Mission of You Can Do It! Education
You Can Do It! Education's (YCDI's) main purpose is to support communities, schools, and homes in a collective effort to optimize the social, emotional, and academic outcomes of all young people. Its unique contribution is in identifying the social and emotional capabilities that all young people need to acquire in order to be successful in school, experience wellbeing, and have positive relationships including making contributions to others and the community (good citizenship).
YCDI's mission is realized through the following beliefs and actions:
YCDI's focus is on building social, emotional, and motivational capacity of young people rather than on their problems and deficits. It encourages prevention, promotion, and intervention efforts (school, home and community) in order to build the social and emotional strengths of young people.
As a strength-building approach, YCDI also seeks to build the capabilities of adults (community, school, home) associated with positive outcomes in young people, including positive, caring relationships with young people, providing for their safety, high expectations for achievement and behavior, involving young people in decision-making and providing them with special responsibility, accommodating young people's interests, communicating and modeling of social and emotional capabilities including values and resilience, and a high quality academic program that provides young people with multiple opportunities for success.
YCDI sees the development of social and emotional capacity of "at risk" and disadvantaged youth as a means to "level the playing field." However, it is clear that in order to change the developmental trajectory of young people with poor mental health (emotional, social and behavioral challenges) and learning outcomes and to accelerate their social and emotional development, it is vital that schools, homes and communities be transformed so that the responsibility for supporting and educating, including quality social and emotional learning experiences and caring relationships, is shared throughout the community.
Theory of You Can Do It! Education
Social and Emotional Learning for All Students: Prevention and Promotion of Success and Social-Emotional Well-Being
You Can Do It! Education (YCDI) has over the past two decades (e.g., Bernard, 1997a, 1997b, 2003a, 2003b, 2003c, 2003d, 2004a, 2004b, 2004c, 2004d, 2005, 2006a, 2006b, 2006c; Bernard & Cronan, 1999; Bernard, Ellis, & Terjesen, 2006; Bernard & Hajzler, 1987; Bernard & Joyce, 1984) evolved into a distinctive theory that defines and explains the social and emotional competences children and adolescents need to achieve to the best of their ability and experience social-emotional well-being (positive emotions and behavior; absence of significant emotional and behavior difficulties). Figure 1 below illustrates the main focus of YCDI's educational programs; namely the social and emotional characteristics of students (The Five Foundations) and supporting Habits of the Mind (Ways of Thinking) that all young people need to achieve the objectives which appear at the top of the triangle (see Table 1 following References).
Figure 1. Goals of You Can Do It! Education for All Students
The triangle illustrate that while the world (home, school and community) in which young people grow up in plays an important role in their supporting success and well-being, unless young people have the following social and emotional strengths, their achievement and adjustment will not be fully realized: Confidence, Persistence, Organization, Getting Along and Resilience.
Below the triangle is a rectangle containing 12 positive Habits of the Mind (Ways of Thinking) that nourish and support the 5 Foundations. In YCDI, the patterns of thinking that enable young people to manage their own learning, emotions and behavior represented by the 5 Foundations are made explicit. Extensive theory and research of Albert Ellis, Martin Seligman and other cognitive-behavioral scientists reveals that what fundamentally determines how children achieve and adjust is the "mind-set" they bring with them to life's experiences. Some bring with them a positive mind-set consisting of well-developed positive Habits of the Mind and associated patterns of positive thinking, feeling and behaving referred to as the "5 Foundations."
Many of the Habits of the Mind are re-namings of Albert Ellis' rational beliefs (e.g., Ellis & Bernard, 2006) in more child-friendly language. Other positive Habits of the Mind derive from other cognitive-behavioral theories including cognitive therapy (e.g., Beck, 1993), attributional theory (e.g., Dweck & Elliott, 1983), learned optimism (e.g., Seligman, 1975, 1991), self-efficacy (e.g., Bandura, 1986, 1997; Pajares, 1996: Zimmerman, 1991), goal setting (e.g., Schunk, 1996), internal motivation (e.g., Spaulding, 1992), academic procrastination (e.g., Solomon & Rothblum, 1984). and interpersonal cognitive problem solving (e.g. Spivack & Shure, 1974; Spivack, Platt & Shure, 1976).
