P’TACH’s 10th scientific conference

The conference room of the Grand Hyatt was charged with an enthusiastic sense of purpose as a group of over 200 devoted professionals from various communities in the tristate area convened early Monday morning, April 27th. While the program was hosted by P’TACH, the attendees were comprised of Principals, Rabbeim, Teachers, Therapists and Special Educators who gathered with one mission in mind: to increase their ability to help their students develop their emotional well-being.

The event was introduced by Dr. Judah Weller, director of P’TACH. He began by exploring the need for a conference that would address our children’s emotional intelligence. In today’s digital society, with all the business and distracted lifestyle it engenders, children are left with minimal opportunity for emotional development to be modeled by parents. Also, with the implementation of Common Core curriculum, sky-high academic expectations are placed in our classrooms. The question is: are we losing the forest from the trees when we so emphasize scholastic skills while our students remain unprepared emotionally for life?

With both charisma and professionalism, Marc Brackett Ph.D. and Robin Stern Ph.D., directors of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, conducted an enlightening and insightful workshop addressing this very question. Culled from 25 years of research, they developed a training program called “RULER” that instructs teachers in the skills, knowledge and attitude necessary for emotional health. The program focuses on five key skills: recognizing emotions in oneself and others, understanding the causes and consequences of emotions, labeling the full range of emotions, expressing emotions appropriately in different contexts, and regulating emotions effectively to foster relationships and achieve goals. Through exercises and queries that were both interactive and introspective, the presenters had the audience become acutely aware of the difficulty found in identifying and managing our emotional status. As Dr. Brackett put it, “You gotta name it to tame it; You gotta feel it to heal it!” Tools such as the widely spread Mood Meter and Meta-Moment were thoroughly explained and left those present with effective instruments to use in training their students to identify and manage their emotions.

During the lavish luncheon buffet, participants were privileged to hear words of inspiration form the keynote speaker Rabbi Eli Mansour. He explained that although the concept of emotional intelligence is only a relatively recent focus, it is actually clearly found in the Torah, termed by Shlomo Hamelech in Mishlei as “mussar haskel.” He further stimulated the audience by discussing how man was created imperfect with the mission of partnering with Hashem to complete the creation process. Thus, he concluded, he who invests his life in helping students and children to perfect themselves is a truly G-dly person.

P’TACH has been providing mainstream center-based elementary and high school programs for children with learning differences for over 35 years. For more information or to arrange a visit to one of our flagship mainstream programs please call 718-854-8600 or ptach.org