book. Also, please share any student or class creations with me in the comments below or email to [email protected]. I would love to post some pictures of student Pockets or class books.

PRIVACY NOTE: Any identifying information should be removed or avoided in pictures to be posted on WTN website or social media pages.

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