The range of YCDI programs are designed to help strengthen the five social-emotional strengths of all students.
Students with Behavioral, Emotional and Achievement Difficulties: Eliminating the Social-Emotional "Blockers"
Unique to YCDI theory is the identification of not only five social and emotional strengths that contribute to positive student outcomes, but also of the following five social and emotional difficulties ("the 5 Blockers) that contribute to extreme under-achievement, behavior problems and low levels of social and emotional well-being: Feeling Down (depressed), Feeling Anxious, Procrastination (feeling lazy), Not Paying Attention-Disturbing Others and Feeling Angry-Behaving Poorly.
The definitions and descriptions of the 5 Blockers include reference to different negative Habits of the Mind ("blocker thinking") that contribute to the five negative patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving referred to as the 5 Blockers (see Table 2 following References.).
YCDI theory takes cognizance of the view of Albert Ellis that all human being have a propensity for both rational and irrational ways of thinking (Habits of the Mind) and that in order to help young people achieve positive outcomes and avoid negative outcomes parents and teachers need to help restructure negative, irrational patterns of thinking into more positive, rational ways of thinking.
The relationship of the 5 Blockers to negative outcomes of young people is represented in the Barrier Model (see Figure 2).
Figure 2. The 5 Blockers Leading to Negative Student Outcomes: The Barrier Model
The goal of You Can Do It! Education is to provide teachers and parents with things they can say and do including use of activities from Program Achieve (see Getting Started unit, Lesson 4 in any of the volumes) to weaken the 5 Blockers. Activities from Program Achieve introduce students of all ages to not only the five keys to their success and well-being but also to the five blockers.
You Can Do It! Education Practices and Programs
Over the past decade, Michael Bernard and his colleagues have developed a four-level approach to providing all young people with the social-emotional capabilities needed for success and well-being and for helping to reduce the social-emotional difficulties associated with negative outcomes in children and adolescents.
I. YCDI Student Social-Emotional Learning Curricula Programs
Over the years a variety of curriculum programs (lessons with activities) designed to be taught to classroom groups of students by teachers, counselors, psychologists and other educators have been written, evaluated and revised that focus on developing students' Positive Mindset (the 5 Foundations) and eliminating students' Negative Mindset (the 5 Blockers). Chief amongst these are:
The You Can Do It! Education Early Childhood Curriculum (ages 4 - 7)
II. YCDI Classroom and School-Wide Methods
a. You Can Do It! Education Classrooms (good teaching practices)
A variety of practices have been developed for teachers in order to infuse and integrate the 5 social-emotional Foundations into their daily teaching including: the "resilient classroom", use of behavioral-specific feedback, explicit communication/visual display of 5 Foundations and 12 Habits of the Mind, regular formal assessment of student progress in demonstrating 5 Foundations, instruction in how the 5 Foundations can aid students in achieving academic targets, and weekly goal setting that targets increases in one or more of the 5 Foundations. For more information, refer to:
Providing All Children with the Foundations for Success, Well-Being and Positive Relationships
b. Developing a School-Wide Culture of Achievement and Emotional Well-Being
Some of the different components of full-scale implementation of the YCDI system include:
III. YCDI Parent Education
YCDI views school-home collaboration as a key for promoting student achievement and social-emotional-behavioral well-being. A variety of parent education programs (e.g., "Investing in Parents") have been developed based on what the research indicates as the actions that parents can take at home that support their children's achievement in school. The material in these programs form the basis of parent information sessions including back-to-school nights, parent education classes and school-home notes. Two of the most well-received YCDI parent talks are:
The Seven Capabilities of Highly Effective Parents
IV. YCDI Programs for Students with Behavioral, Social, Emotional and Learning Difficulties
For students identified with social-emotional and learning difficulties, YCDI has developed programs that focus on strengthening one or more of their social-emotional competences. Ideally, identified students would spend time in 1:1 or small group counseling/mentoring were they would receive in addition to relationship support, direct instruction/coaching in the use of their social-emotional competencies in different areas of their lives. Additionally, their teacher(s) and parents would receive support from school personnel and things they can do to strengthen the young person's social-emotional competence. For more detailed information, refer to:
The You Can Do It! Education Mentoring Program
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Beck, A.T. (1993). Cognitive therapy: Past, present and future. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 61, 194-198.
Bernard, M.E. (1997a). Improving student motivation and school achievement: A professional development program for teachers, special educators, school administrators and pupil service personnel. Oakleigh, ON: Hindle & Associates, pp. 320. (Published in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand in 1997).
Bernard, M.E. (1997b). You can do it! How to boost your child's achievement in school. New York: Warner Books, pp. 336. (published simultaneously in Australia by Information Australia).
Bernard, M. E. (2003a). The Social-Emotional Well-Being Surveys. Camberwell, VIC: The Australian Council for Educational Research.
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Bernard, M.E. (2003c). The You Can Do It! education mentoring program, 2nd Ed. Oakleigh, VIC (AUS): Australian Scholarships Group.
Bernard, M.E. (2003d). Investing in parents: What parents need to know and do to support their children's achievement and social-emotional well-being. Oakleigh, VIC (AUS): Australian Scholarships Group; Laguna Beach, CA (USA): You Can Do It! Education, Priors lee, Telford (ENG): Time Marque.
Bernard, M.E. (2004a, October). The relationship of young children's social-emotional competence to their achievement and social-emotional well-being. Paper presented at the Annual Research Conference of the Australian Council for Educational Research, Adelaide, Australia.
Bernard, M.E. (2004b). The You Can Do It! early childhood education program: A social-emotional learning curriculum(4-6 Year Olds). Oakleigh, VIC (AUS): Australian Scholarships Group.
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Table 1. The Five Core Social and Emotional Capabilities ("5 Foundations") Supporting Positive Social - Emotional and Achievement Outcomes
Confidencemeans knowing that you will likely be successful and that people will like you. It means not being afraid to make mistakes or to try something new. It means looking and sounding confident. Examples of confident behavior are raising your hand in class to answer a hard question, doing hard work without asking for help, sharing a new idea with a teacher or the class, starting a conversation with a new classmate and standing up straight and speaking with a firm voice.
Positive Habits of the Mind that help develop a young person's Confidence include:
Persistencemeans trying hard to do your best and not giving up when something feels like it's too difficult or boring. Examples of persistent behavior are continuing to try even when school work is hard, not being distracted by others and checking work when it's finished to make sure it's correct.
Positive Habits of the Mind that help develop a young person's Persistence include:
Organizationmeans setting a goal to do your best in your school work, listening carefully to your teacher's instructions, planning your time so that you are not rushed, having all your supplies ready and keeping track of your assignments' due dates. Examples of organized behavior include making sure you understand the teacher's instructions before you begin work, having all your school supplies ready at a neat desk, recording your assignments and their due dates, and planning when you're going to do your homework so that you have enough time.
Positive Habits of the Mind that help develop a young person's Organization include:
Getting Along means working well with teachers and classmates, resolving disagreements peacefully, following the rules of the classroom and making positive contributions to school, home and the community including protecting the rights of others and looking after the environment. Examples of getting along behavior are being helpful when working in a group, listening and not interrupting when someone else is speaking, talking rather than fighting when someone acts unfairly, not breaking classroom rules, helping others in need, volunteering for a worthy causes and cleaning up the environment.
Positive Habits of the Mind that help develop Getting Along behavior in a young person include:
Resilience means knowing how to stay calm and being able to stop yourself from getting extremely angry, down, or worried when something "bad" happens. It means being able to calm down and feel better when you get very upset. It also means being able to control your behavior when you are very upset so that you bounce back from difficulty and return to work or play.
Examples of Resilience:
Resilience Skills to Strengthen Resilience
Rational Ways to Think to Increase Resilience